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

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

Style: Flanders Oud Bruin

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

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.

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User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,166 | Ratings: 3,027
Photo of GuyFawkes
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From undated notes.

Deep purple/brown colored liquid.

Light passes, but this is murky.

Nice off-white head; patchy but thick lacing.

Tart cherry nose. Inviting.

Medium thin mouthfeel.

Tastes of cherries & grapes; mild tartness but full flavor. Very quaffable for a sour, but sour nonetheless. Tasty.

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Photo of Troy-Hawaii
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought a 11.2 oz can Tamuras $4.23
Smell of sour cherries
Dark brown color
Medium mouthfeel
Medium carbonation
Very sour, tart taste of cherries,
Overall it is what it says it is and that is sour. Not for me but rating it on what it is.

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Photo of VoxRationis
4.39/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Decanted from an 11.2 oz (330 ml) bottle into a customer taster pint; 30 JQ printed on label (should anyone know what the code represents).
A: Pours a crystal clear, dark copper color with beautiful ruby highlights, a one to two inch, wheat colored head which slowly resolves to a cap, and tendrils and rings of lacing.
S: Tangy with what I thought was a whiff of lactic acid, but based on the taste, no. Aromas of cherry, berries (raspberry, blackberry (especially), maybe boysenberry), molasses, and honey.
T: Sweet and very slightly tart with flavors largely following the nose. Really having a hard time between cherry and berry. Very minimal bitterness appreciable in the mix.
M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.
O: Goodness, this is an enjoyable beer. Just a complex blend of gentle sourness and fruity goodness. Truly surprised by the low ratings of the site. My suggestion: try it again, you must have had a bad bottle.

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Photo of Myros
4.24/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I’m surprised at the overall rating for this beer. Maybe it’s just me and a few others, but I think this is a fantastic brew. I feel in good company though as a panel of expert judges rated this beer as a high exceptional.
I’ve had this twice on tap in Tacoma with some time in between, and both times come away impressed. Due to being in social situations I didn’t take notes, so I can’t in good conscience give note details. However, in broad terms this beer is beautiful in appearance with a well balanced winey earthy cherry sour flavor that is complex and easy to drink simultaneously. I think it’s a great Oud Bruin!

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Photo of JamFuel
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Monks in Philadelphia.

Pours a clear, dark brownsih red with soft, frothy head.

Smell is sweet and sour with notes of grass, cherries and a little bit raspberry.

Taste is tart, with a malty sweetness anchoring all the cherries and raspberries. One of these Belgian sours that are so well made and balanced, they manage to be thirst quenching and simple, yet complex and rich at the same time.

Mouthfeel is thin to medium with good, spritzy carbonation.

Overall, a terrific sour, goes well with food or as it is.

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Photo of TheDoctor
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Serving: Bottle
Bottle code but no discernable date

This one pours a fairly opaque mahogany with a billowing tan head. Absolutely gorgeous. It has a constant finger of living head and sheets of fine lacing.
There is a sharp oaky, acetic smell immediately upon pouring, with sugary bread and spices with a fruity tartness and light funk on top.
Wowee! The flavor made me gasp out loud and then immediately sit back with my eyes closed and take another drink. And another. It has an amazing set of different levels of tartness, flower nectar, fields in spring, spiced bread and cherry sweetness that then decrescendos into earthiness and finally a medicinal hoppy smack at the end.
It is refreshing and perfectly tart with a medium body and a slow-lingering bitter finish that excellently stages each subsequent sip. As it warms the sweetness comes through more and more prominently. It becomes enough that I could see it being better if it was subdued a tiny bit, but at the same time the balance of the sweetness and sourness is really what made me like it so who knows...
Like all beers of this caliber I'm struck by how it can so completely be complex and simple at the same time. I'm glad I picked this beer up.

