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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

1,098 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,098
Hads: 2,763
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.61%
Wants: 82
Gots: 374 | FT: 7
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.
View: Beers (92) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,098 | Hads: 2,763
Photo of kindacold
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pouts a deep red with approximately a one inch, reddish-brown head. Head dissipates after a few minutes. Smells sour, almost candy-like. First sip is like a kick in the face. EXTREMELY sour, almost like a sweet tart. After the initial shock, the beer goes down with a lot of carbonation and much tingling. The sour taste remains in the mouth and even the throat for a long time after each sip, however, it somehow adds to the beer's refreshing taste. I will continue to drink this beer when I come inside from a hot day.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured with a great, thick brownish head, but it dissipated all too quickly, leaving behind a thin, wispy reminder. The color is a deep ruby red/brown. The nose is very tart with an underlying smell like toast right from the toaster. It has a thick, almost creamy mouthfeel and a flavor that is very reminiscent of SweetTarts from childhood. It has what I can best describe as a candy-like sweetness, but offset/balanced by an extremely tart flavor. The finish reveals this dichotomy to a greater degree, with me being unable to pin down either sweet or tart, but more like both at once. This is very enjoyable and I would certainly have more than one on a hot summer's day, when the beer would be quite refreshing.

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Photo of Goldopelgt
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured a reddish brown with a whitish head and some decent lacing.

S- Initially hit with vinegar and sour fruits...complex, but pleasant. Definitely some funk, but what to be expected with this style.

T- Tart, acidic, sour--everything you would expect from this beer. Very nice!

M- Somewhat thin, carbonated, but again what you would expect from this style.

D- Very drinkable....want to try it again. I really enjoyed this beer and would definitely recommend it.

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Photo of HappyHourHero
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up this bottle and boy does it have some miles on it. Brewed in Belgium, imported in San Diego, CA, bought in Elkton MD, and consumed in Ithaca, NY.

Aromas of sour cherries and brown sugar. Dense, oatmeal colored head was more then I expected. Sour and tart flavors dominate, but in an interesting mix of cherry and lime. Once those flavors release my tongue there are some other strange things that begin to happen. It's hard to put my finger on it but there is an earthy/woody aspect and a light spicyness that I can't describe (pepper and vanilla?, probably not). Anyway, it's enjoyable and interesting. Light, highly carbonated beer with a tart and dry finish. I was expecting a less carbonated beer that was all tart, and thankfully it was more then that.

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Photo of micromaniac129
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a reddish kinda brownish color with a small head and good carbonation. Aroma is tart and sour with a side of white vinegar and church pews. Taste is tart, sweet, fruity and sour. Really, hard to describe.
Drinks thin and crisp. Tickles the palette.
An excellent beer drinks more like a soda. I could drink a bunch of these.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 11.2oz bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: rich brown color with a ruby tinge; one finger of foamy tan head. Nice.

Smell: big aromas of caramel, nuts and toasted malts. There is also an acidic brightness permeating the big malt. I've never had a Flanders Oud Bruin before, but this smells quite good.

Taste: bright, sweet and tart. There are big fruity flavors here; sour apple and cherry are the most prominent among them. The more traditional malty flavors are more apparent in the aftertaste. Overall, these two components complement each other quite well. I very much like this beer.

Mouthfeel: medium body and relatively high carbonation give this beer a nice creamy texture; though it's more fizzy than smooth. Still quite good.

Drinkability: I think this beer is just a hair too sweet to be exceptionally drinkable. Still, the tartness is just enough to keep me interested and I feel like I would gladly include one of these in my daily diet.

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Photo of 99bottles
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From an 11.2 ounce bottle this beer pours a rich ruby-brown color with a fizzy active head of white carbonation. The smell is very interesting. Sour and sultry, if you get a big whiff it makes the back of your mouth pucker and smells of turned milk (the label calls it lactic). The first taste is of tart cherry. The finish is vert TART. Sour, yes...but the sweet cherry is in there also. Wow. Incredibly refreshing. Incredible tasty. Dry earthy taste from the unique ferementation. I love the sour ending ! A class act all around. However, if fermentation run amok gives you the willies, you might want to look elsewhere. Little pricey also, but worth the bucks.

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Photo of 7ways
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark copper/ruby with a full yellowish-white head that remained at 1/2 cm for quite some time. Ungodly thick lacing.

N- Red wine/apple cider vinegar, sour grape, cherry, and apple. No distinct malt or hops. The smell alone makes my mouth water.

T- Very strong apple cider vinegar, which I happen to love. Quite acidic. Oakey cherry, sour apple candy. Balanced with moderate sweetness.

M- Prickly, but not so much as to be offensive or get in the way of the taste. Slightly more full than many Flemish reds, which to me increases drinkability.

D- I could drink many of these in a session. In fact, I do. Often.

This is only the second dark sour I've had, and it has made me determined to seek more out.

