Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

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

1,108 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,108
Hads: 2,812
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.61%
Wants: 83
Gots: 397 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Belgium | 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 (95) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,108 | Hads: 2,812
Photo of NearerMyBeerToMe
4.26/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with very little head but for a filmy ring of foam at edge of beer that doesn't cling. Beer itself looks like dirty apple cider, and wow is this murky! Wayyy up close I can see streamers through the murk, so I give it a few good swirls and am able to bolster up a head about a quarter inch deep. Beer is a dirty, rosewood color with slightly reddish highlights. As soon as beer is poured, lactic, yogurty smells fill up the entire room. Up in the nose this only gets stronger. Bananas soaking in vinegar; pomegranate fruitiness with extreme sharp sourness. Nosefeel is so pungent it feels like buttermilk is clotting inside the nasal cavity, desensitizing the entire sinus... Blades of flavor slice through the tongue--apple juice/cider vinegar, sour whey, and pectin. As it warms, it starts to taste more like gin and grapefruit juice, but.. oh man, this is SOUR! with eons of aftertaste. Pungent! Wanna know what the mouthfeel is like? Go do a shot of lemon juice, it's exactly the same... but put an enormous bite at the end. The alcohol went straight to my head, but the beer is remarkably quenching... it sent cooling waves of pleasure up and down my spine. This is the third time I've had this, and it just keeps growing on me. And people say Flemish Red Ale is hard to love? Haters can send their glasses my way!

 1,325 characters

Photo of goast8127
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beer pours a deep red - ruby would be a good one word description.

The aroma is sweet and leans towards grapes. Definite notes of sourness that the name indicates.

Once on the tongue there is a sweet warmth that fills the mouth, finishing with a pleasant bitter, sour sensation.

Feels a little hot in the mouth, likely due to the carbonation. Would be interested to try this beer at a temp a few degrees warmer.

Overall a beer fitting its description. Definitely not a session beer but an excellent pre-dinner selection.

 528 characters

Photo of lnashsig
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my Duvel tulip, pours a dark amber color, with quick froth that fills the glass, and receeds to leave some nice lacing. Smell- sour apples, musty funk, sour sugar. Taste- fruit, sour apples, dark cherry, a sweet but not cloying finish. Mouthfeel- nice rich carbonation, smooth feel. Drinkability- if you can stand the powerful sour, this is borderline sessionable.

I'm really loving sours these days...and this is a drinkable and awesome example.

 459 characters

Photo of secondtooth
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deep reddish-amber in color, with a substantial head. Beautiful lacing going on here.

Nose - I get fruit, sour berries (particularly tart cherry) a hint of toffee, and maybe some yeastiness. It's a musty vibe, but quite appealing and unique.

Taste proved similar, with a delicious and refreshingly light-bodied feel. Tart berries and cherry dominated, with some sweetness and earthy elements rounding out the palate.

Delicious, unique, and a tasty brew.

 457 characters

Photo of IrishRedRock
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first time sampling this brew, despite its accessibility in this city. Next time I'm at Monk's I'll be sure to try the draught version, though the bottle will do for now on this snowy evening.

Pours a murky, mud color near the top of the glass and fades into a light ruby near the bottom. Tart aroma of mahogany wood and cherries. Flavor has some ripe cherry and plum flavors with a lemon zinger kick in there, all melding into the mildly hoppy middle and eventual tart finish. Hops seem to come through better as it warms, and overall gives it more balances to cut the sour fruitiness. Mouthfeel is enjoyable - a bit bubbly to blend with the tartness. Looking forward to the draught, but this is a nice take-home version.

 737 characters

Photo of fatmcb1
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark amber with an off white head that leaves a ring with little lacing.

Tart sour cherries, green apple, and raspberry. Very tart.

Taste is balanced between tart sourness and sweeter citrus. Also, there is a level of funk that changed as the beer warmed.

Very strong, prickly carbonation.

