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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

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

2,338 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,338
Reviews: 1,042
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 51
Gots: 161 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Flanders Oud Bruin |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Brewed for Monk's Café in Philadelphia, but also available for retail purchase elsewhere. Oud Bruin in style; a traditional blend of young and old beers.

(Beer added by: nomad on 06-19-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,338 | Reviews: 1,042 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of EmoBeerGuy
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Wow.

This was the first Sour Ale I had ever tried and it was something else. I need to read up on here about the process that goes into creating the sour taste but I am assuming it is something akin to sour dough.

A - Looks like a fairly standard brown ale. Unimpressed by the head.

S- Woah. The first sign that something is off. This stuff will turn your nose but you gotta just plunge in anyways.

T- Completle unique. As advertised it is quite sour but has some malt to back it up.

D- Hard to say. I've rated it low because it is a "one is enough" type beer, but for that one beer you don't really get sick of it.


Overall - A style all beer lovers should try, at least once.

EmoBeerGuy, Feb 10, 2006
Photo of kmpitz2
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep amber color with a minimal sparse head over top with no real carbonation bubbling up. Clarity is excellent. Nose is very interesting. I get a bit of cherries and tartness, but it is also moderately grainy. Its lacking that good acetate blast that I like in my flanders red brews. It is also pretty unintense in the nose as well. Flavor is a little better. Initial taste is a very sharp, almost biting tartness. This moves to a sour cherry with a moderate acetate. Flavors are just a bit thin for what I like. Its not really grabbing my senses as other have. Feel is on the thin end of moderate with a light carbonation of tiny bubbles. This is an okay brew. Nothing really makes it pop as a stellar example. I'd like a fuller flavor on this. Seems just a touch watery.

kmpitz2, Feb 10, 2006
Photo of neonbrown82
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This is one of few sour beers that I can tolerate. I've tried many kinds of Cantillon all of which were completely and utterly undrinkable, and this one isn't even much less sour, but for some reason I actually like it.

The beer pours to a deep plum color with a fine carbonation that produces a nice tall effervescent head. Looks quite good.

The smell is of rasberry with a heavy tartness. Obviously not loaded with sweeteners, but there is a hint of sweet under the tart.

The taste is shockingly sour at first drink. After that, however, your tastebuds have adjusted a little bit and it seems to be much more balanced. Has a dry, funky horseblanket flavor to it with a backing of tart rasberry. Has a very, very feint lingering sweetness, but mostly dry and acidic.

While I like this beer in small doses, drinking too much of it gives me heartburn... and I don't get heartburn off of anything (even habanero chilis). It's good to get away from the realm of "regular beer" from time to time, and this beer is ideal to introduce the palate to even funkier beers, such as the aforementioned Cantillon.

neonbrown82, Jan 23, 2006
Photo of JISurfer
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My first experience of a sour ale, so I wasn't too sure what to expect. I must say though, I was pleasantly suprised. It did have a nice foamy head that lasted quite a while, but then "deflated" into a thick laceing. The smell was nice and malty, with a sweet-n-sour undertone, accompanied by a light grape finish. Taste was sour from the moment you put it in your mouth. It had a sour start, with a tart finish. I really dug this style. It was something I really wanted to try, ever since I first saw they had sour brews. I do like sour foods, sauces, candy, liquor, and such, so this one is up my alley.

JISurfer, Jan 09, 2006
Photo of GClarkage
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

01/07/06- Purchased at Sun Devil Liquors in Mesa, AZ.

Presentation- 11.2 oz bottle. Code on the back label. Poured into a chalice tyle glass.

Appearance- Reddish in color. Light 1/4 inch head which almost all remains the whole way down. Very light lace.

Smell- A touch barnyard. A bit musty, with a hefty sour fruity scent.

Taste- Sour, but not mouth puckering sour. Cherry in flavor over any other fruit. Touch hoppy in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Tart, with a about perfect carbonation level.

Drinkability- One of the better Flanders I have had. I like the fact that the tartness wasn't too overpowering. Nice drinking brew.

GClarkage, Jan 08, 2006
Photo of mmmbeer
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330 mL bottle with no freshness date. It pours a red/copper with a 2 finger head that is tan with a hint of red and forms a crater in the middle when it recedes and leaves some nice foam for lace. It smells of sour grape, fruit?, dung?, lactic? (I guess that's what it is - it's not familiar to me and they mention it on the label...), along with mustiness and some acidity. It tastes sour/acidic, fruity, tart, with medicinal phenols, farm/mustiness, and perhaps iron and salt. Maybe a hint of hops, but not sure if they use them. It has a light, tingly, dry body that is quite refreshing and it's overall a quality beer.

mmmbeer, Dec 30, 2005
Photo of ggaughan
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I should have reviewed this bad boy sooner as I was lucky enough to be at Monk's when they made the world debut of this beer in bottles at a Michael Jackson dinner. I have had alot of this beer since then (bottles and drafts).

