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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

1,097 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,097
Hads: 2,760
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.61%
Wants: 81
Gots: 373 | 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: 1,097 | Hads: 2,760
Photo of Mises85
4.92/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This is the first sour beer/flanders ale I have tasted. Served in a tulip glass at around 45 degrees.

Appearance: chestnut brown (I was expecting a red color) with 2-3 fingers. Head retention was quite good and didn't dissipate quickly.

Smell: What a delight! Cherries, touch of vinegar, some creaminess, red wine, some sourness, soda water.

taste: effervescent, seltzer like, cherries, mild acidity, winey, some sourness, touch of oak.

Mouthfeel: light and refreshing.

Verdict; What an amazing beer and unbelievable flavor! This is something I could kick back on a slow day. Not hoppy at all but was amazed that even an extreme hophead like me could enjoy this. Definitely not the last sour beer I will try.

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Photo of FLima
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown color with a thin off-white head with short retention.
Light aroma of red wine and a hint of funky notes.
Wonderful flavor with notes of red wine, bread malt, vinegar, raspberries and cranberries, a hint of sulfur, with a pleasant mild tartness and lactic acid.
Full body with a bit effervescent carbonation and a light acid sensation.
Very assertive and easy to drink. As other Flemish Ales it is a good introduction to Sour Ales.

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Photo of BradtheGreat7
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle with a pretty nice label and Belgian style shape to the bottle. Not eye candy but still a pretty good label and bottle. Poured into a tumbler style pint glass. Nearly identical to the one pictured on the side of the pack.

A - dark reddish brown with lathes chucks of sediment floating about. Tan head poured quite nice at cellar temp and took its time dissolving into a good ring of lace. A bit thin looking for the mass it had. More light pillow like. Left small splotches of stick throughout the experience.

S - exactly as I expected. Some real funk to it. Oak. Dark fruit with sour cherries. But also a more dominant apple blend fruitiness. A sweet malt and more funk from the yeast. Overall a fine smelling ale. Dark, sweet, and mildly sour on the nose.

T - some real sweetness up front from the malt. Candied dark fruit and sour cherries. Everything seems ripe with age. A hint of oak about this, but not quite enough for me. Semi tart finish but no where near puckering. Yeast funk is a highlight in Monks Cafe. A lingering funk. Quite Nice.

M - lightest medium body possible. Not a whole lot of thickness but surprisingly a smooth rich texture considering its light in nature size. Very smooth and no where near a full in your face sour ale. This is a mild sour and very refreshing. Smooth with a lingering finish. Yeast funkiness alone is worth the try.

O - a very good brew. Not something I was searching for, but I'm glad I bought 1. It gives you the characters of a sour ale while keeping an excellent balance and not over doing the sourness nor the sweetness. If you like a sour ale without the puckering this is spot on. It's very session like and easy going. A super lunch beer. Quite tasty.

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Photo of thisisshsas
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Brown Red Coloring. Medium Head. Sour taste apparent but not overwhelming or unappetizing. Light aftertaste that is a little dry but not particularly bad. Overall a very balanced beer. I don't have a ton of experience with this style but if most beers taste like this I certainly will try them on a regular basis.

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Photo of McNealc31
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

The color is attractive. As close to brown as red can get. However, the giant chunks of sediment are a bit off-putting. Aggressive carbonation tingles on the the tongue. This is, indeed, sour, but not unpleasantly so. A touch of caramel and even a fruity finish. But sour is by far the dominating note.

I feel like this is going to be a hit or miss. You'll love it or hate it, depending on your individual feelings toward sourness.

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Photo of Dix90
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: dark golden chestnut brown with ruby hues. Nice bubbly head with good quick receding lacing.

Aroma: fruity and vinegary. Cherries, apples, grapes and cranberries shine through in almost a red wine tinge.

Taste: very fruity and sweet on the tongue.very well balanced with a mild tart sourness. Highly carbonated and leaves a pleasant sweetness at the end.

Mouthfeel: very light and carbonated. Bubbly and dry. Kind of feels like the carbonation makes the tartness cascade along the tongue.

