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

2,476 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,476
Reviews: 1,054
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 57
Gots: 207 | FT: 3
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:
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.

(Beer added by: nomad on 06-19-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,476 | Reviews: 1,054 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap 1/25/09 at Julian's in Providence, RI, served in a snifter glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is cherries, light malts and a vinegary sourness.

T: The taste is very nicely balanced for a sour ale, with flavors of tart cherries and other dark fruits. The sourness seems to creep in slowly rather than hitting intensely. The malt character is thin and there's very little hops presence as you would expect. The after-taste is slightly sour.

M: Smooth and very crisp, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, I'm not usually a sour ale fan but is one that I liked and is worth drinking for a while.

Photo of KevinBrewer
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The dark bloodwood color is impressive. The brew is clear, and it has a nice light tan head with moderate retention and minimal lacing.

The nose is of sour cherries, kind of like sweettarts, balanced with a rich woody scent. There is a slight hint of vinegar in the background.

The taste of sweet cherries is most noticeable at first, followed by a block of wood hitting you in the face. More sweetness and tartness follow the woodiness. The aftertaste is similar to the aftertaste of sweettarts. I can't get that connection out of my head. There is also some grain husk in the aftertaste.

It seems to be medium bodied at first, but the texture melts away halfway through. I think the wood flavor makes the body initially seem heavier than it really is. The carbonation is good, and the finish is dry.

Very drinkable. This is one of my first sours, and I thought it was a real treat. I was kind of scared of it tasting like feet or vinegar after reading some forum posts on sour beers, but I was pleasantly surprised. The woodiness was a nice touch. I'd like to drink another, but I only bought one. :(

Photo of Franky3
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pours a darkish red/brown but when held in light seems to actually be a beautiful shade of cherry/grape ruby red. The head was thin leaving a fairly uniform ring around my glass. Bubbles looked somewhat like the craters on the service of the moon which then shifted into thin blotches.

Smell- Somewhat tart with a facewarming sourness. Notes of cherry grape apple vinegar earthy browness.

Taste- Could have been better...It is a bit to flat and syruppy where I feel it could use sourness and refreshing dryness. Just my thought..Lots of tart aged cherries, very old style and good taste for what they are probably aiming for.

Feel- when it first hits your mouth it does deliver a fresh tingly carbonation.

Overall- I like the beer, there is no doubt it took time and hardwork to produce and they certainly came out with an impressive Flemish Red. However, I would leave it at just a Flemish Red, upon a taste you will find there is nothing very sour about it.

Photo of Pamola
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had tried this on tap before and wasn't too impressed. It may have been due to its comparison to the other fine brews in a flight at a beer bar, but here goes.

Poured an unaged bottle into a tulip glass. nice two finger head. The color is quite impressive. seems brown but in certain light it's very ruby-colored.
Smell is very reminiscent of Rodenbach's type or sour. Not piercing, but earthy and twangy and pretty good.
Taste is where this brew stumbles. This is an unaged bottle, so I'll reserve the ultimate judgement for a few years from now when another bottle comes out of the cellar. The sourness isn't quite sourness, it's a light tartness one would expect from fresh cider. Overwhelmingly fruity and slightly cloying.
Mouthfeel is jumbled and too effervescent.

Photo of LiquorLockerVP
2.85/5  rDev -25.8%
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.

Photo of gameface23
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle poured into an Allagash tulip glass.

Appearance: clear reddish brown when held up to the light. It pours with an appropriate sized head that leaves pretty nice lacing.

Smell: Straight up vinegar at first sniff. There's an underlying foot smell as well, but that may or may not be a good thing. It's a little weak in the aroma department, though.

Taste: Intertwining sweet and sour. Very sweet near the lips and dry/sour in the middle of the mouth.

Mouthfeel: I've never drank such a dry finishing beer. Halfway through the sip, I was getting a very refreshing feel.

Drinkability: Very good. Considering it's only 5.5% and the fact that it has such a refreshing finish, I could drink a ton of these.

