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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

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,094
Hads: 2,716
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.24%
Wants: 79
Gots: 354 | 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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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,094 | Hads: 2,716
Photo of nriech
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Little head, lots of carbonation though. Light ruby color. Served in a snifter and picked up some sour notes but not as strong as many other Flemish reds.

The taste to me was a little bland. Sure theres a bit of sour in there and maybe, a little oaky fruit tone but overall seemed a little weak to me. There is also of course a bit of acidity to the mouthfeel but this quickly disappears. I wouldnt say this is a newcomers sour ale since it doesnt seem to really catch all of what a belgian red can encompas. Its still an ok brew though Im rating the smell and taste down a little since this kind of beer really should be more powerful. (640 characters)

Photo of nlmartin
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer was served in a wide mouthed wine goblet.

Appearance: The beer pours an effervescent clear chestnut coloration. The head is a off color white.

Smell: The beer has a very sour fruity floral smell. The beer has a bit of musty oakeyness to it.

Taste: The beer has a sweet then sour spicy yeastyness. The beer has plenty of tart berry fruityness. The beer definately has vinous qualities.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer has a slightly lighter body than I prefer. The carbonation at times can be burning and stinging. The beer is still pretty dam refreshing to drink. This is a pretty solid offering by any standard. (638 characters)

Photo of Westsidethreat
3.09/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Deep strawberry/cherry juice color. Very clean and opaque. Nice billowy off white head in standard Belgium style. Seriously great looking beer.

S: Yeasty with notes of sour grape, wet oak, cherry vinegar.

T: Not nearly as pungent as I was expecting. Bit like watered down cherry juice. Minor sour notes with out much twang. Not nearly as complex as some of the other Flanders out there.

M: Bit thin and prickly from the carbonation.

D: I was disappointed by this beer. Its ok and certainly drinkable but nothing I'd be compelled to try again. Oh well, they can't all be Rodenbach. (596 characters)

Photo of weeare138
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Monk's Cafe...
Appears a hazy, red toned light brown with an off white head that slowly fades into a mild film. Spotty lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of sour cherries, apples, mild vinegar.
Taste is of the above mentioned aromas. Similar to Rodenbach Red. Slight sour apple and light cherry flavors jumping about.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a slightly thin mouthfeel but the Rodenbbach qualites are still there. Not quite mouth puckering but decent. (479 characters)

Photo of sacfly
4.52/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

First had this in a bottle at Max’s in Baltimore. Just got to have it on tap at Monk’s in Philly.
Served a dark red in a pint glass. Little head to speak of. Smell is both sweet and sour. Taste follows suit. Just the right ammout of sweetness to balance the tart flavors generated by this heavenly ale. Acidic and a slight hint of Balsamic vinaigrette. The aftertaste is still tart, but the not in a lingering, off-putting kind of way.
Very easy to drink. When I had it on tap, I could imagine drinking this all night. Very light and refreshing. (551 characters)

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

Tasted at my new favorite Chicago bar, Hopleaf.

Served in a tulip glass, this beer poured a mahogany-red with a thin layer of bubbles. Aroma of nice sourness and oak.

The first sip is a nice , tart one, but it fades a little quickly on the back end. This problem is soon overcome, though, as the beer seems to build with every sip.

A good example of one of my favorite styles, and a great way to kick off the evening. (426 characters)

Photo of Lnedrive14
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Only my second of the style, so I don't have much to compare it to, but here goes...

Pours a deep garnet reddish brown. Nose is strong of tarty sourness - just like the taste. However, this one hits the palate strangely. Upfront, there is a strong malty, caramel, belgian brown taste, which recedes into the sourness of the flemish red. Very interesting. Frankly, I would have liked a few more of those latter flavors up front.

A highly drinkable brew, and a very interesting one at that. Not something I would want to drink every night, but good for a change once in a while. (583 characters)

Photo of RBorsato
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tasted on-tap on 03/09/06 at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, PA.

Full ruby red color with a decent light beige head and moderate carbonation. Definite sourness in the aroma but overall a nicely balanced sweet and sour Flanders Red Ale in both aroma and flavor. Fairly mild overall for the style and therefore makes it a very approachable introduction for newcomers. Medium bodied and refreshing without being overly sour; looking forward to tasting the bottled version but it seems from previous reviews that it may not be quite as good. (537 characters)

Photo of beveragecaptain
4.09/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle. Pours out a murky, reddish brown color with a small head. The aroma is sour cherries and oak. The flavor is a tangy mixture of sweet and sour. The flavor of cherries is most prominent, but there is also oak, wine, and berries. There is enough sourness so that the sweetness is held in check, but I would like this better if it was less sweet. Finishes very acidic. Carbonation is high. This is a pretty good version. (435 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.09/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Overcast, orange-infused apple cider brown on the coaster... lucent dark cherry when held up to my sunlit front window. The pale caramel colored cap looked (and sounded) excessively fizzy immediately after the pour, but has settled down nicely and may last for a bit. It looks like melted styrofoam, though, and lacks character. A few blips of lace is about it.

