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

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86
very good
1,140 Reviews
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Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Belgium
vansteenberge.com

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.

Added by nomad on 06-19-2003

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,140
Ratings:
2,942
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
13.28%
 
 
Wants:
89
Gots:
450
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 1,140 | Ratings: 2,942
Photo of LambicPentameter
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - deep ruby-red hue when lit, but burgundy, almost black appearance upon glance. Semi-opaque. Frothy head is beige and dissipates after 30-60 seconds.

Smell - dominant cherry aroma with hints of currant. Hint of sour, but rounding out into a sweetness.

Taste - strawberry and cherry tartness, but the sour complexity never arrives. Dry finish and a bit bland.

Mouthfeel - light effervescent carbonation. Silky thin coating.

Overall - a drinkable beer due to how mild it is, but also doesn't strike me as a beer I would just drink to drink. Not complex enough of a flavor or aroma to keep me coming back.

 618 characters

Photo of bilyboy65
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into my standard pilsner style glass.

This is probably the first and last of this style that I'll be having. It was hard to remain objectionable to the style for this review. Funny thing is I like sour things, just apparently not my beer.

A: Flawless. Beautiful dark red-brown color that is still a little transparent. Lots of carbonation can be seen feeding a tan-redish head. No lacing or film left on the glass.

S: Very much like vinegar to me. Some underlining fruit, cranberry maybe, esters is the only saving grace the smell has.

T: Very sour taste with cranberry esters for flavor. Tastes a lot like a cider or a wine.

M: Light bodied with good action on the tongue from the carbonation.

D: If you can stand sour beer this is probably a good one.

 784 characters

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

Poured out a redish brown color with a nice little head on it. Smelled strongly of tart cherries and a hint of balsamic vinegar. Definitely a tart cherry taste followed by a sweet malt to finish it off. Kind of like a sour cherry candy. Mouth feels smooth a decent amount of carbonation with a dryness on the end of it. I could only have one maybe two of these and then get sick of it. My first foray as far as i know into sours and it wasn't bad, but not great either.

 469 characters

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

Had this on 2010-06-26 in Columbia, PA

A - Dark amber with a 3-finger, tan head that drops to 1-finger quickly and doesn't leave much lace.

S - Pungent, dried apricots and sour cherries, malt vinegar, yeast

T - Tastes like it smells with the addition of some tannin. Finishes with too much caramel and fruit sweetness along with the moderate sourness.

M - Light-medium body with high carbonation with small bubble carbonation. Mildly creamy with a champagne feel.

D - It's a nice brew. Not nearly as sour as a Rodenbach Grand Cru, which I prefer. This good tasting ale could be a nice way to ease people into sours without clobbering them over the head. Too sweet though.

 678 characters

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

A- pours a ruddy garnet color with half a finger of light tan head.

S- aromas of red wine, basalmic and a touch of sweet maltiness.

T- sweet sugary malt up front with a nice tart kick. Cabernet notes with basalmic tones on the finish with a spritzy moscato character.

MF- slick slightly syrupy mouthfeel with a medium body and average carbonation.

D- pretty drinkable.

 372 characters

Photo of pmcadamis
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A - Deep garnet with a giant rocky four finger head and tons of chunky yeast in the glass. Big sheets of lace slide down the glass into that enormous beige head. Head retention is awesome.

S - Sour cherry candy, tart fruit preserves, and red wine vinegar. Nicely balanced sugary-jammy-preserves notes temper the vinegar acidic aroma. Smells a little bit like tart kool-aid mix powder without the sugar.

T - More sour cherry on top of a light brown sugar note. Strawberries. Tart sour candy. Rhubarb.

M - Light bodied with a very acidic tart puckery mouthfeel. FInishes relatively clean and slightly metallic and almost bloody (I know that sounds weird, but there is a bit of that metallic blood note at the end).

A very odd style to be sure, but I like it for it's off-kilter aspect. I think I would have a hard time drinking this with any regularity.

 856 characters

Photo of dcotom
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 11.2-ounce bottle into a flute.

L - Clear, dark caramel-copper color with a fluffy light tan head. Lots of beautiful curtain lacing as the head recedes. Subsequent pour raises a glob of foam resembling the head of a root-beer float.

A - Malt, caramel, and a little funk predominate when this is cold. As it warms, some tart fruitiness starts to come through on the nose.

T/F - Again, the character develops as this warms a little from fridge temp. Very bitter at first, without much tartness at all. As it gets closer to cellar temp, the flavors begin to balance out. The bitterness is still present, but the sourness finally starts to assert itself. Sour apple, tart cherry, a touch of cider vinegar. Finishes bitter, with a hint of lingering sourness.