 307 characters

Photo of Radome
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 330 ml bottle.

L - Attractive medium brown color with lots of red. Head is light tan, thick, creamy, moussy and long-lasting. Tons of creamy lace.

S - Appetizing malt aromas of graham crackers, light molasses, raisins and prunes. Overlaid is a whiff of "aged" aromas such as raspberries, sweet grape juice, and even vinegar. No hops or alcohol on the nose. It smells delicate and dainty.

T - The flavors are not as fruit-filled as the aromas. Light graham cracker malt. Light raisins and prunes, then a gentle vinegar note late in the palate.

F - Light body, restrained but creamy carbonation. No hops bitterness detectable, but a bit of vinegar-like acetic bite keeps it from being cloying. No alcohol heat.

O - A great example of the style, made with a delicate touch. Not as full of flavor and complexity as some, but overall clean, gentle and pleasant.

 889 characters

Photo of JoePat
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours reddish brown with a thin pale head.

I get strawberries, sour cherries and a hint of cinimon in the aroma.

I get a lot of the strawberrry and sour cherry in the beginning of this beer with a hint of malt in the middle and nuttiness on the finish.
Not extreme sourness but it is definately the main character of the beer. Very well balanced.

Mouthfeel is thin with a lot of carbonation escaping the liquid as it hits your mouth adding to the dryness of the beer.

Probably the most drinkable sour beer I have ever had with all that balance supporting the sourness.

 582 characters

Photo of blitheringidiot
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Label Lingo: 12 oz browner.

Murky russet brown hues, nearly opaque with a thin clinging egg shell white collar. Warming swirls rise up a foamy collar that quickly descends down me Ommegang tulip.

Lemonade and lemon peel and lemon oil (lemons lemons and more lemons) apples, woody scents that linger and induce mouth watering pucker. Musty attic scents.

First Swigs: Lemon juice pucker. Some pekoe tea malts but this is lemony sour all the way. Metallic acidic. Extraneous notes of under ripened grapes.

Little warming carbonation fizzle rolls on. Thin body. As enjoyable as this is, not a perfect drinker, but close.

Last Swigs: Thanks to PopeDX for the offering. Half lemon juice, half pre mixed tea and like licking a 9 volt battery’s terminals. How good is this? Goood. All lemon lime citrous killer. My best guess is 6% ABV.

Beer is good. Happy sour beering.

 886 characters

Photo of HipHop5
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poor a medium to dark red Mahogany color.

3 fingers of light beige and creamy head that hang around for some time.

Heavy but perfect carbonation.

Mild dry fruits and funky on the first nose. Acidic lactic tart apple and cherries as it develops in the glass.

Some Oak ,raisin and tart apple, cherries open up after 10 minutes.

Super dry up front with medium light body. Extremely thirst quencher although a bit sweet in the finish with a heavy dose of candy sugar caramel sweetens. Lightly sour and tart in the middle but sweetness covers most of sourness. Well balanced and a perfect introduction to sours. Cherries and musky metallic note are revealed as it warms up a bit more. good sticky lacing.

This is a bit expensive but a great side track brew for the summer. If you ask me what I would prefer instead of a glass of champagne, this would do the trick. Sweet and dry at the same time. The blend of two sours makes this an extremely balance beer.

 959 characters

Photo of soulgrowl
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Extremely volatile carbonation, spraying bubbles withing itself like a fistful of sparklers. Cherrywood reddish brown when it settles, a pretty color, with a smoggy brown tinge near the top and a yellowy parchment head. Poor retention.

Smell: Extremely red wine-like, with notes of tart cherry, tobacco, yogurty lactic acid, red wind vinegar, raspberries, and oak. Sour and tart, but well-balanced and solidly put together with a toasty, brown sugary and bagel-doughy malt base. I love this style! If there are hops, they express themselves in a very delicate, possibly floral way.

