1. Don't miss our 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers this May 30 & 31 in Boston, MA! Buy your tickets now!
  2. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale - Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

2,063 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2063
Reviews: 1018
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 14.1%


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)
View: Beers (74) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
Ratings: 2,063 | Reviews: 1,018 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of IntriqKen
IntriqKen

California

3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sour is an understatement. ALL of my lips are puckering.
Poured a very deep amber yet crystal clear. Half finger of almost white head melted slowly to a heavy ring of lacing.

Aroma...my g/f smelled vinegar...ok...I smell sour red cherries and then some sugar that blends the cherries together and gives them distinction.

Taste...pucker...pucker..pucker...sour cherries definitely....what...wait...something else...but my palette is too uneducated or ruined to be able to identify it. There is a faint sweetness on the tail end like in the aromas that melds and mellows the sourness makiing me continually want another sip...then another.

Ken likes....it pleases him.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2007 02:04:09 | More by IntriqKen
Photo of bosco7
bosco7

Pennsylvania

3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Obtained a 33 cL bottle to go at Monk's Cafe.

Beautiful burnt ruby color with a fluffy off-white head.

Sour grape, lemon, and vinegar in the nose. Hard to describe in great detail but think layers of sour aromas.

Whoa thats sour! Very very sour- a little overpowering. Starts with biscuity, bready, brown sugar flavors that is then obliterated by the sourness. Some cherry, grape, and lemon.

Very tasty beverage however I don't think I could consume a lot in a sitting. Now I love sour beers (I had 3 today) but one of these is enough. Still very good and recommended.

Serving type: bottle

08-19-2007 01:43:57 | More by bosco7
Photo of kindacold
kindacold

Virginia

4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pouts a deep red with approximately a one inch, reddish-brown head. Head dissipates after a few minutes. Smells sour, almost candy-like. First sip is like a kick in the face. EXTREMELY sour, almost like a sweet tart. After the initial shock, the beer goes down with a lot of carbonation and much tingling. The sour taste remains in the mouth and even the throat for a long time after each sip, however, it somehow adds to the beer's refreshing taste. I will continue to drink this beer when I come inside from a hot day.

Serving type: bottle

08-18-2007 02:25:15 | More by kindacold
Photo of rugbyfan13
rugbyfan13

Georgia

3.15/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Dark hazelnut brown on top fading into a dark red on the bottom. Tan, 1/2 inch head. Head turns into a thin cover on top. Medium lacing.

Smell: Cherries, wood, yeast funk, much less palpable than a Saison funk. Hints of garlic at the end that become more obvious as the beer warms up, but it still remains muted.

Taste: Oaky and funky, once again, similar to a Saison, lightly sour. Alcohol warms the burns the mouth as you drink it.

The main problem with this beer is that water hits you first. While I can tell there are strong flavors in the beer, the water just made the rest of the flavors have to overcome the watery-ness of the beer, and thus, diluted them.

Mouthfeel: Too damn watery up front. Similar to the taste, the water creates an obstacle for the mouthfeel and makes it seem weak.

Drinkability: I love yeasty funk, and I like sour beers, so I could drink more. Its an unremarkable beer.

Seeing how much I paid for the beer, I won't be trying this again.

Serving type: bottle

08-16-2007 02:08:33 | More by rugbyfan13
Photo of DragYourBone
DragYourBone

Wisconsin

4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a stemless goblet. A beautiful dark red opaque was topped with a quarter inch of foam that slowly dissipated to a slight film. If it had a touch more foam and it was a woman I would say she looked sultry.

Scent of citrus, lemon zest, cherries? and sweet yeast.

Taste and mouthfeel - I recall my first Leifmans' draught at first taste. On this near 90F day with as much humidity, it is so damn refreshing and delicious; I had to control taking it all down. The Sweet and sour brings a much anticipated tongue smack. It has a nice fullness to it with an underlying fluid component with a nice fizz at the end. The acidity and sweet notes seem to break apart a little if let sit for too long however, making it either a bit more sweet or more sour.

