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

BA SCORE
86
very good
1,135 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
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:
1,135
Ratings:
2,924
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
13.28%
 
 
Wants:
88
Gots:
448
For Trade:
6
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,135 | Ratings: 2,924
Photo of Oxymoron
3.31/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to koopa for the trade. Pours a crystal clear amber red color. A fizzy white head but did settle to a more creamy appearance over time. Good retention though did hide to the edge of the glass.

The nose has a distinct sweet and sour aroma. The sourness is not over the top but still noticeable. There is a light vinegar and sour but no real funk. The sweetness comes in with a light fruity aroma on the back end. Some cherries and touch of apples (but not something I would call acetaldehyde) as well.

The taste is very similar. The sourness backs off a bit and has more of a tart flavor. Still provides a puckering sourness just light overall. This helps emphasis the more fruity aspect. Noticeable cherries and sugar plums. Some candy flavors as well. There is a hint of caramel with a light toast note but feint. The yeast is pretty clean for a sour. Some minor barnyard, but mostly clean.

The body is not as dry for a typical sour. Really easy drinking though. Overall it reminds me of Duchesse but toned down.

 1,023 characters

Photo of henrysunset
4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

very pretty beer. mahogany coloured with large head of white bubbles.

really nice smell too. sour and cherry with a bit of wood smell.

taste is great. sour and sweet at the same time, extremely clean flavor, very similar to the ever popular duchesse de borgorne, perhaps a little simpler and cleaner in flavor. Very easy to enjoy, tastes like juice.

excellent smoothness, excellent drinkability.

 398 characters

Photo of rtepiak
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a murky brown with reddish hue. some head with quite a bit of lace. smell is first off surprisingly malty. there is a cherry note with an equally strong somewhat boozy vanilla. tastes is very lightly tangy. sweet malt has vanilla characters like that of a bad cabernet. cherry is there. not very woody in flavor. has a light bitter finish. flavors separate dramtically as the beer gets warmer. taste becomes a bit plasticy. i would avoid if you think flemish reds and oud bruins are a novelity.

i think it was better in the bottle... or at least i remember it being better. this is something i'm going to have to come back to.

 633 characters

Photo of jwinship83
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- pours a murky or muddy brown with reddish highlights and a small eggshell colored sticky head.

S- some champagne like qualities as well as a sour twang. i also noticed some yeast scents and some other fruits like apple and grape also.

T- this reminds me ALOT of champagne. definitely has a sour kick to it, but not as much as i was expecting.

M- creamier and fuller than champagne with less carbonation.

D- a new style for me and i did enjoy it. not something that i could have everyday, but i liked it enough to take another look into the world of sour beers.

this seems like a good beer for people that dont really get into beer.

 644 characters

Photo of 7ways
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark copper/ruby with a full yellowish-white head that remained at 1/2 cm for quite some time. Ungodly thick lacing.

N- Red wine/apple cider vinegar, sour grape, cherry, and apple. No distinct malt or hops. The smell alone makes my mouth water.

T- Very strong apple cider vinegar, which I happen to love. Quite acidic. Oakey cherry, sour apple candy. Balanced with moderate sweetness.

M- Prickly, but not so much as to be offensive or get in the way of the taste. Slightly more full than many Flemish reds, which to me increases drinkability.

D- I could drink many of these in a session. In fact, I do. Often.

This is only the second dark sour I've had, and it has made me determined to seek more out.

 717 characters

Photo of Hojaminbag
3.44/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A ruby body with a big off-white head. Leaves some nice sticky lacing on the glass.

Smells sour, but also a vinegar quality to it.

Sour with some dark fruits and malts. Sweet. Sour mouthfeel with a dry finish.

Fairly drinkable, nothing special but pretty good.

 263 characters

Photo of ATLbeerDog
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a beautiful rusty/brown with a small 1/8 inch tan head. Smells of sour grapes/apples and wine. First sip is sour and sweet with cherrys grapes being the dominate fruits. A carbonation consistency and mouthfeel of a wine cooler. This is a refreshing sipper and was much enjoyed.

