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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.
very good

1,095 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 1,095
Hads: 2,740
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.61%
Wants: 79
Gots: 365 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. visit their website

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: 1,095 | Hads: 2,740
Photo of Arithmeticus
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured chilled in flared sample glass @davewhite4, the third of a sour beer trilogy.

A: thin head, but very active carbonation; cola color; snowglobe effect from all the yeast floating about
S: not much aroma; opens up into some vinegar
T: very flavorful; sour cherry dominates; good malt presence

Good specimen of a sour beer

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Photo of OneDropSoup
3.22/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Grabbed this bottle from House of 1000 Beers in New Kensington, PA.

Poured into a stemmed tulip: Deep crimson body with ruby highlights - beautiful color. A finger of smooth, pillowy head that drops to a thin coating & coating. No lacing.

Tart cherry & orange peel in the smell with an overlying medicinal character, kind of like zinc lozenges. Somewhat metallic - good stuff in there, but those off-smells are hard to sift through.

Taste has pretty much the same notes as the smell, but the pleasant/unpleasant ratio has flipped to the point that the good outweighs the bad here by a little - the medicinal/metallic flavors are just trace.

Tart & acidic mouthfeel, medium-bodied, with just a little chalky sensation. As in the taste, the good's good & the bad's tolerable.

Definitely not my favorite for the style, but doable. I can stick with just one, though.

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Photo of Psilo707
3.22/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I believe this is the first Flanders Oud Bruin type of beer I have ever actually reviewed (and in recent knowledge - have even tried), and I was not sure what to expect. The appearance is a very piney red, slightly brown, as it pours with a thick head into a glass. Lacing isn't as nice as the head, but it's present.

Smell is very strong and I like it much. A very cherry and exciting scent, much like a fruit juice but with alcohol.

The taste took me for a surprise and I had no idea it would be this much like a fizzy wine. Now I understand why it's truly called Sour Ale. I didn't dislike the taste at first, but it took me about half a glass to get into and understand more thouroughly. By the end, I was enlightened somewhat. Decent stuff.

Mouthfeel is bubbly and erratic; good overall. Drinkability a bit lower than the rest as I don't think I could continue with these for too long, at least not in my current experience.

Overall I would recommend, but be ready for something new if you've never tried a Flanders Bruin.

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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.

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Photo of OddNotion
3.23/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle poured into my Russian River Belgian style glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep, yet semi transparent, reddish brown with a two finger light tan head that dissipates relatively quickly down to a cap on the beer with nice lacing.

Smell: Funkiness that turns medicinal, sour cherry alongside some bitter fruity scent. A little too reminiscent of robitussin, which gives me flashbacks of childhood and how much I hated that damn syrup, ergo its making it hard for me to want to take that first sip.

Taste: I let this beer sit until it warmed up from the fridge temp and I still get some metallic flavors. It is sweet, not sour at all, not even tart. I get some dark fruits such as figs, raisins, and even some molasses at the end.

Mouthfeel: Extremely light bodied and thin.

Overall: I guess its not bad for a beginner on the style. I am by no means a seasoned pro with sours, but this one just doesnt do much for me. It is not repulsive, but then again it gives me no reason to desire another one.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.23/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance -- Pours a ruddy brown with ruby highlights, slight haze, with two fingers of tight beige head.

Smell -- Cherries, raisins, cider vinegar, some metallic notes.

Taste -- Ripe cherry, rich roast malt, under-ripened plum, some woodiness, and a cider vinegar tanginess that crescendoes in the finish. A bit of off metallic flavor.

Mouthfeel -- Medium to light in body, with an overabundance of fluffy carbonation.

Drinkability -- Overall, I thought this beer was just okay. Instead of a sour finish what is present is a general tanginess and an unpleasant metallic taste. Also, the carbonation could stand to be pulled back slightly. Doubt I'll try again, but still a noble offering.

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Photo of dejrrma
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

4 pack for about $14. 11.2 fl oz bottle poured into snifter. No date (that I could understand)

a- pours a deep amber, large off-white, froathy, buttery head that slides as i move the glass. a little lacing composed of foamy bubbles.

s- vinegary scent with notes of dark/red fruits (prunes, cranberries, raspberries). A hidden sweet aroma.

t- tastes like tart fresh fruits and balsamic vinaigrette. It's more sour than sweet, as I'd hoped, and but I wish it was more sour. Leaves a lingering earthy/metallic taste. Slight yeast

m- okay carbonation. Light and airy, and refreshing. A little watery as it warms .

o- Good, but not sure if I would buy again.