Taste: Dry, very dry, and only lightly tart for the style - no bursting berry flavors like those of the Duchesse or Rodenbach, but it is lightly fruity. Notes of apples, and, noticeably, cranberries are ample, with a whole-grain bready malt foundation. Clear notes of oak, or maybe maple, add a classy character while the vinegary tartness helps keep things bright.

Mouthfeel: Light and nicely effervescent - a tad too watery, perhaps, as the bubbles are very fine. Very clean and dry.

Drinkability: Yum! A pleasant, mild yet interesting Flanders red.

 1,149 characters

Photo of BeanBone
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A rich reddish-brown body capped by a little less than two fingers of creamy off-white head that fade slowly and leave great lacing.

Aroma: Sour and tart with lots of great cherry, sweet malt, musty, and vinous notes--mouthwatering and inviting.

Flavor: A great mix of sweet and sour flavors: lots of fruit (cherries, raspberries, and grapes mostly), wood, a slight acidity, and a base of toffee-like malt. Not overly sour, it's all balanced superbly. The aftertaste is wine-like, funky, and occasionally a little metallic.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with lots of great effervescent carbonation. A drying finish.

Drinkability: As long as you aren't totally put off by sour flavors, this is a highly drinkable brew.

Verdict: Brimming with character and depth, Monk's Café is a terrific beer that really satisfies when I'm craving a sweet and sour beer. If you've never had a sour and you're looking for a safe start, or if you're just looking for something a little different, this would be a great choice.

 1,021 characters

Photo of BrewsCrewSA
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out with a beautiful, tan head. High in carbonation; deep ruby, and rusty brown in color, looks very inviting. Head retains well, dissipates after a few, appears to have some sediment on the bottom, not sure if this is normal. Still, a great looking beer.

Faint scents of alcohol and berries, not much here, but still pleasant. Smell reminds me of those few, Belgian krieks such as Cantillon, and Lindeman's Kriek and Gueze.

Tastes great. Just an amazing, tasty quality that's hard to define. I liken it to melting a few red Sweet Tarts on your tongue. That, plus the faint, goodness of alcohol notes toward the back of the palate. A great, sweet flavor that's hard to resist. One of the best Belgian beers I've ever had.

Mouthfeel is incredible, maybe an even better quality than the taste. I was expecting tart, bitterness; what I got instead was a mellow, sweet pleasantness that was happily surprising. Exceedingly smooth, cool, refreshing.

I guess they eliminated drinkability from the review categories, but OVERALL, a great Belgian effort. I personally much prefer this to the redundant, Tripels and Quadruppels. They all taste like apple juice anyway. This Red Ale, I highly recommend.

 1,203 characters

Photo of blgianbeer
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I just got back from a trip to Philly and my obligatory stop at Monk's. Trying this ale was on the top of my "to do" list given the absence of any Rodenbach products in the market.
I was not disappointed. I would put this somewhere between the rather unremarkable Rodenbach and the spectacular Grand Cru. Not quite as complex and aromatic as the GC, but much more sour and flavorful than regular Rodenbach.
This beer is not unlike Van Steenberge's Bios (which I loved and brought several bottles back from Belgium). Well worth the price of admission.

 554 characters

Photo of kleffman
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Chimay glass. A very dark amber brown color with ruby red when held up to the light. Poured a small tight head with great retention and lacing on the glass.

Aroma immediately hit me with vinegar and that's what I expected out of the taste. Tart fruits and something funky in the nose that I couldn't place until I read a review below saying "wet horse blanket". While that sounds absolutely disgusting, it's sort of true and I'm going to go ahead and say I enjoy this most interesting aroma.

Taste is fantastic. The mouthfeel is divine, more on that later. Flavors of both sweet and sour cherries, plums, and other over ripe fruits. Slight woody character. Quite acidic and sour but not overpowering like many Flanders Reds tend to be. Maybe that's what makes this an Oud Bruin style? The bottle however claims it's a Flemish Sour Red. Definite lacto presence and a little vinegar even though the aromas could've fooled me into thinking it was dominated by vinegar.

