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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

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BA SCORE
87
very good

2,593 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,593
Reviews: 1,086
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 13.77%
Wants: 66
Gots: 282 | FT: 5
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.
View: Beers (86) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,593 | Reviews: 1,086
Photo of MrIncognito
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I had a really hard time with this beer because it is so very true to the style description but I had a really hard time drinking this on its own. Was really wishing I had some strong cheese or some roasted pork with leeks

A - Deep mahogony with a khaki head that is thick and fizzy. Stickier than I thought it would be and leaves beautiful lacing. The head fades to a 1/4-inch cap and stays for the whole beer. An incredibly attractive brew

S - Apple cider with light vinegar and sour cherries. Some clove-like spice that adds to the apple cider aroma.

T&M - Very spritzy carbonation that is quite nice in feel. Livens this beer up a bit and gives it a light, non-syrupy body. I instantly taste fresh mulled apple cider and think of a Fall county fair. Sour cherry notes and then hit hard by slightly bitter vinegar. Not harsh to the tastebuds, but man is that interesting. I can definitely appreciate the flavors here. No hop bitterness and not much malt I don't think.

D - Definitely a sipper, but again I had a hard time drinking the whole thing. Would have been much better with some food.

Photo of DawnL
3.56/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Murky amber with big foamy head that dissipates to sticky lace.

Smell: Slight caramel, with prune notes. It doesn't smell like your typical beer.

Taste: Malt character, then dried fruit, followed by acidic/sour cherry character.

Mouthfeel: This definitely coats the mouth - not really unctuous, but definitely present with good length.

Drinkability: I'm going with good.

This is a strange little beer. I'm still not sure whether or not I like it. I am giving it a pretty good rating, but I'm not sure if I am completely a fan.

Let me explain. I had this with a light fish dinner. I was hoping it would be a bit more sour and was completely surprised by the amber/brown color.

I wouldn't suggest serving this beer with an entree. I wouldn't suggest serving it as an aperitif either. This is an after dinner, bring on the cheese beer. It needs mild cheeses - young mimolette, laughing cow, mild goat cheese, cream cheese even. It would be overwhelmed by cheddar. Maybe a Swiss cheese would be okay. Brie would kill this! Or, maybe it should be had on its own after dinner as a divestif.

It develops an odd bitterness when left to warm. Definitely like leaving prune juice on the counter and letting it come up to room.

If it were a little tarter, it would remind me of those sour, dried, Asian plums. Oh, that would be something to pair it with. Try this beer with Asian plums that are dried and have that sourball coating dusted on them.

I like this beer because it's an oddity. And I know I'm going on a bit, but this taste sensation is so different from anything I've tasted before that I feel like sharing - a lot.

Photo of adamette
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Live review. Found this 11.2 oz. bottle at Heinen's in Willoughby Hills last week for $2.99 and decided to snatch it up. This is the first "Monk's Cafe" item that I have seen for sale. Poured into my Brewery Ommegang snifter.

A First of all, I like the cap. I know it is "not about the beer" but presentation means a lot and this sniny new penny copper cap is cool. It emulates the copper like translucent body which is dark than the cap but not by a whole lot. Head was 2 inches but short lived, quieting down within a minute. 3.5

S Gotta love that "Oud Bruin" smell and I do. This is a classic smell for the style. 3.5

T Wow, candy apple caramel sweet syrupy gives way to a nice cherry sour aftertaste in this classic for the style beer. 4.0

M The sweetness and the sour make this a very active beer to the feel.

D Good. I finished the 11.2 ounces within a few minutes and enjoyed it.

Notes: Probably a bit expensive to have all of the time but a good and accesible example of the style (vs., say....the Petrus Oud Bruin).

Photo of stewart124
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

POurs a dark brown with ruby highlights and a fluffy tan head.

Smell is that of tart fruits and floral notes.

The taste is some is something you don't get often. Yum. Refreshing notes of tart cherries and a syrupy sweetness. This is a very tasty and refreshing beverage and my first taste of something in this range.

I could drink more of this tart beverage but I am not sure if I could drink a number of them in one sitting.

Photo of Throckmorton
3.99/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - something you don't see much - a true ruby toned brew - on a deep carmel/brown background. unusual. long lasting head, right to the bottom.

s - fruit, tart,

T - really nice balance of sourness, with a touch of sweet. personally, I could have done with a tad less sweetness, but still really nice overall.

M - good carbonation, and the tartness just skips across the tongue. light, but not thin at all.

D - to be enjoyed slowly, a great departure, but a one-after-another type.