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

11.2 oz bottle > 16 oz. Stella glass

This one is clear and vibrant dark reddish color in amber. Certainly the darkest color sour ale I've seen. A few tiny, relaxed bubbles are quick to form a 1" deep, thick and creamy tan colored head. The lacing is long and very sticky.

The nose is filled with a lush, sour red and green grapes, honey sweet malt, artichoke, zesty green herbs with sweet 'n sour candies.

The flavor is actually much sweeter than I would guess, very malty with a honey current. Ripe red fruits, think wild strawberries, sweet raspberries, and ripe green grapes. Really, only mildly sour with slight tartness that provides a dry, crisp edge to this medium bodied brew. The balance is a bit off, the malt holds to much weight and the sour, might not be sour enough, but it's really enjoyable. I'm thinking Lambic.

Eventhough there might be too much malty sweetness, it's really easy to drink. I will revisit this one in the summertime.

Photo of esv
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Flemish, from Flanders - a region that covers portions of Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

The head stands at about 1/3'' and I can hear it. It's like a snap, crackle pop sound or like a soft, white noise or a soda. The head flattens fairly quickly but lacing sticks around.

The beer is dark with a deep brownish red glow around the edges. Light doe not hardly pass through the bulk of the beer.

I can smell sour before I even lift the glass to my nose. The nose is both sour and sweet and it truly reminds me of a Chinese sauce.

There is a thin but syrupy-sweet taste and then sour. The beer is really quite sweet and certainly tangy. There is a hint of bitterness that becomes more detectable as the beer warms. It is almost like the bitterness you might taste from a cup of hot tea, when it has been allowed to cool and the teabag was left to sit in the cup. It is a dry bitterness.

The mouthfeel is thin.

I must admit, this is the first sour beer I've had and it will take me some time to purchase another bottle. It was not easy for me drink.

Photo of HalfFull
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a flute glass. This is my first Oud Bruin and the first time I've poured beer into a 'champagne' glass. Let's see how it goes.

Pours a rather clear deep red/light brown color and easily generates a full inch of head. Offers good retention and yields some artsy lacing throughout.

Smell reminds me immediately of champagne, oddly apropos for the glass indeed. Perhaps a rosé bubbly. Now why does the BA dictionary recognize 'apropos' but not 'mouthfeel' or 'ABV' I don't know. No real vinegar sense here, just some extracts of summer fruit(grape, apple, and plum mostly) and champagne yeast. Sour? Sour notes are minimal and the beer isn't funky whatsoever.

Tastes of slightly tart cherries enhanced by deeper plum flavors, and has a lingering sweet close. Comparisons to champagne continue to the feel of this brew, bubbly and effervescent indeed.

This is an interesting beer but the simplicity of it all limits the drinkability for me. Surely a nice toasting brew, a champagne with a head! Definitely worth a try, an interesting style I'd like to try a few other examples of.

Photo of Brad007
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark red color with a thick two-finger head into my glass, leaving a bit of lacing.

Aroma is tart with a strong hint of cherries and spice. Also has a bit of barnyard funk.

Taste is tart and sour upfront with a hint of cherry, apple and barnyard funk.

Mouthfeel is mainly tart and sourness that linger at the back of the throat. Well carbonated.

Interesting example of the style that has a lot of nice characteristics. Definitely a sipping beer and you should only try it if you are looking for something to challenge your palate.

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

A- Pours a deep clear burgundy color with a small foamy head.

S- Definite note of vinegar. Followed by a sweet but tart fruity smell. Very cranberry-ish.

T- Starts with a tart sweetness that fades to an ever so sour and smokey malt flavor. It finishes with a mild earthy/grassy hoppiness. It's like apple peels.

M- smooth, a little creamy. Good body and just the right amount of carbonation.

D- This brew goes down very smooth.

This is my first beer from this style and I must say it's unlike anything I've ever tried. The taste is very complex and comes at you in waves of different flavors. I will definitely try more of this style.