Mouthfeel on this is by far the best I've experienced from the Flanders style beers. It's a rather nice medium body with plenty of carbonation helping it finish quite dry and wine-like. I think without this mouthfeel it wouldn't be the same beer at all.

High on drinkability if you enjoy the Flanders beers. It's a new style for me but they're quickly growing on me and I'm trying to really open my mind to them. I wish I could find more of this one, but there was only one bottle left where I got it.

Bottom line is if you come across this beer it's most definitely worth a shot. I only had to pay $2.50 for it, but I would spend more than that.

 1,631 characters

Photo of djbreezy
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle to snifter.

In my search for reasonably priced sours, this one is coming on top thus far. Very cheap for a bottle (in comparison) and remarkably balanced and flavorful.

appearance - pours a rich ruby red with some transparency, head settles quickly but retains on the sides of the glass, some land mass formations from the aerial view of the glass, strong lacing

smell - fruit, oak, cherry, bitter, sour, wood

taste - sour but not too sour, dark fruits including cherry, apple, grape, flavors of wood, smooth finish, lacks the sharp tartness of better sours but amazing flavor

mouthfeel - full bodied for 5.5 abv and heavily carbonated, smooth and big

 663 characters

Photo of RodBurg
4.29/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, deep red color with a thick off white head and some spotty lacing.

Smells tart and fruity. Grapes, plums, and cherries.

Taste is pretty outstanding. Sweet apples and cherries with a slight sour finish. Very crisp with an intense carbonation.

Very good stuff. Now I know what I'll be drinking on New Year's Eve instead of Champagne.

 351 characters

Photo of farrago
4.29/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a thin head which eventually falls into a sheet over most of the liquid surface, lacing runs up the glass in veins. Brown to burnt orange in hue, more yellow at the rims, while deep it is also clear enough to view the bubble beads. The nose is broad and you feel the beer's presence in your nostrils, however, it's not trying to bowl you over, beyond the dense candied cherry and green apple fruit scents and damp forest floor matter, it's a man of few words, any vinegar notes subordinate to the fruit, freshly rolled bread dough and dried orange peels about the whole of the rest. Medium-bodied, streamlined and without any fat on the bones. The carbonation disrupts the sourness as it enters the mouth and lets it soak in before you start to pucker. The cherry, apple, apricot fruit remains the star of the show and sweetens the lemon, orange citrus appreciably. The uncooked dough element there, very, very lightly spiced and, again, the vinegar component barely registers. Full through the finish, lingers tactfully. For its type, could put down a few in a row.

 1,077 characters

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

11.2oz bottle into snifter.
A: A deep reddish, amber body, pours with a light cream head. Head retreat thin layer, while the lace that is left is a spotty, that is spot on representation.
S: The aroma denotes a sour brew that shows a hint of sweet cherry.
T/M: The front of this beer is a mellow start of subtle cherry, that exceeds to a blast of sour, but not over powering the limit. The finish is a smooth and nice off for the style, a relapse of sour that lingers nicely. The mouthfeel is a nice and smooth sensation that forms a nice silky effect.
D: I find this to be a bit overly drinkable, a bit too smooth and tasty. The alcohol is barely present at all and is a delicious sour brew.

 692 characters

Photo of GRG1313
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bit brown but clear with a short white head.

A wonderful integration of balance and flavors! Refreshing, drinkable in the extreme. Sweet and sour and very well balanced, hint of hops, nice light sugars. Nice drink, for summer. Like an adult soft drink with noticeable bretanomyces character with undertones of balsamic and red wine vinegar, in the most pleasant sense.

Nice.

 386 characters

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

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a deep red, good retention. Aroma is a bit weak but you can smell the sour vinagar, fruits, and grapes. Light body with awesome funk taste from the fruits, vinagar, malts, and sugars. So easily drinkable it's a bit scary.