 283 characters

Photo of jenitivecase
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to EmperorStan for bringing this one back from CA.

A: Pours a clear, coppery red, with a loose, fizzy head that dissipates leaving straggly lacing behind.

S: Clean scent. Picking up the usual sour fruits - plums, apples, etc., with some notes of acidity and a touch of citrus.

T: Very average sour ale. Not too sour, but not too sweet, although there is a good deal of sweetness in the taste. Again, lots of fruitiness, and the slightest touch of barnyard. Makes me think of candy apples.

M: Slightly watery, but not unpleasantly so. Nothing really stand out here, but nothing negative, either. Leaves a nice clean palate behind.

D: This may be a slightly generic sour, but it's a well-crafted one. I would have no problem at all with putting away a 750 of this on my own. Definitely a session drinker.

 815 characters

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

I am a big fan of Flemish sour ales, and this seems like a good falltime beer-(cider-get it?)
Pours out a reddish brown toned, light head, little lacing.
Smells of cherries, yeasts, oak, sour apples, cider, jonagold and granny smith apples, maybe even a touch of lemony-peaches, something like Dogfish Festina Peche.
Tastes of tart lambic yeasts, cherries, apples. Wow! this really is mouth puckering. Not as good as Duchesse de Bourgongne, but decent. I enjoy this style immensely, and this is a classic example. Solid-highly reccomended.

 540 characters

Photo of ckeegan04
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark mahogany color with ruby red highlights when held up to the light. Thin bubbly brown head quickly fades to just a thin bubbly layer. No lacing to speak of.

S - Sweet and sour smell, lots of vinegar. A hint of oak in the background.

T - A puckering sour fruit taste opens the drink with a light sweetness following. Acidic and very tart finish.

M/D - Full bodied and very well carbonated. A little sticky in the mouth. The high sourness of the beer makes it a little tough, but as it warms the flavors mellow and it is very drinkable.

 545 characters

Photo of willjschmidt
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a New Belgium globe glass.

A: Pours a very murky brown with red accents with a thin head.

S: Sour, tangy, slightly sweet, sour cherries.

T: A tangy and tart sour cherries starts it off. The sourness is very pleasant, not at all overwhelming. Nice balance for the style.

M: Medium bodied, maybe even a little light. Smooth carbonation.

D: An interesting beer, certainly worth trying if you're a fan of sours.

 444 characters

Photo of gmuller
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Murphy's Tulip.

Appearance - Deep reddish copper, head quick to dissipate, but had large bubbles while it lasted. Poured impressively clear in spite of the thick layer of yeast at the bottom.

Smell - Sour, vinegar. Ripe without smelling rotten. A mild but powerful smell. Smells like a still-living beer.

Taste - Sour of course, like vinegar at first but then like a yogurt. Woody flavors, ripe fruit.

Mouthfeel - Not bad, a little more bold then I would expect. Was hoping for a lighter feel, like something I would drink on a summer evening.

Drinkability - Very drinkable for the style. I wouldn't want to polish off more than 1 or two in a night, but pleasant.

 699 characters

Photo of bluemoonswoon
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle poured into a Duvel snifter.

A: Pours a dark muddy reddish color with a half inch loose and bubbly greyish white head that sticks around for a bit before fading into a cap while still leaving behind some pretty decent lacing.

S: Cherry vinegar, an amazing balance stuck between sweet and sour. Good but a bit one dimensional.

T/MF: Mild tobacco, sour acidic cherry, though compared to times I've tried this on tap, the acidity seems to be a bit more heavy handed in the bottled version, numbing the taste of cherry slightly. Feel is medium bodied, very tart, puckers the sides of the mouth but still manages to finish rather clean. Quite refreshing if a bit thin.

