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

BA SCORE
86
very good
2,957 Ratings
THE BROS
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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
Ratings:
2,957
Reviews:
1,145
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
13.28%
 
 
Wants:
90
Gots:
459
For Trade:
5
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Ratings: 2,957 |  Reviews: 1,145
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 allforbetterbeer
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into snifter.

Pours clear flamed ruby, a very beautiful hue. The head is two fingers thick and stays that way. I poured this 10 minutes ago and the head is still fluffy and dense. The appearance of this beer is outstanding.

The usual enticing suspects for this style of beer are present in the nose, with oak, lacto and sour apple notes being quite prominent. The smell seems a bit muted because of all the foam, which is awesome. I will just have to wait till I am deeper into the glass to smell this beer for real.

My first impression is that this beer is much sweeter than any other Oud Bruin or Flemish Red I have ever had. Interesting. The sour is mild, as is the tartness. A little something funky and almost metallic shows up in the aftertaste... not very appealing but it is mild. There is a nice pale malt flavor as I progress through the glass, presenting an appealing toasted bread flavor.

The mouthfeel is highly bubbly and carbonated with low-medium body.

Conclusion: It tastes to me like this was a traditionally brewed Oud Bruin with a significant dose of sugar added to round out the sour and tart qualities. As an introduction to the style I imagine it could be very appealing, but to myself I consider it less than what it could be. I love these beers of this style specifically for their dry feel and quenching tartness, both of which are destroyed by sweetness in this example. Don't get me wrong, this is a tasty beer, but I feel for the price that there are much truer (and tastier) options.

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

Poured into a snifter.

Beautiful fruit punch, purple/red color with a thin, white and foamy cap surrounding the top. Has a lighter shade of wine red and more translucent. Smell has small hints of sourness and tartness, with a touch of oak from the casks as well. I get sour cherries and unripened, tart green apples dominating the aroma. Not as pungent as I thought it might have been, but that's a good indication of lactic acid and not acetic acid. Bigger whiffs bring out the malted barley and cereals.

Wow, very interesting. For the Oud Bruin style, there is really no funk or sourness to be found on the palate. It's actually very full of freshly cut fruit and cereal grains. Identifiable amounts of white and red grapes, apples, and some slight cherries and berries. There's a nice woody quality from the oak casks too. Kinda gives it an ferrous taste in the finish.

Actually a bit surprised– no sour or tart character in this beer at all. Not sure how to date this bottle, but I'm guessing that this is relatively fresh. Who knew I'd be looking for sourness now? I guess that's palate progressing.

Mouthfeel is lightly medium with a thinly prickly feel in the drink. Finish has a nice, white wine dryness and leaves a slim bitter feeling. Didn't think that this beer wouldn't have the characteristics of other Flemish sour ales, but that's no problem. I actually want to try an older bottle of this to have more of the "oude" character. Coming from Goudenband, this is totally different tasting.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Served on tap into a Monk's glass

A- pours brown with a cherry shade to it, with a one finger, very quick fading pinkish head. Looks really good

S- light notes of red wine, cherries, and funk in the aroma

T- lightly tart cherries....not overly sour, not overly sweet

M- body is very thin, not much thickness going on here at all

O- really super drinkable, but it's REALLY expensive....7 bucks for about 12 oz. Yikes

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Photo of mattgreger
4.92/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is the first sour I have ever had, it was a great pick up at Capones Bottle Shop in East Norriton.

The pour on this brew was fantastic. It poured a deep brown with ribbons of red throughout when held to the light. For such a dark brew, it actually quite bright brew. It had about a half inch off white head that faded rather quickly. It also has a little bit of web like lacing that stuck to the walls of the glass.

The aromas the hit you right of the bat is that of vinegar and fruit tarts. Dark fruits that just float out at you as you pour the brew. There is also some aroma of wood and some brown sugars as well.

Never having a sour before, this brew started off with a great sweet flavor that I somewhat smelled in the aroma. It filled with brown sugars, strong vinegar and maybe some tart juices. It then moves into some darker dried fruit flavors, giving some sweetness, but a bit more tart. As the brew warms a bit more it begins to fall more into the flavors that I somewhat expected. It has some great touches of wood, older wines, and some nice musty flavors that just tingle the tongue more.