 267 characters

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

12 oz tap pour into a stemmed glass at bnieman's Dad's house before watching some Brew Masters on Discovery.

A - Beautiful mahogany amber in color with a light tan head. Good retention with some thick lace clinging to the glass.

S - Crisp amber malts with a sweet caramel aroma. A hint of vinegar sourness that is very nice. Good, but a little cold in aroma.

T - A touch of metallic flavor to the amber toasted malts. Nice mild sourness with a little hint of the awesome vinegar I love in this style.

M - Crisp and light-bodied with a smooth follow-through and light sour finish.

D - This will be dangerous on tap in the basement. I could drink this all night if I didn't have to drive (aka didn't feel guilty of emptying the keg).

 736 characters

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

Got this long wanted one the other day and I knew I just had to get it right into the rotation. This one I have been wanting to try as I have heard it is an outstanding version of the style. Served at cellar temp and poured into a goblet this one was consumed on 04/23/2009.
 
The pour was wonderful, deep and dark red in color with a light tan head that came up to a height of around two inches before settling back down and leaving tons of lace all over the sides and bottom of the glass while never really falling much below the one inch level. The aroma was lightly tart, sour cherries, hints of earthy and spicy notes and even a touch of what seemed like brown sugar or something along those lines. Rally very well done and quite complex. The flavor was a little less tart then what I would have liked but I have to admit was still done very well. Rich and full, it was never flat or boring and I have to admit I found myself returning back to it time and again for another go round.
 
Overall a very solid Flemish ale, not the best I have had, but this was very well put together. Highly drinkable and something that I would not turn my nose at if I ever received it again, very well done.

 1,201 characters

Photo of Immortale25
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Saint Somewhere wine-style glass. No freshness date.

A- Pours a reddish dark brown color with a 3/4 inch tan head that has OK retention time before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and thin surface foam. Solid threads of lacing.

S- Smells of sour cherries and old grapes at first but then mellows out and allows the fresher fruit aromas of raspberry and strawberry to come through. All very faint though as the malt seems to be keeping everything on a tight leash.

T- Flash of sour that quickly melts away as the heavy dark fruit comes in like a chaser. The lactic acid hangs around in the aftertaste but isn't overpowering. Notes of black cherry and cranberry.

M- Tart, but not very dry which is impressive. Medium-high carbonation brings about many tight bubbles. Sturdy body.

O- I wasn't sure what to expect since I've been to Monk's Cafe once before and they had a bunch of Russian River sours on tap among which some I liked and some I didn't. However, this is one of the best (if not the best) sours I've ever had.

 1,057 characters

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

Interesting beer for me. First had this on tap at Monk's cafe in Philly a solid 3+ years ago now. Scary. At the time, this beer came from another world. Time has passed, and I have had a number of beers since then. I am very happy to say that this beer, while not as sour, was honestly as good as I remember it.

Beer is a copper brown color, with a very thick, off-white head. Pretty stuff. First smell is the funk. Funky, but not overly so. Then the fruit and sweetness kicks in. Nice, deep, dark cherry smell. Maybe some other crisp fruit like apples or maybe pears. Some very dry, woody qualities as well.

Taste is fantastic. Obvious sourness, but amazing balance. Sour for the sake of flavor, not for being puckeringly sour. Again, lots of fruit - the cherries stand out. Some malt and sweetness on the backend. For me this was very surprising. The beer I remember was sour sour sour. I think this is for two reasons: the beer at Monk's was on keg and probably fresher, and I have had a number of other sour beers now, so the taste does not stand out as much.

Great mouthfeel and drinkability. Just an outstanding beer. I am probably a bit nostalgic, and will score higher than the average, but IMO, I am completely justified. I love the combination of sweet and sour, funk and fruit. Awesome.

 1,300 characters

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,108 ratings.