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

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale

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BA SCORE
86
very good

2,476 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,476
Reviews: 1,054
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 57
Gots: 207 | FT: 3
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: 2,476 | Reviews: 1,054 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DavoleBomb
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a flute.

3.5 A: Crystal clear dark amber color. Low density frothy head with below average retention, but lots of lacing.

3.5 S: Acetic acidy sour/tartness and not yet ripe cherries.

4.0 T: Lots of fruitiness. Sour green apples and unripe cherries reign supreme. Something like roasted malt and caramel.

3.5 M: Lighter body. Could use a bit more carbonation, but very smooth.

4.0 D: Pretty good, I wouldn't mind having another one.

First sour. Can't wait for my second.

Photo of SpecialK088
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter

A-Deep amber near red good head on it that fades quickly but not entirely, leave a nice film over the entire top of the beer, laces well but thin.

S-Sour fruit, grapes and apple both. Also a very strong alchol note like nail polish remover.

T-Taste is nearly indescribeable, very smooth and flavorful. Apple, grape, sour yeast and malt all very strong yet not over powering. Leaves a nice sour apple finish that does not linger.

M-Mouth is pretty thin but fits ther flavor of the beer perfectly, not something you want to hang around on the palate from drink to drink.

D-Not something I would drink all the time but for me more of a treat. I hear once yo go sour you never go back and that fact with this one scares me a little with how much I like it

Photo of naterock
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into a goblet with a deep reddish amber hue. one finger head that disapates quickly. no lacing to speak of.

smells very sour, with a great alcohol burn that smells a bit of nail polish remover. Apple and grapes in the nose that add to the sour.

Taste is Sour apples and a bit of grapes really qutie strange but delicious.

Mouth is dry and crisp moderate carbonation. Drinks slowly but smoothly. Lingers with the sour aftertaste, just begging to be discovered.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this long wanted one the other day and I knew I just had to get it right into the rotation. This one I have been wanting to try as I have heard it is an outstanding version of the style. Served at cellar temp and poured into a goblet this one was consumed on 04/23/2009.
 
The pour was wonderful, deep and dark red in color with a light tan head that came up to a height of around two inches before settling back down and leaving tons of lace all over the sides and bottom of the glass while never really falling much below the one inch level. The aroma was lightly tart, sour cherries, hints of earthy and spicy notes and even a touch of what seemed like brown sugar or something along those lines. Rally very well done and quite complex. The flavor was a little less tart then what I would have liked but I have to admit was still done very well. Rich and full, it was never flat or boring and I have to admit I found myself returning back to it time and again for another go round.
 
Overall a very solid Flemish ale, not the best I have had, but this was very well put together. Highly drinkable and something that I would not turn my nose at if I ever received it again, very well done.

Photo of Bcaulin
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

Photo of Sean9689
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at FFF's BrewPub. This review is from notes dating 01/13. Pours reddish/brown with very little head. Smell is yeast/funk mixed with lots of fruit. Taste is sour cherries, yeast/funk with a nice tart finish. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body and a dry finish...much like champagne. I like this one, will revisit for sure.

Photo of Arbitrator
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. Purchased at K&L in Redwood City.

A: Pours a rusty / chestnut brown color with reddish tint when held to the light. Has an inch of head that dissolves quickly into scattered film on top of the brew and a collar around the edge. No real lacing down the glass.

S: Sour apples, grapes, tamarind, cherry, and vinegar. Nice little blend, very pungent aroma that begs for some sampling.

T: Vinegary sourness up front, which blends seamlessy into a green apple taste. This segues into the other fruit flavors, namely cherry and grapes, with some raspberry lightly hidden behind. The finish is sweet and tart tamarind, reminding me of hard candy in particular.

M: High, fine carbonation like a sparkling wine, which makes the body feel a bit thinner than its medium-to-full range.

D: Pretty sessionable, I would say. The ABV is medium so it's not going to knock you flat, and the flavor, while significant, is not so overpowering that it fatigues the taste buds.

Photo of BeerTruth
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
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.

Photo of schroederm
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

In a snifter:

Head falls apart quickly, body is a light translucent brown with amber and red hues. Aromas of umami, cherry, alcohol, tartness, and green apple. So sour! This is awesome, so sweet... Like candy. Good balance of bitter. Green apple, plum, cherry. Cider vinegar. Aftertaste is... Ketchup?! It works, though. Very good body and carbonation. I could drink a ton of this. Easy on the palate and delicious.

Photo of loren01
4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a rusty reddish color, good sized head very slight lace down the glass
S: Smell is of sour apples/grapes.
T: The taste is not as overpowering as the smell leads you to think it will be. Tart but not too much so. Tastes like sour apples, reminds me somewhat of a cider. Finishes slightly dry
M: Bubbly champagne like mouthfeel
D: I liked this beer a lot, very tasty...would buy this one again.