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Photo of clvand0
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly cloudy amber/brown color with a very small head that dies fast and doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. The aroma has lots of sour fruitiness - cherry, mostly. The flavor is quite tart, but not puckering tart. Some cherry and citrus flavors go well with the lactic sourness. Seems to also have some woody flavors in there. The body is light, but not too light and the drinkability is pretty good once you get used to the sourness.

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Photo of xnicknj
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at Monk's - review done from notes.

A - Nice clear reddish color which leaves sticky lacing all along the rim of the glass.

S - Dashes of fruit and coriander populate the nose, along with hints of sourness.

T - The beer almost instantly refreshes the drinker despite the sweet and tart flavors which swirl around the palate. Dark fruit and sour flavors glance the tongue without becoming overwhelming. Lactic sourness rounds everything out with a dry, bitter finish.

M/D - Bubbly and smooth, you can't help but desire another one, especially with its surprisingly smooth and refreshing qualities.

This was one of the first sours I ever tried years ago, and the delicious qualities are still ringing true to this day.

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Photo of DoctorDog
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 11.2 oz bottle into a snifter.

A- Pours a translucent reddish brown. 1 finger of fizzy tan, which promptly reduces to a thin, incomplete cap.

S- Tart raspberry vinegar, red wine fruitiness, and a slightly funky yeastiness. Interesting and enjoyable (especially if you like the acetic acid stilt).

T- Swirling with fruity, malty, cherry-esque sweetness. Sour notes are fairly subdued, though there is certainly a perceptible amount of tartness. A bit of a sweet sherry thing going on here. Bitterness extremely minimal.

M- Slightly crisp with moderate carbonation. Medium feel.

D- Surprisingly good. I expected this to be perhaps too sour, or cloying, or perhaps too acetic to drink easily....but it was none of those things.

Future outlook: Hmmm...this was quite enjoyable. If I had been served blindly, I could surely have been fooled into thinking I was drinking something other than a beer. My initial impression is that this was an interesting drink that I will be happy to have again.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a 50 cl fluted glass at Delaney's in New Haven, Conn.

A: Clean, dark reddish amber color with a thin, creamy cap of white foam which settles to a thin coating, leaving little lace. burnished red color is quite nice and the clarity is good for a seemingly darker red ale.

S: Fruity, floral bouquet of red berries, melon, citrus and musty, old bread. Lots of sweetness and only a hint of spicy, yeasty resin.

T: Sweet, tart and fruity up front, with a big-time sour berry and cherry flavor coupled quickly with rushes of sticky sweet caramel malts. Finishes out a bit chewy, with lingering raisin and berry sweetness among the sweet and tart aftertaste.

M: Medium-full bodied brew with some sticky sweet malts and tart acidity thrown around the palate.

D: A very interesting specialty Belgian brew and at 5.5% ABV it's not a stretch to try a few. The fruity, floral esters of this blended Belgian red ale are balanced, yet sweet, acidic, tart and funky all at once. Quite good if you;re in the mood to maybe pair it with a duck or wild turkey.

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Photo of FanofHefe
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 fl. oz. bottle, no dating, poured into a Chimay chalice. Very high level of carbonation, so I had to pour slowly. Ruby red body that is mostly clear and lets the light through. Bubbly tan head that actually dissipates fairly quickly but leaves a nice cap and a little lacing.

Tart fruit up front in the aroma: cherry, raspberry, green apple. I get just a little sweet malt in the mix as well.

Very tasty. Nice blend of the tart and sour fruit flavors with the sweet malt. This one has a little more sweet balance than others of this style. Would be a good candidate for someone new to the more sour beers. Medium mouthfeel that is easy to drink. Nice brew.

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Photo of blackc5
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured from a bottle to a tulip at about 45F. Cola-like, dark ruby in color with a very short-lived, fizzy, high carbonation head. Little lacing.

S - Smells sweet, sour and fruity. Mainly raspberry and dark cherry. A bit of oak.

T - Tart and sour, yet sweet as well. A great combination, and not vinegary. Gets a bit sweeter as it fizzes out and warms up. Like the aroma, much dark fruit, but more heavily towards cherry than raspberry. Some malty base, and of course the tannins from the oak. Hint of funk, quite mild and lingering in the background.

M - Light-bodied, and although it seems highly carbonated at first, it fades quickly, leaving a moderate brew in this regards.

D - Could easily have a few of these. The tartness does not overpower and dull the palate, and the sweetness is not too cloying. Well done.

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Photo of ckollias
4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed this bottle out of a Beligian tulip glass.

A: Pours a dark amber hue with a huge white head that leaves a good trail down the side of the glass.

S: Sour dark fruit aroma.

T: Sour and slightly sweet dark fruit flavor and decent malt background. Finishes on the sour side of sweet.

M: Thin body and medium carbonation.

O: Really good sour brew. A nice sipping beer – but nothing I could drink more than one of.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear reddish brown but is a beautiful dark red when held to the light. A bunch of bubbles in this one as well. Terrific lacing, with one nice white ring near the top where the white foamy head was, working down the pint in scattered white patches.