I'm not big into sours, and might have passed right over it if not for wanting to try something different. Also, looking at other reviews I see I must've really liked this one. I will keep an eye out for it and try to rate it again with some more perspective to see what I think and if I still think it's specatacular. This one was definitely my best experience with a sour. I've really liked a handful, but few have left me wanting another or thoroughly enjoying each sip. Was this because it was by chance my "breakthrough" tart beer? Was it because it isn't sour enough (a point a few reviewers made) and maybe I like it precisely because it isn't sour? Am I confusing the beer being balanced when it is just overly simple? Does it really matter? Very nice beer. I'll have it again.

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Photo of Guppy314
3.76/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a bottle, pours as a clear dark brown with a TALL khaki head (lots of carbonation). Aroma of dark fruitiness. Taste is immediately of sour cherry, but it's not overwhelming with an aftertaste of sweet malt (essentially no hops). Overall, it's fun, but it's just kind of a novelty beer ... rather that regular drinking.

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Photo of BlackBeerPirate
4.06/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Taste: complex, tangy dark fruit, some sour, tart, berries, bread, drinkable. Same with the nose. Deep reddish mahogany hue, semi clear, delicate head. Medium body.

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Photo of JackRWatkins
3.13/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

A: Pours with a (very) frothy, off-white, one finger head (that recedes quickly) and a deep mahogany body, slight lacing.
S: Subtle malt notes and aromas of balsamic vinaigrette with an understated savory aroma accenting it.
T: Very fruit forward, with an emphasis on grape and cherry and a slight malt backbone. It is tart, but I wouldn't really call it sour.
M: Under-carbonated, with a slightly silky, medium body.
O: It's enjoyable, but definitely unremarkable. It would likely please at a party as an accessible alternative to more traditional beer. But in the realm of Flemish sour ales, it's not even in the top five I would say.

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Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 11.2 fluid ounce bottle into glass. Stamped on label is '30CQ 13:57'.
Ruby brown colored body. Light tan bubbly head. Good coverage of lacing.
Aroma of tart cherries and bready malt.
Rather a mix of tart dark fruit taste - cherry, raisin, plum and green apple. Some pale malt too. No oak or vinous aspects, no funk. Tart and just mildly sour. Sweetness is restrained. Palate cleansing at end of drink profile, rather dry.
Light mouth feel, with good carbonation. Easy to drink. I can understand the 4+ ratings, as this is a very pleasant beer to drink, but it lacks complexity. I would certainly drink this beer again, especially in a restaurant setting with proper food pairings.
An unchallenging, but pleasant and refreshing to drink, mildly sour old ale.

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Photo of PatrickCT
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a nice enough beer and I would be happy to drink it by the gallon with some friends and food. A little on the sweet side but with good developed flavor of sour cherries, some oak and mildly sour. Not the best but a fun little Flanders.

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Photo of Themorg826
4.36/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Look- Dark brown color, zero clarity. When poured, 1/3 inch of head, white in color.

Smell- Very sweet, almost candy-like smell. Zero hop smell. Essences of berries and cherry

Taste- Muted sour taste; cherry and raisin are prevalent when it first hits the mouth. Same fruit after taste; no hop taste. Rich undertone, extremely approachable.

Feel- High carbonation, nice fruity finish. Palate sensation is heightened by the tinge of sour flavor followed by fruit taste.

Overall- Phenomenal beer; would drink again.

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Photo of Shade1951
4.51/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First thing - this beer smells wonderful! Sweet and tart, fruity. The pour is also great. The head is fluffy in the way that egg whites are when stirred into a cloud - only in this case tan. Flavor is also sweet/tart. Very appealing. It's not as sour as most sour ales I've tried - but that doesn't count against it in this case. I find no off tastes, nothing I would consider artificial or medicinal.

This is a very good beer - tasty and refreshing. If it were just a couple more percent ABV, it would be close to perfect for me.

