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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

1,094 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 1,094
Hads: 2,716
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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Reviews: 1,094 | Hads: 2,716
Photo of rugbyfan13
3.16/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Dark hazelnut brown on top fading into a dark red on the bottom. Tan, 1/2 inch head. Head turns into a thin cover on top. Medium lacing.

Smell: Cherries, wood, yeast funk, much less palpable than a Saison funk. Hints of garlic at the end that become more obvious as the beer warms up, but it still remains muted.

Taste: Oaky and funky, once again, similar to a Saison, lightly sour. Alcohol warms the burns the mouth as you drink it.

The main problem with this beer is that water hits you first. While I can tell there are strong flavors in the beer, the water just made the rest of the flavors have to overcome the watery-ness of the beer, and thus, diluted them.

Mouthfeel: Too damn watery up front. Similar to the taste, the water creates an obstacle for the mouthfeel and makes it seem weak.

Drinkability: I love yeasty funk, and I like sour beers, so I could drink more. Its an unremarkable beer.

Seeing how much I paid for the beer, I won't be trying this again. (1,041 characters)

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

Poured into a stemless goblet. A beautiful dark red opaque was topped with a quarter inch of foam that slowly dissipated to a slight film. If it had a touch more foam and it was a woman I would say she looked sultry.

Scent of citrus, lemon zest, cherries? and sweet yeast.

Taste and mouthfeel - I recall my first Leifmans' draught at first taste. On this near 90F day with as much humidity, it is so damn refreshing and delicious; I had to control taking it all down. The Sweet and sour brings a much anticipated tongue smack. It has a nice fullness to it with an underlying fluid component with a nice fizz at the end. The acidity and sweet notes seem to break apart a little if let sit for too long however, making it either a bit more sweet or more sour.

Drinkability - I could down this all day in the summer and feel bad about not enjoying it more. The mingling between the nose and the mouth is excellent.

I would walk a mile for a monk. (955 characters)

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

Poured from 11.2oz bottle into New Belgium Tulip

A - Pours alot like a coke, without the excess carbonation and a bit cloudier. Brown with a slight ruby tint and a tan head. Lacing is moderate when tipped.

S - Sour, dark cherries and other dark fruits. Rather tart. Light sweetness and a good dose of yeast funkiness.

T & M - Well-carbonated tingle turns quickly to a sour bite on the tongue. Medium to light body. Truns dry at the finish with a dried cherry sweetness. Tart plum as well. Interesting, and alot like that New Glarus Enigma I had about a month ago.

D - Not quite as refreshing as the label would have you believe, but I am becoming a fan of this style. A complex and interesting brew that is far outside most people's definition of how a beer should taste. ABV not a factor. Worth a try and perhaps a repeat. (835 characters)

Photo of nightcrawler
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a scary-looking muddy brown with a brown head. There were red highlights when viewed with a bright light looking through the glass. Lacing was thick and tight on the glass.

Smelled sort of like BBQ sauce with a hint of yeast/bread. Very interesting. Carbonation was like a soda.

The taste was sweet with a cherry wine-like finish. Very easy to drink, maybe too easy. The beer has a creamy feel and carbonation continues to produce bubbles when the liquid hits your warm tongue.

My mouth tingles slightly with the sour after every swallow. Not a beer to chug all afternoon, but very tasty. (605 characters)

Photo of BeardedSquash
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep mahogany with a little over a finger of loose off-white head. Head recedes fairly quickly, leaving only thin lace.

S: Smells sour, but not infected like a Lambic. Light musty odor. Smells delicious.

T: Not as sour as the name would suggest, but tart. A bit of green apple on the sides of the tongue. Acidic and sweet, no defined hop presence.

M: Airy bubbles that fizz only slightly on the tongue. The acidity creates a thin layer of phlegm to guide the bubbling liquid down gently.

D: Wonderfully light on the palate and stomach. A great beer to introduce others to sour ales. Great for a hot day in the baby pool. (636 characters)

Photo of msubulldog25
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An 11.2 oz. bottle, poured to a small wide-mouthed wine goblet.

A: Murky rust-brown, with plentiful rising carbonation. A creamy, sandy tan head of tiny bubbles, freckled with areas of rising carbonation amidst areas of stillness.