O - From the description of the Flanders Oud Bruin, this would seem to be at the more assertive end of the scale. There was quite a bit more bitterness in my sample than the description would indicate. Had I sampled this with food, it might have mitigated the bitterness somewhat. Still, it is a very fine brew overall, and I actually enjoyed the interplay of the bitter and sour.

 1,151 characters

Photo of jasonjlewis
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

great head retention, size and lacing.

smell is of green apples and a hint of raisin with a heping of cherried. not quite as complex as I would like but good nevertheless.

taste is of green apples and some caramel malts with cherry undertones. again, not as complex as I would like.

good attenuation and full mouthfeel.

decent stab at the style for a good price per bottle.

 377 characters

Photo of Nick3
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle poured into a Piraat tulip shaped glass. Beer forms a nice 3 finger head and a cascade of bubbles keeps the head alive for several minutes or so. Dark reddish, brown in color and nice lace formation on the glass. This definitely looks like a quaffable libation! Smells like sour apples (think Jolly Ranchers) and that typical funk you get from this style. Smelled enticing but not nearly as pungent as I would have liked. The smell is a good harbinger for the taste . . . the flavors of sweet and sour come through with a cherry apple finish. It's a well balanced beer but the taste was just not quite as strong in those flavors as I would have liked. I wouldn't say the beer is watery but I wanted to see the flavor and the sweet and sour contrast come through with more ferocity. Alcohol presence is really invisible and that fact coupled with the subtle flavor composition makes it a beer that you can drink in high quantity if you're so inclined. Overall, I enjoyed this beer but it fell a little short of my expectations. If you've never had a beer of this style and want to start with something mellow, this is probably a good bet for you.

 1,163 characters

Photo of pschul4
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured into my HotD taster courtesy of the man, the legend, Libbey

A- pours a red/brown. Ruby tones, if you nomsayin. Also carbonation explosion. Only can get 1oz in this 3oz taster

S- very sweet malts and a touch of acidic bite on the back end

T- mostly sweet, sour bite in the middle before being sweet again on the end.

M- not as prickly as i would have thought, surprisingly smooth for the style

O- good, not great. Probably wouldnt buy again

 451 characters

Photo of slackattack
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into red wine glass

A- first thought was dirty river water. Started off with about half a finger of tight foam, dissipated pretty quickly, lacing was not really present

S- red wine vinegar, sour cherries in your face. Bright and acidic and pretty awesome.

T- started off following the nose, then got away from the sourness a little. Fell off toward the end for me and got a little sweet, maybe it's supposed to, but I would prefer a little more persistent bit.

M- medium to medium-full bodied. There's a definitively detectable amount of malt that I feel like is responsible for the body, not great, not terrible either.

O- like I said, if the label says sour I want and expect sour all the way. The sweetness that came through about 2 seconds into every sip was unwelcome. Didn't hate it, won't buy again though.

 837 characters

Photo of krisandajt
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is the first sour I've ever had. Just happened to see it on the shelf at my local beer store, and I wanted to try the style. I'm going to do my best to keep the style in mind as I review.

Appearance: Pours a nice clear red with a great deal of head that fades somewhat quickly. Does leave behind some nice lacing.

Smell: Smell is unique - sour.

Taste: Keeping in mind the style...this is a sour brew. In that regard, it excels.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat watery, but has nice carbonation.

Drinkability: If you like this style, then I would imagine this is a brew for you. Personally, this is something I wanted to try just to say I tried it...I don't see myself drinking many of these in my lifetime.

 703 characters

Photo of bum732
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown, coarse bubbly head that dissipates leaving great lacing. Smells of sour caramel, some oak, mild cherries, bourbon maybe, chocolate, cocoa, heavy earthiness, a lot going on here. Tastes of sour caramel/chocolate with some tart cherry present. To be honest, it almost tastes like coca cola. Not much bitterness and finishes fairly neutral. Good carbonation, again similar to coca cola. Mouthfeel is pretty thin.

An interesting beer, lots of smells and tastes packed in this baby. Not sure if it works though, different from other Oud Bruins, not as sour and a little thin in the mouthfeel. Interesting nonetheless.

 633 characters

Photo of aasher
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This one pours a burnt amber in color with a one finger off white head. It smells pretty good. It smells extremely sour, in a way that makes you want to resmell to see if you got the first one right. The taste is oaky, sweet, and has the great sour flavor to finish off the taste and it's left in the after taste. I really like this one, although it can be overpoweringly sweet and eventually gives off a vinegar flavor that is kind of repulsive. It's almost mouthwateringly sour. This beer was really good the first time I tried but after a couple times it's losing its luster. The only knock is that it could be a little too sweet. It drinks pretty well but one is enough.