D: Not bad, but not as good as I would have hoped since trying it on tap once before. Still a pretty solid choice if you are looking to get into sour beers and don't know where to begin.

 869 characters

Photo of koopa
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Somewhere btw cherry and amber with a nice caramel head. Medium head retention and some lacing.

Smell: Extremely appetizing. Cider Vinegar dominates while sour tart apples and unripened fruit fill the smell out.

Taste: Loads of sourness, tangy, not very funky though. Cider vinegar again comes to mind.

Mouthfeel: thin with a good amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: extremely drinkable for the style, but not an easy style for some to drink.

Overall: I'm a fan and purchase this beer by the case.

 518 characters

Photo of russpowell
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Can't remember if rphogan or jwc215 sent me this, cheers to all!

Pours brown with 1 finger of cream head. Above average lacing & very good head retention

S: Intense tartness & some oakyness

T: Strong woody taste, along with some vinaigrette & hints of apple vinegar up front. I get iron, oakyness & a touch of leather, plus dryness & tartness as this warms. Finishes oaky, tart & puckery with hints of leafy hops & figs fighting through

MF: Medium bodied with low carbonation

Drinks pretty good for the style, probably not sour enough for true Flemish red fans. I liked this one

 584 characters

Photo of webmanspidey
3.49/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this on tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia.

This was the first beer of this style I have tried, and it was definitely something unlike anything I had tried before.

Dark red/brown appearance. Smell to me was like pure vinegar. Not appealing at all, and takes you back at first.

Taste not as strong as the smell.. kind of a sour apple taste that reminds me of a hard apple cider. Very lactic.

Definitely something worth trying to me, but wasn't something I particularly enjoyed.

 487 characters

Photo of PiecefulToker
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Dark, ruby/amber brown color, opaque, with a sticky layer of head that leaves thick lacing in my chalice.

S: Dark cherries, dried fruit, plums, slight vinegar, sweet caramel, sour and tart, lactic smell.

T&M: Much more sour and dry than I expected from the smell. This had kind of a funky texture, but was quite creamy and smooth going down. It was very sour and lactic, leaving an almost burning sensation in the back of my mouth and throat. Not much sweetness at all, but I still get the raisin/dried fruit, plum, and dark cherry flavors, just not as pronounced as I expected. I wasn't sure at first, but I like this the more I drink it. I much prefer Rodenbach.

D: Not very high, though I could take down a few.

 720 characters

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

Almost a dark brown color, looks a lot like Duchesse du Bourgogne off the taphead actually. Pretty hazy, with a reddish tint to the large tan head that sticks a while.

The aroma is quite nice; lots of pleasingly sour and tart notes like green apple, tangy pear, etc. Very clean, not too earthy or dusty here.

Strangely strong on the vinegar end. I've really enjoyed this from the bottle before, but it tastes dramatically different here. Quite sour, but not as clean as the bottle: seriously strong vinegar flavor keeps coming back.

Still a lot of fruit, good tanginess, and puckering in the finish for days, lightish body but not too bad. I'm not hugely pleased by the overbearing acidity here. I guess go for the bottle, unless you're near Philly and you know you're getting a good fresh keg.

 800 characters

Photo of PEBKAC
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Gift from a friend. Yes I like sours, thank you. :)

Poured into my Ommegang flute that's just about perfect for everything these days.

Thick & heavy two inch French vanilla head. Tipping the glass doesn't change the level on the surface. The color of red oak stain, light takes all angles through but the most direct.

Smells of cider vinegar, maple, an honest assumption of potting soil, & a sweet/sour note that comes off a little like a mix between Chinese s&s sauce, & white grapes. Inviting & confusing at the same time.

Taste is a flash of syrupy sweet juice followed by a quick pat down with oak. Overripe cantaloupe & sour orange throw into the ring, but overall all the flavors remain pretty level. A little bit of something like sour milk & ash in the finish, but it agrees with me(sort of). Just a little bit of rind bitterness to keep things interesting. A little cookie crust overtakes any remaining sour right at the very end.

