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: 2,701
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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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,089 | Hads: 2,701
Photo of eallured
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served At brasserie V in Madison. 25cl "buffalo" tulip. Tan fluffy head sits atop a deep ruby beer. Head dissapates moderately.
Smells of sour cherries a little and a light venegar scent that isn't unpleasant. Taste is fairly sweet, this always catches me off guard because I am prepared for something more sour. A rich malty but not grainlike taste, a bit caramelly, not toasty or bready. Sour cherry is also there a little bit. Very faint metallic taste, less than other oude bruins (read dutchess).
Mouthfeel is fairly thick, a little cloying that isn't quite cut through by the acid. Medium carbonation typical of the style
drinkability suffers from the sweetness without a cleansing sourness, although sourness can dull the palate too much. I'd say I could drink a lot of these but it doesn't prevent me from drinking others. (830 characters)

Photo of mbrandon2w
4.26/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful ruby red color. Thin tan head.
Smell is sweet malt, light cherries, and a touch of acetic acid.
Taste is sweet cherry, lightly sour.
Smooth and easily drinkable. Fairly high carbonation makes it lively and helps lift all the flavors off the tongue, making it more drinkable. (285 characters)

Photo of jcurtis55
3.32/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was my first experience with sour beer. I enjoyed the sweet and sour taste, but had a hard time getting past the vinegar like aroma.

It starts with a tart fruit flavor and sweetens a bit on the back end. I'll try other sour beers, but I just had too much trouble getting past the funky aroma of this one. (310 characters)

Photo of mobyviacheslov
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Let this one breathe!

A - Deep, brown hue with hints of red when held up to the light. Very thin head that disolves away rapidly.

S - Subtle hints of caramel and a fruit tartness, with a modest odor of malt-vinegar. Immediately after opening the bottle, the smell of vinegar was overwhelming. I let this one breathe about 20 minutes, and the smells all seemed to mellow a lot. However, the malt-vinegar smell still dominates.

T - After getting a little nervous from the vinegar nose, the beer was a wonderful surprise. The sourness was not vinegary at all, but a super-easy drinking sour-patch kid flavor. The sugars were a perfect counter to the mild sourness (it claims mild on the bottle, and is not lying...); the beer was not overpowered by either sweet or sour, and truly delivered a sour candy effect. There is a refined bitterness, and many subtle woody flavors hide in the malt, but require you to hold the sip for a while and play with it a little.

M - Very thick and creamy, almost gummy, with a pleasant mild carbonation that brings out the sour flavors. Leaves a not-unpleasant gummy feeling in the mouth that keeps the finish going for a while.

D - This truly is a mild flemish red. While I didn't taste it before letting it breath, I would guess it is a little rough immediately after opening. After 20 min, however, it settles in to a tasty yet safe sour ale...probably a good choice as an introduction to the style.

Serving Type: 11.2oz bottle, 55 degrees, snifter (1,487 characters)

Photo of marikoangel
3.11/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a tall Saison 1900 tulip glass at Amsterdam

A: It poured a deep dark red. It was clear, but hard to see through. There was a nice little head that retained a nice thick lacing on top of the beer.

S: Light scents, a little metallic sour, cherries.

T: It started with a crisp zing to it but smoothed out quickly into a juicy mild. There's a nice sour finish to it. The flavors are light, and there is nothing bold or catching to it. It has almost a watery aftertaste. Sour cherries.

M: Crisp but smooth

D: It was very disappointing. I love sours, and felt this was a weak representation. I've had beers not in the sour category that had more sour to them. It might be a good beer for someone who is just getting into sours or just isn't looking for that wonderful kick you can get from them. As a whole it is drinkable, even if it's one I wouldn't have again. (874 characters)

Photo of Mises85
4.92/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This is the first sour beer/flanders ale I have tasted. Served in a tulip glass at around 45 degrees.

Appearance: chestnut brown (I was expecting a red color) with 2-3 fingers. Head retention was quite good and didn't dissipate quickly.

Smell: What a delight! Cherries, touch of vinegar, some creaminess, red wine, some sourness, soda water.

taste: effervescent, seltzer like, cherries, mild acidity, winey, some sourness, touch of oak.

Mouthfeel: light and refreshing.

Verdict; What an amazing beer and unbelievable flavor! This is something I could kick back on a slow day. Not hoppy at all but was amazed that even an extreme hophead like me could enjoy this. Definitely not the last sour beer I will try. (713 characters)

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. (772 characters)

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

s - on hand pump at monks.

a - copper color brown, and a slight head.

s - sour orange, and sour some more.

t - all i can say is it was very flavorful, and sour red. little alcohol, and cherry.

m - not too much carbonation, and a excellent finish.

d - next time i would have a second one, a great session beer. (314 characters)

Photo of thstevens12
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Hazy brown with reddish tinge at the edges. Thin off-white head clings to the edges of the beer.
4

Smell: Tart cherries, estery notes, and a whiff of wheat. I can also detect a touch of lactose and grassiness.
4

Taste: The initial impression is sweet cherry, think pie, with white sugar and ester flavors right behind. The finish is a mild lactic sourness that is refreshingly dry.
4

Mouthfeel: Thin mouthfeel with just a touch of stickiness. Wine-like drying finish.
4

Drinkability: Tartly refreshing and not overly sweet. Highly drinkable.
4.5 (566 characters)

Photo of Buttermaker
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is lovely beer and perfect as an aperitif on an early summer evening. Light bodied, perfect sweet and sour balance. It's a great introduction to sours/old browns for someone that's not likely to try one on their own (your wife for example). Very seshable.

