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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale - Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

Not Rated.
Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

2,379 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,379
Reviews: 1,047
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 55
Gots: 174 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Flanders Oud Bruin |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Brewed for Monk's Café in Philadelphia, but also available for retail purchase elsewhere. Oud Bruin in style; a traditional blend of young and old beers.

(Beer added by: nomad on 06-19-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,379 | Reviews: 1,047 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MoreThanWine
2.73/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a modest 1/2" head, and it's more of a stout brown than a red ale as the label says. Kind of like a lambic it's sour, although at least it's a cleaner sour than the raw hamburger taste I got in the last lambic. In fact the best descriptor for the Monk's I'd say would be pickle juice.

Hey, this is probably a excellent example of this type of beer. Honestly it's just not my thing.

MoreThanWine, Sep 27, 2010
Photo of mooseo
2.7/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

11.2oz bottle poured into tulip. This was my first sour, so I was not sure what to expect.

A - Deep red brown with a decent head that fades quickly.

S - Vinegar and malt, with a hint of sourness and some cherry. Funky and not very pleasant.

T - Sweet dark fruit (mostly cherry) at first mixed with some vinegar and yeast. Just a bit sour, much less than I was expecting.

M - Light bodied with average carbonation.

D - This is my first sour beer and I'm not sure what to think. It wasn't very enjoyable but not horrible either. The vinegar aroma really turned me off, but the taste wasn't as bad. This style seems like an acquired taste, and I'll have to experiment with some more examples.

mooseo, Oct 14, 2011
Photo of rinhaak
2.7/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Judging from others' reviews of this beer, it is entirely possible my beer was poured terribly wrong. However, I can only judge my own experience.

That said, Monk's Café poured with absolutely no head. It had a dark reddish hue, similar to a Dr. Pepper. In fact, not only did the color resemble Dr. Pepper, so did the visible carbonation bubbles, the mouthfeel, and – to a large extent – the taste.

This beer was very sweet with a sour twinge running parallel. This balance reminded me of Panda Express' sweet n' sour sauce: really sweet, with a hint of vinegar. There was a distinct cherry flavor, which added to its soda pop character.

Overall, I was tremendously disappointed with the brew. It was imbalanced towards the sweet side of the spectrum, and didn't have much, if any, depth of flavor. It go down easily enough, and if you are looking for a sweet, easily drinkable beer, this might be for you.

rinhaak, Mar 31, 2012
Photo of hayesez
2.68/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Been on a real sour kick lately and have been picking them up whenever I find a new one. On our recent trip to Texas I saw a bottle of Monk's and figured I'd give it a shot. I was in Philly last month and was hoping to try it right there at the café, but wasn't able to make it - the bottle will have to do.

Poured into a wine glass producing almost zero head. A thin ring of fizzy bubbles surrounds the surface, but that is about it. Absolutely no lacing left behind. Sitting on the table, it looks just like a glass of iced tea...color is spot on, and there is no head.

Smells quite strongly of vinegar. Also a slight hint of sweet fruitiness, but definitely hard to get past the vinegar. Zero funkiness.

Ok, the taste of this thing caught me way off guard. You'd think that after smelling the strong vinegar, I'd be ready for the taste. However, after talking with people who have had it in the past, and reading some of the reviews, I was expecting a bit more tart unripe fruit. I was wrong. Apple cider vinegar. Frankly, I'm having a really hard time getting past this. I drank an entire glass being as open-minded as possible, but I have to admit, I am quite disappointed. Hidden through several layers of vinegar, there is a bit of sour fruit taste in there, but that is about it. Mouthfeel is actually ok with a decent amount of carbonation even though this wasn't evident from the pour.

Overall, I was really disheartened with the whole experience. I'm kind of thinking there is a chance that I got a bad bottle. I will definitely give this a shot again down the road, and if different, I will certainly come back and alter the review. That being said, this is going to go down in my books as one of the lower ranked sours I've had.

Consumed: 04/08/10

hayesez, Apr 13, 2010
Photo of beerwolf77
2.68/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured from a bottle into a tulip.

A: dark rusty brown red, two fingers of light khaki head, thick lace webs remain

S: sour cherry is the most abundant aroma along with a strong vinegar back bone maybe a touch of barrel

T: light sweet cherry and vinegar mixed with a load of musty wet carboard and cough syrup, not much sour at all, actually rather sweet

M: light body with a decent amount of carbonation

D: overall very big let down, this stuff is not good, there are much better beers out there to represent this style, It will be a struggle to finish this bottle

beerwolf77, Aug 27, 2010
Photo of JBogan
2.68/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A nice looking ruby color body topped by a very thick off white head fills the tulip glass. The head remains thick but leaves only minimal lacing. Still, an attractive brew.

