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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very good

1,095 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,095
Hads: 2,740
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.61%
Wants: 79
Gots: 365 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. visit their website

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: 1,095 | Hads: 2,740
Photo of tone77
3.74/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a brown 11.2 oz. bottle. Has a very dark brown color with a 1 inch head. Smell is of raisins, dark fruits, some malts, a bit of sweetness. Taste is good, but less complex than the smell. Very wine like, unique, grapes, refreshing and tasty. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is an enjoyable beer.

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

Ruby red with a bit of a brown hue and quite clear. The fine, light beige head showed good retention and produced a solid sheet of lace on the glass. Malt sweetness and sour fruit (cherries) in the aroma, along with a hint of leather. Tart berry fruitiness balanced the moderate malt quite nicely. Some sour cherry as well, also earthy and woody. It finished with lingering raspberry tartness. Light bodied with some residual sugar that gave it a slightly syrupy feel. Very thirst quenching and highly drinkable. Even with the rest of the line-up at Monk's Cafe, I had to have a second glass before moving on.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 11.2oz bottle (room temp) a murky medium brown with a medium sized head of foam with little lacing.

The smell does indeed have strong sour fruity notes with some sensing of yeast as well.

The taste is of a nice sour peach and apricot at first but then it moves beyond that and becomes peppery...leaving some "heat" in my mouth and on my lips after I finish each sip. Not exactly what I was looking for in a Sour ale.

Bottom line: an interesting brew that I'm glad I got a chance to try but I don't know if I'd visit with this one again.

Thanks, bditty187!

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Photo of wordemupg
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

330ml bottle poured into tulip 14/3/13 bottle from IanSpindler IP trade

A looks dark brown until I hold it to the light where it has a dark amber glow, a finger of foam falls quickly ending up as a thin film that stays there leaving no lace

S burnt sugar and cider notes mix well with purple candy like grape aromas and earthy notes, has a nice sweet and sour thing going on, subtle green apple and sweet cherries

T not as much going in the mouth much to my surprise, just seems to be toned down a little compared to the nose, the sweet and sour is still working well for it though and I do like it but was expecting a little more after smelling it

M enters silky and gets creamy quickly, feels good, light but the bubbles give it lots of life and has some brown sugar and fruit on the finish

O I didn't know what to expect but I rather liked this one and it went down so easy, I could drink a few without getting board

Fairly random style but as far as I know they did a pretty good job, something I'd drink again for sure

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Photo of puboflyons
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From the 11.2 fl. oz. bottle. Sampled on July 9, 2012. It pours reddish-brown with a full puffy, beige head that generally lingers. The aroma has a good cherry quality to it along with Belgian yeast and Belgian malts balancing it off. The body is medium but it also had an astringent bite to it. The taste was tart and sour as promised but not as much as I thought it might be. There's a cherry flavor to it but overall it lingers for some time. The flavor is one I will remember.

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Photo of Viggo
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy red/orange, thick tan head forms, nice lacing, great retention, really sticky. Smell is sweet and sour, sugary, some caramel, some fruits, excellent funk. Taste is sour, some cherries, funky, fruits, nice toffee finish, more sourness as it goes down. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with high carbonation, nice Flanders ale. Thanks DrJay!

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a reddish brown color, murky, thin beige head to it. Good sour aroma, mildly woody, plenty bitter bite in the nose.

Taste, fairly sour, far from complex, not really a distinct fruit presence to this one (if I had to, I'd roll with cherry simply because its popular and given its appearance), any vinegar in the mouthfeel is minimal, stays sharp and acidic, carbonation is right where I want it to be for this style of beer. Toffee seems present.

You can't beat scoring these for $4 a bottle either. Easily one of the best in style for the price. One of the first beers one should try stateside if they are looking to get into 'sours'.

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Photo of Brad007
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark red color with a thick two-finger head into my glass, leaving a bit of lacing.

Aroma is tart with a strong hint of cherries and spice. Also has a bit of barnyard funk.

