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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
87
very good

2,444 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,444
Reviews: 1,049
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 57
Gots: 192 | 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: 2,444 | Reviews: 1,049 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of esv
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Flemish, from Flanders - a region that covers portions of Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

The head stands at about 1/3'' and I can hear it. It's like a snap, crackle pop sound or like a soft, white noise or a soda. The head flattens fairly quickly but lacing sticks around.

The beer is dark with a deep brownish red glow around the edges. Light doe not hardly pass through the bulk of the beer.

I can smell sour before I even lift the glass to my nose. The nose is both sour and sweet and it truly reminds me of a Chinese sauce.

There is a thin but syrupy-sweet taste and then sour. The beer is really quite sweet and certainly tangy. There is a hint of bitterness that becomes more detectable as the beer warms. It is almost like the bitterness you might taste from a cup of hot tea, when it has been allowed to cool and the teabag was left to sit in the cup. It is a dry bitterness.

The mouthfeel is thin.

I must admit, this is the first sour beer I've had and it will take me some time to purchase another bottle. It was not easy for me drink.

esv, Jan 12, 2009
Photo of HalfFull
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a flute glass. This is my first Oud Bruin and the first time I've poured beer into a 'champagne' glass. Let's see how it goes.

Pours a rather clear deep red/light brown color and easily generates a full inch of head. Offers good retention and yields some artsy lacing throughout.

Smell reminds me immediately of champagne, oddly apropos for the glass indeed. Perhaps a rosé bubbly. Now why does the BA dictionary recognize 'apropos' but not 'mouthfeel' or 'ABV' I don't know. No real vinegar sense here, just some extracts of summer fruit(grape, apple, and plum mostly) and champagne yeast. Sour? Sour notes are minimal and the beer isn't funky whatsoever.

Tastes of slightly tart cherries enhanced by deeper plum flavors, and has a lingering sweet close. Comparisons to champagne continue to the feel of this brew, bubbly and effervescent indeed.

This is an interesting beer but the simplicity of it all limits the drinkability for me. Surely a nice toasting brew, a champagne with a head! Definitely worth a try, an interesting style I'd like to try a few other examples of.

HalfFull, Jan 05, 2009
Photo of Brad007
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark red color with a thick two-finger head into my glass, leaving a bit of lacing.

Aroma is tart with a strong hint of cherries and spice. Also has a bit of barnyard funk.

Taste is tart and sour upfront with a hint of cherry, apple and barnyard funk.

Mouthfeel is mainly tart and sourness that linger at the back of the throat. Well carbonated.

Interesting example of the style that has a lot of nice characteristics. Definitely a sipping beer and you should only try it if you are looking for something to challenge your palate.

Brad007, Jan 04, 2009
Photo of JayNH
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep clear burgundy color with a small foamy head.

S- Definite note of vinegar. Followed by a sweet but tart fruity smell. Very cranberry-ish.

T- Starts with a tart sweetness that fades to an ever so sour and smokey malt flavor. It finishes with a mild earthy/grassy hoppiness. It's like apple peels.

M- smooth, a little creamy. Good body and just the right amount of carbonation.

D- This brew goes down very smooth.

This is my first beer from this style and I must say it's unlike anything I've ever tried. The taste is very complex and comes at you in waves of different flavors. I will definitely try more of this style.

JayNH, Jan 02, 2009
Photo of taylorhamrick
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark red color, shines like a ruby. A white fluffy head sits on top giving some lacing, but the head sort of fades, which helps you get straight to the beer. The smell reminds me of Easter, dying eggs. Just like vinegar, a bit of apple cider and white wine thrown in too. The taste is just what I'd expect. Like apple cider vinegar, a good balance between sweetness and sourness, like red wine, but leaning a bit more towards sour. Not a whole lot of puckering tartness, but a great taste. The carbonation makes it a bit interesting, and there's plenty to seek out in this beer. I liked it, I could sip on it for a very long time, and would definitely purchase again if given the opportunity.

taylorhamrick, Jan 01, 2009
Photo of glid02
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours a slightly hazy brownish-red color with a one-finger off-white head. The head dissipates quickly into a wispy layer of bubbles on top and a medium-sized ring around the glass. Lacing isn't very sticky.

Smells of tart cherries with a small amount of yeasty funk. It's almost like a light red wine when it's cold but as it warms it gets more of a malty character.

