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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

1,094 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 1,094
Hads: 2,715
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.24%
Wants: 79
Gots: 355 | FT: 6
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:
Beer added by: nomad on 06-19-2003

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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,094 | Hads: 2,715
Photo of DoctorZombies
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Ruby pour with neigh top. Sour fruit nose. Tart, sour apples flavor. Medium lite mouthfeel with a bite. Sour from beginning to end, with a little sugar on top of tongue at finish. (179 characters)

Photo of DawnL
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Murky amber with big foamy head that dissipates to sticky lace.

Smell: Slight caramel, with prune notes. It doesn't smell like your typical beer.

Taste: Malt character, then dried fruit, followed by acidic/sour cherry character.

Mouthfeel: This definitely coats the mouth - not really unctuous, but definitely present with good length.

Drinkability: I'm going with good.

This is a strange little beer. I'm still not sure whether or not I like it. I am giving it a pretty good rating, but I'm not sure if I am completely a fan.

Let me explain. I had this with a light fish dinner. I was hoping it would be a bit more sour and was completely surprised by the amber/brown color.

I wouldn't suggest serving this beer with an entree. I wouldn't suggest serving it as an aperitif either. This is an after dinner, bring on the cheese beer. It needs mild cheeses - young mimolette, laughing cow, mild goat cheese, cream cheese even. It would be overwhelmed by cheddar. Maybe a Swiss cheese would be okay. Brie would kill this! Or, maybe it should be had on its own after dinner as a divestif.

It develops an odd bitterness when left to warm. Definitely like leaving prune juice on the counter and letting it come up to room.

If it were a little tarter, it would remind me of those sour, dried, Asian plums. Oh, that would be something to pair it with. Try this beer with Asian plums that are dried and have that sourball coating dusted on them.

I like this beer because it's an oddity. And I know I'm going on a bit, but this taste sensation is so different from anything I've tasted before that I feel like sharing - a lot. (1,638 characters)

Photo of NardiByNature
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Aggressive pouring makes a massive, light tan head. Eventually settles down to a nice cap with a little spotty lacing. The beer is a deep, clear mahogany with some ruby notes. The color of this style reminds me of Lipton Brisk.

S: The nose is faint. Smells like carbonation (if that’s a thing), a little vinegar, some cherries.

T: Like the nose the taste is mild, but becomes more pronounced as the beer warms to room temp: sour cherries and some woody flavor.

M: Very smooth, very dry. Fuzzy carbonation. Very drinkable.

O: This is good. Not as complex or flavorful as some other old browns but I like it. Would like to have on-tap sometime. (654 characters)

Photo of BeerTruth
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this one at Smoker's Den in Bennington a little while back.

11.2 oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

Pours a clear rustic brick color with a one finger light tan head that crawls down the sides. A good amount of stick grips the glass and looks like it has no intentions of letting go. Aroma is big and sour with rhubarb, cranberries, and green apples. A good dose of vinegar, borderline salad dressing which is a bit much for my nostrils when it comes to beer. Taste starts off pretty sweet with cherries, red grapes, and pears. Midway a bit of tart emerges with sweet candy flavors...hmmm, grape Sweet Tart anyone? The smell though is definitely stronger in the sour/vinegary category. A light to medium body with a somewhat creamy feel. I'd prefer it lighter with a bit more tingle in the mouth for the style. Salad dressing in the nose, grape juice on the tongue...meh. Not terrible, but there are sooo many better sours out there to be enjoyed for me to return to this one. (979 characters)

Photo of kylehay2004
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Half finger head with excellent lacing on a deep amber body which is very clear. Aroma of dark cherry, not too sweet, with caramel. Simple but many of these tend to be. Flavor is also dark cherry dominant which initially seemed too sweet but this one mellows out. The flavor tastes a little too artificial though, almost like kool aid. Light but oily body and light to moderate carbonation. Not an amazing sour ale. Not terrible just not all that memorable. (457 characters)

Photo of Harvest06
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Very mild for a sour Oud Bruin. This is a good introduction to sour ales for someone unfamiliar with the bold sourness of something like the Dutches or Cascade's sours. (168 characters)

Photo of ryno09
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours reddish brown with an off white head of a finger or so. The head fades fairly quickly. The nose has the "Belgium funk" mixed with cherry acidity along with a touch of dark fruits and port, maybe a hint of sour apple.

Lots of carbonation as expected, it gives it a champagne like mouthfeel. It certainly tastes like it smells, cherries mixed with some dark fruit. A nice balance of sweet and tart that finishes very dry. I haven't tried many sours but this beer seems like a great place to start. (503 characters)

Photo of kpoole25
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

11.2 oz to glass. Clear brownish red, tan head. Sour aromas, a little like sour milk or yogurt. Taste has a cloying sweetness along with the sour, it's really like a soda pop. Or maybe if Martinelli's made a sparkling cherry and added a few drops of vinegar for a little extra pucker. I haven't had any other sours but this did not remind me of beer. Still, it was fairly drinkable, went down quick. (399 characters)

Photo of TubaManJack
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's tulip time.

Appearance
Limited head which quickly disappates overlies a mahogany body with very little carbonation present.