I just had a bottle the other day and it poured a nice cloudy orange/redish color into a nice tulip glass. There was a nice tan head that followed with a nice bubbley body.

The aroma of this beer is nice and tart with some fruity tones to it. The taste continue the tart theme but there is also a nice sweet balance provided by the fruity tones in the beer. This is an easy beer to drink and I have found myself at one of the bars at Monk's having a few of these after work on several occasions.

ggaughan, Dec 29, 2005
Photo of SwillinBrew
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the Stuffed Sandwich.

A- somewhat of a reddish Ice-T color and indian brown crayon with a good finger of ivory white head that lasted and left a nice lace.
S- that tart, sweet and sour bouquet that you expect from a flemmish red.
T- Mmmm, very tasty. Tangy tartness hits your palate with a little acidic notes and green apple. This gives way to a mellow sweetness on the finish. You get both the sweet and the sour, but not in that order and not much sweet.
M&Dr - good effervescence and medium body. I think this may have bordered on a tad of dry, but not much and it was excellent.

SwillinBrew, Dec 21, 2005
Photo of pentathlete
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark translucent red with medium head that sticks around for a bit and laces the glass. Plenty of carbonation and a nose of mellow aspirin sourness, maybe some tart fruit too. Starts off with smooth almost watery base that moves into a tart middle that doesn't quite last long enough or get intensely sour. Slightly disappointing in that regard. Mouthfeel is medium, the finish leans toward metallic. This is drinkable because the sourness doesn't overpower, but that's why I buy a Flemish Ale. This isn't as bad as the Lindeman's Gueuze, but if it were any sweeter it would be pushing it.

pentathlete, Dec 20, 2005
Photo of Gattopardo
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Lovely dark red copper color with a small but solid head and good lacing.

Smell: The aroma of sour apples is the most prevalent smell.

Taste: The carbonation is low and the most significant element of the taste is definitely the sourness, particularly at the back of the throat. I quite like the bite of the sour, but I can see how it could be considered overpowering. Hop content seems low.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, not too chewy.

Drinkability: I did enjoy drinking this beer from the tap at Monk’s in Philadelphia, particularly with their chicken-and-apple sausage sandwich, but I have to wonder if I shouldn’t expect more complexity from a sour ale. The sour flavor is very prevalent, and I would likely get it again but probably not often.

Gattopardo, Dec 05, 2005
Photo of asabreed
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

33 cl bottle into my Corsendonk tulip.

Appearance: Though the head doesn't bubble up crazily, it starts at 1" then goes to about a half inch, but it's very thick, leaving lots of good clumpy lacing on the side. Dark amber color with some brown hues, with a decent amount of bubbles floating up toward the middle.

Smell: Earth and grassy notes, with maybe some phenols at first. Then it goes to slight nail polish, sour cherries, and granny smith apples. Definite and welcoming notes of oak and maybe the slightest hint of vanilla. Complex as all hell.

Taste: Too dry? Where's the sweetness? That's what I asked at first, but somehow the first sip was misleading. However, since it's a sour beer, the taste is a bit puckering of course. It does finish very dry, but after a bit it becomes nice, though as I said it wasn't at first. The only problem with the dryness is that I feel it's maybe so dry as to not let the beautiful flavors of the sour fruits and yeast to come through? I'm not sure exactly, but as I drink, it does indeed become more complex. You can taste the sourness, but then it does into the astringent dryness. Still, with the finish there's definitely some hints of apple, sour cherries, and general sourness on the tongue. Lots of stuff going on, and though I don't know if it's as balanced as it could be, it's so complex and singular that I like it a lot.

Mouthfeel: Champagne-like carbonation, which I really didn't expect. But it never gets too astringent, spritzy, or overdone somehow, which is odd, because it's almost like it should. Therefore maybe the dryness that I alluded to before isn't as dry as I previously thought, which may combat that, if that makes any sense.

Drinkability: This is one of the most peculiar styles in my opinion, and one of the most novel, which makes me want to seek out every version I can. The problem is they always seem so damn hard to find. At any rate, I've enjoyed it more and more as the review comes to a close, and I still have a little less than half of the bottle left in my class. It was about $2.75 for the bottle, and to me that's cheap for such a stab at such a crazy and deliciously ambrosia-like style. Can't wait to snag some more versions when I can actually find them.

asabreed, Dec 02, 2005
Photo of HogHill
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased a single from Colonial Spirits for $5.25 for 33cl bottle.

