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

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

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BA SCORE
86
very good

1,089 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 1,089
Hads: 2,700
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.24%
Wants: 75
Gots: 343 | 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.
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Reviews: 1,089 | Hads: 2,700
Photo of DirtybeerguyRI
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

APPEARANCE: Pours a deep red mahogany with lines of carbonation climbing up the sides. It's crystal clear with a thick, fizzy white head.

SMELL: This is a sour beer, so you'll pick up notes of a hard apple cider vinegar. Under that, you'll pick up a deep fruitiness along with dark malts and a hint of spice.

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-bodied sour ale that feels snappy, fizzy, and just sour enough to be more cleansing than anything else. It'll make you pucker just a bit.

TASTE: What a refreshing, unique beer! The opening taste is sour, but quickly followed by black cherries, dates, and maybe a touch of green apples. It's a very refreshing, fun beer that's only a touch complex. I would have liked this beer a little better with less fruitiness and a bit more breadiness, but that's purely subjective.

DRINKABILITY: I don't think that I could have several of these in a row, but I can see myself having one, breaking to try something else, and then having another Flemish Sour Ale.

VERDICT: This is actually a private label beer commissioned by Monk's Cafe Belgian Beer Emporium and Restaurant (http://www.monkscafe.com) in Philadelphia, PA. It's brewed by the Van Steenberge Brewery in Belgium. I bought on a lark and I'm glad I did. I love it when a gamble pays off. If you can find it (I got mine at The Savory Grape, East Greenwich, RI), then I recommend you give it a shot.

Cheers,
John Harvey
Dirtybeerguy.com (1,421 characters)

Photo of MLoxxer
3.16/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

I enjoyed this beer on tap at Yia Yia's in Lincoln Nebraska. Although the head consisted of larger bubbles retention was very good. Living up to its reputation its flavor does have a very lambic-like start with a sour finish. Mouthfeel is moderately tanniny. I could detect no malt or hop character which leads me to believe the base is wheat and fruit. This isn't a beer for everyone but it does have an adventurous flavor. (424 characters)

Photo of rhenning
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle poured into a stemless red wine glass i like. Pours a copper red color with 1.5 fingers of light tan, sudsy head that recedes to a light covering of foam, leaving a nice lacing on the glass. Looks rather nice! Nose of cherry, apple, yeast and malt vinegar. Medium bodied mouthfeel; thirst-quenching and not sticky. Taste of apple & cherry fruits, lactic acid & CO2 bite. Quick on the palate, ending crisply. A bit of lingering grape skin in the flavor. Drinkability was good enough to have two. A very solid sour and a good introduction to the style, but more funk and tartness would be welcome. (610 characters)

Photo of Suomi411
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
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. (556 characters)

Photo of porkinator
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There wasn't a price tag on this at BevMo, so that kinda made me want it!

A- Dark brown color. 1 inch head that faded quickly. Been 2 minutes since I've poured it, and still has some bubbles around the glass.

S- You know it's going to be sour. Berries: Cherry and raspberry?

T- Good! Sour at first and as the taste goes away, you get a cool sensation that lingers.

M- Feels bubbly. Smooth and sits very well. Not to thick.

D- I would like to definitely try this again! (473 characters)

Photo of flip387
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: 4.25

Has a nice deep red color with a slight fizzy head.

Smell: 4.0

Crisp and slightly sour. Pleasant smell with mild hop and barley notes.

Taste: 4.0

Crisp and tart, noticed some earthy flavors which I believe is from the barley.

Mouthfeel: 4.0

Carbonated and fizzles on the tongue. Semi tar and sour, yet crisp and pleasant.

Overall: 4.25

My third sour beer, and my third from Brouwerij Bavik, defiantly my favorite from the Sour Power pack. This one is quite nice, has a tart crisp flavor along with some sweetness. A mild bodied red ale (561 characters)

Photo of scout
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Publican in Chicago.

Pours a ruby-brown color with a generous head and excellent lacing. Smell is sour cherries, fruits, that Belgian sugary smell and some oaky funk.

Taste is really interesting -- a total blend of tart cherries, maybe some apples too and sweet. Also, a tad spicy and a little bready too. What's unique is that it's a total blending of flavors -- they don't hit you in phases but are all there from beginning to end. Mouthfeel is outstanding -- smooth, almost creamy (probably attributable to the draft, but still surprising for the style).

Overall, a very unique beer. A very drinkable sour with a lot of complex, but very blended and balanced flavors. (684 characters)

Photo of KDeLibero
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The Belgian family-owned Van Steenberge brewery, which is outside the city of Ghent, in the Flemish region, produces the famous beers Gulden Draak and Piraat. They have collaborated with the Belgian Beer Emporium, Monk's Café in Philadelphia to commission the Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale under their private label. Monk's Café is made in the style of an Oud Bruin (or "old brown). Young and old beers are blended to create balance and complexity in this mildly sour ale.