The mouthful on this brew was decently light bodied, with a nice carbonation. It had some nice heavy flavors, but it actually was quite refreshing to drink.

This is a great brew anyone who wants to dabble in the sours. I really liked this brew and plan on trying others like it. It had a nice light body that had a very complex palate of flavors that made it a great drink to enjoy. Its never an overkill, it actual quite refreshing throughout.

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

Great deep amber color and clear, two finger head that slowly dissipates and leaves great thick chunks of lacing.

Smell is fruity and deliciously sour. Yeasty and sweet whilst maintaining a little bit of dry woods character.

Taste is lightly but pleasantly odd and wonderful. It's certainly like a rain shower deep in the woods of the northeast, best as a merkin can really describe it. Although "downright delicious, may I have another" would probably work in any language, on any continent.

Body is light but sweet with a great fruity sour aftertaste.

Overall this stuff is just plain delicious, and works great when you're on a fruit beer kick, but want something just a touch off the wall.

I'm on my second try for this beer, and don't plan to change any ratings, but do plan to leave it on my wants list. Great stuff.

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Photo of grittybrews
4.51/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark cherry cola brown into a tulip with two fingers of khaki head. Slightly sweet bready aroma mixed with vanilla, dark fruit, and mildly sour cherry.

Moderate carbonation and an exceptional mouthfeel that manages to be smooth and creamy while retaining a pleasant lightness. Tart apple and sour cherry up front followed by sweet dark fruit, grape, caramel, and a hint of spice on the finish.

Really tasty brew that balances its sweet and sour elements well. It's hard to slow down with this one!

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Photo of jonandhisflask
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into a stone ipa tulip

A murkey redish brown, 2 finger head

S FUNKY, real tart fruits( im still getting my sours palate down) im getting some vinegar as well.

T hmmm i get sweet apples, some funk, sour cherry and other spent fruits.

M medium heavy body, suprisingly smooth, ive had others that were super heavy and acidic. this one was pleasant.

O i would get this again to help me build a palate, not so acidic down my alley at this point

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Photo of jmvecchio1
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Look: The beer is brownish and red in color with a higher carbonation head at first which dissipates into small lacing.

Smell:The smell is your clear indication that this is a sour ale. I get strong hints of dried bing cherries and I would swear some tart apples.

Taste: The taste really does set you up for the full flavor of this beer. It is a sour upon initial contact with the tongue and also on the finish. However on the near end of the finish you get the malt backbone that should be expected in a red ale. Drinking this beer made me think of fall afternoons spent watching college football.

Drink: Once you get accustom to the sour aromas and taste, it’s a nice drinking beer. However, I wouldn’t classify this beer as thirst quencher, but something to slowly sip. While the beer is marketed as a palate cleaner, I found myself tasting the sour an easy 10 minutes after the beer. So unless you plan on sipping on one or two of these beers, I’d suggest getting a hop heavy beer afterward to shock your palate back to reality.

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Photo of BeerYain
4.14/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Here's the skinny: pours with little head and slight lacing. In my book, that's a good thing. I wanna get to the beer, not work my way through the foam. I would call this a typical representation of a Flemish sour - low alcohol and not too tart or sour for the casual drinker, but maybe underwhelming for the "seasoned" drinker. On a scale of 1 - 10 on the sour/tart scale, I'd probably give it a 4. Serve cold, but room temp ain't half bad either.

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Photo of beerman20
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful red color, a nice lace left on the glass as you drink it, not as much of an aroma as other sours. The beer is smooth with a nice sourness that isn't overpowering. Cherries stand out. It's a mild sour compared to others that I've had. Easy to drink, light body, and a good sour overall.

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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.

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Photo of drinkslinger028
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was sitting on a shelf at my local go to beer store so I picked it up, this one of my first sours so I don't really have anything to compare it to.

A- pours a resist brown with a slight tan head
S- the smell is kinda off sorta like watered down cherry, with a but of iron
M- kinda slippery with quick disappearance
T- taste could be a little more sour but in all it's quite tasty
D- coming from a 750ml I could easily finish this by myself I would purchase again.

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

750ml corked and caged bottle poured into a tulip.

A: Pours a clear brown with brilliant ruby highlights when held to light.  A one-finger khaki-colored head briefly sits atop the brown liquid, but dissipates quickly, leaving only a thin ring and patchy film behind.  Almost no lacing at all. 