Photo of Kwak
4.02/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

this one poured light with a thick head the smell was almost over powering like sour apple cider the taste sour and sweet i think a nice blend with almost a wine finish the first sip had a bite but after a couple of sips it went down nice . could not drink this all day but i would drink one a day if i could

Photo of Stonebreaker
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Brown with a red tinge and a thin head with strong carbonation.

Smell: Sour cherries, apple vinegar with a little oak maybe.

Taste and mouthfeel: Like a homemade cherry pop, with a touch of vinegar, not my thing but probably good for the style. You can taste the wood immediately then its blocked, by tannins perhaps.

Drinkability: Only a curiosity for me. A very occasional treat.

Photo of Vancer
3.86/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The 11.2oz bottle pops and pours a very good looking deep amber with cola brown edges into the Corsendonk tulip. Thick tan head rises to the glass rim and then settles back, leaving sticky lace on the way down.

Tart aroma of cherry and even a bit of bourbon, or is that me wishing it? No, no bourbon in the quaff, just the lightly sour cherry finish after a sweet start. Very light bodied and refreshing, easy to drink in the STL summer heat - except the import price will keep this from being a well stocked in the DBF. Recommend giving it a try though.

Photo of treyrab
2.56/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Was in the mood for a light sour, so I grabbed this one off an Ohio beer store shelve and poured into my glass...

A: Pours a very clear ruby red with a nice off white head. Look is very nice with ruby, crystal clear hues with plentiful carbonation and a very nice, creamy head.

S: Red wine vinegar up front with some underlying flavors of cherry, and some spice, but vinegar is by far the most prevalent.

T: Light sour grapes with vinegar. Not very good, very light. The grapes are putrid and the vinegar is watered down into the grape taste. Not pleasant.

Overall, this was vinegar galore with some underlying flavors that could not pass the vinegar taste. Not recommended.

Photo of philipquarles
1.89/5  rDev -50.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

On tap. Pours a very dark, clear red with a medium white head. Heavy acetic acid on the nose, though it doesn't smell very sour at all, just lots of vinegar. Very sugary, and somewhat vinous. Not incredibly appetizing. Tastes outright sweet. Again, acetic notes, but no real tart character. Some hints of artificial cherry. Light-medium body. Lingering, cloying sweetness. Utter shite.

Photo of jgasparine
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- An aggressive pour from the 750mL bottle yielded a nice big tan head... a bit rocky and well-retained. Some nice lacing... good carbonation... and a beautiful mahogany body.

S- The nose reminds me of Ludens Wild Cherry Throat Drops (sweet cough drops)... I am anticipating both sweet and sour flavors from this nose...

T- Sweet and sour goodness... with a dry clean (slightly oaky) finish. Can't quite describe the sweetness here... it is unique, cherry cider maybe? The sourness is akin to weak vinegar (acetobacter?). Beautiful flavors here.

M- A bit oily... lots of unattenuated sugar here... and the perfect amount of carbonation. Overall, I'd say this is light to medium body... what I would expect from the style.

D- What a beautiful drink... could go all day with this stuff. The sweetness is never overpowering, nor the sourness. Just plain satisfying and refreshing...

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

Serving Note: Satan tulip glass

A: A mahogany brown / port red wine with a two finger head and medium residuals left behind on the glass.

S: Whadda ya know? Sour! Notes of black cherries and maybe a blackberry hint with yeast.

T: Monk's Cafe has taken my Sour virginity and I was impressed by the complexities in the flavor profile. I originally had thought that Sours were a gimmick-beer, but this has set me straight. After the initial wince/pucker I truly started to appreciate the tart cherries and the warming alcohol finish.

M: Medium or Med-light body with a crisp finish that leaves the sour notes behind as a souvenir.

D: As much as I enjoyed the sour, I am not sure that I would dare try more than one in a night. However, this goes down smooth enough for me to give it consideration.

Photo of mobyfann
3.02/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Paid $1.49 for a single discounted at Ludlow Wines in Clifton...

The beer pours a very dark amber-brown base, huge head, great retention, nice lacing. Smells like sour grapes and cherries, that's about it...

The taste presents sour tones present early, tastes of cherries linger from middle to aftertaste, almost like a defunct wine... bizzare!

It's fairly easy in the mouth, low carbonation but as far as drinkability goes forget it... this ale lacks depth!

Final Thought: For a highly rated beer I'm afraid what lessor beers of the same style would taste like... not very impressed with this guy!

Photo of joeysmokedporter
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a bottle into a Sam Adams glass.