Carbonation is sitting pretty, & just has that touch about her. Body is thin & juicy, but it spreads itself out too far trying to keep everyone happy. A little brashness is healthy every now & then.

 1,143 characters

Photo of AlexJ
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Ruby chestnut pour with a frothy beige head of large bubbles that falls to a soapy ring.

Aroma is over-ripe apples, tart cherry, must, diluted vinegar, with light toasty vanilla and oak.

Flavor is a near perfect blend of sweet and sour notes; musty orchard fruit, sweet balsalmic vinegar, tart cherries, and a nice winey oak spice note. As it warms a steely minerality comes into play. Not overy complex but very tastey.

Body shy of medium with loose carbonation, a slippery mouthfeel and superb drinkability. A definate session sour.

 537 characters

Photo of chinabeergeek
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

no date on the bottle. possible batch number of U8:44?

poured into tulip

dark, almost opaque reddish brown. red tint under the light. not bottle conditioned, so pretty clear. decent head, but soon fades to a thin, then wispy layer. some good lacing.

very sour and funky vinegar aroma. fresh wood comes in and peaks at the back. balsamic vinegar? cider, crabapple, hint of dried cranberry and raisins. whiff of molasses.

flavors are similar, tart upfront with that balsamic character again. plus more woody notes. undertone of caramelized malts, with that almost-molasses flavor. tartness fades as it continues and you start to notice a gentle (hop?) bitterness. pleasantly sweet and sour overall.

not too thin nor watery. some acidic and tannic texture. moderate and refreshing carbonation.

perhaps not the pinnacle of the style, but you can't beat the price.

 865 characters

Photo of aerozeppl
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Monk's but this review is from the bottle.

A: Nice cloudy and earthy red color. 1/2 finger of white head with some lacing.

S: Nice and tart. Little bit musty and earthy. Not as potent on a nose as it is on tap.

T: Very tart and vinegary. Nice fruitiness. Not as complex as on tap which is kind of weird but it is still good.

M: Nice tart feel. Syrupy and coating.

D: Very drinkable. Love the huge taste and low ABV. Definitely grab this again if in Philly.

 480 characters

Photo of largadeer
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: 11.2 oz bottle poured into a pint glass, because I'm a fuckin' rebel. Clear but dark ruby red with great head retention, no sediment. Nice looking stuff.

Smell: Sweet and sour, with an emphasis on the sweet; balsamic vinegar, a bit of cherry cough syrup, slightly mineral/metallic. Pretty middle of the road for the style.

Taste & mouthfeel: Fruity sweetness followed by mild sourness, which leads way to a sweet/sour finish. I'd like a bit less sweetness, but this is pleasant enough. Mouthfeel is a touch syrupy. Decent, but far from great.

 556 characters

Photo of happygnome
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a: pours a deep mohogany color with about an eigth inch of head that dissapears quickly leaving a good amount of lacing
s: vinegar, funk, cherries are deffinatly present. the vinegar aroma is not overwhelming but ties all of the other aromas together niely
t: sour, vinegar, cherries, refreshing
m: medium bodied ample carbonation

overall, this was an enjoyable beer, I enjoyed it a lot there was a ton of flavor

 413 characters

Photo of Slynger
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Murky cranberried brown with a lid of frothy-creamy light brown coloring

Smells of tart cherries, lightly red wine and vinegary, with sweet wood and spicy hops.

The taste has a light brown sugar / woody sweetness before tart cranberries punch me playfully in the mouth. Dry red and caramely malts help to balance with mild herbal hops. Light medium body feels lightly acidic, and has a frothy carbonation.

Pleasant and mild for the most part, it did not come in as sour as I feared it may have. Good flavor and balance to it and one I definitely would not object to having again.

 582 characters

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
3.84 out of 5 based on 2,924 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.

    Subscribe