Appearance: a murky brown, with red highlights, looks kind of like apple cider. Small tan head which reduces to lace quicly.

Smell: Acidic, similar to a red wine.

Taste: Granny Smith apple along with sour cherries backed by malt. Predominantly sour flavors, but not overwhelmingly tart for my palate.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied, with a bit of zing from the sour and carbonation marriage.

Drinkability: I really enjoy Belgian Oud Bruins, and Flemish Reds. I could sip on a few of these. But eventually the acidic tartness will catch up and I'll want something to scrub the palate (a nice saison or Duvel?)

HogHill, Nov 11, 2005
Photo of Zorro
3.23/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly cloudy reddish brown ale with out much of a head.

Smell is sweet and fruity with a slight acid edge. Mostly fruit scents of sour cherries with a sweetening of honey. Later one softer scents of brown sugar and rum appear.

Taste is a little sweet with a good sour pop of acid to more or less even the flavor out and leaves a lemony sour note on your tongue. Fruit flavor of sour cherries without going too sour. Refreshing but not real complex.

Mouthfeel is OK.

OK as the style goes. A sweet and sour ale that I really can't pair with anything except Sauerbraten.

Zorro, Nov 11, 2005
Photo of dgallina
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz brown bottle without freshness date.

Poured a slightly transparent deep reddish-brown with big carbonation, small sheen of foam, and good lace. Smells big and fruity; a sweet and sour blend of green apples and grapes that tickles the nose. Green apples, pears, and a counter-balance of wood and sweet dark fruits (cherries?) lead to a super-dry, earthy and yeasty finish. Highly-carbonated, moderately light and tingly in the mouth.

dgallina, Oct 31, 2005
Photo of GreenWBush
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep ruby colored that looks more brown against strong light. Modest head that leaves only a little lace pattern but still quite cute in the chalice.

The smell is upforwardly fruity; cherries, red grapes, pinor noir. Sourness creeps forth at warmer temperatures with a hint of barnyard funk.

This could just be the wine lover's beer...I am amazed by how incredibly red-wine it is. The sourness of the beer contributes to its drinkability...tart, sour, and just a little sweetness to keep everything in check. A great introduction to the style.

GreenWBush, Oct 29, 2005
Photo of MuddyFeet
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Made the girlfriend a turkey dinner with all the fixin's to celebrate her new job and decided to pop open my bottle of this beer.

Poured a garne red. Almost afraid to get any on my clothes bcause it looks like dye (but thin and watery). Only a thin head that all but evaporated

Aroma is very slight--mostly raspberries and yeast.

Flavor is complex. More enjoyably complex than over the top. At first sweet but quickly followed by a very tart and fruity quick. That tartness is very similar to raspberries, blackberries and cherries. A whole big bowl of all three berries. The yeast provides a nice substance to the flavor.

Medium body. The tartness is a bit puckering. No notice of alcohol in either the flavor or the feel.

Went very well with my dinner. I was glad I chose this beer because I forgot to pick up some cranberry sauce.

MuddyFeet, Oct 25, 2005
Photo of CharlesRiver
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Such a unique style but so fun to drink. Pours out a cloudy, brown color with a very small head that doesn't seem to last. I see very few bubbles make their way to the top. I forgot to mention this is a 11.2 fl oz bottle, capped.

Smell is sour with something coming through almost like toast? Light notes of cherries and malt seem to be somewhat refreshing. Taste is much milder than I expected. The "sourness" is light but refreshing which makes it more drinkable. The cherries and fruit come through in the beginning and middle. The ending dumps off quickly. Some oaky notes come through but not enough.

Truely a tough beer to rate. I don't know this style well so I am going off pure taste and enjoyment. I would buy this or order this again anytime. I can't wait to try more examples of this style.

CharlesRiver, Oct 22, 2005
Photo of HappyHourHero
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up this bottle and boy does it have some miles on it. Brewed in Belgium, imported in San Diego, CA, bought in Elkton MD, and consumed in Ithaca, NY.

Aromas of sour cherries and brown sugar. Dense, oatmeal colored head was more then I expected. Sour and tart flavors dominate, but in an interesting mix of cherry and lime. Once those flavors release my tongue there are some other strange things that begin to happen. It's hard to put my finger on it but there is an earthy/woody aspect and a light spicyness that I can't describe (pepper and vanilla?, probably not). Anyway, it's enjoyable and interesting. Light, highly carbonated beer with a tart and dry finish. I was expecting a less carbonated beer that was all tart, and thankfully it was more then that.