Recommended Music Pairing: Vince Guaraldi - In Person (316 characters)

Photo of HipHop5
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poor a medium to dark red Mahogany color.

3 fingers of light beige and creamy head that hang around for some time.

Heavy but perfect carbonation.

Mild dry fruits and funky on the first nose. Acidic lactic tart apple and cherries as it develops in the glass.

Some Oak ,raisin and tart apple, cherries open up after 10 minutes.

Super dry up front with medium light body. Extremely thirst quencher although a bit sweet in the finish with a heavy dose of candy sugar caramel sweetens. Lightly sour and tart in the middle but sweetness covers most of sourness. Well balanced and a perfect introduction to sours. Cherries and musky metallic note are revealed as it warms up a bit more. good sticky lacing.

This is a bit expensive but a great side track brew for the summer. If you ask me what I would prefer instead of a glass of champagne, this would do the trick. Sweet and dry at the same time. The blend of two sours makes this an extremely balance beer. (959 characters)

Photo of XxNitExX
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into Tulip

A- Pours a deep ruby colored brown with a very lively tan head. Loads of bubbles!

S- Smells of rich malt with a dark sweetness. Also has a sour component that finishes and stings the nose.

T- Sweet sugar goodness! Starts with an immediate sweet sugary taste, but melds into a fruit (cherry grape maybe) that finishes with a malty backbone to remind you this is a beer. Get a little sour funk, more acidic than funky.

M- I don't know why but this just feels good in my mouth. Its like an effervescent feeling but not in a bad way.

Overall if you do not mind a sweeter sour, this is a great beer. A very good entry into the world of sours, but no where near the complexity you can find in some of the better sours. (748 characters)

Photo of JHarris1717
3.79/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a really nice summer sipping beer. Peter Kate and I all got this and liked it. Smells great. Good sour, would try again . Went well with burger and chips at TJ's. I would also try other sours to compare but it is definitely not my usual preference. (256 characters)

Photo of elinash
4.34/5  rDev +13%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Monk's Cafe Flemish Red is brewed by Van Steenberge in Belgium. Poured into my Fin Du Monde glass at hand.

It pours very dark with no head, only a light ring of lacing around the edge.
The aroma is amazing, full of vitamin c/ acscorbic acid, vinegar and sweet malt. Tart cherries come out in the aroma and in the immediately following taste profile.
The taste is malt-rich with tons of fruit and sweet and sour flavors. It is wonderfully tangy and smooth at the same time.
Mouthfeel is soft with the sweetness predominating.
It finishes with rich fruit flavors and high acidity. (583 characters)

Photo of thisisshsas
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Brown Red Coloring. Medium Head. Sour taste apparent but not overwhelming or unappetizing. Light aftertaste that is a little dry but not particularly bad. Overall a very balanced beer. I don't have a ton of experience with this style but if most beers taste like this I certainly will try them on a regular basis. (313 characters)

Photo of Aguirre
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great looking pour. A thick, bubbly, lingering head, which I'm not used to in sour beers. Lacing all the way down the glass.

Smell is not impressing me. Basically just apple cider vinegar and malt.

The taste is better. The sourness is very mild and this beer is actually quite sweet, there's a strong brown sugar flavor coming out. I also feel like there's some spiciness (cinnamon?) and some sherry flavors.

It's nice and bubbly, but a sipper for sure. I found this beer to be too sweet tasting and too cider vinegary smelling to give it higher marks. It certainly wasn't bad, but I don't think I'll purchase it again. (623 characters)

Photo of jmunsters
1.65/5  rDev -57%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Bottle poured into a Ommegang chalice.

A- Deep red with a fairly good half finger head that stuck to the glass.

S - Tart, fake cherry flavor like you would find in candy. Not real cherries.

T - Quite tart and sour up front. A good does of brett makes you pucker a bit. This follows to a malty sweetness and then it gets horrible. Acetone and metal and battery acid. I spat it out.

M - Light carbonation leads to a decent mouth and creaminess. Very tolerable mouth feel albeit the taste.

O - This tastes like it will cause cancer. I honestly can not believe the fact that the in-store district rep told me it was better than Rodenbach's Grand Cru. I am absolutely appalled. It does not hold a candle to any sour Flemish I've ever had. I am holding off on all 1.0 ratings with the possibility I had a bad or mishandled batch, but this is honestly the worst Red Flemish I have ever had. This is sour nail polish remover with cherry flavoring. (944 characters)

Photo of alexanderplatz
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Like Rodenbach Classic Red this is an easy to drink sour beer. The flavor is slightly tart, sweet and dominated by berry flavors. It is not hoppy at all. Descriptions of sour beers often feature terms evoking barnyard odors, which to me implies an acquired taste that may be not for me. But I didn't find Monk's to have any sort of challenging/weird/offensive flavors at all. If I had to use a single word to describe it, I would say "tangy."