Smell
Limited to a bit of bing cherries. There isn't any noticible malt comming through.

Taste
A lot of sour cherry twang as it spreads across your mouth. I have to say this but its similar to a cherry welshers sparking juice minus the carbonation. The sourness was pretty one dimensional and showed only bits of malt backbone. I didn't get the same vinger base that others mentioned.

Overall I am fairly new to the style and mixed on this one in particular. I would try to par this with food. Mine eventually joined a hot pretzel with spicy mustard for a doughy spice kick which I highly recommend. (735 characters)

Photo of Cylinsier
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

from a 12 oz.

Pours a deep chocolate brown with a red glow when held up to light. Minimal head retains as lacing.

Has a tart smell, like sour apples or sour grapes. There's also a hint of sweetness to it, like cane sugar.

The taste is tart, a bit on the vinegar side but with enough sweetness that it tends back towards green apples with a touch of lemon.

The feel is bubbly and thin, like soda water.

An interesting beer, probably somewhat of an acquired taste for most. I like it okay but would not necessarily seek it out. It would be easy to session though. (570 characters)

Photo of Bcaulin
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from slightly chilled bottle into tulip.

Poured with a little too much carbonation. Several inches of head immediately piled up despite a careful pour. Quickly receeded into a thin film. Tons of lacing lined the outside of the glass.

Lots of vinegar and fruit in the nose. I pick up some cherries, grapes, and apples for sure. Probably some others but there's a lot going on and its hard to pick our individuals.

Little heavy on the vinegar to taste. The sweetness of the fruit balances it out, but for the beer that describes itself as a "mildly sour sour ale", its pretty heavy on the sour.

Overall its refreshing and tasty, but its not as smooth as some other sours I've had. It's a sipper for sure, but it will probably be a little while before I run back to this one. (783 characters)

Photo of rtepiak
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a murky brown with reddish hue. some head with quite a bit of lace. smell is first off surprisingly malty. there is a cherry note with an equally strong somewhat boozy vanilla. tastes is very lightly tangy. sweet malt has vanilla characters like that of a bad cabernet. cherry is there. not very woody in flavor. has a light bitter finish. flavors separate dramtically as the beer gets warmer. taste becomes a bit plasticy. i would avoid if you think flemish reds and oud bruins are a novelity.

i think it was better in the bottle... or at least i remember it being better. this is something i'm going to have to come back to. (633 characters)

Photo of don1481
3.54/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into my usual pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep, deep red color with a fairly quickly dissipating head. Some carbonation.

Smell: definitely a sour smell to it. Like a lambic with strong sour notes.

Taste: ... Not really a strong taste. Not the strongest tasting sour ale I've had. Very muted.

Mouthfeel: pretty crisp. Doesn't really leave any sort of aftertaste.

Overall: meh. I don't think I will be getting this again. Was worth going off the normal path for me, I suppose. (505 characters)

Photo of jellikit
3.54/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: dark brown. Reddish to light. Looks like Coke. Thin head. Thin lacing.
S: sour. Wood.
T: grape, mellow sourness, hint of wine. Wine/champagne similarities.
M: highly carbonated. Dry. Light body.
O: good sour. Mellow flavor. Mildly sour. Would drink again. (259 characters)

Photo of twelvsies
3.54/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I haven't had a lot of flemish reds, but what I have experienced of the style I love. So I'm trying to branch out a bit and explore. Picked this up out of the blue. Beautiful color on this one, cabinet brown with red hues, but really no head at all, reminiscent of a gueuze. I don't particularly know if this style is "supposed" to have a decent head or not, but I'm thinking no since it's on the sour side. Smell is all over the place. Sour cherry comes to mind first, with other sweeter fruits backing it up. Taste is ok - a little bit of a let down from the smell. Tart, but not overly so, but all of the sweet fruity complexity in the smell is absent in the taste. A little watery to be honest. I'm not one of those guys that needs their taste buds destroyed by every beer at all, but this tastes a little bland to me. The smell is making me crave something better that I can't get in the taste. I think if they stepped this up a bit - a little more sour, a little more complex - it would be great. Not a bad beer, drinkable, but doesn't hold my interest. (1,059 characters)

Photo of tdm168
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A - dark amber with a reddish hue; huge, soft, dense, foamy, offwhite almost brownish head that has great retention

S - a bit musty, faint fruit, some grainy sweetness

T - berries, mildly lactic, some caramel, mild bitterness in the finish

M - medium bodied, sticky, smooth, crisp

I'm not sure how I feel about this beer. It's not really bad, but it's not really great either. It has a decent enough flavor though the fruity notes are mild and there is very little if any sourness. The nose is a bit off putting with it's graininess. Overall, not a bad beer, but I've had better in this style. It was nice to try once, but I won't be seeking it out again. (659 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Muddy Pig in St. Paul

A simpler sour ale than some of the other's I've tried, but at the same time it's the most drinkable I've had. It comes off with a juicy tart sourness that tastes slightly like sour cherries, but not much else. The flavor here is a little mellow and relies mostly on the sour tang to carry the beer. I've call it a starter-sour ale. (371 characters)

Photo of rodkin
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark reddish brown, with about 2 fingers of light tan head. Reduces slowly, but a bit remains.