S: Mild sourness in the nose.  Tart cherries, green apples, and vinegar are the most evident.  Sweet cherries and raspberries are also present, along with subtle grassy and peppery notes in the background.  Not as sour/tart as I was hoping for, but the combination of subtle sourness and moderate sweetness may create a beautifully balanced taste. 

T: Starts off sweet, with cherries, raspberries, and grape.  Slowly transitions to a slight tartness, comprised of tart cherries, green apple, and vinegar.  Finishes with a good balance between sweet and tart, with a slight earthy flavor (grass/hay).  Not as sour as I hoped it would be, but really pleasant.  Booze is nowhere to be found in this one.

M: Very good mouthfeel.  Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation that slightly resembles a spritzer on the tongue.  Again, nice balance between sweetness and sourness.  Slightly drying at the finish, but not overly so.

O: While it isn't as sour as I had hoped for, it's really enjoyable.  Sweet fruit are quite tasty, and the level of sourness provides a nice complement throughout.  Alcohol is hidden very well, making it even easier to drink.  As it warms, the tartness is amped up just a bit, but it never reaches the level I'd really like it to be at.  In terms of a subtle, easy-drinking sour, this one hits the mark; it's enjoyable, but could offer a little more.

 1,695 characters

Photo of cjacobsen
3.12/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

(A) Pours a clear, deep red with a small off white that diminishes quickly to nothing.

(S) Slightly tart. Sweet. Cherry. The nose is more of a fruity blend with Cherry taking the lead.

(T) Not very sour or tart, but it's still present. You have the slight vinegar and then packed with cherry flavor.

(M) Very flat and ended dry despite the oily, fuller body mid-taste.

(O) It wasn't terrible but I've had far better Oud Bruins. This one was rather weak and more of a tart and amped up grape juice, just with a cherry spin on it.

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Photo of orangesol
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden into a tulip.

A - Pours opaque reddish brown with a fizzy half finger tall off white head leaving little to no lacing down the glass.

S - Smells of tart sour cherries, oak, some lactic sourness, and a light sugary sweetness. Not as funky as I was expecting it to be, still a decent amount of sourness tho.

T - Starts off with a bright lactic sourness that fades quickly leaving hints of tart cherries, candied sugar, dry oak tannins, and some dark fruit. Finish is a mix of light sourness and sticky sweetness, lingering for a short time. This was ok at best.

M - Medium body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Good amount of pucker initially quickly dieing down leaving a sticky sweet feel. Finish is a mix of light sourness and lingering sweetness.

O - This is far from a bad beer, but it really never wowed me. I liked the flavors but the sourness cut out far too quickly and you were left with an overly sweet red ale.

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a La Chouffe Tulip.

A- Light raspberry purple in color, with little to no head or lacing.

S- Sweet dark fruits with some sour/funk.

T- Sweet dark fruits dominate with a hint of sour and barnyard funk towards the middle and end.

M- Thin, low carbonation.

O- For a sour, not very sour. But I like this beer on a hot summer day. Would like a little more sour though.

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Photo of imbibehour
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass.

A gorgeous dark amber burnt brown and red body with clear presentation. Head doesn't stick around much but a good solid tan collar is left to observe. Very much like this body color, clear, brown and ruby. Looks great!

Bouquet is sweet and sour cherries, with emphasis on sweet first. A distinct sort of sweet mix of brown sugar and malt too. Hint of tartness. I really like this nose.

Taste is very good emphasis on sweet red fruits. Berries of cherry, raspberry, maybe even some dark plum. No sour or tartness at all. Very chewy in the palate, candy taffy like, with some slurring wetness in the feel. Brown sugar takes on during the finish.

Overall pretty easy drinking not even sour, quite sweet actually which probably knock my score down a bit. But it's a great beer and a good place to start to get your feet wet if you are not into sour tastes.

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Photo of BBP
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- This beer seems to go from the largest amount of head to the smallest amount in the shortest time I've ever seen. At first it was giant and within a minute, it had completely disappeared aside from the ring of carbonation on the outside. The reason behind this seems to be how intense the carbonation is. It has a burnt raspberry look to it now, and leaves absolutely no lace.