Overall: a very good introduction to sours. Mildly sour that let's strong fruit notes shine through. Very thirst quenching.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.49/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A- pours a murky brown color with ruby hues, fizzy two-finger white head that dissipates quickly, leaving just a ring around the rim

S- light sour lactic notes with some grape juice, sweet malty character, fruity esters, light vinegar, woodsy with a slight adjunct-like aroma

T- tart and fruity cherry and raspberry notes, virtually zero bitterness, very dry tartness with just a hint of lactic flavor

M- medium body, very low carbonation, trace of fizz on the mouthfeel, bone dry finish

O- pretty easy to drink, dry and bitter but surprising very drinkable. A nice option if you want to switch it up a bit

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Photo of classixIII
3.44/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from an 11.2 ounce bottle into a stemmed flute.

A - Very fast foamy head filled a third of the flute then subsided to about half inch. A dark, clear reddish mahogany.

S - I got mostly grape, wine like, at first smell, then some raisin, maybe berries.

T - Mild sweet fruit, with a barely sour finish that lingers on the tongue between sips

M - Light, lots of carbonation

O - Refreshing, Enjoyed it, and would recommend a try. Will have again but won't be making it one of my regulars.

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Photo of Benish
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into wine glass.

Appearance: Poured aggressively, a tremendous foamy head built up. Had to quickly inhale the foam before it overflowed. Very dark ruby in color.

Smell: Picked up some cranberries, raspberries, as well as the tartness that comes with the fruits and a ton of sweetness that carries across the nose.

Taste: It taste kinda like cranberries. It's very sweet; its sour but the sweetness takes over more of the flavors. Just at the finish there is a little bitterness. The entire aspect of beer makes me think of cranberries - sweet (stays sweet the entire time as the beer warms up), tart, and a little bitter at the end.

Mouthfeel: Very light bodied.

Overall: It's very drinkable and refreshing. The sourness is a bit subdued so it's definitely the kind a beginner should try before tackling the more intense sours.

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Photo of Ryan_Graham
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Large head. Dark reddish brown color. Smells like lemons or tangerines. The sourness comes through right away but it's not at all offensive. This is the first "sour" ale I've ever had and I was pleasantly surprised. It's a little syrupy for my taste. It almost tastes like someone mixed a red ale with the the sweet and sour mix that people buy and use for whiskey sours. It's not spectacular, but it's different. And I'll give them credit for going outside of the box.

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Photo of tone77
3.74/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a brown 11.2 oz. bottle. Has a very dark brown color with a 1 inch head. Smell is of raisins, dark fruits, some malts, a bit of sweetness. Taste is good, but less complex than the smell. Very wine like, unique, grapes, refreshing and tasty. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is an enjoyable beer.

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Photo of BMMillsy
2.54/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours dark red with a fizzy head that recedes quickly. Smell is faint and not what I wad expecting. Smells like a weak dubbel or belgian strong dark. Not much sour on the nose. Flavor tastes like carbonated artificial cherry drink. No real sour flavor to be found. Not what I wanted, and rather disappointing. Finishes as clean as a Bud Light. Doesn't taste terrible, but misses the bar as a beer. Maybe okay as an energy drink or coming out of a Capri Sun package. Wtf is this?

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Photo of utopiajane
3.03/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Pours opaque and dark with a ruby hue. Fat head of tan foam that fell slowly and left patchy lace. Nose is faint. I am getting a faint smell of grape, like grape juice and a powdery sweet scent. Not what I expected at all. The taste is nowhere near sour. It is dry, it is palate cleansing. It is not crisp or tart or sour. In fact it's much sweeter than I ever would have expected and there is only a faint hint of vinegar at the back of the throat as it finishes. The mouthfeel is soft and silky and while it has ample carbonation it has not bite, no zing. Oddly I find this sweeter than I think it should be but as it drinks it does become more sour and more dry.

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Photo of Glennlawless
2.91/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Poured into pint glass

a - Poured a dark reddish brown with a quickly dying down off-white head.

s - tart grape juice, red wine type smell. not a whole lot.

T - smooth entrance, very mild tart finish. thats all there is to it.

M - very well carbonated. pretty drinkable

overall, this honestly was my first sour style ale.not a very interesting beer per say, but it is what people say it is, an entry level sour. i feel this is a perfect beer to get somebody into sours. starts very mild, and at the end it slaps you with some sour. not overwhelming at all though. a pretty well balanced beer and drinkable. i like it.