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Photo of the_awesometeer
4.31/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

First off I am not sure what is up with my bottle but I think half of my beer was just foam. It was a chunky, foamy head that lasted a very long time. The beer is a very dark brown. The beer smells of sour cherries with mild bready malt aromas. The taste has a variety of different fruits but cherry is the strongest flavor. The sour starts off strong but fades. There is a nice carbonation to the beer

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Photo of AyatollahGold
4.62/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. can into a wine glass.
Pours out very dark in color. Darker brown that almost looks like a barleywine or even darker. Has a nice tan head that comes but then goes fairly quickly. The smell is very tart and acidic.
Tastes like a cherry blow pop. Flavor coats the mouth and stays.
Overall, this is one of my favorite sours.

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Photo of HoppingMadMonk
4.17/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Clear reddish brown color,champagne like carbonation and a similar feel. Aroma is malt,cherries,dried fruit, and a small amount of spice. Taste is identical,sweet first but then a sour note shows up. Has an almost balsamic vinegar taste but it works really well. This might be too sweet for some but I really enjoyed this one

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Photo of Squire
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very attractive deep ruby color with gold highlights. Large, clumpy, bumpy voluminous Khaki colored cap with good lacing.

Clean, sweet aroma of tart cherries.

Taste on entry is a restrained tartness that refreshes rather than puckers and serves as a launching pad for the complex flavors that follow. Mostly what I get is a complex array of toffee malt and a lot of dark fruit sensations that don't disclose what variety of fruit (figs, black plums and dates come to mind) because everything is so seamlessly melded together. An overriding taste though is dark ripe cherries. A tart sort of dark cherry but cherry none the less. These flavors start together, stay together and last into the aftertaste.

Full texture with balancing carbonation.

For an Oud Bruin this tastes remarkably fresh. Maybe it always does, this is my first one of these, just an observation. Some other sour ales I've had (domestic and import) have an almost throat stripping acidity and the mild tartness of this one enhances it's drinkability.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.71/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I know I've reviewed this before but I guess I just haven't gotten around to typing up those handwritten notes yet.

CAN: Purchased as part of a 4 pack in Denver, CO for $14.99 USD. 11.2 fl oz format. Standard pull-tab. Silver colour with classy depictions of a monk and a barrel.

5.5% ABV. "Flemish sour ale." Served cold into a goblet and allowed to come to room temperature over the course of consumption.

HEAD: Gorgeous in colour and consistency. Smooth, creamy, and soft in appearance with a fluffy consistency and an apt khaki colour. Looks luscious and inviting, and lasts a good ~10+ minutes, leaving light lacing on the sides of my goblet as it recedes.

BODY: Deep glowing ruby amber colour. Nontransparent. Semitranslucent. No yeast/lees are visible within.

Looks good for the style; I'm eager to try it.

AROMA: Vivid cherries are the first thing I notice, backed by pie crust, caramel, bready malts, and delicate fruity ale yeast esters. Sourness seems quite mild, maybe a 4-5/10 in terms of intensity. Cherry pie comes to mind, but this seems sweeter than something like Rodenbach, almost hinting at a more jammy cherry presence.

No off-notes, booze, or hoppy notes are detectable.

Aromatic intensity is moderate. Suggests a sweet and sour ale with a nice cherry presence and high drinkability.

I'm not finding any oak or wood barrel notes, unfortunately, and I think it'd do well with more bacterial presence and concomitant sourness.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Has a pleasing soft and luscious presence on the palate in spite of its acidity. Cherries, pomegranate seeds, and jammy fruit as well as fruity esters fill out this sweet yet mildly sour ale. Bacteria lends it a modest 4/10 sourness, and I think I'm finding both pediococcus and lactobacillus. Apple cidre, green apple.

More sourness and bacteria would help step this up to the next level, and the absence of any oak/wood barrel flavours is a missed opportunity. Nevertheless, it's well-balanced in spite of its sweetness and I find it very pleasant and approachable for a style that at its worst is anything but.

