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

Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale
BA SCORE
71.4%
Liked This Beer
3.86 w/ 2,963 ratings
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
Ranking:
#8,656
Reviews:
1,149
Ratings:
2,963
Liked:
2,115
Avg:
3.86/5
pDev:
13.21%
Alströms:
0
 
 
Wants:
91
Gots:
462
Trade:
5
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,963 |  Reviews: 1,149
Photo of woosterbill
2.96/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On-tap at Prime 16 into a Monk's Cafe tumbler. Cheer's to matching glassware, even if it doesn't do much to accentuate aroma + flavor.

A: Clear vermillion body under a finger of super-fine tan foam. Decent retention and light lacing. Pretty inviting.

S: Uninspiring: prickly red wine vinegar, overripe cherries, and some vanilla. The acetic tartness increases as it warms, but it's never all that interesting for the style.

T: The sourness tingles the tip of my tongue, but is quickly drowned out entirely by wave after wave of cherry/vanilla sweetness. Tastes kind of like stale Cheerwine (for all you non-southerners, this is basically overly sweetened Dr. Pepper). Not terrible, but way too sweet.

M: Explosive carbonation and a sticky medium body. Exciting.

O: I think I prefer this slightly to Duchesse du Bourgogne, but only slightly - both are unnecessarily sweet and lacking in genuine complexity. While I love a great Flanders sour, I really can't get excited about a mediocre one.

Cheers!

 1,004 characters

Photo of SubpoenaDeuces
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours from the bottle with a mild head, no lacing, white with fast dissipation, thin and offwhite, eggshell even

S: smell makes you aware that fruit tannins and dark grapes and or currants and awaiting, and they are angry, they storm up your nostril not unlike an Al-Jazeera mob, giving your palate a warning shot for the bittnrness that they seek to impart

T: The front has a mild candy apple taste, not granny smith, sweet cherry flavor which mellows out to a sweeter candy finish, not tart, a bit like like a lukewarm sour patch kid, only not in a disparaging way, like a high class sour patch kid with a monocle and a aplomb for references to Marcel Proust.

M: the carbonation doesnt distract from the sweetness, the sour patch kid lets the bubbles pass like an elevator with unsavory folks exiting, then its all sweet business. The sour is a secondary effect, the sweet is much more pronounced, its more bake sale mom than competitive track home housewife.

D: Well what do you want from your beer? you want to be classy? pull out 11 oz bottles and show people your refined tastes? Ok well, this will do that but I cant seriously see anyone drinking a solid 4 pack of these. It's kinda like a Lambic's older brother who got a crew cut and a bomber jacket. You know deep down he's still sweet, but that Tears for Fear patch just shows you he has more bite than he lets on.

Narrative: These internet dating mixers are so lame, I am above this, but, if they only would give me a chance. I know on the outside I look like a beer, same old amber bottle they are used to, but inside i have so much character and personality, I am downright sweet. Oh great, look, they go for a strong DIRTY martini, I am here for them, my Jdate account get no hits...I TASTE LIKE CHERRY AND GIVE SWEET KISSES. Nice beers finish last, even my outside just says SOUR SOUR SOUR, great, now my belgium mom is gonna be all on my case about this, first my Kriek brother, now I just will sit around reading about all these other lowbrow Blegium strongs who pull all the chicks. I dont need this, I need a girl who likes ME FOR ME, not because I look like Leona- OH HEY I DO WATCH DEXTER!

 2,169 characters

Photo of Texasfan549
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle straight from the fridge into a snifter. First time trying this style! Pours a clear bright red with a massive white head that filled over half of my snifter. Head receded after a couple minutes and left slight lacing. Aroma is sour cherries and a little funk with no hops or beer like qualities. Taste is all sour cherries, reminds me of the first time I ate candy! Carbonation explodes in your mouth and reveals tart cherries and a sweet almost sugary finish that sticks to your tongue. I couldn't put my glass down for more than a few seconds without finding myself wanting another sip. Mouthfeel is light and crisp with huge carbonation. Overall I'm glad I tried this and will be buying more on my next visit. I always enjoy trying new styles of beer and this is a prime example... really enjoyed this one.

 840 characters

Photo of LittleDon
4.07/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A 13 oz. pour at the Sunset in Boston.

Cherry red, clear, with no head or lace. Aroma is sour cherries, oak, and noticeably acidic. Flavor is similar in characteristic, with a very lively feel. Light bodied. Strong lacquer characteristics in both aroma and taste (maybe fermented apples is more appropriate). I would have thought the ABV was much higher.