S: Wonderfully tart/sour aroma - there goes the saliva! Musty yeast, light sour cherries, sugary lemon candy backing.

T: Sour and sweet, not quite a pucker-inducing, tongue-curling intensity. Cherries, sour green grapes, hints of vanilla & oak barrel, especially in the finish. Dryness of tart apples.

M: Good, crisp carbonation...refreshingly light. Some clinging sweetness and lasting woody/vinous sourness.

D: A tasty Flanders Red Ale, an eminently drinkable example of a style I enjoy alot. Well blended, good aromas and flavors, one I'm glad to have tried and would like more of. Thanks to Jef and the guys at Van Steenberge for making this and thanks to the East Coaster who sent this bottle... (947 characters)

Photo of ryantupy
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Happy Gnome in St. Paul poured in a 12oz Monks Glass.
A- Poured a ruby red color with a nice frothy head that was an off white.
S - Tartness with notes of cherry, strong oak, and a nice sweetness.
T- Your first sip its all tart then the beer starts to sweeten out and you have strong oak character with hints of sweetness, cherry, and a nice tart finish.
M- Nicely carbonated beer that feels great as it coates your tongue with a nice tart zing.
D- Easily drinkable and enjoyable. (500 characters)

Photo of jwc215
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass:

Pours mahogany with a one-finger+ off white head that descends to about half the size and stays. Lacing sticks to glass.

The smell is mildly sour, vinuous, candy in the back.

The taste is sour/grapefruity/vinuous. Candy sweetness mixes in to give it a sweettart, dry finish.

Appropriately light-bodied and rather mild (but tasty) for the style, this is an easy drinker. It isn't as sour as other classic examples, but has a nicely balanced sourness to it and could be a good intro to the style. A nicely done brew. Could pair well with grapes and creamy cheeses. (601 characters)

Photo of Brian700
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is the first beer I reviewed in forever, I'm a little rusty, bear with me.

It pours a deep amberish red with an off-white head that slowly settled down to a creamy ring around the outer edge of my glass leaving nice belgian lacing.

The aroma is typical, sweet/sour, cherries, I get a little bit of burnt hair as I really stick my nose in there.

It has a big lactic wallup right in the front that develops into a sweet/sour flavor and tapers off into a little bit of sour fruit leaving your mouth dry and tasty. Very good!

The mouthfeel is light bodied with a lot of fine carbonation. Coats the palate nicely making this a beer to savor.

I think the drinkability is great. I am a big fan of sour beer, keep that in mind. To the faint of heart, stay away. (773 characters)

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

On tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia served in a Hoegaarden style glass. Deep ruby almost purple body with a thin creamy head. Some lace.

Aroma is of sour fruits.

Flavor is primarily of rich sour plum and cherries with a full malty character. Very refreshing and thirst quenching. I could drink quite a few of these.

Served as a good accompaniment to pommes frites with spiced mayonnaise. (399 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 brdc
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish brown, this one has a very thick, luscious creamy, brownish head.
The expected sour aroma comes along with some fruitiness and a heavy smell I believe is from the yeasts.
Light-bodied, it starts right out tart and sour, almost puckering. It is then followed by some sweetness, and then more sourness and tartness.
Certainly not the best in the business, but nonetheless a pleasure. (392 characters)

Photo of Nesued
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Monk's in Philadelphia. Paired with the Grilled Monk's Flemish Sourpus (Octopus braised in Monk's Flemish Sour Ale). Along in this food pairing was a Vichtenaar to add a bit of Sour Ale variety to this food pairing. A tasting buddy and I split these two brews while enjoying this wonderful octopus offering.

Appearance - Red/ruby coloring with a fluffy head that was also showing some red tones along with a tan coloration.

Smell - A very refreshing tart/cherry nose with a subtle sweetness that draws you in (both literally and figuratively!).

Taste - This is what I love about Flanders Red Ales: the variety. There is a tartness present, but not as much as other Red Ale offerings.

Mouthfeel - Nicely wanders around the insides while showing how aeromatic a red ale can be. The carbonation lends great aid in this department.

