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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.
BA SCORE
86
very good

1,094 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 1,094
Hads: 2,715
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: 2,715
Photo of beeragent
2.78/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 1 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured into a glass from a bottle.

A - Pours a medium brown with redish hues. Sode pop like carbonation creates a 1 inch head which faded immediately. No lacing on the glass.

S - Strong sour aroma with a noticeable vinegar presence throughout.

T - The sour fruit is the forefront of the flavor, with the vinegar taste coming through in the finish. Light malt body mixed throughout, but the sourness/vinegar hides all other flavors.

M - Medium bodied with quick soda carboination which leaves the beer flat quick. Aside from the lack of carbonation, the body is smooth and clean.

D - Unique flavor and aroma. I'm not sure if the body is the way it should be. A good doorway into sours, and one I will continue to explore. (725 characters)

Photo of beerwolf77
2.78/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured from a bottle into a tulip.

A: dark rusty brown red, two fingers of light khaki head, thick lace webs remain

S: sour cherry is the most abundant aroma along with a strong vinegar back bone maybe a touch of barrel

T: light sweet cherry and vinegar mixed with a load of musty wet carboard and cough syrup, not much sour at all, actually rather sweet

M: light body with a decent amount of carbonation

D: overall very big let down, this stuff is not good, there are much better beers out there to represent this style, It will be a struggle to finish this bottle (571 characters)

Photo of JBogan
2.78/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A nice looking ruby color body topped by a very thick off white head fills the tulip glass. The head remains thick but leaves only minimal lacing. Still, an attractive brew.

An aroma of cherries and musty vinegar. It actually smells better than the description.

Now comes the taste, and it is quite a letdown after what the aroma suggested. Very little sour character about this beer, in fact it seemed much sweeter than it did sour. There was still a hint of cherry, but it was muted by the sweetness. I really can't put a finger on any other flavors, it just had sort of a blandness to it.

Mouthfeel was thin and very slippery. It was also somewhat lifeless and uninteresting.

While I usually enjoy beers of this style, this is one I'll be passing on in the future. Other than the appearance and to a lesser degree the aroma, this beer had nothing about it which beckoned me back for more. (896 characters)

Photo of JLeege
2.79/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance- ruby red in color, big foamy off white head, good lacing

Smell- cherry, other dark fruit, a bit of vinegar

Taste- Follows the aroma, a bit tart, very sweet, lots of vinegar, vinegar overload

Mouthefeel- light body with medium carbonation

Overall- To much vinegar, not to much else going on (305 characters)

Photo of SpdKilz
2.81/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

[update from December 2011 - My sister bought this by mistake (told her to get another beer) and my brother-in-law and I opened it up one night. I told him of my past bad experience with it, and stated this was recommended to me by a beer store employee as a "gateway" sour and it almost ruined sours for me in that I wanted to stay away from them. Since it was my first "sour" I thought it was worth a revisit since I did not like it at all a few years ago. Needless to say, I still hate this beer. It is disgusting.]

Appearance - Poured relatively hard with the outcome being only about a finger of head which quickly dissipates and leaves lackluster lacing. A copper/red hue shines through when held up to the sun.

Smell - The very first thing I notice about this beer is the overwhelming cider/balsamic vinegar smell. Can also smell black cherries and obviously a hint of apple.

Taste - Not hoppy in the least. Honestly, it tastes how it smells to me - almost how I would imagine sour cider vinegar to taste with some alcohol added to it. After this initial flavor, it most definitely ends on a sweet note.

Mouthfeel - Relatively thin and carbonated. Aftertaste is quite sugary, a bit tart even.

Drinkability - Not very for me. This is my first sour and it was nothing like I expected, and sadly that is not a good thing. I would describe myself as someone who normally likes tart, bitter types of food so I naturally thought this would be something I would enjoy. As of now, it is not. I may need to give it a few more chances (I still remember when I could not stand hoppy beers like Stone and now I enjoy them thoroughly). Overall not horrible but somewhat disappointing. (1,683 characters)

Photo of kbuzz
2.85/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750mL into my trusty snifter and a tulip - splitting this review with my brother. Only legible stamp was "15GJ 14:44"...whatever that means...

A: Pours a light brown, cranberry, ruby mahogany...with a massive three finger egg-shell colored head that faded instantly.

S: Sweet and tart...vinegar and cherries...mostly just vinegar sourness.