A: pours mahogany red, clear, with a 2 finger reddish tan head.

S: dominated by vinegar, although cherry and woody aroma also present. this is one beer where the aroma and flavor are fairly disconnected, and in this case for the better.

T: an aceto-vinegar flavor, but also sour-cherry-like, with a sweet malty flavor coming in and a bit of a tannin finish. while some beers in this style have tasted like salad dressing to me, this one has a flavor that balances between sour, vinegar, and sweetness. Cherry doctor pepper-like flavor is evident in the middle of this, and finishes on the bitter side with a strong hint of wood aging.

M: light although puckering in the end, with the effect of the bitterness. carbonation high but appropriate for the style.

D: The more i drink the more I want. This is quite an enjoyable sour beer. Paired up with trappist cheese for a nice contrast, but alone this beer is fine as a drinker.

Photo of benteach
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

My first, and probally last, sour beer. I tried this style on the urging of a friend. I am not a big vinegar fan, maybe that is why I am not a fan of this.

Poured brown-red with a good, cream colored head.

Aromas of cider vinager.

Sweet taste. good mouthfeel. Hints of apple, cherries, citrus.

It is growing on me as I drink it, maybe it won't be the last.

Photo of Suomi411
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark amber with a reddish hue. Head dissipates quickly to about .5-1" thick. Moderate lacing that disappears quickly following each sip.
S: Sour, a hint of cherries and cider.
T: Initially, moderate sourness with a hint of cherries, apples. Ends sweet effectively balancing the initial sour component. No real sense of hops, diacetyl. Aftertaste is earthy/woody, but also disappears rather quickly
M: Light to medium bodied (more on light side) with a fair amount of carbonation and low bitterness.
D: Excellent! Will pick up again in the near future.

Photo of malty
4.58/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my stemmed Rodenbach glass a brilliantly clear rust color with crimson edges. Loose (but creamy) & fluffy beige head stands still at 1 1/2" tall. Lots of visible rushing fine carbonation moving upward. Beautiful wide rings of lace all the way down. Stunning.

Bright & fresh notes of sour cherries and rhubarb, along with baked pie crust and green grapes. Granny smith apples jump out too. Some oaky & spicy notes creep up at the end.

Wow, I believe I just tasted the pinnacle of sweet & sour in one beer. On one side the beer is a tad syrupy & vey sweet, but the other side is very tart and puckering - bringing a perfect balance to this wonderful ale. The cherry scent I grasped just a minute ago becomes very layered in the palate. Rich but yet strangely light all at the same time. This is a definite Ying/Yang brew if there ever was one.

Mouthfeel is between light & med. bodied with the most delightfully playful (champagne-like) fine carbonation. Semi-sweet but still plenty tart flavorful finish.

Drinkability is through the friggin' roof. I could EASILY drink this al day and/or night.

Overall an equisite Flemish Sour Ale. The sweetness is appealing to me, but not at all cloying or overbearing. A very memorable brew that I'll be seeking out fervently.

Photo of bikencycle
4.6/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle into my hamms chalice

A: pours an red brown hue with little head and some lacing

S: has a sour pie cherry smell

T: dry, sour, cherry, and somewhat bitter vinigar taste that is well balanced

M: has a very delicious feel to it

D: very drinkable, and one of my new favorites for the time being

Photo of lhaqq
2.73/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear brown body with a semi fluffy tan head.
S: A little bit syrupy, lots of sweet light fruits, sourness comes out pretty strong in the smell. The initial smell reminds me, not unpleasantly, of watered down vinegar or mop solution.
T: Not as big of a flavor as was expecting from the smell. Starts off with some strong sweet and bitter apple and red grape. Peaks a little sour but not very strong, and finishes with little flavor, maybe some apple core bitterness.
M: A bit too light and watery.
D: Not a very high abv; drinkable I guess for a sour ale. At $2.99, was worth giving a try but won't get again. At least it puts a sour ale within the price range of most other beers.

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.46/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - pours a reddish caramel like Killian's. A nice thin cover of mocha head and some partial sheet lacing to go with. Looks good in my new Dos Equis glass because, after all, I want to be more interesting.

Aroma - cider vinegar, much like what I use for my mop sauces when I smoke brisket or pork shoulders. A trace of something beer-like but it is remote. Perhaps the grain is imparting some spiciness, but at length it is too hard to separate from the vinegar smell. Since that is part and parcel for the style, I won't ding it but I don't dig it either.