Drinkability - I could down this all day in the summer and feel bad about not enjoying it more. The mingling between the nose and the mouth is excellent.

I would walk a mile for a monk.

Serving type: bottle

08-10-2007 23:21:04 | More by DragYourBone
Photo of gmcfarre
gmcfarre

Colorado

3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 11.2oz bottle into New Belgium Tulip

A - Pours alot like a coke, without the excess carbonation and a bit cloudier. Brown with a slight ruby tint and a tan head. Lacing is moderate when tipped.

S - Sour, dark cherries and other dark fruits. Rather tart. Light sweetness and a good dose of yeast funkiness.

T & M - Well-carbonated tingle turns quickly to a sour bite on the tongue. Medium to light body. Truns dry at the finish with a dried cherry sweetness. Tart plum as well. Interesting, and alot like that New Glarus Enigma I had about a month ago.

D - Not quite as refreshing as the label would have you believe, but I am becoming a fan of this style. A complex and interesting brew that is far outside most people's definition of how a beer should taste. ABV not a factor. Worth a try and perhaps a repeat.

Serving type: bottle

08-08-2007 00:34:34 | More by gmcfarre
Photo of nightcrawler
nightcrawler

Illinois

4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a scary-looking muddy brown with a brown head. There were red highlights when viewed with a bright light looking through the glass. Lacing was thick and tight on the glass.

Smelled sort of like BBQ sauce with a hint of yeast/bread. Very interesting. Carbonation was like a soda.

The taste was sweet with a cherry wine-like finish. Very easy to drink, maybe too easy. The beer has a creamy feel and carbonation continues to produce bubbles when the liquid hits your warm tongue.

My mouth tingles slightly with the sour after every swallow. Not a beer to chug all afternoon, but very tasty.

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2007 23:34:37 | More by nightcrawler
Photo of BeardedSquash
BeardedSquash

Tennessee

3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep mahogany with a little over a finger of loose off-white head. Head recedes fairly quickly, leaving only thin lace.

S: Smells sour, but not infected like a Lambic. Light musty odor. Smells delicious.

T: Not as sour as the name would suggest, but tart. A bit of green apple on the sides of the tongue. Acidic and sweet, no defined hop presence.

M: Airy bubbles that fizz only slightly on the tongue. The acidity creates a thin layer of phlegm to guide the bubbling liquid down gently.

D: Wonderfully light on the palate and stomach. A great beer to introduce others to sour ales. Great for a hot day in the baby pool.

Serving type: bottle

07-11-2007 01:32:53 | More by BeardedSquash
Photo of msubulldog25
msubulldog25

Oregon

4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An 11.2 oz. bottle, poured to a small wide-mouthed wine goblet.

A: Murky rust-brown, with plentiful rising carbonation. A creamy, sandy tan head of tiny bubbles, freckled with areas of rising carbonation amidst areas of stillness.

S: Wonderfully tart/sour aroma - there goes the saliva! Musty yeast, light sour cherries, sugary lemon candy backing.

T: Sour and sweet, not quite a pucker-inducing, tongue-curling intensity. Cherries, sour green grapes, hints of vanilla & oak barrel, especially in the finish. Dryness of tart apples.

M: Good, crisp carbonation...refreshingly light. Some clinging sweetness and lasting woody/vinous sourness.

D: A tasty Flanders Red Ale, an eminently drinkable example of a style I enjoy alot. Well blended, good aromas and flavors, one I'm glad to have tried and would like more of. Thanks to Jef and the guys at Van Steenberge for making this and thanks to the East Coaster who sent this bottle...

Serving type: bottle

06-30-2007 23:21:13 | More by msubulldog25
Photo of jwc215
jwc215

Wisconsin

4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass:

Pours mahogany with a one-finger+ off white head that descends to about half the size and stays. Lacing sticks to glass.