Smell is some dark fruit, mostly some cherry. Some tart acidity, slight funk. Nice, but kind of one dimensional.

Taste is some acidity upfront, A bit of the dark fruit, a little funk. Maybe a bit of citrus or oak. Kind of acidic, but not super sour. Slight wine taste. Nice, nothing special.

Okay mouthfeel. A bit thicker and less dry than I'd like. Decent carb.

Alright sour, tasty enough. Good value at $3.50 a bottle. (527 characters)

Photo of sfoley333
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured out of 12oz bottle into Duvel snifter. Poured a dark reddish brown with a medium lacy head. Smell has acidic vingear with some wild sourness. Taste cherries with baslamic and oak finished with a slight nuttyness. Mouth feel is on the low end of medium body. Carbonation is there but not overpowering the dryness. Could drink a few because its light dryness, low alcohol content, and not overtop sourness. (411 characters)

Photo of kimcgolf
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured to a murky brown, with okay head but little lacing. Aroma was the usual vinegary smell, but nothing else seemed present. Flavor was extra sour, and while I detected a hint of fruit, it was difficult to really tell what it was. Other Flemish Sours tend to be sour, then slide into a sweet aftertaste. This hits you with very sour start, and then sweet, with little transition. It also tended to be a little watery. I really have learned to like Flemish Sours, but this one, while good, was not one of the best. (516 characters)

Photo of hoplover82
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear beautiful cherry red with very good retention and lacing.

Smells of simply sweet green apples. That's it it seems.

Taste is pretty simple and one dementional as well. Only green apples to me. Afte hearing my friend say that buckeyenation got cherries in this, I can see that too. I aslo do get the cherries indeed...

The mouthfeel is kinda rough around the edges to me. This is the first sour I've had. Maybe this could be aged a little more. It has a medium body and the sourness seems to excentuate the carbonation and give it a bubbly mouthfeel.

And it's ok in drinkablilty. (597 characters)

Photo of woemad
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle purchased at Total Wine in Spokane for $3.79. Sadly, there’s no obvious freshness date.

Poured into a Chimay glass, there was a big tan head that dropped somewhat quickly yet left a fair amount of lace. The beer itself was a dark, cola-like color that lightened up to a rubyish hue when held up to light.

The aroma was faintly fruity and malty. Frankly, I was surprised there wasn’t more going on.

The flavor was of faintly sweet yet tart fruit, like raspberries, and a somewhat mild sourness. Not much else was happening.

Medium bodied, with a slick, coating mouthfeel.

I suppose this could be a sour beer for beginners, as it’s rather bland. On the other hand, not many people are impressed with blandness, so I think I’d introduce someone to sours by utilizing a bottle of Duchesse De Bourgogne. (826 characters)

Photo of kmpitz2
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep amber color with a minimal sparse head over top with no real carbonation bubbling up. Clarity is excellent. Nose is very interesting. I get a bit of cherries and tartness, but it is also moderately grainy. Its lacking that good acetate blast that I like in my flanders red brews. It is also pretty unintense in the nose as well. Flavor is a little better. Initial taste is a very sharp, almost biting tartness. This moves to a sour cherry with a moderate acetate. Flavors are just a bit thin for what I like. Its not really grabbing my senses as other have. Feel is on the thin end of moderate with a light carbonation of tiny bubbles. This is an okay brew. Nothing really makes it pop as a stellar example. I'd like a fuller flavor on this. Seems just a touch watery. (781 characters)

Photo of Neecee513
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured bottle into pint glass.

A: Deep red, slight tan head and retention.

S: Sweet, but sharp vinegar like smell - perhaps like an apple cidar vinegar.

T: Sour fruit, grapes.

M: Low carbonation, dry and frothy on the palate.

O: I'm not too excited about sour ales, but the elements of the beer came together nicely for this style. (336 characters)

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a tumbler glass.

A: Pours a reddish chestnut color with low translucence. The head is a two finger offwhite color featuring nice retention and a wonderfully frothy texture, leaving prominent patches of lace on the glass. The head settles down into a one finger size.

S: Surprisingly malty, and even a little grainy in its aroma - but luckily, the lactic sourness comes to save the day. A bit fruity, too. Kind of expected more from a Flemish-style sour.

T: Sour enough, but rather restrained in its strength. There's enough sourness on the opening flavors to satisfy, but I don't like how it vanishes after the mid-taste, leaving the malt backbone to do a lot of the heavy lifting, while the aftertaste is even a bit hoppy. There's a little bit of a lactic cream flavor on the finish. Good, but it could have been great if the tartness extended more strongly past the mid-palate. In particular, it lacks the subtle complexity of something like La Folie.

M: Has a medium texture with moderately strong carbonation. Drinks quite easily, but somehow isn't quite as refreshing as it could be.

O: It's a nice beer, to be fair, but after coming to the realization how much I love sour ales - this isn't quite cutting the mustard. On the plus side, it's cheap-ish, and VERY approachable to beginners. Worth a shot. (1,339 characters)

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,094 ratings.