Drinkability - A very nice representation of the style. Not the typical "Rodenbach-like" Reds. Worth finding. Really worth sampling if you visit Monk's on-tap. (1,014 characters)

Photo of rayjay
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1st time I had this was when they were premiering it at Monks Cafe in Philly. The owner Tom and a business partner and I had a few and raved about it for a while; they were obviously proud of it, and I think they said they choose it from amoung 8 sours and it was the clear winner. It was so good I had 4 glasses right then and there. That was 4, maybe 5 years ago, so lets see how it tastes these days.

I purchased this one at Healthy Spirits in San Fran, and I was surprised and happy to see it because I thought you could only get it in Philly. I remember it being alot better on draft, but I happily gave this bottle a go.

Healthy head of red foam, purple body, lots of lace, a beautiful beer.

Funky cheese nose that is very appealing.

Some sweetness, a mild sour blanket, and gentle malts come together in perfect harmony. I've had bottles that were just so-so, but this one tastes great. Finishes very dry--sweetness goes right away. Cheese and sour cherries. Restrained, polite flavors that melt in your mouth.

Spicy carbonation that remains active. The sourness and dryness make you chave more. Extremely refreshing and drinkable. One of the finest examples of its kind; puts Duchesse to shame, making her seem like pure vinegar. Seek and consume! (1,271 characters)

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

It pours a quite clear rich ruby copper. A finger of frothy light tan head sinks slowly. Gulls of lacing aviate along the inside of the glass.

The aroma is decidedly lactic and pie-cherry sour. A submerged toasted malt grain presence intimates of a feather of sweetness to balance the more aggressive tartness.

Upon tasting, the malt is tart cherry sweet and ever so slightly doughy. The sour tower is again notably lactic, and this time is buttressed by a brace of earthy funk. A short batch of residual sweetness joins the tang to open up to a gradually drying and moderately crisp finish. No matter your general tastes, it's hard not to like this at least a measure.

Light bodied, the carbonation and sweet/sour duet combine to give a marked soft-drink impression to the palate.

Plenty of places have proprietary beers, but few have such distinctive, entertaining ales. It's a sour for a newer palate, or for those who'd like a little less "horsiness" in their beer, for whatever the reason. It's a refreshing and willing counterpoint to any number of savory culinary choices. I don't usually drink it at Monk's due to the usually many untried options, but it's nice to be able to bring a bit of Monk's home with me. (1,235 characters)

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

Pours a deep mahogany with a good two finger head that dissipates slowly leaving a small cap and nice lacing.

Aroma is sour but lacks the cherry found in other ales of this type.

Taste dispals some of the sour cherry that the nose fails to display.

Nice carbonation, fairly refreshing and pleasant.

Fairly drinkable, but it's not a Rodenbach Grand Cru. (365 characters)

Photo of shivtim
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured out a hazy brown with red tints and a small but nice head. Nose is very gentle, with just a slight sweetness. Even on warming it stays mild. Taste is great- just the right amount of sour flavor, a bit lemony, corn and some malt sweetness. Nice balance. Mouthfeel is tart and foamy, compliments the flavor well. Drinkability is good. (339 characters)

Photo of albern
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a slightly cloudy brown, with some lacing and foaming on the edges. There is a goodly amount of carbonation, and the smell has all the characteristics of a really nice sour Flemish red. But it stops there. Monk's is a little watery, has a subdued cherry flavor, with other citrus present, but lacks the sourness that one would come to expect with the style. Duchesse and Rodenbach this isn't, and too bad. I was looking forward to the tartness, the chartreuse, the sweet cherry and citrus flavors, but this is lacking in all of the above. It's not a bad ale by any measure, but it just lacks the complexity, the sourness, the chewiness of the better Flemish sour ales so representative of the style. This might be a good initiate into the style for those unfamiliar with the unique qualities of the Flemish reds, but beyond that, why stop at Monk's when there are better available.