The smell is mildly sour, vinuous, candy in the back.

The taste is sour/grapefruity/vinuous. Candy sweetness mixes in to give it a sweettart, dry finish.

Appropriately light-bodied and rather mild (but tasty) for the style, this is an easy drinker. It isn't as sour as other classic examples, but has a nicely balanced sourness to it and could be a good intro to the style. A nicely done brew. Could pair well with grapes and creamy cheeses.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2007 17:38:37 | More by jwc215
Photo of Brian700
Brian700

Michigan

4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is the first beer I reviewed in forever, I'm a little rusty, bear with me.

It pours a deep amberish red with an off-white head that slowly settled down to a creamy ring around the outer edge of my glass leaving nice belgian lacing.

The aroma is typical, sweet/sour, cherries, I get a little bit of burnt hair as I really stick my nose in there.

It has a big lactic wallup right in the front that develops into a sweet/sour flavor and tapers off into a little bit of sour fruit leaving your mouth dry and tasty. Very good!

The mouthfeel is light bodied with a lot of fine carbonation. Coats the palate nicely making this a beer to savor.

I think the drinkability is great. I am a big fan of sour beer, keep that in mind. To the faint of heart, stay away.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2007 04:58:45 | More by Brian700
Photo of brdc
brdc

Wisconsin

4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish brown, this one has a very thick, luscious creamy, brownish head.
The expected sour aroma comes along with some fruitiness and a heavy smell I believe is from the yeasts.
Light-bodied, it starts right out tart and sour, almost puckering. It is then followed by some sweetness, and then more sourness and tartness.
Certainly not the best in the business, but nonetheless a pleasure.

Serving type: bottle

05-21-2007 21:14:01 | More by brdc
Photo of rayjay
rayjay

Hawaii

4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1st time I had this was when they were premiering it at Monks Cafe in Philly. The owner Tom and a business partner and I had a few and raved about it for a while; they were obviously proud of it, and I think they said they choose it from amoung 8 sours and it was the clear winner. It was so good I had 4 glasses right then and there. That was 4, maybe 5 years ago, so lets see how it tastes these days.

I purchased this one at Healthy Spirits in San Fran, and I was surprised and happy to see it because I thought you could only get it in Philly. I remember it being alot better on draft, but I happily gave this bottle a go.

Healthy head of red foam, purple body, lots of lace, a beautiful beer.

Funky cheese nose that is very appealing.

Some sweetness, a mild sour blanket, and gentle malts come together in perfect harmony. I've had bottles that were just so-so, but this one tastes great. Finishes very dry--sweetness goes right away. Cheese and sour cherries. Restrained, polite flavors that melt in your mouth.

Spicy carbonation that remains active. The sourness and dryness make you chave more. Extremely refreshing and drinkable. One of the finest examples of its kind; puts Duchesse to shame, making her seem like pure vinegar. Seek and consume!

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2007 06:43:21 | More by rayjay
Photo of Foxman
Foxman

New Jersey

4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours a quite clear rich ruby copper. A finger of frothy light tan head sinks slowly. Gulls of lacing aviate along the inside of the glass.

The aroma is decidedly lactic and pie-cherry sour. A submerged toasted malt grain presence intimates of a feather of sweetness to balance the more aggressive tartness.

Upon tasting, the malt is tart cherry sweet and ever so slightly doughy. The sour tower is again notably lactic, and this time is buttressed by a brace of earthy funk. A short batch of residual sweetness joins the tang to open up to a gradually drying and moderately crisp finish. No matter your general tastes, it's hard not to like this at least a measure.

Light bodied, the carbonation and sweet/sour duet combine to give a marked soft-drink impression to the palate.