An aroma of cherries and musty vinegar. It actually smells better than the description.

Now comes the taste, and it is quite a letdown after what the aroma suggested. Very little sour character about this beer, in fact it seemed much sweeter than it did sour. There was still a hint of cherry, but it was muted by the sweetness. I really can't put a finger on any other flavors, it just had sort of a blandness to it.

Mouthfeel was thin and very slippery. It was also somewhat lifeless and uninteresting.

While I usually enjoy beers of this style, this is one I'll be passing on in the future. Other than the appearance and to a lesser degree the aroma, this beer had nothing about it which beckoned me back for more.

JBogan, Sep 25, 2009
Photo of daftafne
2.6/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: beautiful dark brown liquid, a finger of light tan head which dissipates quickly

Smell: Vinegar

Mouthfeel: Bubbly, crisp, medium-light body

Taste: sour apples, vinegar, raisins, dates

Drinkability: Not really my type of beer. I have had the rodenbach red and really loved it (similar type of beer though not as overwhelmingly vinegar-esque). Low alcohol so you could have a few if you like the taste. I havent had many of this type so I cant really say how it compares to other sour ales.

daftafne, Jul 01, 2008
Photo of ATraurig
2.6/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Brownish red color with a thin white head.

S:The wild yeast smell is most prevalent but not a sour smell. Hint of overripe apple. Not a very complex scent.

T: Reminds me a lot of Duchess (which I don't care for). I think "sour ale" is a bit of a misnomer. I wouldn't descride the taste as sour at all (can't even be said in the same breath as say, La Folie). Has a sweet, slightly cheap-tasting aftertaste.

M: Very effervescent and light. The carbonation tickles the mouth and nose.

D: I don't think I can get through a full bottle! Probably going to be a drain ale.

Overall: Not impressed at all. Like a cheap version of Duchess.

ATraurig, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of JDV
2.58/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle courtesy of Humulone_Red. Thank you!
Pours a dark maroon color with an offwhite head. Smell is mild cherry kriek like tartness, but a bit too mild. Taste is like a thin kriek with very light tartness and sweetness. Thin body and carbonation. Just not enough flavor or umpf

JDV, Apr 06, 2008
Photo of Floydster
2.58/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pint at Naja's Place

Very very sour, old beer takes over taste of the younger one

Vinegar, cherries, and a little citrus in the taste, but the aroma is mostly vinegar

Very carbonated with a reddish brown color

Buddy had one with me and enjoyed it more than I did, thought it was a little sweeter than most sours, but I thought the opposite

Not my favorite flanders style

Floydster, Sep 09, 2007
Photo of katybee
2.55/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

My first sour ale...this might take a bit of getting used to!

Pours a clear amber brown, and light frothy head which quickly dissipates.

Very light smell, but distinctly not hoppy...somewhat like an aged browned apple.

As an ale, this tastes very different from barley-hops beer. For me, it was similar to a fermented apple cider with less apple, and a little vinegar tartness. Unusual. Very soda-like, with a musky off taste on the tongue. Not as fruity as a [raspberry] lambic, but with no barley or malt character like a wheat beer. No real spiciness I could detect.

The carbonation gave a very soda-like effect, but like soda, and not like champagne. Very light-bodied.

Fortunately, this beverage was alcoholic, which gave a purpose to the drinking of it. The ale might blend well with cheeses and pie or crackers, and as a desert on its own, however the off-ness of the taste, and mild sweet carbonation for me wouldn't sit well with other meals (hamburger, pizza, chicken) and a definite no-no to doritos, onion-flavored chips and barbecue!

A quality taste experience, but not one I'll likely repeat!

katybee, Mar 02, 2011
Photo of hopfacebrew
2.55/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

At recommendation of a colleague I picked up a 4-pack, a little pricey ;(. Anyhow, poured from undated bottle to a Duvel tulip the beer pours a deep copper brown color with some ruby red edges in the light. A small 1/2 finger white bubbly head with some retention and lacing, but nor much. The nose is in my opinion the best aspect of the beer with a detectable sour funk that melds well with the sweet fruity banana, apple, and cheery fruity character. Vinegar type aroma is detectable but not a deterrent. Hints of caramel malt sweetness. The flavor starts very much the same but is immediately overpowered but a strong sweetness that ruins the balance of the beer. Fruity and caramel sweetness dominate the funky sour flavor and mellow characteristics the nose let on. Disappointing. Hints of dark fruit such as raisin in the tail end. Finishes sweet. Medium bodied and decently carbonated. Overall, I feel the sweetness was way too much for this beer, which is really too bad. I sampled 2 bottles to ensure I didn't get a bad one to start, both were the same. I will not be back. It was hard to finish 2, but I felt obligated after such a nice review by a trusted peer. Perhaps this is a bad batch? I will have him sample one of the last 2 and see.