T/M: Very thin...highly carbonated...gives more of a champagne quality than a sour yeast...lacks body. Apple cider...not very complex. Just fizzy.

O: More fizzy apple juice than sour beer. Lacks body. More sweet than tart...a bit dissapointing. (603 characters)

Photo of paganbeast
2.86/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This is one of the first sour ales I've had, and I liked it fairly well.

The appearance is very reddish brown and actually quite appealing with a nice sustained head and delicate lacing.

The smells are almost overwhelming at first, as there is so much going on. Initially the sour cherries come barreling towards you followed by an entourage of sweet and sour notes.

It tastes quite sweet on the tongue and the sourness permeates the rest of your mouth. There's a feeling of drinking balsamic vinegar at times.

Has a very sticky and lasting mouthfeel, very difficult to shake. (580 characters)

Photo of tgbljb
2.86/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

poured a deep red-brown color with sparse, slightly-off white head. Smell is very tart and fruity. Taste is somewhat of a shocker. Extremely tart and sour, enough to make my mouth pucker. Finish is more tartness. Had trouble finishing half a bottle. Not my style of beer. (271 characters)

Photo of mrandypandy
2.86/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

750ml caged and corked bottle purchased at Specs, in Temple, TX.

A- Pours a crystal clear brownish red. Amber almost. Minimal off-tan head on pour which quickly dies.
S- Fruity sweetness, almost like golden raisins. Definately not tart our sour.
T- A hard brew to describe, and not really in a good way. Slight vinegar sour/tart flavors are apparent, but very subdued. They are overshadowed by the fact that it tastes like overly carbonated, slightly acidic apple juice. I'm getting shades of Lindemans Faro, and that's not a compliment.
M- Highly carbonated, medium body, "zesty".
D- Low. Not a great beer or a great example of the style. A 12oz bottle would be OK, but a 750 is overkill. I would split this with friends except that I actually LIKE my fiiends...

Overall- I've had this beer on-tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelpia, and bottled. Either way, you lose. While not a bad beer, it is incredibly average. (914 characters)

Photo of LiquorLockerVP
2.87/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Tried this at a private office function, poured from an 11.2oz bottle.

Appearance:
A dark garnet, like slightly red cola. It had a non existent head which was quickly chased away by an almost hissing carbonation. Interestingly, after letting it sit for a while, the remnants of the head formed little islands that looked hauntingly like leering skulls.

Smell:
At first, it was a phenol bomb bringing to mind the dreaded low totem poll halloween "Good n Plenty"s of younder years. Despite my disdain for the candies as a kid, this smell was really pleasing. As the brew warmed up, this candy smell transformed into an nose full of apple vinegar. It was a unique transformation that I found interesting.

Taste:
I recently tried a Geuze, and recognized some of the champagne qualities I picked up in that in this beer. It almost tastes like a marriage between cola and dry spanish cava all built on a backbone of sour dough bread. Very unique, pretty sweet. (sugary sweet, not sweet as in cool). After taste is very much champagne.

Moutful:
The hissing carbonation I mentioned earlier set upon my tongue and sizzled on its surface. Thin and driven by carbonation. Very gaseous and fizzy.

Drinkability:
A little too sweet to do more than one. After sitting out for a bit, its carbonation dulled accentuating the cola taste even more so. Nice beer for an experience, and would work well as a toast, but as far as sessioning it's just a bit too unique. (1,451 characters)

Photo of WilliamPhilaPa
2.89/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Nice deep burgundy color, with a decent white head which dissipates to a good rim lacing.
Smell: Sweet cherries....sour berries, red wine and oddly (to me) vinegar
Taste: (only took 4-5 sips) Short and simply put....very sour and nasty tasting. A few sips and I knew I would not be able to finish this brew.
This is the first flemish sour I ever had and it will most likely be my last.
Kicked: Perhaps a desired then aquired taste for certain sour ale drinkers....and this is probably very good brew in it's category/style but it's just not my style....take this review w/ a grain of salt. (605 characters)

Photo of ballewblake
2.89/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Severed in the monks cafe pint glass.
Filled to the top, a thin light head that didn't last, Too dark to really peg the color but it looks ruby red, right now. Barely any lacing on the glass. The nose is all vinegar, having a hard time smelling anything else, its actully so intense its off putting. I love sours and I'm actually thinking this is a bad keg (based on the bottle version I had a year ago.) Taste is uber sweet, no sour notes detected and I'm bummed. Barely getting some cherries but the sweet malts really dominate. Ultra heavy carbonation element in this draught, really cleans the tongue after every sip, priming it for the next swig. Really, I think this draught is off, not near what I remember the bottle being. (732 characters)

Photo of GermanHero
2.9/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle
Drunk without food

Smells great. Has a nice feel in the mouth, but when it hits the back of the palette the sourness of of the beer comes out very strongly. I loved the way it smelt and the way it tasted initially but after it hit the back of my mouth it was overpowering.