I find one bottle very drinkable but the sweetness is such that it isn't the sort of beer I would drink two of back to back. (569 characters)

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

11.2oz bottle into a pinot glass.

Instantly hit with strong aroma of apple cider. Slight reduced vinegar on the nose.

Mahogany in color with some lacing. Big head at first and quickly falls out.

Sweet apple cider on the palate. Sweet on the tip of the tongue and more herbal towards the back.

Mouthfeel is pleasant. Very spritzy on the tongue. Very pleased with the long after taste.

Rather drinkable. Would pair wonderfully with hard cheeses. A great beer for someone who may think he/she is too good for beer. (517 characters)

Photo of Johnnyfacelift
4.56/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The first thing you smell from the bottle is the sourness, but when you pour you pickup more of the Belgian yeast character. It's a deep mahogany, crystal clear with a very prominent foamy head... lots of carbonation! The flavor of this beer is actually much more sweet than it is sour, I was expecting a big puckering sour and it tastes very rich and full for being a medium % ABV, cheers to the brewers! There's some nice raisin notes along with plum. Does not leave any aftertaste and is very drinkable. This is the first real "sour" ale that I've had other than the fruit lambic styles but I could see myself exploring more of the sour beer universe. Excellent! (665 characters)

Photo of demon
3.94/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Let me start off by saying that I enjoyed this beer.

Poured with absolutely no head. Gorgeous amber-brown color. Light fruity and acidic smell.

The taste was good and not overpowering for a sour. In fact, I could imagine throwing one of these down pretty quick on a warm day. This beer is VERY sweet. So sweet, the sweetness almost overpowers the sourness. In terms of flavor, this beer was singing "raspberry" to me the whole time. It looks like other reviewers were calling this "cherry" but that didn't register for me. The other flavor notes were very disguised behind the prominent sweetness. I could barely discern any malty or hoppy notes, nor even taste the alcohol, really.

This beer would be good introduction to sour beers since it isn't so sour as to be off-putting. But for those who are looking for the next and greatest sour, you might be a little let down with this one.

At its pricepoint (paid $4 for a single 11.2 oz), I couldn't imagine myself buying a six of these to share with friends. But on those odd secluded nights where you just want to try something different, this was a good choice. (1,120 characters)

Photo of DragYourBone
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
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. (955 characters)

Photo of Chronofied
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Cellar temperature, poured in a tulip glass.

Appearance - Brown around the edges, but a dark cherrywood in the center when held to the light. A little bit of orange tint at the bottom. Head didn't stand long, and left very little lace. Relaxed carbonation visible.

Smell - Heavy yeast on the nose, remniscent of the sour fermentation smell of wine grapes. Definite acidity. A little bit more fruit, like a prune/raisin smell as well.

Taste - Sour grape taste right away. Prune and light malt surface. The finish has a hint of carameled apple, sweet and sour. Actually somewhat rich in a strange, sweet and sour way.

Mouthfeel - Way lighter than expected. Really light, more carbonation that the appearance suggested, enlivens the brew on the tongue. Consistency is almost like that of sparkling juice.

Drinkability - It isn't a chore to finish a 750 bottle, but better to share one with someone. It is light enough to easily drink a good portion, but rich enough that one or two servings is enough.

N.B. - I feel like someone blended beer with a prune flavored Izze, and it actually turned out well. That is a major understatement, but that's what I thought of when I first tried this beer. (1,196 characters)

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

appearance - super creamy, lightly tan head. almost like melted ice cream. dark brown, explosively bright blood red when held up to the light. super clear.

smell - vinegary sourness, vinous (like a funky white wine), apple skin, cranberry, cherry.

taste - mild sourness up front. lots of fruit, mainly apple. no bitterness to speak of. super clean finish, the flavor almost evaporates, leaving you with a juicy wetness. light, refreshing, sweet, sour...it's pretty straightforward. not much funk in the taste at all. definitely a beginner's sour, but also something i could drink every day. i paired it with a french onion soup. the saltiness and beefy stock married very well with the tartness and juicy, fruity flavors of the beer.

mouthfeel, champagne-like mousse of carbonation as soon as it hits your tongue, then it gets very wet and light as it washes down. awesome for cleansing the palate. (901 characters)

Photo of Patrick_E_Sweeney
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a beer tulip. Color is a very dark amber. Almost three fingers of cream colored head with a slight red tinge. Extremely light aroma, slightly sour and fruity. A bit like an extremely watered-down apple cider vinegar (not at all unpleasant, just the best I could do to describe it).

Taste comes on strong and complex. Pretty much no malt, very little hops. There is a great deal of acidity, reminiscent of citrus fruit. Quite a decent bite that lingers for several seconds. As the acidic, carbonation feeling fades, a dry, slightly hoppy aftertaste persists.

Interesting beer, a bit like a less-sweet lambic. They aren't kidding when they call it sour. Not something I'd drink every day, but certainly a repeat customer. (734 characters)

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