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Photo of Zorro
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly cloudy reddish brown ale with out much of a head.

Smell is sweet and fruity with a slight acid edge. Mostly fruit scents of sour cherries with a sweetening of honey. Later one softer scents of brown sugar and rum appear.

Taste is a little sweet with a good sour pop of acid to more or less even the flavor out and leaves a lemony sour note on your tongue. Fruit flavor of sour cherries without going too sour. Refreshing but not real complex.

Mouthfeel is OK.

OK as the style goes. A sweet and sour ale that I really can't pair with anything except Sauerbraten.

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Photo of stckhndlr
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark rusty brown with ruby highlights. Topped with a thick 1 finger head of very small bubbles. Creamy.

S- Smells like a sour apple cider. Picking up hints of bananas, cherry, maybe some dark caramel. There's a funkiness to this one that is hard to pin point. Almost like a wine that has been over exposed to air.

T- A mellow bitternesss with some sour apple, raisins, cherries, and a woody characteristic mixed in. Tastes like a mossy oak. A bit of metallic leftovers in the finish.

M- Medium creaminess, Not overly carbonated.

O- Kind of a bland sour. No big burst of smells nor flavors. Nothing that really stands out. Having a little trouble with this mossy funk it has to it. But I can't say I wouldn't try it again in the future.

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Photo of Budinetz
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%

Poured from a cork and cage 750 ml bottle into a fegley's brew works snifter. Bottle is dated at 7/26/2013.

Pours a dark brown color with an eggshell white head that slowly dissipates.
No lacing present during consumption. Sediment is present from the yeast and crystallization from the hops.

Appearance is awesome. Pours as of it's one of the best Flemish browns I have ever seen. Unfortunately this changes and it seems to look sketchy as stated above.

Tastes slightly sour but nothing like it should for the style. Very disappointing considering this was brewed for Monk's Cafe in Belgium.
One would only assume that the best ingredients would have gone into making one of the best sours known to man. This was not the case.

Smells of maple syrup subtlety... Strangely enough. No other notes from smell.

Taste is interesting. Not sour as it should be but has the malt profile. Very strange profile for a Flemish sour.

Overall not the best Flemish sour I have ever had and it may actually be the worst I have ever had.

Due to he dating on the bottle I'm going to research this beer because the reputation is stellar and what I just drank was garbage.


-Wade B

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Photo of mortarit
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Having a real hard time getting into these sour beers. They really drive my pallet crazy. My whole face draws up like all of the air left the building, experience.

Overall, the everthing else about this one particularly looks great for appearance, color, and smell.

Maybe, I should eat more sour apples for practice.

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Photo of Tony49er
3.27/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Serving Type- Poured from a bottle into a Tulip Glass

Appearance- Tons of foamy brownish white head with an aggressive pour, dark ruby red color...just a beautiful looking Flemish sour

Smell- Funkyness, almost an effervescent character to the beer in the nose, fresh and dark cherries in the nose, light dark fruit character, some great barnyard funk to it

Taste- Effervescent quality in the front of the palate, dark cherries, fresh cherries, funk, light tart off dry sourness, very refreshing just a great sour no matter if you have had a lot of sours or you are new to the style

Overall- Just an awesome sour I have had this beer several times but this bottle has been in my cellar for a year or a little more and has not changed much maybe a little more funk but still awesome if you have never had a sour this is a great start I LOVE sours in my opinion they are the most under appreciated beer style by Americans....CHEERS

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Photo of tjkinate
3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

One major problem.

A: Probably the best looking beer I've seen from this style or similar styles. A single fingered head formed that exhibited good retention finally settling to a soapy film atop this deep red transparent brew. It even showed solid amounts of lacing!

S: Cherry, raspberry, pomegranate, and cranberry notes are most prominent, but are followed nicely with tart and grassy undertones.

T: Follows the smell fairly closely leaving the raspberry and cherry flavors to remain most dominant. Sour funk follows nicely, unfortunately so does the metallic copper aftertaste. Really bummed me out, gonna try again later hoping for better results.

M: Well carbonated and lightly bodied.

O: Almost fantastic, but the copper flavor really just ruined it for me.