Would drink again, but should be paired with food, something to counter act the sourness. (371 characters)

Photo of Beaver13
2.91/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle. Pours reddish brown with a big fizzy light tan head that retains well and leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is tart and sour cherries with some woody cardboard and some acidity.

The flavor is sweet and tart sour cherries / raspberries with a little woody funk. The mouthfeel is light bodied and very watery.

Overall, an interesting sour. It's sweet, but not too much so. It is way too watery though. (418 characters)

Photo of Glennlawless
2.91/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Poured into pint glass

a - Poured a dark reddish brown with a quickly dying down off-white head.

s - tart grape juice, red wine type smell. not a whole lot.

T - smooth entrance, very mild tart finish. thats all there is to it.

M - very well carbonated. pretty drinkable

overall, this honestly was my first sour style ale.not a very interesting beer per say, but it is what people say it is, an entry level sour. i feel this is a perfect beer to get somebody into sours. starts very mild, and at the end it slaps you with some sour. not overwhelming at all though. a pretty well balanced beer and drinkable. i like it. (622 characters)

Photo of jeffthecheff
2.93/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a wide stem flute glass. Great clear, reddish brown with an excellent head. Amazing looking beer.

Smell is really strange. Old rotten cherries, grapes, maybe other fruits in the nose. Not very pleasant.

Taste is very interesting and complex. The front of the tongue is like cherry candies. Combined with the high carbonated mouthfeel, it reminds me of pop rocks. This part is good, but the finish changes completely to a rotten/sour like cherry flavor. I just wish the up front flavors stayed, then this would be excellent.

Highly carbonated mouthfeel. Sliding over the tongue feels like poprocks, like I said before. Strong flavors linger a bit too long, though. The poor finish on this beer ruins the drinkability for me. Maybe its just something I have to get used to, I've only had a few sour beers. (818 characters)

Photo of shbobdb
2.94/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Meh.

It pours a niice red-brown with a rose head.

The smell sets up the taste, it is weak. Some sour, some sweet but nothing too much.

The taste is very meh. It reminds me less of a Flanders Red, it tastes more like a Dubbel with a slightly sour finish. Not bad, if you like Dubbels. I don't. It is also very sweet. Very sweet. I like a nice, crisp sour finish and this beer doesn't deliver.

The mouthfeel is bad. It reminds me of a quad -- both thin and thick at once. I don't like the feeling at all.

Drinkability? I'm having a hard time finishing a >12oz bottle. Would I drink it again? I could get two of Bell's Expedition for the price of this bottle, or half of Cantillon's Organic Gueze. 'Nuf said. (723 characters)

Photo of viverlee
2.94/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

More than any other for me, there’s variety in this style. Superlative to good to average to what the fuck, to be more specific. This one, I wanted to like it more.

STYLE: Flanders Oud Bruin

ABV: 5.5%

LOOK: Dark wood, brown, and syrupy. But that’s a standstill take. On closer inspection with a whirl or two around a Belgian tulip it’s plainly lighter, unsticky.

NOSE: Burnt leather, stale coffee, flat soda. Residual cherry and malt vinegar.

MOUTH: Rather soft, mild tartness. The biggest problem I have is reconciling the message (Flemish Sour Ale) with the result (a slightly sweeter, moderately more acidic Killian’s Irish Red). Cherry skins and cola cake, yes – a wee bit. But it’s a struggle to pull more. For a so-called sour, the finish is ridiculously clean, palate cleansing.

Beeradvocate Rating: 86

ratebeer Rating: 92

Hayward Abbey Rating: 77 (874 characters)

Photo of waughbrew
2.95/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Murky acorn color with no head, just a collar. Smells of cherries and cider. Flavor is bright fruits that quickly swirl into a tartness that is very present but not extreme. Woody notes add depth at the beginning but disappear as it becomes more tart and dry. Thin body and low carbonation makes this seem like a relative of red wine. The finish does not seem very interesting or complex and fails to really inspire another sip. A pleasant beer that could serve others as a decent introduction to the style.