Taste is tart and sour upfront with a hint of cherry, apple and barnyard funk.

Mouthfeel is mainly tart and sourness that linger at the back of the throat. Well carbonated.

Interesting example of the style that has a lot of nice characteristics. Definitely a sipping beer and you should only try it if you are looking for something to challenge your palate.

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Photo of rudzud
3.69/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle of this at KJ Baarons on a whim. Always looking for a good Flanders...poured into a Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a wonderful super deep copper almost hazelnut in colour, crystal clear, with a massive almost 3 finger fluffy head that rapidly reduces into a thick and creamy half finger head that hangs around forever. Average side lacing too.

S - Typical Oud Bruin notes here. Some real nice subtle sour, vinegar notes. Very light sour cherry notes too.

T - Just like the nose with the addition of some really tasty barrel notes. Definately picking up on the oak as well as some green apple on the finish.

M - Its nearly undrinkable at first. Way, way too much carbonation resulting in a sharp feeling in the mouth. As this sits though things mellow out and it becomes much smoother. Leaves a very sugary afterfeel.

O - Overall this is a tasty flanders. There are lots for this style though and while this is tasty I'm still left seeking other, better examples of the style. Great appearance though.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a brown/ruby red color with a small off-white head. Head retention is OK, lacing is pretty good. It smells like tart cherries, vinegar, green apples, and a bit of funk and earth. The beer tastes like green apples, tart and sweet cherries, yeast, and a bit of brown sugar and funk. Great mix of both sweet and sour in this brew. Mouthfeel/body is light/medium, it's a bit creamy and slick with decent carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's very smooth and quite enjoyable. I wish I had another one to drink right now. I would definitely buy this again, I think it's a good overall Oud Bruin.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sour and over ripe fruits on the nose with a touch of lemon. Pours brilliant deep garnet under a vigorous, slightly tan tinted 5” white foam cap. A sweet and sour palate with fruit, lemon, light malts, a touch of barnyard, hints of brown sugar, cherry and vanilla. Medium body and above average carbonation. Overall well balanced between sweet and tart for a reasonably mild, drinkable Flanders Oud Bruin.

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Photo of glid02
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours a slightly hazy brownish-red color with a one-finger off-white head. The head dissipates quickly into a wispy layer of bubbles on top and a medium-sized ring around the glass. Lacing isn't very sticky.

Smells of tart cherries with a small amount of yeasty funk. It's almost like a light red wine when it's cold but as it warms it gets more of a malty character.

Prepare yourself, because the first sip is VERY sour. I wasn't expecting it to be this tart from the smell, and though it's not overpowering it certainly makes me pucker up a bit. Sour cherry and apple flavors mostly, with a vanilla-esque flavor - almost a bit woody.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a good thickness and active carbonation.

Drinkability is good once you're acclimated to the sourness. The flavors are clean and crisp and I had no problem finishing off one - although I'm not sure how much I like the prospect of having another.

Overall this is a great beer for the price. Pick this up if you see it, and the next time I'm in Philly I hope to stop in for a glass.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I drank this from the bottle into a chalice.

It pours a medium red brown with a light beighe head, not much retention or lacing.

The aroma is light vinegar and a little tart.

The taste is night and light and smooth. Well balanced with lots of different character. Not too overpowering and has a nice sweet finish and aftertaste. Mouthfeel is light, but highly drinkable.

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Photo of Gusler
4.37/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Draught @ O’Brien’s San Diego
Just goes to show you, that you never know what you will find in a great pub, owned and run by great beer loving people, a beer brewed in Belgium exclusively for a pub in Philadelphia, in a pub in California!

The beer as it sets in the Belgian Chalice a somewhat murky deep red to almost brown color, the head a medium tan color that is also creamy in texture and the size perfect, the lace forms a tight skirt to cover the glass. Nose is crisp and tart, the aroma of over ripe fruit, a hint of yeast, a bit musky, quite a pleasant sniff this beer. Start is lightly sweet then tart with the top middling in its feel to the palate, finish is austere in its acidity, the hops perfect in their spiciness, very dry after taste that lingers on and on. I was simply forced to have several glasses before I boarded my incredibly long flight back to Phoenix, geez I needed the energy to withstand that hour and five minute flight! Lol

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Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had a reddish-brown color and a cloudy texture. There was an inch of foamy, fairly long-lasting head. Excellent lacing.

