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

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

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

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

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Reviews: 1,140 | Ratings: 2,942
Photo of Myotus
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 4

Poured at 46°F from an 11.2 bottle into a snifter. Consumed on 02Jan15.
LOOK: Pours with a fingers worth of khaki foam that dissipates into a quarter fingers worth within 50 seconds. Dark brown in color with a ruby tint. Rising bubbles are very subtle in quantity and medium in size. Lacing is thin and moderate.
SMELL: Mild aromas of sweet and sour balsamic vinegar, oak, figs, plums, and black cherries are backed by subtle aromas of toasted malts and hints of butter.
TASTE: Mild balsamic vinegar, fig, plum, and black cherry flavors enter initially. The sourness from the balsamic vinegar flavors is slightly stronger than the sweetness, which is different from what the smell told me. Mild toasted malt flavors and subtle oak flavors immediately follow the initial flavors. Subtle flavors of butter finish of the taste symphony as all previous flavors persist, except for the fruit flavors, which grow slightly stronger.
FEEL: Light-bodied and highly carbonated (I really dislike that combination). Goes down rough. Finishes crisp.
NOTE: This is only my second of its style. This was not as sour as I thought it would be. The taste was great with more fruit and butter coming through than they did in the smell. The mouthfeel brought down the overall rating for me. I'm not a fan of thin beers nor highly carbonated ones.

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Photo of Benj17
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: dark amber-brown, relatively persistent head, quite a bit of lacing. Nose: slight funk, malt, gently hoppy, light VA, v. slightly metallic. Palate: slightly drying mouthfeel, only moderately sour, good weight and carbonation (though perhaps a touch frothy for me), surprisingly bitter finish, which is a disappointment right at the end, because the rest of this is good. As with most good sours, this benefits from warming up to ~50 F. A little lighter than some of the heavy hitting sours. Decent, but not really worth it when there are plenty of better sours around this price point.

Also, I like my sours *sour*, and this doesn't quite bring that.

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Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.73/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Poured into a Propolis tulip. Very dark brown-red body, three finger brown-white head.

Smell: Cherry, raspberries, brown sugar, and a note of apple cider vinegar.

Taste: Same.

Feel: Somewhat tart upfront, brief brown sugar sweetness in the middle which gives way immediately to a somewhat aggressive dryness or bitterness, I can't tell which. Medium body, high carbonation.

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Photo of SMZBrew
4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter.

A - Poured a deep mahogany red with at least 2 inch brownish head. Head retention is pretty good with great lacing afterwards all along the sides of the glass.

S - Definitely on the mild side with a good amount of sourness, mild funk and maybe vague hint of hops.

T - Very mild and balanced brew. The initial taste is mild sour and sweetness with a significant hint of berry. Finish is mildly tart and barely perceptible bitterness. I really enjoy the mildness and balance of this beer.

M - Light bodied with light/medium carbonation. Very smooth, easy drinking beer.

O - I am a big fan of sour beers and I enjoy this one regularly. It doesn't have the same big sour taste and complexity as its competition and that may leave some disappointed. For me, it is well balanced and easy to drink and sometimes you may not want that big sour note. Because of the mildness, this beer is especially great for sharing with someone who have never tried or is apprehensive about trying a sour brew. This has a regular spot in my fridge and cellar.

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Photo of gr0g
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At tap at PJ's in Maple Shade, NJ. I've long passed up Monk's but it's on tap here so why not try it now? Murky brown appearance. Aroma has some tart cherry character, though I'm not sure any cherries were added during the brewing process. Some leathery Brett character. Aside from a light tartness, this doesn't smell that funky (no acetic acid, for example).

The aroma didn't lie, as the flavor profile starts out with a nice, light tartness. After that, it's dry Belgian brown ale character all the way to the finish. Not all that funky, but it's not bland, either. All in all, this is a great introductory Oud Bruin.