Monk's Café pours a deep red mahogany with a malty aroma of fruit and oak. The flavor is tart with strawberries and cherries, and hints of vanilla, wood, and lactic acid. The noticeable oak on the finish must be from the more aged batch of beer that is blended in. Overall, Monk's Café is a very drinkable and refreshing beer that would serve as a great introduction to sour beers for those who are not familiar with the style.

While delicious on it's own, Monk's Café will pair well with a wide variety of different foods, especially ones that share the same funky, barnyardy flavors. Try pairing it with a gamey meat such as duck with a sweet sauce, or a rich pork dish. It would certainly compliment an earthy, mushroomy cheese like Brie de Meaux, or Forsterkäse, which is wrapped in bark for an extra heady flavor. Experiment too, this beer is fun and delightful with chocolate! (1,365 characters)

Photo of Tsull123
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%

First sour ale i've had. I'm really enjoying it. I think it could be a bit more balanced but i'm really digging the fruity/malty/fizziness of it. It's very drinkable, and it's almost hard to believe that this is beer and not an alcopop.

Tastes like if you took a Smirnoff Ice Raspberry and waved a magic wand to transform it into a beer. In a good way.

I'm psyched to try more Sour Ales, and will probably pick this one up again. There is a TON of sediment however, if that type of thing turns you off this may not be fore you. (529 characters)

Photo of paganbeast
2.86/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This is one of the first sour ales I've had, and I liked it fairly well.

The appearance is very reddish brown and actually quite appealing with a nice sustained head and delicate lacing.

The smells are almost overwhelming at first, as there is so much going on. Initially the sour cherries come barreling towards you followed by an entourage of sweet and sour notes.

It tastes quite sweet on the tongue and the sourness permeates the rest of your mouth. There's a feeling of drinking balsamic vinegar at times.

Has a very sticky and lasting mouthfeel, very difficult to shake. (580 characters)

Photo of rugbyfan13
3.16/5  rDev -17.7%
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. (1,041 characters)

Photo of CrossFitAlex
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Rose, rust, and amber with a crisp medium head

N - ale- sour / acidic, cherry, rose and floral scents.

T - YUM! nice balance of sour on the front of the palette w/ good carbonation. Well balanced ale flavors. Cherry and floral with an excellent sweet-sour mix. (I love flemish sours)

M - 4.5

D - Did I mention I love flemish sours? I think i'll have another... (369 characters)

Photo of massshortage
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought this on a whim. It was nicely priced and had a good description on the bottle.

It poured gloriously- a deep clear deep red with a fluffy white head.

Smelled like fermented candy. Notes of sour warheads with vinegar.

The taste was fruitier than expected. Sweet and like raspberry and cranberry. The sourness was on the low side, and basically no hop bitterness, which I expected for the style, I suppose. Anyway, I feel that it could have been better balanced with more sour, less sweet.

Very light bodied, with high carbonation. Nice.

Well, it was certainly drinkable, and not bad by any means. But it drank more like a cider with its fruitiness and lack of much malt or hop character. I like their intentions with the sweet and sour balance, but I could have used less sweet and more sour. (802 characters)

Photo of NotMyRealName
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is unusual. Although a Belgian ale, there's something that reminds me of a champagne. Fruity and smooth. Not hoppy. The flavor is not as complex as the best Belgian beers, but neither is it bland like Blue Moon Belgian White. Just like champagne makes a tasty occasional treat but is not an everyday drink, so too is Monk's Cafe. (339 characters)

Photo of yeastlovehoppiness_jess
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Poured a dark, ruby brown with a quickly-rising, bubbly two fingers of toasty beige head. The head settled down fairly quickly into a thinner film that left lacing quite high up on the large wine glass I drank from.

S - Rich, malty, dark fruit kind of fragrance. Faintly reminded me of both Branston Pickle (I know, weird!) and red wine. Black cherry or plum notes.

T - Dark fruit, cherry, or plum taste. Reminded me of red wine. Faint milk chocolate taste. It reminded me of that fleeting moment when you bite through the cherry candy into the tootsie-roll center of a tootsie-pop. Left a flat, acidic, coppery/metallic aftertaste on the tongue and lips.

M - Sour, of course, but sweet. Tart. The first sip made me pucker a little. Thin.

O - For my first sour, it has piqued my interest and taste buds. It's unlike anything I've ever had. Definitely an enjoyable sipping, dessert-like beer. (899 characters)

Photo of gmuller
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Murphy's Tulip.

Appearance - Deep reddish copper, head quick to dissipate, but had large bubbles while it lasted. Poured impressively clear in spite of the thick layer of yeast at the bottom.