HappyHourHero, Oct 08, 2005
Photo of TurdFurgison
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Drank on tap at Naja's in Redondo Beach, served in a Fin Du Monde chalice.

Appearance: Dark reddish brown, with wispy head lingering for a few minutes.

Smell: Sour lambic kind of aroma, with some cherries.

Taste: Very sour and bitter, nice cherry flavor.

Notes: Tart, sour, sweet, and good. This was my first Flanders Red, so I really have no right to judge it. I just know I enjoyed it. Maybe I'll revisit this beer review after I get more experience.

TurdFurgison, Sep 06, 2005
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brilliantly clear amber-ruby color with a thin tan colored head. The aroma is tart with notes of sharp cherry, caramel, tannic wood, and a light mustiness. The aroma is pretty interesting, I am definitely looking forward to the taste. The beer is fairly dry up front with a thin body. The taste has an appealing tartness to it that is a mix of a sour cherry-like fruitiness and a bit of acetic acid. The taste is a pretty clean mix of fruitiness, sourness and toffee malt notes. The taste is just a bit too simplistic and thin, did not quite live up to the aroma. Certainly drinkable and even a bit enjoyable.

Gueuzedude, Aug 30, 2005
Photo of tgbljb
2.83/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

poured a deep red-brown color with sparse, slightly-off white head. Smell is very tart and fruity. Taste is somewhat of a shocker. Extremely tart and sour, enough to make my mouth pucker. Finish is more tartness. Had trouble finishing half a bottle. Not my style of beer.

tgbljb, Aug 21, 2005
Photo of rajendra82
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The brown murky body of this beer was topped with a smallish off-white head, giving this beer quite a rough hewn look, not unattractive, just lacking charisma. Aromatically this was very interesting, with a vinegary sour smell and some apple cider like notes. The taste was basically replicating fermented apple cider, with a puckering tart sourness, apple skin like astringency, and a touch of spiciness. Come to think of it, this looks a lot like unfiltered apple juice as well. This will be very refreshing and thirst quenching, if you happen to like the taste of apple cider. I would love to try this one mulled one day.

rajendra82, Aug 14, 2005
Photo of twelvsies
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I haven't had a lot of flemish reds, but what I have experienced of the style I love. So I'm trying to branch out a bit and explore. Picked this up out of the blue. Beautiful color on this one, cabinet brown with red hues, but really no head at all, reminiscent of a gueuze. I don't particularly know if this style is "supposed" to have a decent head or not, but I'm thinking no since it's on the sour side. Smell is all over the place. Sour cherry comes to mind first, with other sweeter fruits backing it up. Taste is ok - a little bit of a let down from the smell. Tart, but not overly so, but all of the sweet fruity complexity in the smell is absent in the taste. A little watery to be honest. I'm not one of those guys that needs their taste buds destroyed by every beer at all, but this tastes a little bland to me. The smell is making me crave something better that I can't get in the taste. I think if they stepped this up a bit - a little more sour, a little more complex - it would be great. Not a bad beer, drinkable, but doesn't hold my interest.

twelvsies, Aug 11, 2005
Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured into the chalice clear deep amber brown with a white head which retreated quickly to the edges of the surface but lasted to lace the glass.

The aroma was acidic and lightly sour with a fruity aroma of cherries and berries melded with corn sweetness and earthiness.

The flavor was just barely sour and lacking in complexity. The sourness exhibited in the aroma was lacking in the flavor. The flavor did contain a slight cherry fruitiness, a nice crispness and some corn flavors, but exhibited no real complexity.

The finish was dry with just some slight fruit flavoring of cherries. The body was The aroma really leads one astray and the flavor just cannot backup the promise made by the aromatics. Highly drinkable, but devoid of character.

11.2 ounce bottle, code date on back is 16DC.

GCBrewingCo, Jun 24, 2005
Photo of RoyalT
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This red ale is brown in color with a nice head. It is very cloudy and full of small, tight bubbles.

Smell – The sour aroma is rather dull and muted by a malt that almost smells toasted in a way. I can pick up some darkly sweet citrus notes as well, giving this one a decent nose.

Taste – The sourness really kicks things up at the taste, to the extent that it’s about all I can distinguish. The light fruiting wants to come out and play but is squashed like a small bicycle seat engulfed in the ass of a circus fat woman.

Mouthfeel – The carbonation is the strong point of this barely-legal medium-bodied floozie. Otherwise this tease disappoints.

Drinkability – This sour ale went down OK but was nothing special and came in a tad under par for this prolific Belgian brewery.

RoyalT, Jun 22, 2005
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,338 ratings.