 355 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.14/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle picked up at Rick's in Alexandria a little while back. Served in a Hill Farmstead wine glass. Thought it was an appropriate time to crack this after getting home from my first visit to Monk's.

Pours a nice crimson color with some really nice lacing after a white head falls down. Not much light makes its way through. The nose has some mild cherry character plus some sweet malt. There's a touch of oak there along with some light acetic character. A bit of sweetness carries through. The flavor is somewhat tart with a bit of acid, along with a mild acetic character. A bit of oak and cherry. The mouthfeel is medium and has a dry finish. A decent example of the style, though nothing too memorable, unfortunately.

 723 characters

Photo of OldIronLungs
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours into a tall goblet clean motor oil color with a nice puffy head that settles down quickly.

Nose of very light vinegar, overripe dark fruits, sour cherries.

Initial sour presence followed by a sweeter cherry flavor - more tart than anything overall. Really nice full carbonation that isn't overbearing, but chewy and effervescent. Very clean dry finish, refreshing as anything.

I think I could go for a little more sourness over the sweetness, but this still makes for a fairly balanced and pleasant sipper.

 515 characters

Photo of BeerForMuscle
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Deep amber body, some reddish hues through the light with a nice thin offwhite head.

S - Smells of natural wild sour cherries. A nice dry oak note is present with tangy, tart vinegar-like aromas.

T - A great big splash of tangy cherry up front. Tartness and acidic fruit quality coupled with a metallic twang, almost mineralistic but soft. Some tart vinegar notes and a dry oaky sweetness as well.

M - Soft bodied with a very refreshing and clean feel. Crisp throughout and dry on the finish.

O - A very well balanced flavorful crisp beer. So clean and enjoyable and what a nice blend of flavors. Awesome.

 613 characters

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

APPEARANCE: Pours a deep red mahogany with lines of carbonation climbing up the sides. It's crystal clear with a thick, fizzy white head.

SMELL: This is a sour beer, so you'll pick up notes of a hard apple cider vinegar. Under that, you'll pick up a deep fruitiness along with dark malts and a hint of spice.

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-bodied sour ale that feels snappy, fizzy, and just sour enough to be more cleansing than anything else. It'll make you pucker just a bit.

TASTE: What a refreshing, unique beer! The opening taste is sour, but quickly followed by black cherries, dates, and maybe a touch of green apples. It's a very refreshing, fun beer that's only a touch complex. I would have liked this beer a little better with less fruitiness and a bit more breadiness, but that's purely subjective.

DRINKABILITY: I don't think that I could have several of these in a row, but I can see myself having one, breaking to try something else, and then having another Flemish Sour Ale.

VERDICT: This is actually a private label beer commissioned by Monk's Cafe Belgian Beer Emporium and Restaurant (http://www.monkscafe.com) in Philadelphia, PA. It's brewed by the Van Steenberge Brewery in Belgium. I bought on a lark and I'm glad I did. I love it when a gamble pays off. If you can find it (I got mine at The Savory Grape, East Greenwich, RI), then I recommend you give it a shot.

Cheers,
John Harvey
Dirtybeerguy.com

 1,421 characters

Photo of musicforairports
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ruby brown, head forms big and some of it sticks around quite awhile but leaves little lacing.

Smells like overripe cherries, lacto-sourness and a bit of that balsamic vinegar-like aspect these beers have (this is not a bad thing.)

Tastes like sour cherries and that balsamic flavor, tart but not very sour, a bit sweet. Not as sweet as I was expecting though; there's a lot of carbonation that keeps the sweetness from becoming overbearing at all.

Fizzy on the mouth, which is good for the style otherwise it could get too sweet and syrupy. The body of the beer is very good.

A decent Oud Bruin, but not the best I've had. The flavors could be more robust and a bit more sour.

 682 characters

Photo of youradhere
3.84/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours bright mahogany with red edges, tan head. Smell, wow, butterscotch, cherries, slight medicinal. Taste, wow, butterscotch sweet sour malt. Some lemon, slight caramel. Definitely complex, yet I wish this were a tad less sweet. Carbonation is high, mouthfeel is slightly slick. I dunno if the sweet and sour works for me, but it is a different beer from what I am used to.

 375 characters

Photo of match1112
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

wanted to try a sour beeer and this was the first one i could find. poured from bottle into goblet, the color was reddish brown, kinda like rasberry ice tea. the smell was extremley sour fruit. once this beer had a chance to breathe the smell became more pleasant. when it first hit my lips it was sour enough to make me pucker. the mouth feel was pleasant and finished with a slight sour candy taste on the back of my tongue. overall i was surprised by this sour beer and cant wait to try different sours.