S: A big shot of cherries in the nose, along with the standard sourness of the style.

T: Tasted of cherries, first and foremost, along with some malt, and a decent amount of yeast. Definitely sour, but not as much as other Flanders Oud Bruins. A smooth, focused flavor.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a crisp, vibrant finish. Medium-bodied.

O: A solidly made, drinkable beer.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter and received a murky brown body with a one-finger head that stuck around a long time and left a lace ring. A sour smell mixed with malts and some citric notes (closer to dark fruit but I'll leave it at that) combined with some caramel or butter - also a tad spicy. Very sour, but a good sour, with a smooth body and a bitter fruit taste. A little hop kick or spicy note (something like pepper) that jolts the tip of the tongue, then something akin to sweet malts and fruit (cherry being the most prevelant) hits the tastebuds as it is going down, making for a medium-bodied beer that is balanced and not rough. I don't like sour drinks period, but I thought this was a great beer. I don't know if I'd session it because it might leave a funny taste after a while (think too much OJ), but I recommend to all to try this beer.

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Photo of THECPJ
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes: Had on draft at Monk's Cafe thanks to Maggie for DIPA Trivia Question. : )

appearance: dark red / brown with a 1 finger minimal head

smell: sour, tart, cherries, apples,

taste: sour, tart, refreshing, cherries,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, medium body,

overall: really impressed how refreshing this beer was. So glad I got to try it and had a great time at Monk's.

the CPJ

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle that I grabbed a month back at State Line.

A: In my Unibroue tulip, this beer sits a very regal crimson with red highlights. A gorgeous 3-finger off-white head caps this, and it leaves some gorgeous lace in it's wake.

S: Vinegar up front. In fact, it singed my nostrils! There's sweetness present as well, malt vinegar in character. Sweet with oak and some vanilla, this is pretty solid. There's a mild spicy component in the back, almost like white pepper.

T: Opens up tart with vinegar with and appreciable sweetness, fruity in nature. Truly candy-like with enough sweetness and tartness to go around, this one's fairly simple but tasty at the same time. Vanilla sweetness appears towards the finish

M: Light in body with a great sweetness, this beer could use a bit more mid-palate. Finish is great

D: At $3, this beer is a steal and I'll grab more.

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Photo of ccrida
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured in my Belgique tulip, Monk's Café is a clear ruby with a very tight light tan head, leaving pretty nice lace.

Smell is very vinous, sweet malt and vanilla notes.

Taste is pretty heavy on the acetic acid vinegar, I think maybe an increase over having it a year ago, but maybe not, there's still a nice balance from the richness of the sweet malt. Strong oak and grape mid-palate before a pretty clean finish. Very intense, like the smell.

Mouthfeel has very creamy carbonation, which helps keep the body light and cut the viscosity of the malt, oiliness of the acids and tannic bite.

Drinkability is pretty good, this has held up well, maybe improved a bit after a year in the cellar. I think the acidity has increased, and while it's still to sweet and cider vinegary for my taste in the style, I think the age has helped it, as I don't recall being to pleased with the first bottle when I bought it (and ultimately busted out a little later in that night then I should have, so who knows).

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Photo of xnicknj
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at Monk's - review done from notes.

A - Nice clear reddish color which leaves sticky lacing all along the rim of the glass.

S - Dashes of fruit and coriander populate the nose, along with hints of sourness.

T - The beer almost instantly refreshes the drinker despite the sweet and tart flavors which swirl around the palate. Dark fruit and sour flavors glance the tongue without becoming overwhelming. Lactic sourness rounds everything out with a dry, bitter finish.

M/D - Bubbly and smooth, you can't help but desire another one, especially with its surprisingly smooth and refreshing qualities.