 674 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Monks Cafe Flemish Sour Red

Pours a reddish brown in color. Sour aroma, cherry, brown sugar, and red wine vinegar tones. In the flavor, malty, sugary sweet and sour. Belgian candi sugar, a present lactic tartness and sweet malt. Mouthfeel Is medium bodied and carbonation is low to moderate. I know I have come full circle, I tried this beer early in my beer journey and couldn't drink it because it was so sour and different. Now it's not sour enough for me, but still a nice Flanders style ale.

 497 characters

Photo of albern
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a slightly cloudy brown, with some lacing and foaming on the edges. There is a goodly amount of carbonation, and the smell has all the characteristics of a really nice sour Flemish red. But it stops there. Monk's is a little watery, has a subdued cherry flavor, with other citrus present, but lacks the sourness that one would come to expect with the style. Duchesse and Rodenbach this isn't, and too bad. I was looking forward to the tartness, the chartreuse, the sweet cherry and citrus flavors, but this is lacking in all of the above. It's not a bad ale by any measure, but it just lacks the complexity, the sourness, the chewiness of the better Flemish sour ales so representative of the style. This might be a good initiate into the style for those unfamiliar with the unique qualities of the Flemish reds, but beyond that, why stop at Monk's when there are better available.

I had this on tap at the Sunset Grill in Allston, MA, December 2007. This is a very nice ale on tap, actually much fresher, more refreshing, and eminently more sippable than what I experienced out of the bottle. I would add another full point to this beer on tap.

 1,161 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 zoolzoo
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Another good all around Oud Bruin, Im starting to get into this style a bit more lately.

Pours ruby red with a lively head. A high level of carbonation is apparent. The smell is of sour cherries, vinegar, red wine barrel, hints of sweet and sour, subdued yeasty funk. A little musty.

A ballad of sweet and sour. Well balanced, but sometimes I'm in the mood for a bit more of one or the other. Definitely tart, but also ripe cherries, malt base, and wood. Moderate acidity.

Mouthfeel is pretty much on the mark; light, relatively thin, and bubbly. An acceptable example of the style, but not my favorite Flanders.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brilliantly clear amber-ruby color with a thin tan colored head. The aroma is tart with notes of sharp cherry, caramel, tannic wood, and a light mustiness. The aroma is pretty interesting, I am definitely looking forward to the taste. The beer is fairly dry up front with a thin body. The taste has an appealing tartness to it that is a mix of a sour cherry-like fruitiness and a bit of acetic acid. The taste is a pretty clean mix of fruitiness, sourness and toffee malt notes. The taste is just a bit too simplistic and thin, did not quite live up to the aroma. Certainly drinkable and even a bit enjoyable.

 617 characters

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

Had a few sips of this before the conclave on 4/22/2005. 11.2 fl. oz. bottle poured in an Allagash snifter.

Good bubbling, though forced, which settles to what is likely a more natural flat sheen with some piling on the sides. Deep orange to an almost brown hue with a fair amount of haze chimmy-changa-ing around. Lemon/cherry sour tart on nose with a hit of watermelon and a gangly malt; sour patch kid sweetness seeping in. Green apple tart on mouth with a candy apple twinge to it; some underlying yeast breadiness adds some body to an otherwise light profile; kind of a meringue-like feel to it.

Generally, this is not a style I would choose to drink or gravitate towards, but very enjoyable nevertheless.

 716 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 TruePerception
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

(Previous review, transferred from beer journal)

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale: red sour; Appearance: dark amber; light raisin and tartaric acid; Taste/Mouthfeel: lightly bitter, very light sour, RC cola, pretty good, sounds like pouring ice cold soda.

Poured into a pint glass.

 279 characters

Photo of zachary80
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown Body. Very nice off-white head leaves great lacing
Smell is mostly tart, some vinegar, something that reminds me of leather
Taste is mellow. Slight sour cherry flavors. Somewhat sweet with a short drier finish.
Very drinkable beer.

Not quite the beer I remembered: don't recall the vinegar, and also thought it was more assertive. Still good overall

 357 characters

Photo of mjtiernan
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 fl oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Whoa! Got quite a bit of head. Should’ve slowed down on the pour. Still looks great though. Off white head and quite deep dark red body.

S: A bit musty. I get some sour sensation in my nose when I breath it in. Some vigorous swirling brings dark fruit and cherry notes. A touch of caramel.

T: Some cherry and oak barrel. Definitely acetic but not as sour as you might expect, especially in the finish.

M: Most of the sourness hits the sides of your tongue mid-palate and the finish is actually quite clean and refreshing. A very drinkable Flanders Red.

O: I liked it, but I have to admit that I was expecting more complexity. That said, I’d still be happy to have one anytime, anywhere.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
3.84 out of 5 based on 2,942 ratings.
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