Plenty of places have proprietary beers, but few have such distinctive, entertaining ales. It's a sour for a newer palate, or for those who'd like a little less "horsiness" in their beer, for whatever the reason. It's a refreshing and willing counterpoint to any number of savory culinary choices. I don't usually drink it at Monk's due to the usually many untried options, but it's nice to be able to bring a bit of Monk's home with me.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2007 14:31:24 | More by Foxman
Photo of techdiver
techdiver

Pennsylvania

4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep mahogany with a good two finger head that dissipates slowly leaving a small cap and nice lacing.

Aroma is sour but lacks the cherry found in other ales of this type.

Taste dispals some of the sour cherry that the nose fails to display.

Nice carbonation, fairly refreshing and pleasant.

Fairly drinkable, but it's not a Rodenbach Grand Cru.

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2007 03:29:12 | More by techdiver
Photo of shivtim
shivtim

Georgia

4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured out a hazy brown with red tints and a small but nice head. Nose is very gentle, with just a slight sweetness. Even on warming it stays mild. Taste is great- just the right amount of sour flavor, a bit lemony, corn and some malt sweetness. Nice balance. Mouthfeel is tart and foamy, compliments the flavor well. Drinkability is good.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2007 17:14:39 | More by shivtim
Photo of albern
albern

Massachusetts

3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a slightly cloudy brown, with some lacing and foaming on the edges. There is a goodly amount of carbonation, and the smell has all the characteristics of a really nice sour Flemish red. But it stops there. Monk's is a little watery, has a subdued cherry flavor, with other citrus present, but lacks the sourness that one would come to expect with the style. Duchesse and Rodenbach this isn't, and too bad. I was looking forward to the tartness, the chartreuse, the sweet cherry and citrus flavors, but this is lacking in all of the above. It's not a bad ale by any measure, but it just lacks the complexity, the sourness, the chewiness of the better Flemish sour ales so representative of the style. This might be a good initiate into the style for those unfamiliar with the unique qualities of the Flemish reds, but beyond that, why stop at Monk's when there are better available.

I had this on tap at the Sunset Grill in Allston, MA, December 2007. This is a very nice ale on tap, actually much fresher, more refreshing, and eminently more sippable than what I experienced out of the bottle. I would add another full point to this beer on tap.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2007 20:07:15 | More by albern
Photo of swissmiss805
swissmiss805

New York

4.53/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I love this beer. My first Flemish sour, it was a gateway beer to the style, leading me to all kinds of Duchesse (not a fan) and Cantillons, yet I always go back to Monks. It has all the tartness and acidity without the overly sweetness that can come with the style. Really, I'm just writing this review as a public forum for anyone who's spotted it in NYC/Brooklyn. Please let me know if you've bought/drank it in the area I miss the Monks!

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2007 19:44:36 | More by swissmiss805
Photo of Onibubba
Onibubba

Kentucky

3.18/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a dark reddish brown with a small white head. Smell is all sour apples. Has a much more pronounced sourness than I was expecting. I thought this would be along the same lines of a Rodenbach or a Duchesse. However, there is none of that sour cutting sweetness present in this beer. Reminded me somewhat of a La Roja, but without the complexities. Mouthfeel was OK. For this degree of sourness, a bit more carbonation would have been nice.

Drinkability is not high. This is not a bad beer, but it is a sipper, maybe even a transitional beer. Would be nice to have before or after some sweeter reds, but 2 of these is a row would be a bit much.

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2007 13:15:22 | More by Onibubba
Photo of mcallister
mcallister

Ohio

2.25/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Murky burnt opaque raspberry lavender. Small white quick to fade head leave some faint lacing. Not too appetizing.

Violet, sour cherry, yeasty, burnt dried berry varieties, hints of wheat germ, other tart fruits and a odd sweetness follow up the aromas.

Very weak flavors and laid back. Balance is non existent, and just a wretched lack of depth. Hints of strawberry and raspberry, bitterness is mild and really hurt this beer. Mouthfeel is thin and weak and there is virtually no length to the finish.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2007 20:43:21 | More by mcallister
Photo of Bierguy5
Bierguy5

Ohio

3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz. bottle, with the code 01 HE on the back. Cloudy, reddish brown color. Decent off white rocky head, which holds together well.