Depth of flavour is merely average. Flavour intensity is mild; it's a mellow expression of the style if only because it doesn't commit fully to the sourness. I find no acetic/vinegary notes. No metallic off-flavour from the can or any other off-flavour.

Smooth, wet, refreshing, medium-bodied, well-carbonated. Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, harsh, rough, or scratchy. Very mellow silky fare.

OVERALL: It's less defined than the best expressions of the style, shying away from commitment to sour cherry, tartness, sourness, and bacterial notes in favour of a more crowdpleasing sweet fruity approach. I absolutely like it and would happily recommend it to friends, but I'd sooner have a Liefmans or La Folie when in the mood for a good Oud Bruin, and this isn't any less expensive. I'll enjoy finishing off the 4 pack I got and would be happy to have this beer any day of the year. It's a classic Belgian ale with a great fruity core...liquid cherry pie, anyone?

High B (3.71) / GOOD

10.06.17 2nd impression from another can:

Dried cherries. Faint jammy sweetness. Ample lactic acid and concomitant sourness.

Texture is slightly coarse and dry.


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Photo of ScottKazmi
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A wonderful Flemish ale. A reddish brown color with a vinegary nose. Sour at first and finishes sweet. The sweetness does cloy, but the next sip takes it away. Overall, a great starter beer for thise looking into Flemish ales or sours in general.

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

The appearance is a dark brown colored body with a thick two fingered white foamy head that dies at a moderate pace and leaves a big foamy thick lacing gracing the sides of the glass. The smell is sour and tart and somewhat sweet cherries, maybe some apples that seem slightly spiced. The taste is sweet, sour and tart that seems to be all at the same time; sweet sour sticky apple cherry aftertaste, the finish is somewhat quick and sticky. The palate sits about a medium and really doesn’t show much sessionability to it as well as it shows some decent sipping aspects to it. Carbonation is very subdued - I like it. Overall, to me, the first time I had this I thought it was just a decent beer but the more I drank through that four pack the more I realized that is a stellar beer. It's a style that one has to warm up to.

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Photo of IgnatiusReilly
4.17/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deep red/brown color with massive head retention. Tart, vinegar sweet smell. Mildly sour taste, vinegar tang, apple. Effervescent, fizzy mouthfeel. Sweet refreshing finish. Very satisfying.

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Photo of Soloviev
4.75/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Delicious... definitely worth trying at leas once. Not overly sour, it has a definite grape & fruit taste, reminds me of red wine in a way. Really unique beer and great sour.

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Photo of sokol_1993
3.89/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Got a can from Calvert Woodley in DC.
A very refreshing oud bruin. Brownish red, with a good amount of head. Strange smell at the beginning, somewhat like a dishwashing soap. Sour at the beginning, but strong malty backbone. Excellent tartness for a hot day.

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Photo of EMV
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Dogfish tulip

L: Opaque dark ruby brown pour. Massive foamy white head. The glass was coated with lacing.

S: Apple cider vinegar... sweet, tart, and a bit of funk. Dark fruits.

T/F: Good tartness... some vinegary notes... not overly sweet. Vanilla/oak and dark cherries. Apple cider... some dark bread malts make it through. Some funk. Medium carbonation... light enough in body. Finishes with some tartness.

O: A delicious Oud Bruin from Monk's by way of Belgium. Easy drinking... complex and super tasty. If you enjoy the style then you'll enjoy this beer.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.89/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap.

Brownish ruby color with a creamy 1/2 finger head.

Lots of nice sour brown ale aromas, with bread crust, cherry, molasses, and vanilla almond.

Not as sweet as the nose would suggest. Basic brown bread crusts, some cherry, lemon rind, lots of lactobacillus, caramel, prune. Some bitterness on the finish. Odd?

Feel is creamy all the way to the bank. Nice mild to moderate carb.

Overall, a good effort. I'd have it again.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Beer rating: 3.86 out of 5 with 3,027 ratings