 506 characters

Photo of rudzud
3.69/5  rDev -4.4%
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.

 1,016 characters

Photo of Neecee513
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured bottle into pint glass.

A: Deep red, slight tan head and retention.

S: Sweet, but sharp vinegar like smell - perhaps like an apple cidar vinegar.

T: Sour fruit, grapes.

M: Low carbonation, dry and frothy on the palate.

O: I'm not too excited about sour ales, but the elements of the beer came together nicely for this style.

 336 characters

Photo of Tilley4
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Been on a sour kick lately and this is my latest acquisition...

I'm getting more sweet fruity aromas off of this than with most Flanders... It's almost a sweet Belgian sugar-like aroma with hints of vinegar and perhaps some cherries... Definitely not overwhelmingly sour like some of the recent offerings I've had...

Well, this is definitely sweeter than most of the style and doesn't have near the sourness either... It's not necessarily bad or anything but it seems fairly subdued really. Hints of vinegar attempt to urge a bit of tartness out here but this one is all about the sweetness...

I did like this brew... However... in the world of sours, I probably won't pick this one up again... There are just way too many other offerings to choose from

 756 characters

Photo of BerkeleyBeerMan
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark black cherry color with a bubbly 1/3 inch tan head. opaque color with a dash of medium carbonation that climbs up the edges of my 10oz. Goblet in lines.

Smell: Obvious oak barrel smell that leads to a heavy malt and vinegar smell. Heavy notes of spice, cherry, date. Lots of caramel and even a cola smell.

Taste: This ale presents the palate with two choices. Acknowledge the evident sour flavor which causes the mouth to pucker and then appreciate the nice heavily carbonated cherry cola flavor. I'll be honest I expected much different flavor, something closer to a red wine. There is a presence of black cherry, clove, and fig. I also pick up apple peel and nutmeg. Delicious. Finishes with a sensation that I have ingested a lot of sugar. The sour wear off rather quickly and I am left with a caramel candy taste.

Mouthfeel: Snappy syrupy and fizzy. It sort of slides down my tongue and begs to be sipped again. This closet thing I have ever drank to a soda, but is beer. It must be the combination of the carbonation and he caramel and sugar flavors. It is very refrshing.

Overall: A very unique beer that sort of stands on its own. I will definitely use this as a refresher and will introduce it to both wine drinkers and soda drinkers because I think it might be abe to convert them to drinking beer.

 1,328 characters

Photo of beesy
3.64/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 11.2 ounce bottle into a Sam Adams glass.

A - pours a brilliant dark reddish orange with a finger and a half khaki colored light bodied head that dissipates quickly.

S - vinegar, sour and tangy notes

T - slightly sweet at the front of the palate that quickly turns in to significant amounts of sour and dark cherries that again quickly changes to green apples with a touch of vinegar and cherry coke as it meets the back palate. A lasting sourness of green apples lingers.

M - medium mouthfeel with a fair amount of carbonation.

D - easy to get down, but is somewhat filling due to carbonation.

Overall, a nice sour. Not much I'd change except maybe adding a touch more sourness.

 703 characters

Photo of PhilCheSteak
4.53/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Visited Philly last week and had a chance to pick up a bottle of this delicious beer. Poured out of a 11.2 oz bottle into a nonic glass.

A: Reddish/brown color, with a nice head. This beer is just asking me want to drink it every time I look at it.

S: An apple, fruity smell. Smells both sweet and sour.

T: Just the right amount of sweetness. I've never had a sweeter, more delicious beer in my life. Tastes of apples and cherries. Every sip is refreshing and satisfying.

M: A good amount of carbonation that wasn't overwhelming.

O: Love Monk's Flemish Sour Ale. Just the right amount of sweetness for me and overall a delicious, high quality beer. I need to find more bottles of this!

 690 characters

Photo of MufflnMan
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at The Thirsty Monk. Poured a reddish color with a frothy off white head. Smells of tart fruit... apples, cherries, berries. Taste is the perfect amount of sour. Just what I was looking for in this kind of brew. Green apples and cherries nicely balanced to create a really refreshing feel.

 296 characters

Photo of BrewsCrewSA
4.28/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out with a beautiful, tan head. High in carbonation; deep ruby, and rusty brown in color, looks very inviting. Head retains well, dissipates after a few, appears to have some sediment on the bottom, not sure if this is normal. Still, a great looking beer.