Smell - Sour, vinegar. Ripe without smelling rotten. A mild but powerful smell. Smells like a still-living beer.

Taste - Sour of course, like vinegar at first but then like a yogurt. Woody flavors, ripe fruit.

Mouthfeel - Not bad, a little more bold then I would expect. Was hoping for a lighter feel, like something I would drink on a summer evening.

Drinkability - Very drinkable for the style. I wouldn't want to polish off more than 1 or two in a night, but pleasant. (699 characters)

Photo of ATraurig
2.63/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Brownish red color with a thin white head.

S:The wild yeast smell is most prevalent but not a sour smell. Hint of overripe apple. Not a very complex scent.

T: Reminds me a lot of Duchess (which I don't care for). I think "sour ale" is a bit of a misnomer. I wouldn't descride the taste as sour at all (can't even be said in the same breath as say, La Folie). Has a sweet, slightly cheap-tasting aftertaste.

M: Very effervescent and light. The carbonation tickles the mouth and nose.

D: I don't think I can get through a full bottle! Probably going to be a drain ale.

Overall: Not impressed at all. Like a cheap version of Duchess. (639 characters)

Photo of agent2550
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am sitting down with this beer right now.
It pours a uniform red with a finger of creamy head which continues to form well after it is poured: the tiny bubbles are fun to watch!
The taste is simple and delicious: sour with flavors reminiscent of cherry, mild bitterness, and kiwi.
Smells of funk and sour.
Smooth mouthfeel with light champaigne-like small bubbles.
Overall it is a very straightforward, clean, and simple beer. (429 characters)

Photo of Alequine
3.15/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Brown in color with no clarity due to the roasted malts – no see through but an attractive beer. Slight white quarter inch head after the pour. I would describe the body more as light. Even lacking substance. Slightly aromatic fruity character but too light to define. No hop taste, low bitterness, slightly vinegary, sour going in with a slight sweet finish. What was lacking in the substance I also noted in the finish. The first, second and third times that I drank this beer prior to this the beer was enjoyable. Today I drank this beer back to back with a 2011 Rodenbach which left me dissatisfied with this beer. It lacked flavor and mouth-feel and even in aroma. It is a good light bodied beer for the summer. (727 characters)

Photo of Symptomu
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

As a lover of sour brews I've developed a special affinity for this beers different take on sour. The color is a lovely clear but deep brown red and on tap the head is impressive. The sour aroma and even the tast of this beer is very lactic, yogurty, rather than acetic, vinegary. The mouthfeel is thin but not overly so. The sour lends to the brews drinkability without being too tangy, puckery. Flavors hint at cherry, crab apple, molasses, and plain yogurt. This is an excellent first timers sour though may not be much like its brethren. (541 characters)

Photo of mclynch
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Big creamy head that won't quit - but pour carefully towards the end lest chunks of blackish yuck end up in your glass, rising & falling like a lava lamp on the bubbles! Foam left on the glass was marred by this black gunk (yeast, trub, whatever?).
Smell was fruity, sweet & sour, & somewhat funky.
Taste was tart but not overly so, sour cherry, cheerfully carbonated, a nice food accompaniment and easy drinking beer.
Mouthfeel a little thin but enough going on with the taste and bubbles that it wasn't a factor.
Overall - will definitely buy this again. At about $10 for a 4 pack (in MA), it's a reasonable price for a blended sour ale. (651 characters)

Photo of Wheatafficianado
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at J.L. Beers in Sioux Falls. I have never had a beer in this category before but was pleasantly surprised. It was fruity, not too sour. It was dark with a nice effervescence in the tulip glass. Slightly tart but drank very well. Different and unlike other beers in that it wasn't hoppy or malty but was really characterized by the fruity sourness. It certainly adds a new category. One of the more expensive beers on tap at J.L. (445 characters)

Photo of MonkeyDunk
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Great brew, especially for the price compared to other flemish reds.

Pleasantly funky cherrywood smell. Warming mouthfeel, tastes like sour cherries. Mild rubbery bitterness that picked up as I kept drinking it, lingering for minutes after. Very flavorful and big character, will be buying this one again. (306 characters)

Photo of ktorsneyweir
4.14/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful burnt red color; sweet, slightly funky smell; very smooth on the tongue; cherry notes with a very subtle sour kick. Great for people that don't like that kick-you-in-the-face sour (189 characters)

Photo of BeerYain
4.14/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Here's the skinny: pours with little head and slight lacing. In my book, that's a good thing. I wanna get to the beer, not work my way through the foam. I would call this a typical representation of a Flemish sour - low alcohol and not too tart or sour for the casual drinker, but maybe underwhelming for the "seasoned" drinker. On a scale of 1 - 10 on the sour/tart scale, I'd probably give it a 4. Serve cold, but room temp ain't half bad either. (448 characters)

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,089 ratings.