Taste - tart, thankfully it is not near as vinegary as I feared. The sweetness of the malt is offsetting, and the Belgian character is evident on the swallow as the light funkiness comes through on the aftertaste. Some welcome fruitiness plays in at times, the beer does well (for me) to not dwell long on the vinegar or funk.

Mouthfeel - dry and light-bodied, and well-carbonated.

Drinkability - not one I'd rush out and stock, but I enjoyed the experience.

Photo of SpdKilz
2.81/5  rDev -27%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

[update from December 2011 - My sister bought this by mistake (told her to get another beer) and my brother-in-law and I opened it up one night. I told him of my past bad experience with it, and stated this was recommended to me by a beer store employee as a "gateway" sour and it almost ruined sours for me in that I wanted to stay away from them. Since it was my first "sour" I thought it was worth a revisit since I did not like it at all a few years ago. Needless to say, I still hate this beer. It is disgusting.]

Appearance - Poured relatively hard with the outcome being only about a finger of head which quickly dissipates and leaves lackluster lacing. A copper/red hue shines through when held up to the sun.

Smell - The very first thing I notice about this beer is the overwhelming cider/balsamic vinegar smell. Can also smell black cherries and obviously a hint of apple.

Taste - Not hoppy in the least. Honestly, it tastes how it smells to me - almost how I would imagine sour cider vinegar to taste with some alcohol added to it. After this initial flavor, it most definitely ends on a sweet note.

Mouthfeel - Relatively thin and carbonated. Aftertaste is quite sugary, a bit tart even.

Drinkability - Not very for me. This is my first sour and it was nothing like I expected, and sadly that is not a good thing. I would describe myself as someone who normally likes tart, bitter types of food so I naturally thought this would be something I would enjoy. As of now, it is not. I may need to give it a few more chances (I still remember when I could not stand hoppy beers like Stone and now I enjoy them thoroughly). Overall not horrible but somewhat disappointing.

Photo of vrazionale
3.52/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 fl. oz. bottle at refrigerator temperature poured into a snifter.

A - Body is dark brown with a reddish hue when held to the light. The head is one finger thick (at best), but quickly fades to a light lacing with bunches along the edges.

S - Dark chocolate, alcohol-soaked cherries, vanilla, clove, molasses, anise, sweet bread, roasted nuts. Smells pretty boozy. The nose pretty much exclusively tends towards sweet aromas, but they seem a little disjointed.

T - Again, the flavors here come down on the sweet side of the spectrum. Oaky vanilla flavors come to the fore alongside those alcohol-soaked cherry flavors. There is also a pretty distinct sweet combination of molasses and dark honey. The finish is lackluster and disappointing, though.

M - This brew feels a little sticky and clumsy to me. The carbonation doesn't make itself well-known, and the flavors, while varied and interesting, don't feel right together.

D - Not my thing. I would certainly like to point out that there is a lot going on here, both on the nose and on the palate. But it doesn't work for me. I expected it to have more of a lactic sourness, but all I picked up here was sweet flavors and aromas. This is my first experience of this style, though, so perhaps I will grow to appreciate it more.

Photo of dancinwillie
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark red and clear, with a modest beige head. Aroma makes me think of cream mixed with malt vinegar. Although as I read that, I realize that might seem like a bad thing, but it actually smell kind of good. Head has now dropped completely.

Not as sour as I had anticipated from other reviews. Sour, but only a facet of the flavor. A whole gang of sweetness is evident as well. Cherries, a bit of green apples are present. Freaking tasty, whatever it is. Yeast doesn't appear too much, and I'm not picking up any hops. Doesn't mean they aren't there, just that I don't taste them.

Mouthfeel is spritzy carbonation, creamy and medium bodied with a long sour finish.

As I come into my own tastes more and more, I find I'm a big fan of sour beers. This one didn't disappoint me. For some reason I'd like to try some sweet and sour chicken with it, although it might be too much of the same. Nonetheless, I'll try it. Tasty beer, and I will revisit it soon. Cheers!

Photo of FACEMEAT
3.45/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass

A: Pours a reddish brown with a thin later of loose head that quickly becomes a thin cap. Little lacing remains on my glass.

S: Definitely a sour overtone on the nose. Earthy sour cherries and granny smith apples dominate with an earthy Belgian funk behind.

T: The sourness isn't as prominent on the palate as it is on the nose. It's there, but just not as much as I had expected. A sweet finish lingers on my tongue.

M: Way too much carbonation with a medium mouthfeel.

D: The sweetness kills any chances of downing more than one of these.

Photo of GRG1313
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
87 out of 100 based on 2,593 ratings.