S- Light sourness, and some light sweetness as well. Green apples and raspberries seem to be the most prominent fruits. The aroma presents the beer in a sharp way, but it ends up tasting more smooth.

T- The taste of this is more fruity than sour imo, as the sourness is more of an initial taste, and the fruitiness is a constant. My tastebuds aren't off, but I'm just not getting a ton of sourness. It's there initially, but then it's overtaken but a sugary taste.

The flavor leads with an almost citrus cherry flavor, and then soon tastes a bit tropical like mangoes and peaches. The aftertaste is full of buttery malt. and almost seems to taste like banana.

M- Slightly overcarbonated, but aside from that, it's fairly full bodied, and pretty creamy. Very dry finish.

O- Not a bad sour, but I've had many that I enjoy more. This one seems to contain a lot more sweetness than the other ones I've tried. There's only glimpses of alcohol in this, but it blends almost seamlessly with the fruity flavors.

I disagree with the assessments that this couldn't be drank all night. I found this to be very approachable, almost to a flaw. I just wish that it had more of a kick. For what it's worth, at 5.5%, I doubt you'll find many beers this potent though. Worth checking out, but I'd hold off on buying in bulk.

 1,699 characters

Photo of ryantaussig
4.62/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Leaps and bounds better on tap than it ever was in the bottle. I'm so sad the keg at The Good Life was kicked. While very similar to the bottled version. The freshness of it from the keg made for a significantly more sour experience. Same look (although lacing was better), better aroma and flavor. A great beer, especially on tap.

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Photo of Scottnr88
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep mahogany almost dark amber color. The white head dissipates quite quickly after pouring. Almost no carbonation afterwards.

S. I got some grassy notes on the nose. You can smell the sweetness of the beer with the very apparent profile of cherry in the beer.

T: Again lot of earthy flavors coming through, green apple,hey, cherry. One thing i did not expect was the dry finish at the end. Almost tastes like a hard cider or a champagne.

M: Good mouth feel, not too heavy or overpowering. Nice and sweet, slightly sour. Was almost expecting it to be a LOT more sour than it actually was.

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

Reviewed live

A very dark ruby, clear, sporting a finger of dark beige head for a moment, then a partial cap. Having this one in a wine glass and there is plentiful lace cling.

Low/med. strength aroma, sweet with some fruity vinegar, hints of herbs and grass.

The sip starts sweet, with some strawberry, mineral, and light vinegar flavors kicking in. It finishes with just a bit of spice and herbal bitter joining in for a juicy finish that doesn't go off the rails.

Mouthfeel is pleasantly viscous, low carb., decent finish, showcases the flavors well.

Overall this is a pretty good beer, but not one I will try again as it is a bit too sweet for me.

 656 characters

Photo of colt45n
2.28/5  rDev -40.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Pours a nice red/burgandy hue, light buggly white head.

S: Not really sure what flavors im getting here there is definitely a sour sweetness to it, but also something dirty or spoiled fruit about it.

T: SOUR omg was not expecting so much sour, also the spoiled fruit there as well.

This might be a liitle over my head, but my palete could not handle this one.

 365 characters

Photo of DirtyDachshunds
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance
Pours a slightly hazy rich dark mahogany color with a thick off white head.

Aroma
Smell is almost overpowering at first. The smell can be described as ‘sour cherries dipped in alcohol’. The sour and alcohol smell are the most predominate up front with a background of cherries to smooth out the scent.

Mouthfeel:
The sweet and sour mixture is pleasing. I found the sourness slightly overpowering. Low bittering.

Taste:
Taste is refreshing. The sour cherry flavor shines through with a small alcohol presence to add a little warming. Very clean

Overall: The malt and hops take a backseat to the sweet sourness. I get a refreshing aftertaste that leaves me wanting more. Very clean beer from start to finish. Excellent beer to be paired with cheese. Everything about this beer follows the rules, however nothing left me saying ‘wow’.

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

From notes June 4, 2011
11.2oz bottle

A - It pours brown with amber highlights. It is capped with one inch of beige head.

S - The aroma is fresh cut grass and cherries. I also get some vinegar.

T - I get a variety of flavors including brown sugar, dates, and apple vinegar.

M - Medium with medium carbonation.

O - It is different than I am used to. It goes from sweet to vinegary back to sweet again.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
3.84 out of 5 based on 2,957 ratings.
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