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

1,088 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 1,088
Hads: 2,699
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.24%
Wants: 75
Gots: 342 | FT: 5
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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Reviews: 1,088 | Hads: 2,699
Photo of tonistruth
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- deep mahogany with 2 fingers of fluffy white froth, excellent retent, soapy lace

S- sour fruit, funky

T- highly sour, toasted malts, dried fruit, sweet and sour battle throughout

M- mouth puckering sourness, smooth, sticky

D- tasty and refreshing, love the sweet and sour flavors, i really wish brewers would attempt these sours belgian styles as opposes to triple and wits. recommended (393 characters)

Photo of daftafne
2.58/5  rDev -32.8%
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. (505 characters)

Photo of geexploitation
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark russet color with a sticky, tenacious, cafe-au-lait head. From the looks of it, it could be a Belgian dubbel. The nose has the tell-tale marks of acetic acid, along with some sweeter smells (marshmallow). On the palate, there's a brisk, pit-fruit acidity first off, then a switch into some sweeter, almost cane-sugary elements, before a more citric acid finish. Cherry-pits finish things off. Mouthfeel is medium for the style, with quickness and some smoothness in the middle. Overall, this is quite a nice Flemish sour ale. It doesn't have a ton of depth, but what is here is balanced and pleasant. (613 characters)

Photo of IBUnit63
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bready, rye bread head with Florentine lacing. Deep, dark brown body with moderate carbonation. Has a root beer look to it.

This is an unfamiliar style for me, so I'm getting a lot of vinegar at first. Sweet, sarsparilla malt also makes an apperance. Ample funk.

I can understand the sour vinegar funk but I'm getting a tinny, metallic taste also. Comes off as funky but not entirely in a good way. Underneath the metal there's lots of character, though.

Yeasty, bready mouthfeel - funk evens out with warmth.

This one is a little tough to choke down - decently made but probably not my thing. (597 characters)

Photo of oakbluff
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Monk's Cafe bottle via tytoanderso. Thanks Tyler! Pours a bubbly light cherry cola color with good clarity. Nose is mostly cherry and vinegar. Taste- Initial tart fruit which dries quickly into a mineral like finish. Dry and wood in finish as well. Would score higher, but the hard water taste is a bit much. Crisp on the tongue and goes down easy. (348 characters)

Photo of Overlord
1.96/5  rDev -49%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Startled to see a purported Flanders ale for 2.79 at Hi-Times.

Pours a ruddy brown color with a white foam head.

The smell is offputting. Just plain bad. A sickly belgian yeast odor mixed with the familiar citrus zest/lemon tartness of a flanders ale. Does not mix at all.

The taste has some interesting notes, but nothing melds correctly. I get hints of the familiar, delicious vinegar zest, but there's a completely inappropriate cherry/medicinal overtone. It's just all over the map. I love sour ales, but I've apparently focused on the elite. I've now seen what happens when it isn't done well.

Just not a good example of the style, and a borderline drainpour. This noxious brew is sickly, a mishmash of conflicting flavors, and should be taken behind the barn and put out of its misery. (798 characters)

Photo of punkindrublic50
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

If you are trying to get a woman who doesn't normally care for beer interested in it this is where I would start. Not overly imposing or intense, but still firmly showing off a solid sweet/sour tart flavor. Cherry is the dominant sour fruit flavor, with solid carbonation and a nice tart pucker on the finish. Definitely not to be confused with the carbonated cherry juice that is sometimes sold as a sour fruit beer (a la Kasteel Rouge or some Framboise's). (458 characters)

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

This offering pours a deep reddish brown and bubbly leaving a thick tan head sticky and clings to the glass. The aroma is a strong sour cherry, dark ripened fruit, sweet but sour dominate, hay, horse blanket, earthy.

The taste is deliciously tart, it has a slight metallic taste upfront, sour cherries, syrupy in consistancy pretty delicious that finishes by giving you a nice pinch of sourness on the back of the throat. (422 characters)

Photo of USCTrojanBrian
4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a tulip

Dark brown, classic brown color, some violet in there as well. One finger head, aggressive carbonation coursing along the walls of the glass. Beautiful.

Standard sour cherry aroma, potent, but a little more woody than sweet.

Really aggressive soda-like carbonation on the first small sips. Tremendous sweet/sour fruity burst, cherry. Really sweet, the dominant flavor rather than sourness. This may be the kool-aid of Flemish sours, very drinkable. Not quite as complex as others I've tasted but by no means bad. I pick up some other flavors in the aroma that don't quite show up in the mouth, slightly frustrating.