Prepare yourself, because the first sip is VERY sour. I wasn't expecting it to be this tart from the smell, and though it's not overpowering it certainly makes me pucker up a bit. Sour cherry and apple flavors mostly, with a vanilla-esque flavor - almost a bit woody.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a good thickness and active carbonation.

Drinkability is good once you're acclimated to the sourness. The flavors are clean and crisp and I had no problem finishing off one - although I'm not sure how much I like the prospect of having another.

Overall this is a great beer for the price. Pick this up if you see it, and the next time I'm in Philly I hope to stop in for a glass.

glid02, Dec 31, 2008
Photo of penguinjive7
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pur is a cloudby brown color with about an inch of white head. Initial smell is of vinigar mixing with spice. The first sip is mostly a strong vinigar flavor is quickly followed by a bittersweet blast of firmented dark fruit. I can definitely taste hints of the oak coming through to further give the brew a flacor reminiscent of vinous almost cabernet-like flacor. The finish has a hint of clove spice to further round out the palate. Wow, this is really an odly balanced Flanders. The sweetness that balanced the sourness of the brew is almost awkward and unexpected, but it really works for this one. An excelent brew that I would have again in a heartbeat.

penguinjive7, Dec 28, 2008
Photo of RodBurg
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, deep red color with a thick off white head and some spotty lacing.

Smells tart and fruity. Grapes, plums, and cherries.

Taste is pretty outstanding. Sweet apples and cherries with a slight sour finish. Very crisp with an intense carbonation.

Very good stuff. Now I know what I'll be drinking on New Year's Eve instead of Champagne.

RodBurg, Dec 23, 2008
Photo of xxthepatientxx
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Presentation: 11.2oz bottle. Poured into a flute.

A - Pours a beautiful pale reddish amber color with strong, champagne-like effervescence, leaving a dense, lingering slightly tan head. No lacing to speak of.

S - Fruity and tart, perhaps like a plum wine.

T/M - Mmmm! Smooth and viscous on the tongue. A bit more syrupy than I'd like when drinking that much of something, but not unpleasant. Very sweet with an underlying dry tartness like from a granny smith apple. Tiny bubbles tickle the tongue. The taste is very fruity; reminds me of plums. Tastes much like a port. This beer isn't nearly as tart as I expected, having previously tried La Folie. A good intro to the style, in that respect. The tartness is there, though, blending in and lending this certain character and depth.

D - One of these goes down very easy. For me, the sweetness is a bit much to have more than that...at least not without a break in between. The overall enjoyment factor though is very good. Very drinkable...just not sessionable.

Impressions: This brew reminds me of a lighter colored port - the smell, the texture, the sweetness, the the flavors. Very intriguing. And like a good port, this would pair fine with a dessert or stand alone as an after-dinner drink. It also occurred to me that due to the effervescence and distinctly winey taste of this particular beer, it would make a fun substitute to champagne on New Year's Eve. How's that for a way to introduce your friends and family to the world of unusual beers?

xxthepatientxx, Dec 22, 2008
Photo of DoubleJ
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yeah, bring on the sour. Single bottle from Total Wine for $2.49, on to the beer:

Poured into an oversized wine glass, its brown in color, interweaved with dark red, and with hues of orange. Lovely color, even cooler when you shine a light through it. The nose is tart like strawberries, and phenolic. It's a good smell, but it lacks robustness for that higher score. Taste...sweet and sour sauce. Me likey. Tart and sugary sweet upfront. Light on the sourness and more focused on a sweet flavor. Burnt caramel sweet. Sour apples. Some might say it's cloying, but it's working for me. Delightful and not too heavy...Intro to Sour Beer 101 is right here.

DoubleJ, Dec 17, 2008
Photo of adamks
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a: pours copper/orange with thin, quick to fade light brown head

s: vinegar....woah! some fruity something (cherry, maybe strawberry?), hard to tell with the overpowering sourness

t: sour/vinegar up front, as that fades the cherry/fruit sweetness really comes out, good overall balance

m: thin but well-carbonated

d: this is the best of the few sours i've had, but the sourness could be off-putting to some. maybe not the best introduction for those hesitant to try a sour, but it worked for me!

adamks, Dec 17, 2008
Photo of beerthulhu
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Flemish Sour ale.

A: Poured a deep crimson red with a slight one finger tan head. Visible carbonation was good per style.

S: a nice sour tart aroma of dried fruit (cherries) some sour fruitiness (apples).