The aroma is classic for the style and is immensely appealing. It's sour, snappy, tart, tangy, acidic, acetic... take your pick. If forced to come up with a difference between this beer and others of the style that I've tried, I'd say this one is less funky than some.

You better be a fan of SOUR if you plan to drink and enjoy Flanders reds. I can't imagine a more salivary gland-squinching beverage than this one that would still be drinkable. I feel a need to wait for my mouth to unpucker between each sip. Unripe fruit (cherries and green apples especially) comes to mind, although I know that no fruit is used.

Again, funkiness is at a minimum. That isn't to say the yeast strain is a slacker. It's just that it excels at acid production and is otherwise exceptionally clean. Even though my Flanders red experience is minimal, I feel that Monk's Cafe, while perhaps not the best on the planet, is as classic and as representative of the style as any other.

The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium, with just a hint of stickiness on the finish. I'm amazed at how well the airy, well-carbonated, exceptionally clean mouthfeel dovetails with the flavor of the beer. Any heavier or more clingy and it wouldn't work nearly as well.

No matter how much I enjoy a good Flanders red, I'm perfectly content to go weeks or even months between bottles since my tolerance for sour is a fraction of my tolerance for bitter. Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Red is an excellent version, though. If I'm ever in Philadelphia, I'll make it a point to stop in at Monk's for a glass. What the hell, maybe two. (1,959 characters)

Photo of PuckLSHS
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I could drink Monk's Flemish Sour all day long and not be disappointed. I have had this on tap several times at Naja's Place in Redondo Beach, CA.

It pours a brownish hue with a very small head to it that leaves very little lace.

The smell is a nice sour fruit (possibly a little cherry?). The taste pretty much follows up with that wonderful sour fruit smell also. Not too overpowering in the sour department, but just right to make this beer an everyday drink.

The mouthfeel is nice. Light carbonation, smooth...

Drinkability is rather high because this really has become my end of the night beer. (612 characters)

Photo of akorsak
1.86/5  rDev -51.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I am drinking a 330 mL bottle, poured into a Chimay goblet.

Appearance: The ale is a deep brown color with a significant amount of sediment.

Smell: There is a slight lactic sourness in the nose.

Taste: Blehh... The sour presence that I expected from this flemish red appeared upfront but quickly disappeared, leaving an unremarkable red ale flavor.

Mouthfeel: Nowhere near as lactic and sour as it should be.

Drinkability: I had 1/2 of the bottle and poured it down the drain. This ale doesn't hold a candle to Rodenbach. (537 characters)

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

I don't know how they measure things in Flemland, but this here ain't red. It be brown as a dog's asshole, only in means in which the dog's asshole is made to be appealin', and with a little white head.

Very sour malt. That's it. Intense, candy sour. Very nice; reminds me of when I was little, buying Tearjerkers at the gas station.

Sour! Sweet and sour citrus to start, moving into an almost chemical, candy sour middle, ending on a more dry sourness, like a sour wine. I'm no good at picking out different types of sours: my pallete isn't used to them. Alls I can say is that this is sour, and it's good. (613 characters)

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours as brown as brown can be with dirty white lacing. Wonderfully sharp, sour/tart aroma reminiscent of Fantome Hiver. Taste is big sourness and tartness, grape skins, tannins, and oak. Light but lively mouthfeel. Very drinkable. I could guzzle this stuff. Very enjoyable and not too expensive at 3 bucks a bottle. (316 characters)

Photo of UnionMade
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Jim and Allie for bringing this one back from PA for me!
Hazy ruby, topped off with a thick, antique white head. Pleasantly tart aroma, with a solid caramel malt base. A bit woody and vinous. Understated and classy. The flavor opens with caramel malt and an immediate, modest tartness. Red grape juice, with a bit of plum, easing simply into a tart, berry-like finish. Fizzy, with a lighter medium body and plenty of dryness in the finish. Good stuff. Very drinkable. Solid, this is a good example of the style. (522 characters)

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

Pours out a bubbly dark cherry red with about a half inch of tan foam on top. Nice sour aroma with light woody notes and faint fruits. Some sweetness is there in the back. Nice little sour kick upfront in the flavor with some balancing notes from sweet fruits. Light woody notes as this finishes. Well carbonated mouthfeel and really easy drinking. While this was good and balanced I usually prefer a bit more sourness in this style. (433 characters)

Photo of Bitterbill
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 11.2oz bottle (room temp) a murky medium brown with a medium sized head of foam with little lacing.

The smell does indeed have strong sour fruity notes with some sensing of yeast as well.

The taste is of a nice sour peach and apricot at first but then it moves beyond that and becomes peppery...leaving some "heat" in my mouth and on my lips after I finish each sip. Not exactly what I was looking for in a Sour ale.

Bottom line: an interesting brew that I'm glad I got a chance to try but I don't know if I'd visit with this one again.

Thanks, bditty187! (580 characters)

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

This beer was a lovely red-brown color with a one finger head that died slowly, leaving a lot of lace on the glass.