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Photo of codewarrior
3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

330mL from a 4 pack (17FJ 16:07), poured into a chalice

This beer, once upon a time, was my first sour ale ... on tap at Monk's cafe in Philadelphia a little-ways back. When I saw it sitting at Argonaut on Colfax, I jumped on it ... twittering with anticipation and chirping about it to my sweet lady.

A: Looks like mud mixed with blood (this is a good thing). Small amount of head, but thick.

S: Smells sticky and damp, like a frat-house basement ... except in a good-way.

T: Sweet up front, iron in the back. Very similar to the New Glarus Unplugged Enigma. Very.

F: Great! Thick and syrupy, but not over-much.

D: Nice all around.

Gonna let this do a turn in the cellar, see if it grows into itself a bit more. This is a delicious beer (vastly superior to the duchesse, to be sure), yet it doesn't stand up to other sours (Panil Bariqquee, Russian River Consecration, Supplication, etc). Yet. I have faith that in time, this baby will mature into a force to be reckoned with.

None-the-less ... friggin' tasty, seriously.

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Photo of DavidST
3.3/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 33cl bottle into a pint glass, coded bottle date. This pours a crystal clear amber color with a massive fizzy tan head which last for a very long time a leave a duvel like foam. The smell is a little brown ale malty, a little nutty, hints of cherries. The feel is medium to light. The taste is okay, you get a little bitterness, nutty brown ale flavors and a little sourness, but mostly plain and light, this beer has the unfornutate task of following Liefmans Curvee and it leaves a ton to be desired.

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Photo of Pamola
3.3/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had tried this on tap before and wasn't too impressed. It may have been due to its comparison to the other fine brews in a flight at a beer bar, but here goes.

Poured an unaged bottle into a tulip glass. nice two finger head. The color is quite impressive. seems brown but in certain light it's very ruby-colored.
Smell is very reminiscent of Rodenbach's type or sour. Not piercing, but earthy and twangy and pretty good.
Taste is where this brew stumbles. This is an unaged bottle, so I'll reserve the ultimate judgement for a few years from now when another bottle comes out of the cellar. The sourness isn't quite sourness, it's a light tartness one would expect from fresh cider. Overwhelmingly fruity and slightly cloying.
Mouthfeel is jumbled and too effervescent.

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Photo of PeterLemonjello
3.31/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Very pretty beer. Pours a dark/rusty ruby color. Clear with nice carbonation. Thin head which remains during drinking. Nice lacing on glass.

S - Smells of sweet fruit with a touch of sour cider. Ever so slight touch of barnyard.

T - Tastes nice but a little sweet. Tastes of sweet cherries with a sour flavor present but just not enough to balance out the sweetness. I want to enjoy it more as it tastes very nice, but the sweetness just needs to be balances out with more sour or more barnyard which just isn't there enough to balance.

M - Lovely mouthfeel with prickly carbonation. Not too think and not too think.

D - Tough for me rank higher on drinkability because of the sweetness. If more balanced or a drier finish, it would be a very good beer.

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Photo of Oxymoron
3.31/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to koopa for the trade. Pours a crystal clear amber red color. A fizzy white head but did settle to a more creamy appearance over time. Good retention though did hide to the edge of the glass.

The nose has a distinct sweet and sour aroma. The sourness is not over the top but still noticeable. There is a light vinegar and sour but no real funk. The sweetness comes in with a light fruity aroma on the back end. Some cherries and touch of apples (but not something I would call acetaldehyde) as well.

The taste is very similar. The sourness backs off a bit and has more of a tart flavor. Still provides a puckering sourness just light overall. This helps emphasis the more fruity aspect. Noticeable cherries and sugar plums. Some candy flavors as well. There is a hint of caramel with a light toast note but feint. The yeast is pretty clean for a sour. Some minor barnyard, but mostly clean.

The body is not as dry for a typical sour. Really easy drinking though. Overall it reminds me of Duchesse but toned down.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.31/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Auburn reddish with a medium tan head with lots of lacing. High carbonation is visible.

S - Very sour cherries, apple cider vinegar, faint cherry wood? That is unexpected.

T - Underripe sour cherries and mild vinegar. A bit of faint malt. Aftertaste is a sour and vinegary.

M - Thin, smooth, a little astringent, substantial carbonation. A tad refreshing too.

