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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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,088 | Hads: 2,699
Photo of earthboundagain
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-This beer is a reddish, brown, reminds me of balsamic vinegar, the head is not huge, but laces well.

S- We have grapes and sweet cherry, and vinegar twang, some woody notes as well. This beer smells of a funky promise.

T- The taste is a sour red grape, mixed with slight cherry and some oak. This so reminds me of balsamic vinegar it is not funny, but it is oh so good.

M- A medium body with lots of carbonation, this beer is a beauty on the palate.

D- The glass empties quickly, with strong deep sips.

I know this beer gets a lot of abuse, but I think it is a good beer. While it might not be top of the line, it is a wonderful beer to keep on hand. I have also used this to convert a few wine drinkers in my time. (725 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a ruby red color with a small white head. Nose is vinegar, fruits, strawberry perhaps and a definitevtartness. Taste is self is def tart from begining to end, great tasting blend of fruits, nice body and sweet. Very good brew, on tap much better versus bottle. My wife loved it. (285 characters)

Photo of mmmbeer
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330 mL bottle with no freshness date. It pours a red/copper with a 2 finger head that is tan with a hint of red and forms a crater in the middle when it recedes and leaves some nice foam for lace. It smells of sour grape, fruit?, dung?, lactic? (I guess that's what it is - it's not familiar to me and they mention it on the label...), along with mustiness and some acidity. It tastes sour/acidic, fruity, tart, with medicinal phenols, farm/mustiness, and perhaps iron and salt. Maybe a hint of hops, but not sure if they use them. It has a light, tingly, dry body that is quite refreshing and it's overall a quality beer. (622 characters)

Photo of Jamesthebrit
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Super bubble head. Color is dark reddish brown.
S: Smells a little sour with a lot of grape. Smells a lot like a young wine.
T: The sour really hits you right away and the first thing I thought was this is going to linger around and taste gross. But as soon as the sour really set in it was gone being replaced with some spicy and malt. Some cinnamon in there maybe.
M: Again really great here. The beer sits with a medium body and like I said the sourness dissipates quickly leaving a sweet aftertaste.

Overall a very nice beer. Certainly unique and drinkable. Probably not a beer for everyone since it is a little weird but I quite like it. The combination of all the aspects works very well. (700 characters)

Photo of superdedooperboy
4.36/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2-ounce brown bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a nicely clear copper-brown with a huge billowing head of beige foam that shows excellent retention, leaving fat patchy rings of lacing down the sides of the glass, settling to a thick cap that holds out until the finish.

The nose is a delicious melding of aromas, with some slightly sweet toffee-like notes, lots of oaky wood and a little bit of a sour, musty character.

Body sits on the lower end of medium, with a middling level of carbonation. A mild base of sweet caramel is topped with a nice dose of tartness that consumes the entirety of the palate through the finish, with notes of dark cherries and raspberries toward the back. More musty, oaky and vinous notes fill in the cracks before a slightly sour, medium-dry finish.

Wonderfully drinkable, the balance between sweet and sour here is spot-on, and the low alcohol level lends itself to sessionability. This is one beer that I honestly believe I could drink all night long without tiring of it. Very nice. (1,031 characters)

Photo of dgallina
4.37/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz brown bottle without freshness date.

Poured a slightly transparent deep reddish-brown with big carbonation, small sheen of foam, and good lace. Smells big and fruity; a sweet and sour blend of green apples and grapes that tickles the nose. Green apples, pears, and a counter-balance of wood and sweet dark fruits (cherries?) lead to a super-dry, earthy and yeasty finish. Highly-carbonated, moderately light and tingly in the mouth. (443 characters)

Photo of Gusler
4.37/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Draught @ O’Brien’s San Diego
Just goes to show you, that you never know what you will find in a great pub, owned and run by great beer loving people, a beer brewed in Belgium exclusively for a pub in Philadelphia, in a pub in California!