T: acidic with a big sour tartness of cherries but fades quickly off the finish. Starts off with a nice sour bite but fades quickly and cleanly on the finish.

M: vinous, and very slick on the tongue.

D: Good drinkability for a sour, still limited to 1 or 2 at best.

beerthulhu, Dec 08, 2008
Photo of drumrboy22
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received in trade from bradford last year. Poured from an 11.2oz bottle into a Cantillon glass. Beer was a slightly hazy, rusty red color, with a small, off-white head. Light carbonation and thick lacing around the glass.

Aroma was tart cherries and light vinegar.

Taste was tart cherries, light sweet malt and a touch of oak. Light metallic flavor present. Could be a bit more sour.

Very easy drinking. Not as full flavored or complex as I had hoped, but still quite enjoyable.

drumrboy22, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 2/29/08. Bottled as Monk's Flemish Sour Ale. Pours a dark, clear brown with a very small head. Aroma of tart raspberries, alcohol, oak, prunes. Tastes of sweetness, some sour fruits, and oak. I really enjoyed this a lot and thought it was comparable to Duchesse de Bourgogne. Very drinkable. I was very surprised by this one and would really recommend it!

Rerate 09/28/08: Aroma of tart fruits (raspberry in particular) and a slight hint of something else that reminds me of oatmeal. Flavor of balsamic vinegar and sour fruits. This is still quite delicious and I will leave my old numbers. Yum! 8/3/8/4/15 (3.8/5)

LilBeerDoctor, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of mbrandon2w
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful ruby red color. Thin tan head.
Smell is sweet malt, light cherries, and a touch of acetic acid.
Taste is sweet cherry, lightly sour.
Smooth and easily drinkable. Fairly high carbonation makes it lively and helps lift all the flavors off the tongue, making it more drinkable.

mbrandon2w, Dec 01, 2008
Photo of ThirstyBird
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a chalice. Thanks Dave for sharing!
A - Reddish amber with an eggshell head which fall to a ring
S - Intense sour cherries with some malt.
T - Sour cherries of course, vinegar, some malt sweetness to counter the sour. Tasty.
M/F - Bristly carbonation yet finishes nicely. A medium bodied beer.
D - A very nice sour. Not my usual style but a nice treat.

ThirstyBird, Nov 30, 2008
Photo of vacax
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Amber to rub-red with sparse off-white head. Head is small, but lovely carpet of nearly microscopic bubbles.

S: Sour with sweet malts. Very style-forward and solid.

T: Red fruits and figgy with light sourness and definite tang and funk. Balance between sweet and tart is spot-on. Metallic qualities to the flavor really reduce my enjoyment.

M: Light and fluffy, airy. Not as thick as I thought it would be.

D: High drinkability for a sour. Good balance between sweetness, tartness, and funkiness. I didn't notice an excess of acidity. Well reasonably priced also.

vacax, Nov 27, 2008
Photo of roadhouse
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Not sure of the age but it's probably quite old based on the store where I got it.

Appears dark mahogany in color, with a three-quarter inch pillowy off-white head. Leaves a bit of lacing on one portion of the glass and retains the head well, though I'm sure my glass with etched bottom doesn't hurt.

Aroma has a tart cherry tone, some vinegar, and a bunch leathery sour funk. There is a sweet smell peaking through as well, but it takes the backseat.

The taste is initially quite sweet, surprisingly. The funk hits next alongside some fruitiness. This one's not exactly sour, but it has a certain tart appeal to it. In the end the sweetness comes back, but right when I am expecting some more sour.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a very nice level of carbonation that makes for a creamy and soft drinking beer.

This one was really good but a bit too sweet and not enough sour. I would maybe get it again, but I certainly recommend giving it a shot.

roadhouse, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of SeanRedd
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An enjoyable, milder sour ale amongst the others. Pours a dark amber with a thick, beige pillowy head. Aromas of strawberries and bland gueze. Lil sweet, bit of cherry cola, warms into a red wine zing. Less exciting that other sour reds but provides a safe staple of the style.

SeanRedd, Nov 21, 2008
Photo of JoeMayo
4.65/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a dark reddish amber with a very small head.

S- Apple Cider vinegar hits the nose first, but is actually a welcoming smell. Sweet apple cider, caramelized sugar and brown sugar also come through.