Photo of djeucalyptus
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a ruby-tinged crystal clear chestnut hue with ample carbonation rising from the bottom, fueling a creamy almond-colored two finger head that leaves behind some foamy pisco sour egg white-esque lacing.

aroma is dead on for the style. clean, fruity, lactic acid aroma wafts as soon as the bottle is cracked. a bit cleaner and a bit less funky than some, but just as inviting as any flanders. tart fruit and spice, less sharp vinegar in the aroma. I'm lovin' it.

Taste attempts to match with aroma but falls just a bit short. still solidly tart with pleasant acidic notes, sharp berry sourness, and nice funkiness, but there's a bit of metallic earthiness that grows stronger as it warms. Still solid for the style, but just a bit too clean and sterile to have a ton of character, and the slight metallic earthy off note isn't incredibly appealing.

Mouthfeel is solid, with ample carbonation creating an almost creamy mouth despite the tartness and slight slickness that comes with the style. smooth and enjoyable. Cleaner mouth than many... definitely nice.

I'm pretty impressed. This may be one of my favorite Flanders I've had the pleasure of tasting. unbelievably drinkable with all the notes I love. it's a bit lacking in that extreme funkiness that keeps it from being outstanding, but on the whole, it's a beautifully rounded Flanders Oud Bruin. Delicious.

Photo of gyllstromk
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear ruby. Nose is granny smith apples, cranberries, cider. Flavor is apples, raspberries, champagne. The finish is a pronounced sweet tartness evoking cranberries or currants. Feel is bubbly like a sparkling wine. The sourness is very enjoyable and does not compromise drinkability like some sour beers. Very enjoyable.

Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1/2 inch head, chestnut colored, clear, with lots of carbonation

Smell: sour apple jumps out with a hint of cherry

Taste: old sour apple domiantes with a hint of cherry, slight malt

Mouthfeel: sour and sweet mix, tart, smooth, with a light to medium body

Drinkability: I will have this again and could have several. I found this to be an excellent value for the price. I think this would be a great starter sour as it is not as overpoweringly sour as others I have tried. The flavor is still there though.

Photo of stingrayvr6
4.97/5  rDev +29.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had at Local 44 in Philly. Poured a dark reddish purple into a tulip with a two finger cream colored head which was very resilient. The smell was unlike any other beer I have ever had, very fruity yet crisp and dry at the end. Smell of apples soaked in Brandy, grapes, cinnamon and spices. More like a desert wine or fine liquor than a beer in smell. Taste was similar with very fruity, sour apple taste at the front, then crisp, dry and bitter spices at the end. Carbonation was medium and pleasant. I just wanted to swish it around my mouth and keep it there to have that phenomenally complex taste with me forever. My new favorite beer, too bad this is so hard to find because it is other worldly. Truly a unique and beautiful thing.

Photo of yeastsipper
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Interesting beer for me. First had this on tap at Monk's cafe in Philly a solid 3+ years ago now. Scary. At the time, this beer came from another world. Time has passed, and I have had a number of beers since then. I am very happy to say that this beer, while not as sour, was honestly as good as I remember it.

Beer is a copper brown color, with a very thick, off-white head. Pretty stuff. First smell is the funk. Funky, but not overly so. Then the fruit and sweetness kicks in. Nice, deep, dark cherry smell. Maybe some other crisp fruit like apples or maybe pears. Some very dry, woody qualities as well.

Taste is fantastic. Obvious sourness, but amazing balance. Sour for the sake of flavor, not for being puckeringly sour. Again, lots of fruit - the cherries stand out. Some malt and sweetness on the backend. For me this was very surprising. The beer I remember was sour sour sour. I think this is for two reasons: the beer at Monk's was on keg and probably fresher, and I have had a number of other sour beers now, so the taste does not stand out as much.

Great mouthfeel and drinkability. Just an outstanding beer. I am probably a bit nostalgic, and will score higher than the average, but IMO, I am completely justified. I love the combination of sweet and sour, funk and fruit. Awesome.

Photo of johnnnniee
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a really clear deep copper color with a huge head that slowly dissipates to a cap but leaves fluffy sticky lace down the sides of the glass. Smell of lactic acid, sweet malts, a bit of lemon, and sour cherries. Taste is sweeter than I expected but has that sour twang about it. More lemons and sour cherries and sweet malts in the taste. Leaves a sweet and sour taste in my mouth, pass the Chinese food. Mouthfeel is syrupy and a bit sticky. Carbonation is on the high side prickling the tongue with every sip. Body is medium. Decent sour ale, but I thought it a bit on the sweet side for the style. Maybe more like a beginners sour ale, but still tasty.

Photo of jeffthecheff
2.95/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a wide stem flute glass. Great clear, reddish brown with an excellent head. Amazing looking beer.

Smell is really strange. Old rotten cherries, grapes, maybe other fruits in the nose. Not very pleasant.

Taste is very interesting and complex. The front of the tongue is like cherry candies. Combined with the high carbonated mouthfeel, it reminds me of pop rocks. This part is good, but the finish changes completely to a rotten/sour like cherry flavor. I just wish the up front flavors stayed, then this would be excellent.

Highly carbonated mouthfeel. Sliding over the tongue feels like poprocks, like I said before. Strong flavors linger a bit too long, though. The poor finish on this beer ruins the drinkability for me. Maybe its just something I have to get used to, I've only had a few sour beers.