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Photo of Chaney
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Got this bottle from the Whole Foods in Springfield. Totally glad my bud Kevin got some time off to tend to his new baby.

A: Poured pretty dark, ruby color, with a 1/2 finger white head.

S: Had the brown ale flair and then some. A bit of feet in between the cracks.

T: Not that sour at all. More brown ale than anything. Not a brown sugar beer though.

M; Mild splotch on the glass and a good bit of carbonation... more that I thought there would be.

O: This is a worthy entry into the sour brown category.

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Photo of JamesMN
3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Chestnut brown body but ruby red and nearly translucent when held up to the light. Poured a fluffy light tan head that is slowly dissipating without much lacing.

Aroma: Nice tart and hearty red grape with some nondescript berry notes in there. An interesting dryness as well. Not really all that aromatic but the sweet and tart elements are quite enjoyable.

Taste: Smashing flavor straight away. Lively red grape must with lots of sweet fruity esters that turn tart in the second half. Not quite sweet and not quite sour a whole. The finish is full of spastic carbonation and the aftertaste lends a blast of red grape juice with cranberry. A light tart flavor lingers for a good while. A good amount of flavor for a modest 5.5% ABV.

Mouthfeel: About medium in body with tons of carbonation as is usual for the style. Easy drinkability and probably sessionable.

Final Thoughts: Really enjoyed this one and would recommend it to anyone interested in trying a Flemish/Sour beer for the first time. Though the level of sourness is on the low end of the spectrum, it was able to stave off that sour beer craving. Would I drink it again? Yes.

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Photo of Cheshire_Crew_Al
4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drank it from a pint glass pour, little bit of a head, pleasant odor, thinner quality than anticipated.

It has an extremely smooth feel, with a pleasant aftertaste, a little fruity (again more than anticipated), like raspberries, I drank the first on the cold side, would recommend to have it cool but not extremely cold. Not very hoppy, which I prefer.

Overall, excellent beer, not heavy at all but has a full taste to it. It has an all-around appeal in that, despite not very hoppy, it is well-balanced in flavor that I would imagine would appeal to most beer enthusiasts.

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Photo of TruePerception
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

(Previous review, transferred from beer journal)

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale: red sour; Appearance: dark amber; light raisin and tartaric acid; Taste/Mouthfeel: lightly bitter, very light sour, RC cola, pretty good, sounds like pouring ice cold soda.

Poured into a pint glass.

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Photo of DougT
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a lager glass on a (very) warm summers eve.

Dark red with copper tones. 2 finger tan head that dissipated quickly but left a thin layer of lace with bubbles clinging to the glass.

Smell is a little funky at first, but that drops after the head reduces. Then the smell of sour grapes and raspberries. Hard for my nose to cut through the sour, but there's something else in the mix. Maybe malt or yeast.

Taste is very pleasant. Sour, but not overpowering. Smooth and sweat with grapes, blueberries, and raisins. Not much if any hops. Taste is consistent through the finish.

Effervescent but a little thin in the mouthfeel. Most of the flavor and feel stay to the front and middle of the palate. But it is quite refreshing. Crisp.

I'm buying this again. It is a good beer for a warm summer night and would go just as well on a crisp fall evening.

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Photo of Libationguy
3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Reddish color with copper notes. Light tan 1-finger head. Medium retention.

The nose is fairly mild: grapefruit zest, band-aid, horse hair, flint, cracked leather.

On the palate there is a funky sweet and sour pork note, meyer lemon, horse hair, leather and a lactic note on the finish.

Medium bodied.

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

11.2oz bottle purchased at Total Wine in Spokane for $3.79. Sadly, there’s no obvious freshness date.

Poured into a Chimay glass, there was a big tan head that dropped somewhat quickly yet left a fair amount of lace. The beer itself was a dark, cola-like color that lightened up to a rubyish hue when held up to light.

The aroma was faintly fruity and malty. Frankly, I was surprised there wasn’t more going on.

The flavor was of faintly sweet yet tart fruit, like raspberries, and a somewhat mild sourness. Not much else was happening.