Really enjoyable beer, not much to complain about or quibble with. (721 characters)

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

App - reddish-brown color, good clarity. Modest white head, but with good retention.

Smell - a bit like vinegar in the sour, but also fruity

Flavor - Fruit juice sweetness balanced with lactic sour. Finishes with some peppery spiciness, and dries out nicely.

MF - medium body and moderately high carbonation. Wouldn't mind it a bit flatter. Sourness gives a bit of pucker (astringency), but totally okay.

O'all - A very different kind of beer. Believe there are other examples that are slightly better, but highly drinkable if you've got a thing for gently sour beverages. (578 characters)

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

Appearance: The pour is light brown with red hues and a medium-sized white head that sticks around until the last sip.

Smell: The aroma has a sour mix of cherries, cranberries green apples along with damp wood.

Taste: The flavor profile brings loads of tartness and sourness accentuated by cherries, cranberry, red grapes, green apples, cough syrup, generic red candy, and oak .

Mouthfeel: This beer is just barely medium-bodied with low carbonation.

Drinkability: I really dig sour beers. This one is good, not great, yet it's always nice to try new sour beers. (570 characters)

Photo of CHADMC3
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a smooth mahogany brown with a tan frothy head, which displays its generous carbonation leaving a tight lacing around the glass.

Plenty of sour fruit for the nose, perhaps apples and darker fruits such as cherries. A second visit unveils some grassy notes as well as woody oak and diacetyl.

A sharp sour flavor greats your lips where it will stay for the duration of the beer. Sweet cherries, almost like a kriek, again noticeable oak flavors, and a sweeter, smooth finish.

This beer is very pleasant on the palate and surprisingly balanced despite its acidity. Relatively light, with obvious carbonation that does not overwhelm.

I am not a frequenter of the style, but this beer may change that. Not sure I would be drinking this all night, but it certainly is a great change from other styles. I wish I had some sharp cheeses to sample with this. (858 characters)

Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter and received a murky brown body with a one-finger head that stuck around a long time and left a lace ring. A sour smell mixed with malts and some citric notes (closer to dark fruit but I'll leave it at that) combined with some caramel or butter - also a tad spicy. Very sour, but a good sour, with a smooth body and a bitter fruit taste. A little hop kick or spicy note (something like pepper) that jolts the tip of the tongue, then something akin to sweet malts and fruit (cherry being the most prevelant) hits the tastebuds as it is going down, making for a medium-bodied beer that is balanced and not rough. I don't like sour drinks period, but I thought this was a great beer. I don't know if I'd session it because it might leave a funny taste after a while (think too much OJ), but I recommend to all to try this beer. (846 characters)

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

Like all sour ales, this is not a style for everyone. While I can't understand how everyone doesn't appreciate a nice goblet of Chimay or Corsendonk, I can fully understand how sour ales are a real acquired taste and not for all.

I tried this at Monk's. I am not certain the style of glass this was served in, different, almost like a tall juice glass (?). Right away, the smell hits you before you take a sip. A strong, bitter, sour cherry scent.

While the bar's darkness made it hard to tell, it appeared to be ruby red-brown in color. A mild head, not too much. Rather refreshing in appearance.

The flavor is complex. A raging war between sweet and sour...with the sweetness taking the lead at the initial sip, but to be overcome by the notes of sourness at the end. Mild hints of yeastiness are mixed in throughout.

Take my review in comparison to other sour ales. Drinkability is scored high, but my hats off to anyone who could drink sour ales all night long. It is an interesting and unique style, but hardly matches well with most foods and definately the sour taste lingers in your mouth well after your drink is finished (similiar to a strong IPA). (1,164 characters)

Photo of MusicaleMike
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

When I met the owner of Monk's Cafe last month and spoke with him about beer and brewing, I was left with the impression that he was a beer man with lots of strong opinions (which is a good thing). With that experience in mind, I was very excited to try a beer that he commissioned himself from a Belgian brewer friend. Obviously, this was going to be a beer that lived up to high expectations. I bought this 11.2 oz. bottle at the Foodery and poured it into a tulip glass.

A: The body is a clear, deep brown color with rich ruby highlights when held to the light. This beer is definitely on the darker side of the style. The head was a thick cream-colored head which dissipated to a thick lace and then stayed for the entire glass. There was a very small amount of lace left on the glass. The visible carbonation was minimal.

S: There is an immediate sour smell that masks the fruitiness. The smell is rich, with notes of dates/figs, cheese, and cherries. There is some aroma that almost comes off as a buttery malt smell, but that could be a trace amount of diacetyl. I also thought I picked up some aroma of hops, but that may have been the lactic sour/spicey quality. These qualities are in no way inappropriate and they were quite enjoyable in this beer.