Its aroma was sour, with medium-bodied malts, slightly acidic, and tart, with some cherry-like notes. Quite complex and multi-layered.

Taste was tart with a hint of sweetness, and no fruitiness at all. Definitely a sour ale.

Mouthfeel was light and crisp, very refreshing.

Drinkability was quite good. Not too expensive, good bosy, nice taste if you're in the mood for that type of beer experience... yes, I would revisit this one readily if the store I got it at had more than the one bottle. (621 characters)

Photo of Erdinger2003
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a little head that falls into no head with a little lacing. Color is deep dark purple.

Smell is of sour dark fruit.

Taste is buttery and sour with flavors of apple.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, a little smoother than water.

I don't think I like the sour ales as much, but I would probably give this beer another chance. (334 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a wide bottom flute)

A- This beer pours a warm brown clear body with a strong carbonation of medium size bubbles. The head is a light tan thick foam that turns rocky after a bit.

S- The smell of fresh rain is a very soft earthy quality that is followed by a soft sour note. As it warms a faint barnyard smell comes through but it is still soft.

T- There is a very soft light malt note that is quickly followed by a light sour note. There is a cardboard note in the beginning but it is a very nice compliment to the sourness. The sourness finishes the beer with an addition of fizz from the carbonation. As it warms that cardboard note turns into a very soft wet horse blanket note.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel but it feels more full from a fizz texture.

D- This is a Flemish sour but it doesn't have any of the "big" characteristics that I associate with this style. This is a beer if you want to stick your toe in the pool of sour beers. I prefer to jump right in with the sour beers that real make you pucker and smell like you are on a farm in the summer. This is very smooth with just a hint of that. (1,141 characters)

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. (450 characters)

Photo of dogfooddog
3.07/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

bottled version. pours 20% light tan head. smells sour and oaky, pleasant nose

taste is a bit weak, confirming an impression I had when I drank this on tap. there is a taste and smell that reminds me of german weiss beers. This beer does not make you pucker from sourness - it is subtle. It does taste a bit watery as well.

Overall this is probably my least favorite of the flemish red style I have tried to date. The bottle does note that this is a light version of sourness etc., but being a fan of the style I would prefer a full-blown sourpuss beer like duchesse de borgoune or rodenbach grand cru. (608 characters)

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

A slightly sourish and sweetly malted Flander's Red with tart cherries, wine-like vinous, oaky-tawny beer with flawed flavors of cider, vinegar, and metal flavor.

Maroon and gold, the beer gives a slight haze and a dainty head that struggles for life during the first half pour but then succumbs. No lacing or legging.

Cherry flavor leads the fruity way with hints toward under rippened berries, crabapples, and lemons. Acidic notes bridge the gap between fruitiness and lactic sourness. Before the beer gets too tart, the malts wrangle the wilder elements and engulf them in a sweeter and chocolatey way. Tanic oak-like flavors give balance in the absence of hops.

Palate cleansing lactic tartness gives medium astringency and acidic bite early, but the malts kick in for a smoother and sweeter finish.

A delightful beer but not as clean or controlled as more noted beers in the style; like Rodenbach. (907 characters)

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

Pours a murky reddish brown with a one inch tan head that fades to a spotty cap and has only a small amount of lace.

Smell; strong sour nose with hints of lactic acid. There's sour fruitiness (cherries?), as well as a bit of some citrus aromas.

Taste; tart cherries and sour lemon peel, with an acidic bite hammer you at first. After this warms up some a nice oaky flavor mixed with a little malt presence kick in to off set those sour/tart flavors. Mouthfeel is light bodied, and a touch thin, but this is still a very drinkable beer.

This is only my second Flemish Sour Ale, and I find myself really enjoying this style. I'm looking forward to trying some more. (672 characters)

Photo of jbschafer
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a snifter. Served at the high end of cellar temperature.

Pours a hazy amber, brown color - even more hazy than I might expect from this style. Very limited amount of light let through to the point of looking like something is "not right." I do not detect any red as might be expected. Reasonable sized head, collapses down in about a mind. Nice mild lacing as you drink that saved it's appearance score.

Smell is a mixture of sour fruit and some kind of bathroom astringent. Not awful, but again, like something is not right.

By the time, I took my first drink, I was already wondering what I had gotten myself into. The first taste was a mixture of cloves and vinegar, and like several other reviewers, I thought - crud, a lousy beer. However, I never trust first impressions. The clove taste was gone by the third sip and replaced with something more like sharp rotten fruit (kiwi?). While that sounds awful, it isn't too bad, and it began to grow on me.

Mouthfeel is somewhat thin with a lingering flavor of wet beach sand and, again, sour kiwi.

I could drink one with a meal, but am not sure I would want to drink two or three sitting around with friends.

I am not sorry I tried this, but it doesn't hold up against several of it's peers (like an old lover, Duchesse was my first and remains my favorite). I will probably keep a bottle on hand in the cellar, but it won't be one I will reach for on a weekly basis. (1,463 characters)

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