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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

2,519 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,519
Reviews: 1,063
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 62
Gots: 231 | 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:
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.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,519 | Reviews: 1,063 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Psilo707
3.22/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I believe this is the first Flanders Oud Bruin type of beer I have ever actually reviewed (and in recent knowledge - have even tried), and I was not sure what to expect. The appearance is a very piney red, slightly brown, as it pours with a thick head into a glass. Lacing isn't as nice as the head, but it's present.

Smell is very strong and I like it much. A very cherry and exciting scent, much like a fruit juice but with alcohol.

The taste took me for a surprise and I had no idea it would be this much like a fizzy wine. Now I understand why it's truly called Sour Ale. I didn't dislike the taste at first, but it took me about half a glass to get into and understand more thouroughly. By the end, I was enlightened somewhat. Decent stuff.

Mouthfeel is bubbly and erratic; good overall. Drinkability a bit lower than the rest as I don't think I could continue with these for too long, at least not in my current experience.

Overall I would recommend, but be ready for something new if you've never tried a Flanders Bruin.

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

On tap at Monks Cafe in Philadelphia, had to try their own specialty.
Reddish brown color, off white head. Lots of bubbles but not a really thick and creamy foam, good retention, stringy lace.
Smell has some sour cherry sweetness, and a little yeasty funk. Taste is smooth, with a complicated sweet and sour fruitiness. There is some sour tartness on the tongue, but not the biting vinegar sourness I was afraid of. A touch of wood or oak, earthy. Smooth mouthfeel, low level of carbonation make it easy (too easy) to drink. Tiny touch of alcohol, but adds rather than detracts from the complexity.

Photo of Nick3
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle poured into a Piraat tulip shaped glass. Beer forms a nice 3 finger head and a cascade of bubbles keeps the head alive for several minutes or so. Dark reddish, brown in color and nice lace formation on the glass. This definitely looks like a quaffable libation! Smells like sour apples (think Jolly Ranchers) and that typical funk you get from this style. Smelled enticing but not nearly as pungent as I would have liked. The smell is a good harbinger for the taste . . . the flavors of sweet and sour come through with a cherry apple finish. It's a well balanced beer but the taste was just not quite as strong in those flavors as I would have liked. I wouldn't say the beer is watery but I wanted to see the flavor and the sweet and sour contrast come through with more ferocity. Alcohol presence is really invisible and that fact coupled with the subtle flavor composition makes it a beer that you can drink in high quantity if you're so inclined. Overall, I enjoyed this beer but it fell a little short of my expectations. If you've never had a beer of this style and want to start with something mellow, this is probably a good bet for you.

Photo of ScreamForMe
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Being another newbie to sours, I was recommended this brew by a local beer store owner.

The only other I've had in this realm (not the same style I realize) is RR's Consecration so that may have stacked the deck. In any event, I found this a good introductory beer for novices such as myself (good call local beer store owner guy).

Photo of dqderrick
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

SOUR VIRGIN!!! (Hop Head and Imperial Stout fan)

Keep in mind that I'm currently acquiring the sour beer taste. This is my second sour. My first was the Duchess de Bourgogne which I didn't put through a proper review. I picked these two sours after seeing suggestions on initial sour beers to try here on the forums.

A - 3.5
Pours a burnt red/brown. 1/4" head, sticks around for a good 5 minutes. Reminds me of a dark lager.

S - 3 (then a 3.5)
Smells like a sour grape juice at first. A little woody. Maybe some vinegar. Develops a sweet smell at the end. After a few sips... I pick up a strong cherry sent. Very cherry.

T - 4
Sour, sweet, juicy. I pick up both sweet and sour. I agree with the label. Very refreshing with a light body.

MF - 4.5
Fun and bubbly. I don't know really what to expect here. I will probably give really high marks on MF until I get a feel for sours. But, I enjoyed the MF on the Monk's.

D - 4
First 4oz was tough. After 8 oz was sipped, I was getting the hang/jist of it. I started picking up the cherry nose and enjoying the overall experience. I've had a few conversations with "sour-heads" and started picking up on their notes. 4 seems a little high... but you know, I actually enjoyed finishing this bottle.

Will I fully pickup the sour style? Time will tell. Check out my reviews after the Monk's.
http://beeradvocate.com/user/beer_reviews?ba=dqderrick

Photo of Jwale73
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle served in my new Chouffe N'Ice 25 cl flute at 52 degrees (wish I had let this chill down a little more). Poured a translucent chestnut with a tight two inch off-white head pock-marked on the surface, but composed of compressed, tiny bubbles along the shoulders; head eventually recedes into a consistent, dense cap. A half moon band of lacing coats one side of the glass with spatters coating the opposite side of the bowl. Nose indicated some acidity off the bat; suggests sour cherries. Taste consistent with nose, but sour character is muted and even; not overly bold upfront but consistent throughout the tasting experience. Mouthfeel is light and lively with a slight acidity at the finish. Easy drinking and flavorful with a low abv makes this a great introduction for sour beer newbies (like myself).

Photo of madtowndmb1
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a redish brown with a foamy head.

S: It smells fruity and there's a decent amount acid/vinegar.

T: It wasn't as deep as I'd hoped. It started off kinda thin, but the cherry was OK, but the vinegarish flavor seemed too prominent for my taste.

M: smooth, not as harsh with the amount a vinegar I picked up on my tongue.

D: I thought it was good, but I think there are some better out there for sure. Duchesse was a little better I think.

Photo of Halcyondays
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

330 mL bottle,

A: Pours burgundy with a full, billowy off-white head, gobs of lace, good head retention.