It should be noted that this beer was the first ever to have devastating effects on my digestive system. You have been warned. (637 characters)

Photo of PintOHops
2.96/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Glass - Snifter

A - Ruby red color with a slight haze to it, it produced a 1-2 finger head that dissipated fairly quick. It left a bit of soapy/splashy lacing.

S - It's definitely got sour qualities, it's like a rice vinegar that's a bit mellowed with the accompanying malts. Soft brown sugar and clove notes is what I get.

T - A bit sour upfront like vinegar, it unfolds quickly into mellow clove & yeasty flavors. It finishes very sour, as it goes down an almost off putting splash of vinegar sourness dominates. It's got some lingering yeasty flavors as well.

M - Kinda thin with moderate crispness. Lite bodied

D - Not very drinkable to me, I'm new to the style and I must say I'm not digging it much. I just wanted to finish my sample and be done with it to be frank, not bad but it takes some getting used to. I'd try another sour for sure but not anytime soon. (872 characters)

Photo of woosterbill
2.96/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On-tap at Prime 16 into a Monk's Cafe tumbler. Cheer's to matching glassware, even if it doesn't do much to accentuate aroma + flavor.

A: Clear vermillion body under a finger of super-fine tan foam. Decent retention and light lacing. Pretty inviting.

S: Uninspiring: prickly red wine vinegar, overripe cherries, and some vanilla. The acetic tartness increases as it warms, but it's never all that interesting for the style.

T: The sourness tingles the tip of my tongue, but is quickly drowned out entirely by wave after wave of cherry/vanilla sweetness. Tastes kind of like stale Cheerwine (for all you non-southerners, this is basically overly sweetened Dr. Pepper). Not terrible, but way too sweet.

M: Explosive carbonation and a sticky medium body. Exciting.

O: I think I prefer this slightly to Duchesse du Bourgogne, but only slightly - both are unnecessarily sweet and lacking in genuine complexity. While I love a great Flanders sour, I really can't get excited about a mediocre one.

Cheers! (1,004 characters)

Photo of sustainabrew
2.98/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Look: A deep red that bleeds into brown at the right angles, with a creamy off white head floating atop. Laces quite nicely

Aroma: A mix of funk and sour cherries really stand taller than everything else.

Taste: The ale was surprisingly sweet, expecting a bit more sourness and pop. Sour fruit, like cherries and maybe a tart apple come through, but the sweet maltiness seems to take center stage. Just a bit of carbonation to clean the palate, was hoping for a little more. A medium bodied ale that heads to the heavier side of things.

Notes: A really interesting beer that I quite enjoyed, but I could only really drink one of these at a time. Just cloying enough in its sweetness to leave it a one beer and move on type of drink. Maybe if I was more in the mood i could go for another, but at this time it was a tad much. If you get a chance I would try it, just not sure about going for seconds. (902 characters)

Photo of JosiahS
2.99/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Glass: Snifter

The color reminds me of an amber or scotch ale. Pour produced less than 1-finger of head but it has a nice ring and lacing looks great.

The aroma, what can i say ..Very sour with a fermented cabbage and malt vinegar. Just the softest amount of citrus as well.

Taste; right there with the smell. Sour with a bit of spice to it. It's also slightly minerally.

Mouthfeel is light to medium and has a soft feel. CO2 is light.

My first sour. To be honest, i don't like it. Later on down the road, i will probably grow to appreciate the flavors but it will definitely always be low on my list of beer styles. (621 characters)

Photo of brushpig
3/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Found a bottle at Sams wines in Chicago, the clerk recommended it.

I have never had a flemish sour before so I have no comparision, but I found it very interesting.

A Redish Brown Hue, with a head that was really non existant.

I smelled cherries right off, sour apples, with acidic sweetness to it.

The taste of sweet cherries was right upfront, then the sour, lightly acidic flavor. Not that complex, but a nice flavor.

The mouth feel I didn't like, the finish never finished, and left my mouth tart and sour, but not in a good way.

My tolerance for the sour and tart is not high in a beer, but the flavor was not bad. Not sure if I am a Flemish sour ale guy. I will have to try more to see. (710 characters)

Photo of FoamFingers
3/5  rDev -21.9%

Not at all sour. Merely tart and fruity. Not bad by any means, but not sour either. 0.5 puckers out of 5 possible. A sour warhead candy is more flavorful than this beer. (169 characters)

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