Photo of biggred1
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark reddish brown with a nice pink tinted tan head that leaves fine lace on the glass. Smells of tart cherries and citrus with a mild yeasty funkiness. Tastes of tart underripe fruit. Nice sour puckering quality with some sweet maltiness underneath. Well balanced and medium bodied with seltzery carbonation that adds to the drinkability. A nice,approachable example of the style.

Photo of dukew456
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into my Duvel tulip

A - Pours a clear mahogony/ruby color with a modest head that recedes, leaving moderate to light lacing. Pretty standard fare in this department, but with a splotchy head.

S - Smell is of a very lactic and sour nature, with a slight yeastiness coming through. Dark cherries and other sweet fruits also come through, along with that vinegary burn. I've always been reminded of vinegary, Carolina-style BBQ sauce when I smell these kinds of beers...weird.

T - The taste on this is much more cloyingly sweet than I expected, even for a Belgian sour. Candied fruits and cherries dominate up front, with that reliable lactic funk permeating throughout. The finish is almost port-like because of the sweetness and acidity of this style.

M&D - A tad bit highly carbonated for my impressions of the style, but it still works pretty well. Because of the sugary sweetness that isn't as counter-balanced by the sourness that I would like, I'd probably skip having more than one of these. Still pretty enjoyable though.

Photo of bitterthebetter
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a deep regal brown with ruby highlights and an off white head

rich, malty, caramel aromas upfront with a sour tartness and slight woodiness

caramel malt upfront by tart malt, slight apple notes, and slight dry woodiness on the finish

smooth, tart yet balanced, a bit sugary but super enticing

a great beer, reminds me of why I love these beers. smooth, malty, sour yet pleasant all the way through its an absolute pleasure to drink this beer

Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 fluid oz bottle purchased at McKinnon's in Salem, NH. Pours a translucent copper-brown with a half inch of quickly dissipating light tan head. Acidity dominates the aroma, with possible hints of fruit and malt hiding in the background. Tastes both sweet and sour, with the sour bite hitting more toward the finish. A fruity sweet-tart character is there with hints of caramel. Light bodied with ample carbonation. My first oud bruin, but this is delicious, complex and drinkable. Definitely a solid beer for any sour-head out there.

Photo of ROBORB
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a ruby, hazy red color with a very thin head. The aroma was teh best part of this beer. It smelled of candy, sugar, and cherries. I found the beer to be overly sweet at first sip but as the beer warmed it started getting more sour. This would be a great transitional beer for someone getting into sours.

Photo of photomike
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My first of this style.

Pours a really beautiful brown with a fluffy brownish tan head. 3 fingers in a tall fluted pils glass. I love to look at this. It is a damn shame I have to drink it all.

Smell is somewhat generically sour. A big vinegary, a bit fruity.

That smell really develops when you actually taste it. Big time sour apple flavors here. Almost like what Martinelli's would taste like if it were made out of underripe apples. Some of that vinegar is present as well, but mostly only right when the beer hits your tastebuds--it dissipates quickly. More sour than I had expected, but certainly not overly so.

Mouthfeel was not bad. There was definitely significant astringency as a result of the sourness. Not that this was necessarily bad or unexpected, but it that is the nature of the beast. I love sours, and puckering like this is to be expected...it was just slightly less pleasant to me than it usually is with sours for some reason.

The astringency makes this a beer that you wouldn't want to session, but this stuff goes down really easy, and I could certainly have a couple.

For the price, a great sour. Now I'm just gonna have to pop one more to get another look at this beauty....

Photo of CaptainIPA
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

P: Served on-tap @ Comet Cafe and served in a tulip glass. Pairs well with The Stendler: corned beef, scrambled eggs, hash browns and cheese wrapped in a tortilla, and topped with Siracha hot sauce.

A: Pours a dark chesnut-color with ruby highlights and a thin rimming of foam.

S: Sweet apple cider with essences of balsamic vinegar.

T: Opens with a sweet tang of spiced apple cider that flows directly into a sourness characteristic of berry-infused balsamic vinegar. No discernible hoppiness. Nice, subtle earthiness towards the middle. Finishes sweet with a resurgence of apple.

M: Smooth with a lively carbonation that prickles the palate.

D: Wow, I loved this stuff -- especially the sour aspect of the ale. Very unique. Based on this introduction, I feel compelled to explore the Flanders Oud Bruin style.

Photo of krisandajt
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is the first sour I've ever had. Just happened to see it on the shelf at my local beer store, and I wanted to try the style. I'm going to do my best to keep the style in mind as I review.

Appearance: Pours a nice clear red with a great deal of head that fades somewhat quickly. Does leave behind some nice lacing.

Smell: Smell is unique - sour.

Taste: Keeping in mind the style...this is a sour brew. In that regard, it excels.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat watery, but has nice carbonation.

Drinkability: If you like this style, then I would imagine this is a brew for you. Personally, this is something I wanted to try just to say I tried it...I don't see myself drinking many of these in my lifetime.

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,476 ratings.