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

Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale
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Style:
Flanders Oud Bruin
Ranked #46
ABV:
5.5%
Score:
87
Ranked #12,356
Avg:
3.9 | pDev: 13.08%
Reviews:
1,170
Ratings:
3,040
From:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
 
Belgium
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  97
Gots
  487
SCORE
87
Very Good
Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale
Notes: 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: 1,170 | Ratings: 3,040
Reviews by VoxRationis:
Photo of VoxRationis
4.39/5  rDev +12.6%
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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More User Reviews:
Photo of JuliaCoolia
4.82/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This is my first and only sour so far so it's hardly fair for me to judge. However, it's one of my favorite beers to date. It's crisp and acidly with a little fruity flavor. Bonus: your friends won't steal your beer.

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Photo of Squire
4.02/5  rDev +3.1%
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 don1481
3.54/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into my usual pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep, deep red color with a fairly quickly dissipating head. Some carbonation.

Smell: definitely a sour smell to it. Like a lambic with strong sour notes.

Taste: ... Not really a strong taste. Not the strongest tasting sour ale I've had. Very muted.

Mouthfeel: pretty crisp. Doesn't really leave any sort of aftertaste.

Overall: meh. I don't think I will be getting this again. Was worth going off the normal path for me, I suppose.

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Photo of yarnbomb
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%

Had this on tap several times from the Monk's Cafe and it really is kind of life-changing. Now I buy it whenever I get a chance and put a few away for later. Each bottle can vary from perfection to kind of weird and funky. Always worth it, though.

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Photo of MattSweatshirt
3.35/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Dark brown body and a huge light khaki head.

Head size and retention makes me think this will be mild on the sourness and it definitely is. Dark bread, wood, touch of brown sugar, plum, cherry.

Nothing spectacular. Worth a tick.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.78/5  rDev -3.1%
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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Photo of ubufan2112
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of brushpig
3/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Found a bottle at Sams wines in Chicago, the clerk recommended it.

I have never had a flemish sour before so I have no comparision, but I found it very interesting.

A Redish Brown Hue, with a head that was really non existant.

I smelled cherries right off, sour apples, with acidic sweetness to it.

The taste of sweet cherries was right upfront, then the sour, lightly acidic flavor. Not that complex, but a nice flavor.

The mouth feel I didn't like, the finish never finished, and left my mouth tart and sour, but not in a good way.

My tolerance for the sour and tart is not high in a beer, but the flavor was not bad. Not sure if I am a Flemish sour ale guy. I will have to try more to see.

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

had on tap at The Publick House 6/25/09
This beer poured an opaque raspberry coloring with a one finger white head that faded relatively quickly, no lacing to speak of. Nose is very sour - cherry, yeasty, asorted berry, a touch of wheat and some floral in the nose. Taste is - WOW made me pucker! Big sour presence at first sip but then back off a bit, sour cherries hit you first followed by some sour apple that I didn't pick up in the nose, yeast and wheat presence build in the middle with tartness of berry mixed in. Medium bodied with nice carbonation that helps with the tartness, relatively thick on the tongue and after the initial tartness, goes down fairly easily.
This is definitely a beer for those who like the style. Though I can appreciate the beer, it is definitely not a beer for me.

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Photo of slimntubbs
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of Badger6
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle poured into a goblet.

Body is a deep reddish brown color with a white head that retains well, some lacing. The aroma is vinous, with some oak and malt. Hints of sourness. The tartness is immediately apparent on the tongue, with malty sweetness coming in right behind it. Very well balanced flavor. The beer is medium bodies, with a nicely carbonated feel.

Very enjoyable beer. Nicely sour, with a balanced sweetness that makes this much more accessible than many beers of this style. Easily recommend this to an adventurous taster who has never tried this style.

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Photo of Scotchboy
3.72/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Here we go, Flanders Red Ale. Tying to climb the ladder of sour ales and I want to make sure I don't rip my tongue out in the process. This beer was suggested as a better jumping off point than the Le Terroir I tried a month or so ago.

11.2oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours deep brown/mahogany red, with an off-white head that has decent cling for a 5.5% beer.

S: Lactic cherry tartness and Belgian yeast character. It smells sweet and tart, not 'sour' in my opinion. Still, its enjoyable and not overpowering.

T: Starts sweet, with cherry flavors followed by other sweet fruits that race over your tongue and finally finish was a short tart flurry. The Belgian yeast characters are secondary, mixing in with the sweetness and leaving some peppery and spicy notes on the tongue.

MF: Pretty light bodied with good carbonation.

O: Very palatable for me but I can see where a lover of sours will be disappointed. Still not a style I would seek out but I could see myself enjoying this one again, maybe pairing with some blue cheese.