This was one of the first sours I ever tried years ago, and the delicious qualities are still ringing true to this day.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz tap pour into a stemmed glass at bnieman's Dad's house before watching some Brew Masters on Discovery.

A - Beautiful mahogany amber in color with a light tan head. Good retention with some thick lace clinging to the glass.

S - Crisp amber malts with a sweet caramel aroma. A hint of vinegar sourness that is very nice. Good, but a little cold in aroma.

T - A touch of metallic flavor to the amber toasted malts. Nice mild sourness with a little hint of the awesome vinegar I love in this style.

M - Crisp and light-bodied with a smooth follow-through and light sour finish.

D - This will be dangerous on tap in the basement. I could drink this all night if I didn't have to drive (aka didn't feel guilty of emptying the keg).

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a very beautiful deep crimson color. Transparent body but quite dark. Head is a beauty. Lumpy and thick, the head is huge and retains perfectly. The head would rather sit atop the beer throughout than lace the glass. Overall, a pretty looker.

S-Smells wild and sour. Plenty of intensity in the nose. Tart cherry and hints of woodiness. A vinous aspect can be detected as well.

T-A little less sour than I was hoping. Good balance via the sweetness. Tart cherries and a tame wooden character are the most prevalent flavors. Light spiciness and hints of vanilla. Funky and tart and pretty tasty to boot.

M-Lighter bodied with a light prickly level of carbonation. Easy to sip. Smooth but not creamy.

O/D-For under $4 a bottle (11.2 oz) this is not a bad gig. I would recommend this to someone who has not tried a Sour before. Won't blow you away and it lacks complexity, but it is quite tasty. A success.

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Photo of barczar
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep burgundy with ruby highlights and a solid half inch cream head that slowly dissipates, coating the glass.

Aroma is balsamic vinegar, cherries, and must. There's a touch of barnyard funk.

Sweet cherry forms the base of the flavor profile, with heavy vinegar and cider tones at the finish. Toasty oak becomes evident as it warms, along with a but of horse blanket.

Body is on the light side, with fairly high carbonation.

Overall, a nice starter sour. The sweetness of the malt provides relief from the vinegary sourness. A bit too sweet for my tastes.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the Oak Cafe. It's got a pretty solid, burnt ruby color with a mahogany base. It seems to be somewhat translucent, although the bar I'm in is pretty dimly lit and therefore the opacity is hard to judge accurately. Basically no head on top of this one - just a small, beige ring that only stays for a minute or so before floating away.

Juicy, ripe apples and cherries outline the aromatic profile, or at least the first sniff. Residual sweetness backs up the apples nicely; a very faint tartness can be detected at times, though this is still telling me that this brew will be more sweet than sour. Time grants the ability for the beer to open up a bit; berries, darker cherries, acetic acid, light vinegar, and some mild barrel/oak.

Funk in the aroma is definitely there, but in small quantities. There's a slight "wet hay" and faint must character, but it's minimal compared to some other Belgian sours. This follows through into the flavor profile, as the first sip contains almost no funk at all, rather it's pretty heavy on the fruits - cherries, grapes, red apples. Vibrant, zesty, and juicy are good words to describe the flavors.

This beer is mildly tart, but only for a brief moment. The residual-like sugary sweetness creeps in pretty steadily and washes out any hope of this beer actually being "sour", despite the name. More vinous notes come in, although the more I drink, the more it just seems like heavy grapes rather than actual wine-barrel notes. The finish is fruit juice-like with fading cherries and grape skins, and maybe a hint of oak. Still no funk, sad to say. Snappy, crisp mouth feel, wet and slick; thin bodied with medium-heavy carbonation.

Pretty good beer, drinkability is insanely high - a 5.5% ABV beer that tastes like bold fruit juice. I would have like to see a bit more tartness or funk, as this one was kind of mild all around. But hey, perhaps that's the style they were going for. Still a nice drinking sour ale as long as you're not expecting it to be too sour (or too funky).

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,095 ratings.