1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

2,353 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,353
Reviews: 1,045
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 52
Gots: 167 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,353 | Reviews: 1,045 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of jdhilt
3.15/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a two-finger white head that fades quickly to a ring leaving no lace. Cloudy amber color. Light bodied and light carbonation. Nose is sour cherry . No sweetness here starts and finishes with a sour cherry taste. Clean, tart finish. $5.25 for a 330ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, MA.

jdhilt, Jun 14, 2005
Photo of woodychandler
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured with a great, thick brownish head, but it dissipated all too quickly, leaving behind a thin, wispy reminder. The color is a deep ruby red/brown. The nose is very tart with an underlying smell like toast right from the toaster. It has a thick, almost creamy mouthfeel and a flavor that is very reminiscent of SweetTarts from childhood. It has what I can best describe as a candy-like sweetness, but offset/balanced by an extremely tart flavor. The finish reveals this dichotomy to a greater degree, with me being unable to pin down either sweet or tart, but more like both at once. This is very enjoyable and I would certainly have more than one on a hot summer's day, when the beer would be quite refreshing.

woodychandler, May 22, 2005
Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque reddish-brown with a 1/2 inch tan head. Smells of sour cherry. Acidic and winlike with hints of vinegar. lightly sweet. Tart black currant.

Taste is sour up front. A puckering sourness. Sour cherry and wild berry. Acidic and fruity but certainly not sweet. Mouth is a bit thin cold but fill sout as the beer warms. This is no Rodenbach, but like Rodenbach this beer delivers the sour in Flemish Sour Red.

ViveLaChouffe, May 12, 2005
Photo of blitz134
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Initially a really strong aroma as the cap was popped. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.

Poured a predominately brown color with fainting hits of a garnet deep in the body. Head was just barely off white and disappeared rather quickly to only a circlet of bubbles around the outer edges.

Aroma is slightly sweet and has some hints of bread. But mixed in with all of that is a tart granny smith apple aroma with some other dark fruits. There is an overall sour candy smell to the whole thing. Nothing in the aroma is overly strong but nicely balanced.

Holy sh!t at the tartness of this on the first sip. This is the first beer to actually wrench on my tastebuds a bit and I love every bit of it. Overall there is a dry mouthfeel as this goes down but still coats the mouth well. The taste, as I said above, is extremely tart and consists mainly of apples. I don't pick up too much extra from the flavor as the tartness dominates. I'm torn between a 4 and a 4.5 for the taste. I want to give it a higher score b/c of the uniqueness of the flavor but I feel it fits with the common flavor profile of the style. Additionally the flavor seems a bit one sided compared to other flemish reds that I have had.

Mouthfeel is dry and coating at the same time but a little thin.

This one gets a good drinkability rating but the tartness might become overbearing after a while. Its still good though.

blitz134, May 03, 2005
Photo of Truh
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had a few sips of this before the conclave on 4/22/2005. 11.2 fl. oz. bottle poured in an Allagash snifter.

Good bubbling, though forced, which settles to what is likely a more natural flat sheen with some piling on the sides. Deep orange to an almost brown hue with a fair amount of haze chimmy-changa-ing around. Lemon/cherry sour tart on nose with a hit of watermelon and a gangly malt; sour patch kid sweetness seeping in. Green apple tart on mouth with a candy apple twinge to it; some underlying yeast breadiness adds some body to an otherwise light profile; kind of a meringue-like feel to it.

Generally, this is not a style I would choose to drink or gravitate towards, but very enjoyable nevertheless.

Truh, Apr 24, 2005
Photo of whartontallboy
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this one on tap at Monk's for the first time today. Pours deep red-brown with a small white head. Smell is sweet and a little sour and funky. Flavor is extremely tart with some funk sourness. Bit of fruity cherry flavor to it as well. Malt presence is strong and pleasant.

Overall: This one is interesting. I didn't like the first few sips, but after I got accustomed to it, I really enjoyed the sourness. Quite a nice one to have on tap.

whartontallboy, Mar 25, 2005
Photo of IrishRedRock
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first time sampling this brew, despite its accessibility in this city. Next time I'm at Monk's I'll be sure to try the draught version, though the bottle will do for now on this snowy evening.

Pours a murky, mud color near the top of the glass and fades into a light ruby near the bottom. Tart aroma of mahogany wood and cherries. Flavor has some ripe cherry and plum flavors with a lemon zinger kick in there, all melding into the mildly hoppy middle and eventual tart finish. Hops seem to come through better as it warms, and overall gives it more balances to cut the sour fruitiness. Mouthfeel is enjoyable - a bit bubbly to blend with the tartness. Looking forward to the draught, but this is a nice take-home version.

IrishRedRock, Feb 25, 2005
Photo of Stimack
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this brew the other night and poured to a dark red/mahogany color with a thick off white head that holds up quite well leaving a fair amount of lacing around the sides of the chalice. The aroma is definitely of sour/tart cherries with highlights of what I think is an oak barrel smell. This is a very nice smelling brew although it is funny having some friends take a whiff of it, as they have never had anything like this. The brew has a strong cherry (and other berry?) flavor that dominates from the start. The sour taste seems a little more harsh (?) than the Mestreechs Aait that I love but is an excellent taste as well! Also I can sense more of a oakiness from the taste mixing with the aroma which is a fantastic addition. The carbonation of this brew is very nice, seems to be at the perfect level as well. Over all this is a fantastic brew. I have just gotten into this style of brew but I must say that I am sold!

Stimack, Jan 16, 2005
Photo of sulldaddy
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

brew is from Irishredrock. Thanks for the hookup! I am sampling at room temp in a tulip glass. With an agressive pour, I get a good 2 inches of beige fluffy and frothy head that fades gradually with spacious latticework on the glass. Aroma is as expected, sour cherries, some oak/wooden scents (popsicle stick), tart raspberry as well. I find it very appealing.
First sip reveals a slightly oily texture with large and prickly carbonation. Flavor is fruity sweet up front for a second and then is tart tart tart! Sour cherries, again wooden flavors, granny smith apples. Reminds me of jolly rancher candy. The beer finishes leaving a tart coating on my palate. I find the beer to be very refreshing and enjoyable. A nice example of the style!

sulldaddy, Jan 12, 2005
Photo of WilliamPhilaPa
2.85/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Nice deep burgundy color, with a decent white head which dissipates to a good rim lacing.
Smell: Sweet cherries....sour berries, red wine and oddly (to me) vinegar
Taste: (only took 4-5 sips) Short and simply put....very sour and nasty tasting. A few sips and I knew I would not be able to finish this brew.
This is the first flemish sour I ever had and it will most likely be my last.
Kicked: Perhaps a desired then aquired taste for certain sour ale drinkers....and this is probably very good brew in it's category/style but it's just not my style....take this review w/ a grain of salt.

WilliamPhilaPa, Jan 02, 2005
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 2,353 ratings.