T: The first sip is very dry, with sourness up front, but with a sweet aftertaste. There is a nice balance to the taste, but instead of the sweetness being balanced by bitter, this beer balances the malts with sourness. The sourness covers up some of the intensity of the rich fruit flavor. There is a somewhat roasty malt character, with flavors of cherries, maybe apricot, and oak. The taste disappears quickly after the swallow.

M: The mouthfeel is excellent. Light bodied with some crisp carbonation to tickle the tongue. It just barely leaves an acidic feeling in the mouth. The relative lightness of this beer certainly helps its drinkability. The label speaks the truth: "Very refreshing!"

D: However, the sheer richness of this beer's flavor would not sit well with me after more than two. I do recommend grabbing this beer if you see it though, for I cannot think of a better example of the style. (2,171 characters)

Photo of AltBock
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2 fl oz. bottle that has a simple classic label of a barrel turned onto its side with a shadowy picture of a monk on one of its ends. Wrapped around the barrel is a wreath of hops and barley. The back label has all the manadory US information and a bottle code. Mine was a 13CF code. I have no idea what that means. Around the neck of the bottle is a label that has a brief description of the beer itself and how this beer came about.

Appearance: When poured into a Chimay Chalise, this Flemish Sour appeared to be a dark chestnut brown, but instead the color was more of a combination of a chestnut brown and a cranberry red. I thought the color was very interesting. That's only half of it. On top of this beer was a creamy 1 1/2 to 2 inch off white colored head of foam. This head of foam quickly receded to a smaller head of foam, but at least it didn't dissipate away completely. Besides leaving a smaller head of foam, it left behind streak after streak of lace around the glass. Overall, it was just a great appearance!

Smell: The aroma was nice and sour like a Flemish Sour should smell like. It was sour and slightly oaky with sour cherries, sour green grapes, sour cranberries, bubble gum, a hint of charred oak, and ended with the slightest touch of toasted malts. When it was swirled around, a lot more bubble gum emerged from the background. The bubble gum was so potent it took over the aroma and made it smell exactly like Bazooka Joe. While the aroma was busy controlling the oak, the bubble gum slipped by and couldn't help itself by taking over the entire aroma.

Taste: While the aroma controlled the oak and let the bubble gum slip by, it was taste that controlled the bubble gum and let the oak run wild and free. The taste was very oaky, lighty sour, and slightly dry with sour cherries, sour green grapes, charred oak, a tiny touch of bubble gum, mour sour fruits, and then all of this ended with some sour and oaky fruits. I liked that at the end the oak and sour came together to make the fruits sour. I guess you can it was team work that brought them together.

Mouthfeel: This one is more of a medium bodied beer with the usual Flemish Sour oaky and sour aftertaste of sour grapes, sour cherries, yeast, and a subtle touch of bubble gum near the end. This aftertaste will ling on for a few seconds, but not too long.

Drinkability: It was oaky and sour like the stlye should be, but unlike some, this one wasn't overwhelmingly oaky and sour. It was more oaky then sour, but it was still quite nice. In the end, I would be happy to drink this one again because it's not that expensive and it's oaky and sour like a good Flemish Sour should be. (2,676 characters)

Photo of yourefragile
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a tulip

A: Deep chestnut/amber color, slightly murky but mostly clear. Large tan head that has little retention, quickly dissipating to a thin ring and no film. However, clumpy rings of lacing are left behind all the way down the glass.
S: Was expecting a stronger smell. Sweet, malty background with some funky, fruity aromas up front, but there is also a strong diacetyl-smell detracts from it.
T: Starts off as expected with a sour twang, of ripe fruit, green apples, etc. Surprising taste of malty sweetness occasionally pokes through before strong vinegary sour finish again with buttery taste.
M: Crisp, refreshing, but slightly thin. Carbonation compliments sour flavors nicely, but finish is cloying and buttery along with the sour.
D: Great flavor and appearance, but the smell and especially the mouthfeel leave me wanting more. For the price and availability a great pick up, especially as an introduction to sour beers for someone. (973 characters)

Photo of MisterClean
3.57/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz from Total Wine

A - Dark auburn to light brown in color, no head.

S - Cherries, plums, brown sugar, and caramel.

T - Dark cherries, sugar esters, very syrupy-sweet.

M - Salty, super-syrupy, a little too cloying for my taste.