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Photo of NiceTaps
3.77/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle in a tulip.

A- Poured a dark and bubbly amber-brown. The frothy 2-finger head tapers slowly to thin film leaving plenty of lacing. Very bubbly. Root Beer!!!

S-Rich malts and dark fruits. More sweet than sour. Black Cherry!

T- I'm picking up the dark fruitiness first; black cherry, plum, etc. Some red wine-like sourness and dark malts.

M- Tart, lively, and well carbonated. A bit thin, wine-like on the lip. Some sour, some sweet.

O- Introductory sour, and a good one at that.

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Photo of Gww1864
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%

Photo of Eric908
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of Gregaroo
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

3-10-16 - On tap at the new Barcha in San Francisco. Served in a tulip glass with nice head. Sour, yet balanced, that paired very well with my grilled angus beef kabob. Nice surprise to find this one out west. Good company with our west coast team and Marsh pals. Gave props to Kais and especially Peter for having this ale on tap at their new venture. Eat here, but if you can't make it, pick up a Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour to quench your thirst.

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Photo of Itmustbethewater
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of BeerSnobLeprechaun
4.8/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Served in snifter at Craft Ale House (Pottstown, PA).

L- Transluscent brown with light receding lace around perimeter.

S- Huge malt vinegar nose with a hint of sweet fruit in background, a bit of dirty bar-skunk beer in nose.

T- Great brown ale flavor in front then a blast of HUGE malt vinegar flavor resides to a sweet finish. This taste I have only found in the kegged beer. The bottle has a much thinner ale taste and a mush lesser acidic character. I have yet to understand how this is so, except that the kegged beer is still 'alive' whereas all aging has been stopped by bottling.

F- Flat mouthfeel and minimal carbonation..

O- My favorite Belgian sour of all-time. There are always a few lingering in my bar for that special occassion and always Monk's Cafe (Philly) and Craft Ale House (Pottstown) are always on my travel destination when I'm in eastern PA just for another precious sample of this amazing creation.

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Photo of uturn
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of stephens101
3.89/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After spending much time wandering desultory in the wilderness of sour-beer apprehension, wondering what the hell I'm not getting, I'm becoming more and more intrigued by these ales and the complexity they can bring to the table. Hopefully this one can pull off the delicate balance between off-putting and brilliant.

Pours dark brown with crimson hues and finishes with a light tan head that fades quickly.

Smells of belgian yeast, sugar, plum, grape, various other soured fruit guts, vinegar, and taffy.

Grape juice, grain, and vinegar to the tongue. Just enough bitter to make you pucker up a bit before the next sip.

Thinner than expected resulting in a less than medium body but easy on the palate comparatively speaking.

A quality brew that seeks greatness, keeps it between the goalposts, but falls just slightly short of the goal when it's all on the line.

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Photo of bonkers
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I poured a 11.2 ounce bottle into a tulip glass. It pours a deep mahogany in color with a fuzzy white head. When the beer is held up to a light it becomes very translucent and almost looks red. The smell is kind of funky, but in a good way. It is a bit like a red wine vinegar in aroma. The beer is like drinking a vinegary drink, only sweeter. Perhaps a sweet and sour drink. The flavor is acidic with a lingering sweet finish. The brew is a medium bodied sipper with high carbonation. I liked this beer because of its funky taste, but I do not think I could drink more than one in a sitting. A nice alternative to highly hopped beers.

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Photo of funkyaudio
3/5  rDev -23.1%

Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.23/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance -- Pours a ruddy brown with ruby highlights, slight haze, with two fingers of tight beige head.

Smell -- Cherries, raisins, cider vinegar, some metallic notes.

Taste -- Ripe cherry, rich roast malt, under-ripened plum, some woodiness, and a cider vinegar tanginess that crescendoes in the finish. A bit of off metallic flavor.

Mouthfeel -- Medium to light in body, with an overabundance of fluffy carbonation.

Drinkability -- Overall, I thought this beer was just okay. Instead of a sour finish what is present is a general tanginess and an unpleasant metallic taste. Also, the carbonation could stand to be pulled back slightly. Doubt I'll try again, but still a noble offering.

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Photo of sirtomtom
3.51/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a nice clear dark brown with two fingers of tan head.

S: Very mild scent, a bit of tart apple and a light funk.

T: A very mild flavor. Tart apple and berry. Mildy sour with just a touch of wet blanket funk.

M: A bit watery finishing nice and dry.

O: This is a great sour to start with. Lightly sour, very simple, easy drinking, not very complicated. The touch of funk helps ease people into sours nicely. Paid $3.99, well worth a try.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 3040 ratings