A hint of burnt sugar and some light sour cherry/maybe cider vinegar. Smells like it will be an acidic one.

Great brew. Light tart cherries, a little burnt sugar, some tart acid, some chemical alcohol, and a very very clean finish. Nothing cloying or unpleasant during the drink or in the remainder.

Bubbly and thinner than expected. Helps tremendously in the drinkability. This went down very very easy. Funny enough, when buying this, the beer guy in the liquor store was talking to another customer about sours. He said they reminded him of a tart wine, but one that had gone very very bad. WTF? This was terrifc, and far from his description -- what shitty advice from that guy. Try this if you can.

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

Had on tap at Papago Brewery 05/22/09. Was served by the great bar staff in a tulip from tap.

Presented with a nice ¾" thick creamy head of tan atop a dark reddish-brown (or was it brownish-red?) brew.

First smell and I was amazed. I am sure I got funny looks from people as I just sat there for about 45 seconds sniffing. It was like a trail mix of home dried fruits. Taste follows through with a nice slightly fruity ale - not sweet. Very pleasant and well worth a nice slow slip. Not super sour, but has the right amount of sour to make it really pleasant.

Wonderful mouth feel and a really good follow through. This is one of those beers that when someone says "I won't drink beer, I prefer a good red wine" - give them this.

To everything this good, there is always a down side: It isn't cheep. I did end up purchasing a few in bottles, which I will be reviewing at a later time.

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

A: Pours a dark red/brown. Nice beige and foamy head.

S: Agree with the comparisons to the Duchesse. Nice faint sour and funky nose, with an underlying cherry backbone.

T/M: Great stuff. The old and new mix to give a earthy, slightly tart cherry sweetness. Nice mouthfeel from a good dose of carbonation. Vinegar characteristics start to come out as it warms up, as others have noticed.

D: Goes down nice and smooth. Could drink this stuff all night, especially given the normal abv.

Overall, a very well done Oud Bruin and would gladly have again.

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Photo of synapseprolapse
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Clear, dark amber, 2 finger head
S: Light malt, acididic
T: Light malt, sweet tarts
M: Lightly carbonated, maybe a little thin.
O: Delicious! I absolutely love this sour, and it balances bacteria with yeast perfectly, in my mind. The only downside is the short-lived head and the maybe slightly thin mouthfeel, but they hardly detract from how delicious this sour is.

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

Thanks to Zorro for the bottle.

Appearance: Very dark murky brown body, big head fades to just an off-white band.

Smell: Extremely sour and fruit/vinous, mildy malty.

Taste: Not as sour you would imagine, but you get the idea of what it is going for. The malt is smooth and a touch grassy and metallic, but sweeet and sour overall. Not the most overpowering, but very easy to enjoy.

Drinkability: While not my favorite in the style, still a very drinkable Flemish Ale.

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

In a snifter:

Head falls apart quickly, body is a light translucent brown with amber and red hues. Aromas of umami, cherry, alcohol, tartness, and green apple. So sour! This is awesome, so sweet... Like candy. Good balance of bitter. Green apple, plum, cherry. Cider vinegar. Aftertaste is... Ketchup?! It works, though. Very good body and carbonation. I could drink a ton of this. Easy on the palate and delicious.

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

Poured at 50 degrees into a wine-style Leffe glass.

Faint head, as expected, over a deep amber body with a touch of carbonation flowing up. Good lacing.

Aroma is really nice - sweet maraschino cherries, oak, and a nice lactic sourness to round it out.

Terrific entrance on the palate, without too much carbonation to distract from the nice flavor profile. Picked up on red grapes, cherry skins, and a nice, easygoing lactic sourness - definitely not too strong - no pucker. Well balanced overall.

Drinkability is large... could easily zip through a few of these w/out any burnout. This is one that would pair as well with a medium rare fillet as it would with a fruit-topped cheesecake or cherry tart.

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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.

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Photo of joeysmokedporter
4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a bottle into a Sam Adams glass.

A: pours mahogany red, clear, with a 2 finger reddish tan head.

S: dominated by vinegar, although cherry and woody aroma also present. this is one beer where the aroma and flavor are fairly disconnected, and in this case for the better.

T: an aceto-vinegar flavor, but also sour-cherry-like, with a sweet malty flavor coming in and a bit of a tannin finish. while some beers in this style have tasted like salad dressing to me, this one has a flavor that balances between sour, vinegar, and sweetness. Cherry doctor pepper-like flavor is evident in the middle of this, and finishes on the bitter side with a strong hint of wood aging.

M: light although puckering in the end, with the effect of the bitterness. carbonation high but appropriate for the style.

D: The more i drink the more I want. This is quite an enjoyable sour beer. Paired up with trappist cheese for a nice contrast, but alone this beer is fine as a drinker.

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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.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,098 ratings.