D - Pretty good. Not the best Flemish sour, but worth a try.

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Photo of jcurtis55
3.32/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was my first experience with sour beer. I enjoyed the sweet and sour taste, but had a hard time getting past the vinegar like aroma.

It starts with a tart fruit flavor and sweetens a bit on the back end. I'll try other sour beers, but I just had too much trouble getting past the funky aroma of this one.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
3.32/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bought on impulse at the store. Poured 12oz into pint.

A- brown with an amazing head. This is some thick stuff. Looks tasty.

S- Cinnamon jumps off the pint, as well as clove spices. Smells like potpourri, honestly. A bit of fleshy fruit.

T- Sour hits the tongue. Wow. This one throws me for a loop. Spicy, sweet, sour. Good, unique, strange. I didn't know what to expect, but this wasn't it. Hmm. Second sip is sweeter, less sour. Clove aftertaste. Gets a little too sweet for my tastes, however.

M- Unique. The sweet and sour play on the tongue.

D- Eh... I'm impressed by this beer. I didn't like it enough to buy some more, but I respect the craft put into this unique brew. A very off-the-beaten-path brew that's worth checking out.

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Photo of weatherdog
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Revisited in May of 2010.

Many of my previous notes still hold up except that now that I've had many more examples of the style, my favorite, I can understand how mainstream this example is. The sweetness and lack of acetic character stand out when had side by side with a great example. While I still enjoy this beer and applaud it's availability and affordability, I had to lower the score down a little bit in order to have it more accurately reflect it's rank among other Oud Bruins

Poured from a 330mL bottle into a Delirium tulip glass

Poured a ruby red brown with a one finger head which receded into a small ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass

Aroma is of a tart sweetness and ripe fruit. Not offensive in smell but enough to know the style one is about to drink

Taste starts off with a decent amount of funk that transitions into a ripe fruit tartness. Finishes dry without much residual sweetness.

Carbonation is on the higher side and coupled with the tart dryness the drinkability is diminished and one bottle is perfect.

I'm just beginning to dive into the world of sours. It really is great trip and I enjoyed this easily accessible one. The more pronounced tartness and less residual sweetness of this example I prefer over some of the sweeter finishing ones.

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Photo of rwinzing
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 11.5 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A-Dark Red appearance with a tan head.

S - Subtle spice smell, as a hint of apple with the tinge of being sour

T - Hint of sour green apple up front followed by sour after taste. The sour lingers

M - Nice mouthfeel full bodied

D - I enjoy sours and find this one a affortable option

overall this is a sour I can buy by the four pack and enjoy on a regular basis. I think it is a nice example of the style without being a homerun

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Photo of Aml42000
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark brown body with a fluffy tan head. It showed some transparency toward the bottom of the glass and maintains a pretty appearance throughout.

S- A powerful blast of balsamico is hard to shake as you stick your nose deeper in the glass, but some muddled pit fruit becomes apparent with some swirling and persistence.

T- A healthy tension of sweet and sour on entry. The tart components are certainly more prominent on the mid palate. Tart, slighly underripe cherry and rhubarb fill the mouth. The barrel and yeast components take a backseat to the fruity aspects here. Medium levels of acidity for a sour ale.

M- This is a bit linear for a sour. High carbonation makes it more like a tart fruit soda than a sour or wild ale. I like a bit more acidity as I prefer a drier, fresher mouthfeel than this offers.

O- A very safe sour ale for those who aren't familiar with the style. A very versatile beer to serve with food as it has enough flavor to pair with many types of dishes, but gets a little tiresome to sip on alone. I wish it showed some more wild aspects.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a stemmed glass.

(A)- Pours a deep and dark burnt sienna color with ruby red highlights. Produced a nice fluffy off-white head with solid retention.

(S)- A big dry lactic vinegar up front. Some serious barnyard dirt and vinegar characters.

(T)- Very fruity. Not as sour or vinegar-like as the smell foretold. Some hints at tartness, but otherwise fruity, dry, and earthy with just a small kick.

(M)- A nice crisp carbonation level. Has a nice balance too. Smooth, fruity, and "ripe" tasting. A subtle sourness.

(D)- A solid Oud Bruin. Not as strong as what I anticipated, but it is what it is. Surprisingly refreshing and a nice treat and transition to have as the days slowly begin to warm up outside.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,095 ratings.