Photo of taylorhamrick
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark red color, shines like a ruby. A white fluffy head sits on top giving some lacing, but the head sort of fades, which helps you get straight to the beer. The smell reminds me of Easter, dying eggs. Just like vinegar, a bit of apple cider and white wine thrown in too. The taste is just what I'd expect. Like apple cider vinegar, a good balance between sweetness and sourness, like red wine, but leaning a bit more towards sour. Not a whole lot of puckering tartness, but a great taste. The carbonation makes it a bit interesting, and there's plenty to seek out in this beer. I liked it, I could sip on it for a very long time, and would definitely purchase again if given the opportunity.

Photo of glid02
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours a slightly hazy brownish-red color with a one-finger off-white head. The head dissipates quickly into a wispy layer of bubbles on top and a medium-sized ring around the glass. Lacing isn't very sticky.

Smells of tart cherries with a small amount of yeasty funk. It's almost like a light red wine when it's cold but as it warms it gets more of a malty character.

Prepare yourself, because the first sip is VERY sour. I wasn't expecting it to be this tart from the smell, and though it's not overpowering it certainly makes me pucker up a bit. Sour cherry and apple flavors mostly, with a vanilla-esque flavor - almost a bit woody.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a good thickness and active carbonation.

Drinkability is good once you're acclimated to the sourness. The flavors are clean and crisp and I had no problem finishing off one - although I'm not sure how much I like the prospect of having another.

Overall this is a great beer for the price. Pick this up if you see it, and the next time I'm in Philly I hope to stop in for a glass.

Photo of penguinjive7
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pur is a cloudby brown color with about an inch of white head. Initial smell is of vinigar mixing with spice. The first sip is mostly a strong vinigar flavor is quickly followed by a bittersweet blast of firmented dark fruit. I can definitely taste hints of the oak coming through to further give the brew a flacor reminiscent of vinous almost cabernet-like flacor. The finish has a hint of clove spice to further round out the palate. Wow, this is really an odly balanced Flanders. The sweetness that balanced the sourness of the brew is almost awkward and unexpected, but it really works for this one. An excelent brew that I would have again in a heartbeat.

Photo of RodBurg
4.3/5  rDev +12%
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.

Photo of xxthepatientxx
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Presentation: 11.2oz bottle. Poured into a flute.

A - Pours a beautiful pale reddish amber color with strong, champagne-like effervescence, leaving a dense, lingering slightly tan head. No lacing to speak of.

S - Fruity and tart, perhaps like a plum wine.

T/M - Mmmm! Smooth and viscous on the tongue. A bit more syrupy than I'd like when drinking that much of something, but not unpleasant. Very sweet with an underlying dry tartness like from a granny smith apple. Tiny bubbles tickle the tongue. The taste is very fruity; reminds me of plums. Tastes much like a port. This beer isn't nearly as tart as I expected, having previously tried La Folie. A good intro to the style, in that respect. The tartness is there, though, blending in and lending this certain character and depth.

D - One of these goes down very easy. For me, the sweetness is a bit much to have more than that...at least not without a break in between. The overall enjoyment factor though is very good. Very drinkable...just not sessionable.

Impressions: This brew reminds me of a lighter colored port - the smell, the texture, the sweetness, the the flavors. Very intriguing. And like a good port, this would pair fine with a dessert or stand alone as an after-dinner drink. It also occurred to me that due to the effervescence and distinctly winey taste of this particular beer, it would make a fun substitute to champagne on New Year's Eve. How's that for a way to introduce your friends and family to the world of unusual beers?

Photo of DoubleJ
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yeah, bring on the sour. Single bottle from Total Wine for $2.49, on to the beer:

Poured into an oversized wine glass, its brown in color, interweaved with dark red, and with hues of orange. Lovely color, even cooler when you shine a light through it. The nose is tart like strawberries, and phenolic. It's a good smell, but it lacks robustness for that higher score. Taste...sweet and sour sauce. Me likey. Tart and sugary sweet upfront. Light on the sourness and more focused on a sweet flavor. Burnt caramel sweet. Sour apples. Some might say it's cloying, but it's working for me. Delightful and not too heavy...Intro to Sour Beer 101 is right here.