The beer as it sets in the Belgian Chalice a somewhat murky deep red to almost brown color, the head a medium tan color that is also creamy in texture and the size perfect, the lace forms a tight skirt to cover the glass. Nose is crisp and tart, the aroma of over ripe fruit, a hint of yeast, a bit musky, quite a pleasant sniff this beer. Start is lightly sweet then tart with the top middling in its feel to the palate, finish is austere in its acidity, the hops perfect in their spiciness, very dry after taste that lingers on and on. I was simply forced to have several glasses before I boarded my incredibly long flight back to Phoenix, geez I needed the energy to withstand that hour and five minute flight! Lol (962 characters)

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

(12 oz bottle into tulip) I was apprehensive about this one, not only because it was my first sour, but also because I found it after getting as a Christmas gift in 2009(!) Heard a good pop when I lifted the cap, so that was promising. The pour was a deep mahogany with a very pillowy, thick tan head. The nose was at first strongly vinegar, which put me off, so I waited a little bit, then came back and found that mellowed into more or less a tart fruit - apples and cherries - with the vinegary undertone. The drink itself was very smooth, and not as sour as I expected. There was a fruity sweetness up front, but the finish had a nice crisp sour bite making for a nice ending note. I will definitely explore this style more, and this one will be a go to beer for me for a while. (782 characters)

Photo of edskirk3
4.39/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love me a sour ale and they are relatively hard to find, hence the purchase of this 11.2 oz brown glass bottle devoid of intellgible freshness information.

Pours (into a Duvel tulip) a dark brown, with half a finger of loose froth composed of relatively large bubbles.

Smells nice and tart, not very funky.

The palette is largely sour, which I love. Tartness of green apples and sweetness of sour cherries, if that makes any sense. Juicy aftertaste.

Very tasty. I've always loved things that taste sour. I could have a lot more of this. It's not too strong. (563 characters)

Photo of depechemode1983
4.39/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured into a tulip glass a dark brown with deep red tones when held to the light. The light brown head doesn't stick around long and there is no lacing at all.

S - Smell is somewhat of mildew, vinegar, sour cherries, and a toasty. Up front the sour cherries hit you with a bit of a vinegar background. Then it fades off into a mildew like character with a bit of toastyness.

T - There is a very pronounced sour cherry flavor and a nice white wine alcohol character. Again I get some toastyness in the background.

M - Medium bodied and with mild carbonation. Finish is dry.

D/N - This stuff is F'ing delicious. Picked it up out of town. Should have probably capitalized on it. (685 characters)

Photo of washburnkid
4.39/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is just awesome. It pours reddish mahogany with little to no head. I don't care, because the aromas and flavors are filled with fruit, dominated by bitter, sour cherries. The mouthfeel is thin with low carbonation. This beer does the style justice, and I'm looking forward to enjoying it again! (304 characters)

Photo of cerevisiaephilus
4.4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I thought this beer was fascinating. Really my first try at this style unless you count lambic, but I think sour ales/oud bruins are maltier. This one was quite nice. Great balance between malty and sour. Sweet but not cloying, then sour enough to dry your mouth out. The menu suggests this one as a palate clenser, I would agree. I could drink this beer over and over and never really get that sticky sugary coating you cometimes get after having numerous beers. I'm really going to start searching for this style. (515 characters)

Photo of Premo88
4.4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle poured into tulip
(19 AL 12:44 printed on back label)

L: red/amber ... dark red, not 100% clear but nice clarity at bottom of glass and looks like it will clear up; pretty thick 1-inch head of beige/tan foam that sticks a little; keeps a fantastic collar of thick bubbly foam with a good skin across most of the surface; some cool lacing on the drinking side of the glass (typically it shows up on the opposite side ... again very cool).