Sour berry aroma, with a bit of funky notes as well. Not a whole lot else.

Flavors begin with a puckering sensation, but quickly backs off. What is left is a bit tart, but not what was expected. Some slightly sour cherries, and dark berries, combine with a bit of earthy and musty flavors. The finish is very earthy, and dry.

Light body, with a good amount of carbonation. Seems to be light in alcohol, and pretty easy to drink.

Overall, not bad, but not as sour as I was hoping, or as the aroma would lead me to believe. The finish was not very good, which hurts the drinkability. This may be a good, non-intimidating intro into sour beers, but not at the top of the list for me.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2007 13:29:42 | More by Bierguy5
Photo of kmo1030
kmo1030

Massachusetts

3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

murky red brown, with not much of a head to speak of.
sour, flowery cherry aroma, with a faint basement funkiness. hints of wood, and oddly enough every once in a while i get a licorice smell. malty caramel comes out slightly underneath the sour fruit.
sour cherry flavors up front, with a tart apple skin or core flavor following behind. i actually get some malt-like sweetness towards the back half. very faint mustiness.
medium bodied with soft carbonation and puckering sourness.
drinkability is good enough, as the beer i pleasantly refreshing. though not hugely complex, this is a nice tasting flemish sour that does nicely if you're in a pinch for a sour beer fix..

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2007 00:38:16 | More by kmo1030
Photo of BamaScholar
BamaScholar

Tennessee

3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I was pleased to find any Flanders Red Ale or Sour Ale here in Nashville, which, while improving, is hardly a Mecca for interesting fare.

It was a nice pour--the beer is a beautiful garnet tone. I may have even awarded a 5 if there were more carbonation, a better head. This may not be characteristic for the style, however.

The nose is quite unusual, the sour is there! It's like soaked cherries and a bit of musty earth.

It's not really terribly sour, just enough sweetness and bite to make for a balanced and refreshing mouthful.

Again, I could almost use a little more carbonation here, as it seems a little flat. But the dryness is quite nice. "Ahhhh" producing.

Delicious beer but one or two is plenty at-a-go. I will definitely be seeking more examples of the style.

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2007 23:04:43 | More by BamaScholar
Photo of brentk56
brentk56

North Carolina

3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy garnet color with a one inch head that caps nicely and leaves traces of foam down from the original head line

Smell: Sweet and sour cherry yoghurt and a bit of wood

Taste: Starts out with a comfortable blend of sweet and lactic sour cherry that builds in sourness, mid-palate; after the swallow, the wood flavor joins in and blends to the finish, which leans to the sweet rather than the sour

Mouthfeel: Somewhat thick and yoghurty with plenty of carbonation

Drinkability: Not as complex as some other Flemish Reds, this is nonetheless very enjoyable, particularly for those who are not enamored by sour beers but like an occasional stroll on the sour side

Serving type: bottle

03-22-2007 01:40:59 | More by brentk56
Photo of BeerHonky
BeerHonky

New York

3.4/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

While there's always something wonderful to be said about Monk's Cafe, I have to say that this beer was a little bit of a bummer. The beer looks beautiful. It pours a wonderfully bright reddish brown with a nice fluffy, pale khaki head. It smells sweet and wild and yeasty. A bit of fruityness can be detected here I'd say, but nothing out of the ordinary. The taste starts out really sweet and tart. Almost gummi bear-ish, obviously not as sweet as that, but a little too sweet in my mind for a flemmish sour. There's a decent bit of sourness and a hint of wood that appears after that first blast of sweet and tart changes into a wild and funky aftertaste if you don't go for another sip too soon. The mouthfeel is very refreshing with its scrubby, spritzy carbonation. I must say though, this isn't highly drinkable due to its level of sweetness. Again, I was a little bummed.

Serving type: bottle

03-19-2007 03:17:51 | More by BeerHonky
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,063 ratings.