Photo of adamks
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a: pours copper/orange with thin, quick to fade light brown head

s: vinegar....woah! some fruity something (cherry, maybe strawberry?), hard to tell with the overpowering sourness

t: sour/vinegar up front, as that fades the cherry/fruit sweetness really comes out, good overall balance

m: thin but well-carbonated

d: this is the best of the few sours i've had, but the sourness could be off-putting to some. maybe not the best introduction for those hesitant to try a sour, but it worked for me!

Photo of beerthulhu
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Flemish Sour ale.

A: Poured a deep crimson red with a slight one finger tan head. Visible carbonation was good per style.

S: a nice sour tart aroma of dried fruit (cherries) some sour fruitiness (apples).

T: acidic with a big sour tartness of cherries but fades quickly off the finish. Starts off with a nice sour bite but fades quickly and cleanly on the finish.

M: vinous, and very slick on the tongue.

D: Good drinkability for a sour, still limited to 1 or 2 at best.

Photo of drumrboy22
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received in trade from bradford last year. Poured from an 11.2oz bottle into a Cantillon glass. Beer was a slightly hazy, rusty red color, with a small, off-white head. Light carbonation and thick lacing around the glass.

Aroma was tart cherries and light vinegar.

Taste was tart cherries, light sweet malt and a touch of oak. Light metallic flavor present. Could be a bit more sour.

Very easy drinking. Not as full flavored or complex as I had hoped, but still quite enjoyable.

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 2/29/08. Bottled as Monk's Flemish Sour Ale. Pours a dark, clear brown with a very small head. Aroma of tart raspberries, alcohol, oak, prunes. Tastes of sweetness, some sour fruits, and oak. I really enjoyed this a lot and thought it was comparable to Duchesse de Bourgogne. Very drinkable. I was very surprised by this one and would really recommend it!

Rerate 09/28/08: Aroma of tart fruits (raspberry in particular) and a slight hint of something else that reminds me of oatmeal. Flavor of balsamic vinegar and sour fruits. This is still quite delicious and I will leave my old numbers. Yum! 8/3/8/4/15 (3.8/5)

Photo of mbrandon2w
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful ruby red color. Thin tan head.
Smell is sweet malt, light cherries, and a touch of acetic acid.
Taste is sweet cherry, lightly sour.
Smooth and easily drinkable. Fairly high carbonation makes it lively and helps lift all the flavors off the tongue, making it more drinkable.

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

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a chalice. Thanks Dave for sharing!
A - Reddish amber with an eggshell head which fall to a ring
S - Intense sour cherries with some malt.
T - Sour cherries of course, vinegar, some malt sweetness to counter the sour. Tasty.
M/F - Bristly carbonation yet finishes nicely. A medium bodied beer.
D - A very nice sour. Not my usual style but a nice treat.

Photo of vacax
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Amber to rub-red with sparse off-white head. Head is small, but lovely carpet of nearly microscopic bubbles.

S: Sour with sweet malts. Very style-forward and solid.

T: Red fruits and figgy with light sourness and definite tang and funk. Balance between sweet and tart is spot-on. Metallic qualities to the flavor really reduce my enjoyment.

M: Light and fluffy, airy. Not as thick as I thought it would be.

D: High drinkability for a sour. Good balance between sweetness, tartness, and funkiness. I didn't notice an excess of acidity. Well reasonably priced also.

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

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Not sure of the age but it's probably quite old based on the store where I got it.

Appears dark mahogany in color, with a three-quarter inch pillowy off-white head. Leaves a bit of lacing on one portion of the glass and retains the head well, though I'm sure my glass with etched bottom doesn't hurt.

Aroma has a tart cherry tone, some vinegar, and a bunch leathery sour funk. There is a sweet smell peaking through as well, but it takes the backseat.

The taste is initially quite sweet, surprisingly. The funk hits next alongside some fruitiness. This one's not exactly sour, but it has a certain tart appeal to it. In the end the sweetness comes back, but right when I am expecting some more sour.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a very nice level of carbonation that makes for a creamy and soft drinking beer.

This one was really good but a bit too sweet and not enough sour. I would maybe get it again, but I certainly recommend giving it a shot.

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,476 ratings.