Medium bodied, with a slick, coating mouthfeel.

I suppose this could be a sour beer for beginners, as it’s rather bland. On the other hand, not many people are impressed with blandness, so I think I’d introduce someone to sours by utilizing a bottle of Duchesse De Bourgogne.

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Photo of Auraan
4.09/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a deep brown, with a three finger off white head. Gorgeous, looks fantastic. Sour lactic scent with a slight hint of malt. A good scent of a sour ale, makes me want to take a sip. Taste begins with a nice sour flavor, a sort of sour crab apple flavor and a bit of nice roast malt flavor on the finish and after taste. Quite nice. Very refreshing. Mouthfeel is bubbly and medium bodied, quite good, refreshing and carbonated, yet easy to drink. This is a good, unique beer. I'm not sure how it stacks up for the style, yet I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Worth trying for sure.

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Photo of microbrewlover
3.79/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This brew pours a ruby red/brown color with a massive tan head which lasts for several minuets. Thick lacing remains on the glass until the end and some of the head remains on the top of the brew until the end.

The smell is raspberries, black currants, sour apples, sour grapes and yeast. There is also a funky musty smell.

The taste mostly follows the nose, raspberries, sour apples, sour grapes, black currants, funky yeast as well as a vinegar like tannic taste on the backend. Very sweet. I could not detect any hop bitterness

The mouthfeel is tangy and bubbly. There is as slight sting from all of the sour in this brew.

Overall this is, as advertised, a sour ale. This is my first of this style so I can't say how it compares to other sour ales but this does remind me of a Lambic, only even more sour with less sweetness to balance out the sour. If you like sour ales, give this a try.

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Photo of beergoot
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Deep, ruby red body with a persistent creamy head; chunks of yeast sediment from the pour. Slightly sour scent with a touch of green apple. Subtle sour flavors with a light bread-like undertone. Softly effervescent mouth feel, light in body; dry finish.

A nice Flemish sour ale that balances nicely with flavors, feel, and aromas. Light and refreshing.

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured out of a 11.2oz bottle into a tulip glass. No freshness date. Broken with a friend from the Sour Power samplers appearing everywhere with Petrus beers.

Pours a darkened, brownish, reddish tinged beer, complete with an off light brown head that rises quite gracefully with the bottle conditioning to about 3 fingers, but fizzles down like cherry cola does after an aggressive pour. Barely any lacing on this thing. Relatively juicy looking, although not as much as I prefer in this style - which ranges on seeming vinous. Still, the color is quite noteworthy, and the amount of flake-like sediment that accumulates at bottom once the dregs come out are also pretty raw looking. Slightly above average for the style here.

The aroma is actually far less sour than I was hoping, with only an initial lactic, woody sourness at the front and a little bit of vinegar at the back. There's a soft bouquet of sour black cherries, raspberries, and blackberries, and then cashews, slight clove, and brown sweetened malts. Good notes of oak round up the acetic feel, as well as the fruits and nuttiness, but it's pretty subtle - and honestly, subdued - overall. Some bitterness is at the back, but it's also relatively inexistent for the most part. I enjoy it for what it is, but it could be a little bit more sour and oaky, to be honest.

The flavor is on the same realm of the aroma, ranging from dark cherries, prunes, blackberries, and the nutty feel of walnuts, as well as more well rounded oaky aromas. In actuality (especially as this warms up), the oak churns out other woody aromas, almost ranging on cedar or cherry wood. There's a soft, zesty embrace of the acidity from the woody tannins, as well as the lactic sourness, but it's delicate and doesn't put up much of a fight. Slightly earthy and dry, and more so when the hoppy, grassy notes come through. The extra sediment adds more character, but it's never puckery or intense. Refreshing and easy to drink, although it *could* use a bit more body. It's often thinned in feel overall, and loses carbonation rather quickly, which doesn't aid it in transporting the more complex, nor the more subtle aromas within.

A good beginner's Flanders sourish offering, although could definitely be more complex than it is. It's luckily quite refreshing, and especially show people that beer does not have to be a pilsner or something to do the trick on a warm day. I'm not too impressed by it, but I enjoyed drinking it.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,097 ratings.