S: rasberry, tart rasberry, some sweetness in it; malt ... there's a vienna-like malt to it or a bread malt note that's mixing with the tartness ... definitely different ... almost like the malty note under the hop bitterness in Anchor Steam; slight vinegar

T: amazing sweet/sour balance with tart rasberries/strawberries, dried apricots, toasted dried cranberries, lemon juice ... at times, tastes a little like cherry pie filling, just not nearly that sweet; tartness is always present

F: perfect ... fully carbonated midweight

O: a really cool mix of sour and sweet that's very accessible ... the first sips are a bit weird because there clearly seems to be some malt flavor mixing with the tart notes, which is atypical of most beers on the sour side of things. but i love it. it's refreshing, almost like a palate cleanser after so many hoppy IPAs and stouts. the little bit of malt in this one also seems to fit the cooler weathers -- perhaps a beer here that fits all seasons? hardcore sour fans would find this one too sweet. (1,502 characters)

Photo of pjbfromkc
4.4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

One of the more affordle Flanders out the and a great intrduction in sour beer. It pours a dark ruby red and has a nice tart sour aroma. Taste is mild tart cherry. It is not the best sour out there, but it is good. And for the price this is a sour I will keep coming back to. (279 characters)

Photo of francisweizen
4.4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A dark red brew, with a small whispy head. Aroma is heavy on the cherries, with some astringent, lambic-sour ale funk in the background...way in the background. The taste is sour, and fruity...a good combination of flavors, if you ask me. I have to agree that this is a great sour red ale, but it is not as complex as goudenbond or duchess....the drinkability is good, and the mouthfeel is creamy.

this is a very good beer

(430 characters)

Photo of SomethingClever
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle that is a year old poured into can glass

A: dark in color with edges of brown light can get through this guy a little. not much of a head dissipates to a film

S: still getting some coffee some bakers chocolate and licorice

T: a lot of that licorice and anise taste with hints of coffee

M: medium to slightly fuller feel

O: I'm not a fan of again beers but I disliked this beer fresh it's better aged which says a lot, but it's not something I will ever seek out again. (490 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A slightly hazy (but surprisingly clear given the style) mahogany body appears reddish in the glass and reveals crimson, ruby and orange highlights when held to the light. The creamy off-white head holds quite well and leaves some nice streaks and splotches of sticky lace throughout the glass. The nose is vinous with tempting, delicate, tart cherries and what appears to be some oakiness. It's not as bold as many other examples of the style, and it's certainly cleaner; but it is quite nice. A gentle massage of soft, fine carbonation washes over the tongue as it warms to become slightly creamy. The body is light, and it's quite smooth. Again, it's more delicate than many examples but very nice in its own way. The flavor mimics the nose with mildly vinous cherry and raspberry. It's acidity is restrained in comparison to most, and it's quite refreshing without becoming puckering. There's a bit of an oak character to it and it finishes dry with a slight astringency; but the sticky-sweet residue of many other examples is not present. Overall, this is a quite refreshing and enjoyable beer that represents the style well, but is somewhat restrained in comparison to most others. (1,187 characters)

Photo of rtratzlaff
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This oud bruin pours a crystal clear red ale with an off white head that fluffs up upon the pour and stays there. The aroma is vinegary sour and sweet. Not much fruit in the nose, but I am sure it will come through in the flavor. A sip provides and acid bite with the flavor of sour cherry cough drops. A slight funk in there as well. Light bodied and effervescent for sure. Were it not for the price, I would session this beer every day possible. (447 characters)

Photo of loren01
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
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. (402 characters)

Photo of Greenfloyd
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Flemish Sour Ale. That just might be the sexiest beer description ever. Or not....

Poured into my tulip glass with a fairly menacing looking brownish/amber color that is topped off by a long lasting (albeit extremely thin) cappuccino frothy head. The nose brings out subtle malted vinegar and tart apple aromas that only a Flanders beer can. The taste is so wonderfully complex- sweet malty tones with apple cider trail off into a tart, mildly acidic finish. The mouth feel of this ale, as I've been finding out, is indicative of the remarkably refreshing light to medium body these beers all have. A great beer with grilled Steak au Poivre, or with some brie de meaux and crusty French bread. Enjoy. (701 characters)

Photo of TheMadJack
4.44/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz. Bottle into Tulip glass.

A: Dark brownish-red with a spotty, thin, light beige head. Sounds like a coke when I pour it.

S: Smells like a tawny port. Caramel, dates, raisins, rye, and wine vinegar. No hops.