Faint scents of alcohol and berries, not much here, but still pleasant. Smell reminds me of those few, Belgian krieks such as Cantillon, and Lindeman's Kriek and Gueze.

Tastes great. Just an amazing, tasty quality that's hard to define. I liken it to melting a few red Sweet Tarts on your tongue. That, plus the faint, goodness of alcohol notes toward the back of the palate. A great, sweet flavor that's hard to resist. One of the best Belgian beers I've ever had.

Mouthfeel is incredible, maybe an even better quality than the taste. I was expecting tart, bitterness; what I got instead was a mellow, sweet pleasantness that was happily surprising. Exceedingly smooth, cool, refreshing.

I guess they eliminated drinkability from the review categories, but OVERALL, a great Belgian effort. I personally much prefer this to the redundant, Tripels and Quadruppels. They all taste like apple juice anyway. This Red Ale, I highly recommend.

 1,203 characters

Photo of gdrydenc
4.23/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a red-brown with a finger of cream head. Really cool color, not sure what I'm looking for with the style, but it's what I would expect. The head sticks around for an alarmingly long time, which is cool.

S - Smells sour, but with quite a bit of fruit in it. Apples, mostly.

T - Much like the smell, but with a whole lot more apple in the finish. It tastes a bit like cider, but mostly in the sourness and the apple aspects.

M - Quite a bit of foam in the mouth. It really covers the entire mouth, which I like. The finish is surprisingly clean.

Overall, this is one cool beer. It has a lot of flavor in it, and a lot of varied things. Will have again.

 665 characters

Photo of sweemzander
3.33/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a stemmed glass.

(A)- Pours a deep and dark burnt sienna color with ruby red highlights. Produced a nice fluffy off-white head with solid retention.

(S)- A big dry lactic vinegar up front. Some serious barnyard dirt and vinegar characters.

(T)- Very fruity. Not as sour or vinegar-like as the smell foretold. Some hints at tartness, but otherwise fruity, dry, and earthy with just a small kick.

(M)- A nice crisp carbonation level. Has a nice balance too. Smooth, fruity, and "ripe" tasting. A subtle sourness.

(D)- A solid Oud Bruin. Not as strong as what I anticipated, but it is what it is. Surprisingly refreshing and a nice treat and transition to have as the days slowly begin to warm up outside.

 733 characters

Photo of Prime16
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Reddish color, nice frothy head.

S: Tart apples, sweet with sour cherries.

T: A little sweeter than I expected with definite green apple and cherry with a refreshing and pleasing sour taste.

M: Satisfying with light carbonation, clean.

O: Enjoyable beer, just a little on the sweet side for me.

 301 characters

Photo of RTJakarta
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber red with a nice finger-length head. The carbonation is kinda loud (I can hear it about two feet away), and the bubbling is actually visible through the head. Nice.

A nice apple smell is what steps out the most. Not particularly sour, but I don't mind a smell that just exudes apples.

Taste gives me a very faint sourness, but an overwhelming tartness. Sort of makes me think of red apples more than green ones, but it's pleasing.

Mouthfeel is pretty moderate, with medium carbonation.

Overall, it's a very smooth, tasty drink. So glad I was able to find some on my vacation here in Louisville. Would be a nice treat every once in a while!

 661 characters

Photo of Mosley1212
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(From Spring Break Notes)

Picked this one up at Hop City in Atlanta. This was my first sour from a purchased bottle. Here we go.

A--Poured into my Duvel tulip. Poured a ruby read with lots of carbonation bubbling from the bottom of the glass. Stared at them for a long time before finally sampling the beer. Also, beer had a creamy white head that was foamy at the start and had great retention throughout the drink.

S--Sweet and tart green apple. It is a hard smell to contemplate. Yeasty smell up front with an overly sweet finish. Not what I was expecting.

T--Follows the nose. This is the sweetest tasting sour I have ever had. It was like drinking a sour patch candy for me. Sour at first then overly sweet to finish. What a strange contrast.

M--The carbonation cleaned my palate with each sip. It felt bubbly and delicious in my mouth.

O--Not the best sour I have had. Pretty run-of-the-mill actually, but it was refreshing. I liked the sour finish and I would recommend it for that reason.

 1,006 characters

Photo of oldsailor
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not a bad sour but also nothing spectacular about this one either. Nice red coloring with a light head. Green apple tartiness comes to mind when drinking. Carbonation is higher than most sours in my opinion, which isn't a bad thing but hurts its drinkability. This is definitely a one beer tasting so the four pack we got ours in is holding up longer than some.

 361 characters

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Beer rating: 71.4% out of 100 with 2,963 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.