T- Sweet and Tart. A mix of granny smith and Fuji or Gala apples come through with notes of honey. Tart cider vinegar comes through with a slight funk in the background.

M- Light body with a lovely effervescent carbonation.

D- This one goes down easy and is incredibly pleasant to sip on.

JoeMayo, Nov 12, 2008
Photo of bonkers
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I poured a 11.2 ounce bottle into a tulip glass. It pours a deep mahogany in color with a fuzzy white head. When the beer is held up to a light it becomes very translucent and almost looks red. The smell is kind of funky, but in a good way. It is a bit like a red wine vinegar in aroma. The beer is like drinking a vinegary drink, only sweeter. Perhaps a sweet and sour drink. The flavor is acidic with a lingering sweet finish. The brew is a medium bodied sipper with high carbonation. I liked this beer because of its funky taste, but I do not think I could drink more than one in a sitting. A nice alternative to highly hopped beers.

bonkers, Nov 09, 2008
Photo of tprokop7
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Trying this for the second or third time, out of a 11.2 oz bottle into an oversized wine glass. It's not bad, but something about the taste isn't for me. I think it's a little too sweet, and that the sugars are a bit muddled. The sour finish is nice, the beer looks beautiful.

tprokop7, Nov 08, 2008
Photo of YankChef
4.65/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a la fin du monde glass

Appearance: hazy ruby red with amberish copper.rust hues. thin white mucky looking head that just sticks to the top

Smell: Stinky, almost brie like aroma type funk maybe a little lactose (says so on the bottle) the wild yeast is really in your face. On the end there is certainly some big time fruit, mystery berry and cherry

Taste: Big and rich on the front of the palate cherry sourness, there is tons of cherry throughout, I would almost think it was actually in the beer if I knew it wasnt. Explosion of just sweet and sour and then lots of big fruit flavor and then and almost cheese finish, hmmm gruyere? Only complaint is the finish is very short which makes you want to keep on sipping

Overall: Excellent beer and an excellent sour, Rodenbach grand cru is in my opinion the benchmark for the style but this beer is much more approachable. Big on flavor without the rip your tounge sourness of RGC, balanced even. If you can find this stuff pick it up!

YankChef, Nov 07, 2008
Photo of lpayette
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was surprised to see I hadn't reviewed this before. I've had it probably 4 or 5 times. This bottle probably has about a year of aging on it, and it does seem to have mellowed out some which I like.

Appearance- dark ruby grapeish color with a small head but plenty of lacing. Looks good.

Smell- mostly sour notes, but there's a bit of vinegar at times in the background which I could go without. It's not a dealbreaker for me though, just something I could do without. Well... afterall, it is part of the style, isn't it? Smell of cherries and grapes with a dusting of oakey/woodsy notes.

Taste and Mouthfeel- Nice sour flavors mingle with very subtle oaky flavors. Again, the flavors are mostly grapes and cherries- at least that's how I perceive it anyway. Remember that grape flavored kool-aid with the purple dinosaur on it? Well, if I remember correctly, this beer tastes kind of like they took some of that and fermented it with some wild critters. That might sound like a negative review, but I think it's pretty darn tastey. Finishes pretty dry.

Drinkability- I find this to be a pretty drinkable beer overall, and one that might be a good gateway beer into the realm of sour beer. It's not too sour, but there's enough there to make it a new taste for most people.

lpayette, Nov 03, 2008
Photo of danielharper
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

My first beer of this style.

Appearance: Opaque brown body, slightly reddish coloration. Small khaki-colored head that dissipates quickly. Leaves a small amount of lacing.

Smell: Sour, tarty aroma, a hint of that "mustardy" aroma I always get from lambics, has the aroma of a wild ale, probably due to the yeast. Slightly musky at the bottom. This seems pretty much what I expected for-style, so I'm giving it a 4.

Taste: Strong notes of sourness up front. Breadiness in the middle, slightly malty and grainy. Underneath the sourness is a mild touch of apples and cherry. Finishes clean and dry with only a slight tart.

Mouthfeel: Fairly thin mouthfeel, no real carbonation, slightly chewy.

Drinkability: I'm dinging this a bit because I find it fairly undrinkable. I know the tartness and the sourness is to-style, but for my palate it's fairly overwhelming. I've given it credit in the higher categories, so I don't feel bad for dropping its score a bit here.

danielharper, Oct 31, 2008
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
87 out of 100 based on 2,444 ratings.