D - As long as you sip this beer it is good. The mouthfeel is disappointing, do not gulp. (327 characters)

Photo of 1759Girl
3.22/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance> Mohagany in color. Little to no head. kind of lackluster, also.
Smell> Mmmm molasses
Taste> standard sour red. I'm not a fan of the type, but I've had enough to know what the good stuff is.
Mouthfeel> Too thin
Drinkability> if you like the style you will probably find this easy to drink. (315 characters)

Photo of soupyman10
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is a deep amber brown color with a nice big head, but bubbles that are too big and dissolves way too fast. Very limited lacing. Nose is strong, spicy sourness. A deeper roasted toffee malt aroma as well. Definite vinegar hints. Flavor is...insane. Crazy strong. Almost a barbecue sauce flavor in the malty sweetness. Sourness is more subdued by the aforementioned stronger caramel malt sweetness. Lots of dried fruitiness, maybe grape in particular. Light sourness in the aftertaste that turns quickly vinous. Body feels thicker than it is because of that almost chewy malt, but its actual light to medium with solid carbonation. Not really sure what to say about this one...it's interesting and unique as hell (although that might just be my inexperience with oud bruins). It's an experience to drink, although I'm not sure if I'd be able to have more than one. Not one to test out on your BMC-drinkin' buddies. (923 characters)

Photo of ByTor2112
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this at Binny's on Grand in Chicago
Poured to my Chimay goblet. Murky brown color with a tan colored head. Spotty lacing left behind.
Aroma-my sinuses are hosed up but tart yeasty aromas are present.
Mouthfeel-good carbonation delivers a very tart flavor to the front and middle palate as the sourness intensifies down the sides. Musty wine like flavors emerge with a vigorous froth. Sour from beginning to end. I liked this for a one-time sipper. Definitely worth a try (474 characters)

Photo of JDV
2.6/5  rDev -32.3%
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 (280 characters)

Photo of younger35
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this brew as an extra quite a while back. It somehow got lost in my mix of 12 oz brews. Glad I found it! Drank out of my Stone India Pale Ale tulip.

Appearance- Pours a dark apple cider red with a small lightly dirty off-white head. Leaves a decent cap and collar for the duration of the brew and leaves a fairly good amount of lacing.
Smell- Just like you'd expect, very sour and just the smell makes my mouth water from the sour explosion that is about to come. Green apples and sour skittles are what I'm reminded of.
Taste- Hmmm, a lot smoother and more balanced than I was expecting. Green apples and soured cherries at the start before it slowly gives way to a bit of sweet malt. Not a big sweetness but a bit unexpected considering the beer. It also doesn't have that dirty yeastiness that I've experienced from my rather limited trying of this style. A bit musty in the aftertaste but overall fairly clean and very crisp.
Mouthfeel- Fairly thin but full of life and nice. The carbonation isn't messing around in this one.
Drinkability- I'm definitely not a sour ale kind of guy but this one isn't as sour as I was expecting and I really enjoyed it. Very crisp and clean without the whole dirty yeast must that I'm not the biggest fan of. Refreshing brew that should be tried if given the opportunity. (1,318 characters)

Photo of tayner
3.96/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A big thank you goes out to Leftmindedrighty for providing this 11.2 oz bottle for me so that i may begin to explore the scary world of sour ales.

Poured into my Kuhnhenn tulip glass. It poured dark brown with a decent sized pillow-y white head that dissipated to a reasonably solid ring which provided a touch of lacing for the remainder of the glass.

Smell is what i am guessing normal for the style as up front i get a lactic acid/sour fruit smell. If this was some sort of juice drink i would take it back if it smelled like this! with longer, more sustained whiffs you can smell the backbone of sweet malt hiding there.

Taste was, much to my surprise, nice. Right up front was tart cherry (after the first couple sips it was subdued enough to not be overwhelming) along with a lactic bite. midpalate the sweetness began to appear to help balance the sourness. The finish was what i would classify sweet and sour, which you can easily define on different parts of your tongue. Very unique taste.

Mouthfeel brings a fairly carbonated beverage that is surprising light bodied for as dark as it looks, light on the tongue, and pretty easy to drink, doesnt get weighty before the glass is gone.

As for drinkability, i cannot believe i am saying this, but i wish i had a couple more of these laying around, because i would could see myself having one a week . It is an interesting beer and style that, based on this one, i want to keep exploring. (1,455 characters)

Photo of dalion037
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not what I expected from a US-made Flanders Oud Bruin. It was surprising well done with a nice vinegary smell and taste. It poured a big lacy head that lasted until the last sip. It had a typical mouthfeel for a Oud Bruin. The after taste lingered with a fruity sweet and sour taste. It was worth trying it out. (311 characters)

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,088 ratings.