hopfacebrew, Mar 15, 2012
Photo of AgentMunky
2.53/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 33cL bottle into a brandy snifter. Stamped 08KK 17:46.

A: A finger and a half of rich head bubbles and collapses on itself fairly quickly. The beer is barely translucent mahogany brown.

S: Poop, metal, dead skunk, and spoiled wine. This is utterly abysmal. The worst smelling beer of all time? It has not a single redeeming feature.

T: I don't like it...I wonder if something is the matter. The first 2/3 of the flavor is metallic, thin, sour, and poor. However, the last third of the taste really opens up. Fruit (grape soda), wine, tasty sourness, and candy sweetness. The aftertaste is lingeringly (sour) yeasty and perhaps the best aspect of the beer.

M: Smooth (like juice) with a tinge of carbonation. Decent. Grape juice is a recurring theme.

O: I am a pretty generous reviewer, but this is just...unacceptable. Maybe it's better on tap? At any rate, definitely NOT recommended. I will never drink this beer again.

AgentMunky, Apr 25, 2012
Photo of russwbeck
2.53/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: Clear red pour with a fizzy white head. I was quite surprised at the vigor with which the head rose from the brew. Lacing is spotty, and retention is not great.

S: The smell is quite interesting and complex. The sour and funk rest in the background of a sweet and fruity nose. Cherries, oak, malty. Sort of strange.

T: Not what I was expecting, again. No sourness, sort of vinegar-like, no funk. Lots of fruit. Apples, cherries, raspberries, very sweet. Plastic-like finish.

MF: Creamy body, medium, with a high carbonation. Dry and weird aftertaste.

O: Very disappointed here. Well below average, just not very good.

russwbeck, Oct 31, 2011
Photo of TheGordianKnot
2.53/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into tulip glass...

A- Very deep blood brown color with a finger head. Pale pink colored head that settles to a film quickly.

A- Smells like oil and vinegar salad dressing. Subtle fruitiness makes it reminiscent of raspberry vinaigrette...

T/M- This is definitely a raspberry vinaigrette beer. Not quite what I expected. Body is oily and heavy with minimal carbonation; very unlike Duchesse which was what I pictured with this beer. I wanted more of that champagne-like flanders. Middle of the flavor is a berry medley, but it changes to a pungent vinegar and just leaves me dissatisfied.

O- Didn't hit my expectations. Just not something I could drink much of. Taste and feel were taxing to get through...

TheGordianKnot, Aug 30, 2011
Photo of BMMillsy
2.51/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours dark red with a fizzy head that recedes quickly. Smell is faint and not what I wad expecting. Smells like a weak dubbel or belgian strong dark. Not much sour on the nose. Flavor tastes like carbonated artificial cherry drink. No real sour flavor to be found. Not what I wanted, and rather disappointing. Finishes as clean as a Bud Light. Doesn't taste terrible, but misses the bar as a beer. Maybe okay as an energy drink or coming out of a Capri Sun package. Wtf is this?

BMMillsy, Oct 17, 2013
Photo of bulldogg915
2.5/5  rDev -34.9%

bulldogg915, Mar 06, 2014
Photo of SmellsofMahagony
2.5/5  rDev -34.9%

SmellsofMahagony, Apr 12, 2013
Photo of campfirebrew
2.5/5  rDev -34.9%

campfirebrew, Oct 11, 2013
Photo of ravot
2.5/5  rDev -34.9%

ravot, Feb 13, 2013
Photo of josephwa
2.5/5  rDev -34.9%

josephwa, Jun 25, 2013
Photo of MasterEzra
2.5/5  rDev -34.9%

MasterEzra, Jul 01, 2012
Photo of TubaDan
2.5/5  rDev -34.9%

TubaDan, Sunday at 01:38 AM
Photo of denver10
2.5/5  rDev -34.9%

denver10, Mar 16, 2012
Photo of attometer00
2.5/5  rDev -34.9%

attometer00, Feb 03, 2012
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,379 ratings.