T: Lightly toasted malts and a firm apple-cider vinegar flavor are at the forefront. Green grapes, cola, and a little bit of sugar wrap it up.

M: The acid is enough to register on the tongue and make the beer unavoidably sour, but not undrinkably so. The tongue doesn't curl, but the sourness brightens, and mild carbonation further lifts, what would otherwise be a heavy and almost syrupy brew.

D: This is my first exposure to the style and I am greatly pleased. I wish I could find this locally so I could start experimenting with food pairings! (777 characters)

Photo of RuckusDu
4.44/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a large 4+ finger head that seemed rocky but then quickly went down. It does stick around however at about 1/4cm. The color is odd and I can't put my finger on it. Light khaki but also some darkness to it, like the red coming through. I can't believe how dark this is. Really a dark red plum color.

S - There is a slight Belgian (dark currents, fruits) quality to it, but really a sour lemon/orange/grapefruit scent.

T - Wow, this is very nice. A great combination of dark Belgian quad qualities (but remains light) with sour cherries. Was not expecting this to be so good. There is a little boozy quality at the front which is weird considering it is 5.7%. There are some sweet raspberry/blueberry flavors.

M - A little light considering all the dark flavors but that works for this beer. It is a great alternative to the standard dark Belgian ales and lambics.

O - A lot going on here which I will have to discover through many more bottles. Would like to see how this tastes with some age on it but will be one of those where I have a difficult time aging when I will just want to drink it. (1,111 characters)

Photo of climax
4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The flagship sour pours a deep black cherry with brilliant garnet highlights. The foamy tan head is gargantuan and retains itself atop indefinitely. All the way down, there's a constant thick film with a few dark thin spots.

I'm not too sure where to start on the nose, it's complexity is confounding. The sourness does not overpower the auxiliary flavors by any stretch, but it definitely has astringency and let's me know it's going to be tart. Dusty wood, sweet toffee, and juicy apple are the easiest to decipher. Deep within, a rogue roasty character hides, perhaps a glimpse of what's inside.

Toffee and unsweetened chocolate flavors soon surrender to inevitable tartness composed of unripened cherries, and raspberries. Some sweeter vanilla and soft Belgian yeast perplex me even further. And what comes after the beer has gone down is a fantastic lingering sweet, buttery, sour.... er, needless to say it's hard to make sense of what's going on in the finish (or any part) but the complexity is Earth shattering.

The carbonation explodes in the mouth like a bubble grenade. The body itself is slick and finishes clean. With this much fluffiness from the carbonation, it's tough to tell quite where the body fits in.

I am by no means a die hard of sour beer, but I did thoroughly enjoy this. It is astringent/sour/tart whatever, but I don't think I would have it any other way. (1,392 characters)

Photo of Cheshire_Crew_Al
4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drank it from a pint glass pour, little bit of a head, pleasant odor, thinner quality than anticipated.

It has an extremely smooth feel, with a pleasant aftertaste, a little fruity (again more than anticipated), like raspberries, I drank the first on the cold side, would recommend to have it cool but not extremely cold. Not very hoppy, which I prefer.

Overall, excellent beer, not heavy at all but has a full taste to it. It has an all-around appeal in that, despite not very hoppy, it is well-balanced in flavor that I would imagine would appeal to most beer enthusiasts. (576 characters)

Photo of BostonBrewins
4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Big off white head that sticks around literally, some really nice lacing going on here. Color is mahogany, in the light its a brilliant amber. This beer looks so good in the snifter it's almost a shame to drink it.

S - Earthy boarding on musty fruity esters. Notes of apple and pears.

T - Tangy and just the right amount of sourness. Not as tart as I expected. The fruity ester flavors are definitely there, particularly that of sour apples, raisins and red grapes. Undertones of dark caramel malts are there, but subtle, maybe too subtle. Slight metallic aftertaste, but it's hardly noticeable.

M - Not too heavy but very full mouthfeel. Becomes even more full when I swirl it in my mouth. Superb, definitely this brew's best characteristic.

D - I really enjoyed this one, complex yet very drinkable. (812 characters)

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