S: A lot more vinegar/acetic acid character than I'm used to in this style, initially thought the beer would be a lot more acidic than it turned out to be. Enjoyable complex smell.

T: Tasty brown ale. Pretty standard flavours - strawberry, wood, vanilla, lactic acid. Complexity is not huge, but it has some interesting notes.

M: Too much carbonation upon the pour, but a couple swirls of the flute takes care of that. Pretty smooth, moderate acidity for the style.

D: A real nice Flemish brown ale and one of the best bargain sours out there. Paired well with some goat cheese I was eating. Recommended as a good introduction the sour styles.

Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on draft at The Thirsty Monk in Asheville, NC. Pours a ruby red color with a small white head. Large vinegar aromas alongside strawberry fruitiness. More tart vinegar in the flavor; a little too vinegary in my opinion. Slippery mouthfeel with okay drinkability. Certainly different than most other styles. This is one of the first one of the style I have had and my interest is piqued.

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.

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

This dark brown brew arrived with a light head that clung to the glass. The aroma of this beer had a huge green apple component mixed with fruity Belgian funk and a little vinegar. A light maltiness, almost a sweetness, pervades the palate up front but it is quickly gives way to an intense sourness. The sourness is unripe green apples, tart cherries, and, if it were blistering hot day, very refreshing. This beer is very interesting and I liked it. I wish there were more of this style around.

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

s - on hand pump at monks.

a - copper color brown, and a slight head.

s - sour orange, and sour some more.

t - all i can say is it was very flavorful, and sour red. little alcohol, and cherry.

m - not too much carbonation, and a excellent finish.

d - next time i would have a second one, a great session beer.

Photo of yelterdow
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle served at just over fridge temperature in a Rodenbach Grand Cru tulip glass. Purchased at Ramsey Liquors for $2.49 on 2/12/09. Freshness code reads 26IG.

Appearance- Reddish brown, this beer creates a three finger rose-tinged bone white head. Bubbles are varied in size, and lacing is heavy but sporadic.

Smell- Very similar to Duchesse de Bourgogne, the nose is funky and sour with some vinegar, then an underlying sweetness that brings to mind fermenting cherries comes through. As the beer opens up, the vinegar character becomes more and more evident.

Taste- It's an Oud Bruin lover's beer, for sure... the blending of old and new batches procures a smooth, sweet-and-sour character that leaves the lips and teeth with a sweetness that counters the tart beginning. The swallow is easy and savory.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Smooth, easy carbonation that makes all of the complex flavors and attributes effortless to enjoy. A bit expensive for such a small sized import, but certainly worth it and one I'd enjoy again.

Photo of bigbelcher
3.44/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice reddish amber color. A dense, lingering slightly tan head. No belgian lacing to speak of. Huge vinegar like aroma, not the same as Rodenbach. A bit thin on the body indicating low alcohol. Very sweet with an underlying dry tartness like from a biting into a lemon. Very fruity, almost cherry like. A good intro to the style, in that respect but it doesn't stand up to Rodenbach.

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.

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

Off the tap at American Flatbread I tried this with a lady who's chest was a big as this was tart. In other words, this beer was really freaking tart. My glass was delivered to me with a thin, khaki head atop a mahogany/copper colored liquid. The lacing was sticky and the retention great. The aroma was very sour with some hints of vinegar but it was still appealing, being wrapped around a pale malt base. The flavors were similar, hints of vinegar, sour green apples, slightly toasted malt, tart cherries and citrus notes of orange and lemon. Lots of acidic fruit presence. The mouthfeel was smooth, the body medium, the carbonation medium. A very unusual style of beer but one of the best examples of it I know of.

Photo of BARFLYB
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle poured into a Chimay goblet. Not sure of the date on this one. I've been drinking this for years and it was my first introduction to the sourlike spectrum of beer.

A- Monk's Cafe FSA pors out a very murky and bloody brownish red color bordering on a dark mahagony. A decent 3/4 inch off-white beige head arises leaving some spotty lacing.

S- Pretty much a mix of sweet and sour with more of the former. A whole lot of apples and sour cherries but not on the deep end. Also getting that vinegar scent so common with this elusive style of brew.

T- This is delicious. A burst of apple with some cherries to give that twang i'm looking for. The vinegar aspect common with old bruins is there and cant be denied but does not come off as overkill. Some sweet malt as well and oaky qualities. Not as sour as some may say.

M- This is smooth and easy drinking with a medium like mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. A lot of the oak and apple stays throughout while a nice tartness is present on the top of the mouth.

D- At 5.50% and it being so readily available in my area this one is always a go to for me. When i'm in the mood for a sour "fix" and funds are tight this is the solution. A great candidate for this style brewed by a respectable Belgian brewery for America, what more can i ask for. I'm glad to see this getting wide distribution.

Photo of surfer4life
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poored from an 11.2 oz bottle into my Flute.

A - Dark Amber with a small head. Minimal Lacing

S - Lemon Juice, cranberries, if food going bad could smell this good, I would probably be sick from eating it.

T - Taste is not a sour as it smells (kind of a let down for me). however, there is a fair amount of sourness on the finish. Sweet cherries and other fruits dominate this in the beggining, small amounts of spices can be tasted throughout.

M - Carbonation is perfect, medium bodies, leaves that pallet clean and wanting more.

D - Not so much an everyday beer, fun for every once in a while or as an ice breaker to the style though.

All in all, this is a great beer and at 3.29 I can see myself having it again sometime.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.88/5  rDev +1%
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
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
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
3.3/5  rDev -14.1%
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
2.87/5  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.

Photo of gameface23
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
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
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,519 ratings.