I had this on tap at the Sunset Grill in Allston, MA, December 2007. This is a very nice ale on tap, actually much fresher, more refreshing, and eminently more sippable than what I experienced out of the bottle. I would add another full point to this beer on tap. (1,161 characters)

Photo of swissmiss805
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I love this beer. My first Flemish sour, it was a gateway beer to the style, leading me to all kinds of Duchesse (not a fan) and Cantillons, yet I always go back to Monks. It has all the tartness and acidity without the overly sweetness that can come with the style. Really, I'm just writing this review as a public forum for anyone who's spotted it in NYC/Brooklyn. Please let me know if you've bought/drank it in the area I miss the Monks! (441 characters)

Photo of Onibubba
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a dark reddish brown with a small white head. Smell is all sour apples. Has a much more pronounced sourness than I was expecting. I thought this would be along the same lines of a Rodenbach or a Duchesse. However, there is none of that sour cutting sweetness present in this beer. Reminded me somewhat of a La Roja, but without the complexities. Mouthfeel was OK. For this degree of sourness, a bit more carbonation would have been nice.

Drinkability is not high. This is not a bad beer, but it is a sipper, maybe even a transitional beer. Would be nice to have before or after some sweeter reds, but 2 of these is a row would be a bit much. (651 characters)

Photo of mcallister
2.31/5  rDev -39.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Murky burnt opaque raspberry lavender. Small white quick to fade head leave some faint lacing. Not too appetizing.

Violet, sour cherry, yeasty, burnt dried berry varieties, hints of wheat germ, other tart fruits and a odd sweetness follow up the aromas.

Very weak flavors and laid back. Balance is non existent, and just a wretched lack of depth. Hints of strawberry and raspberry, bitterness is mild and really hurt this beer. Mouthfeel is thin and weak and there is virtually no length to the finish. (508 characters)

Photo of Bierguy5
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz. bottle, with the code 01 HE on the back. Cloudy, reddish brown color. Decent off white rocky head, which holds together well.

Sour berry aroma, with a bit of funky notes as well. Not a whole lot else.

Flavors begin with a puckering sensation, but quickly backs off. What is left is a bit tart, but not what was expected. Some slightly sour cherries, and dark berries, combine with a bit of earthy and musty flavors. The finish is very earthy, and dry.

Light body, with a good amount of carbonation. Seems to be light in alcohol, and pretty easy to drink.

Overall, not bad, but not as sour as I was hoping, or as the aroma would lead me to believe. The finish was not very good, which hurts the drinkability. This may be a good, non-intimidating intro into sour beers, but not at the top of the list for me. (829 characters)

Photo of kmo1030
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

murky red brown, with not much of a head to speak of.
sour, flowery cherry aroma, with a faint basement funkiness. hints of wood, and oddly enough every once in a while i get a licorice smell. malty caramel comes out slightly underneath the sour fruit.
sour cherry flavors up front, with a tart apple skin or core flavor following behind. i actually get some malt-like sweetness towards the back half. very faint mustiness.
medium bodied with soft carbonation and puckering sourness.
drinkability is good enough, as the beer i pleasantly refreshing. though not hugely complex, this is a nice tasting flemish sour that does nicely if you're in a pinch for a sour beer fix.. (676 characters)

Photo of BamaScholar
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I was pleased to find any Flanders Red Ale or Sour Ale here in Nashville, which, while improving, is hardly a Mecca for interesting fare.

It was a nice pour--the beer is a beautiful garnet tone. I may have even awarded a 5 if there were more carbonation, a better head. This may not be characteristic for the style, however.

The nose is quite unusual, the sour is there! It's like soaked cherries and a bit of musty earth.

It's not really terribly sour, just enough sweetness and bite to make for a balanced and refreshing mouthful.

Again, I could almost use a little more carbonation here, as it seems a little flat. But the dryness is quite nice. "Ahhhh" producing.

Delicious beer but one or two is plenty at-a-go. I will definitely be seeking more examples of the style. (788 characters)

Photo of brentk56
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy garnet color with a one inch head that caps nicely and leaves traces of foam down from the original head line

Smell: Sweet and sour cherry yoghurt and a bit of wood

Taste: Starts out with a comfortable blend of sweet and lactic sour cherry that builds in sourness, mid-palate; after the swallow, the wood flavor joins in and blends to the finish, which leans to the sweet rather than the sour

Mouthfeel: Somewhat thick and yoghurty with plenty of carbonation

Drinkability: Not as complex as some other Flemish Reds, this is nonetheless very enjoyable, particularly for those who are not enamored by sour beers but like an occasional stroll on the sour side (685 characters)

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