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Photo of jmasher85
3.69/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is a good intro beer for sour rookies. (You can tell because it was by far the most interesting thing on tap at the Green Turtle Sports Bar). Somewhat tart, but certainly not particularly sour, and very little of that yeasty funk that sour beer fans normally look for. It's got some nice sweet, fruity qualities that resemble strawberries, peaches, sour cherries, and dried apples.
As I said, I'd take most other good sours/Flemish reds over this one just because I know the style, but if you are just getting into them, or just want a semi-sweet tart beer that's easy enough to drink, and you happen to be a sports bar where there's nothing else you haven't tried, it's certainly worth a go.

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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.

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Photo of Madtownbeerguy
3.26/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is a sour I'd buy based on the decent price for a 4-pack, but not one I'd search out. I taste at least five levels to this beer. First is simply a very carbonated bland ale, which quickly gives way to a bitterness that I'm not a fan of. Then a perfectly balanced sour. But then a rotten fruit / pinot level that goes beyond any sort of affection I'd lend to the term "funky'. And lastly and amalgam of all these things. Don't get me wrong—I like this beer. But I'd take basic Rodenbach over it any day (also cheaper), and Duchess (similar price) is worlds better. In a pinch, it's solid. Nothing worth writing home about though, especially with the sour market growing like it is.

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Photo of Suds
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Beautiful brown, with a burnt read tinge. The smell is pungent, with sweetness and funky sour notes...interesting and engaging. The taste is sweeter than expected, with a lot of tartness. It is not really sour, but rather intensely tart. Medium in body and enjoyable.

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Photo of ordybill
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.2 OZ bottle into a pint glass this beer is a dark reddish amber with a yhick tan head. The aroma is big on grapes with a nice tart flavir, very smooth.

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Photo of leantom
3.79/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Alright. Probably just should've bought one bottle, though. Here goes:

A: Actually, I liked it very much. Well-carbonated (lots of effervescence), massive head that lingers, and OK lacing. Pours a dark murky brown, but I liked the appearance - very Belgian.

S: Like a sour homebrew. Thick yeast, some cherries/raspberries, prunes, raisins, and brown sugar and molasses. However, it's very musty - can't get over the homebrew smell. Smells somewhat oxidized and old.

T: Good. Cherries much more prominent; very jolly rancher-esque sour bite on the lips. Lots of raspberries - like a lambic. Also a good portion of brown sugar/molasses. Very yeasty. Overall, a good mix of dark malt and bready yeast.

F: Good. Nice and thick.

O: Good concoction. A little sour for my liking, but this comes with the territory.

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Photo of fitzy84
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Had on tap at Monks Cafe. The beer had an amber-brown appearance with a good sized head with great retention and nice lacing on the sides. Dominant aromas I smelled included cherries, berries, and malts. In terms of taste, I got more of a raspberry feel with a generally tart and sour flavor. The beer was surprisingly refreshing and had a good watery body with medium carbonation. Overall, a refreshing beer with some interesting fruity flavors.

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Photo of Radome
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 330 ml bottle.

L - Attractive medium brown color with lots of red. Head is light tan, thick, creamy, moussy and long-lasting. Tons of creamy lace.

S - Appetizing malt aromas of graham crackers, light molasses, raisins and prunes. Overlaid is a whiff of "aged" aromas such as raspberries, sweet grape juice, and even vinegar. No hops or alcohol on the nose. It smells delicate and dainty.

T - The flavors are not as fruit-filled as the aromas. Light graham cracker malt. Light raisins and prunes, then a gentle vinegar note late in the palate.

F - Light body, restrained but creamy carbonation. No hops bitterness detectable, but a bit of vinegar-like acetic bite keeps it from being cloying. No alcohol heat.

O - A great example of the style, made with a delicate touch. Not as full of flavor and complexity as some, but overall clean, gentle and pleasant.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Pours ruby brown with a very light tan, near two finger head. Fair retention before thinning out to a consistent layer of suds across the top. Spotty lacing.

Smell - Tart, sour notes, like cherry or green apple, with an underlying must character.

Taste - Cherry and green apple tartness. Hints of caramel and butterscotch. Lightly vinegar in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium in body with moderate carbonation. Smooth, slick texture. Goes down easy despite the tart flavors.

Overall - Decent tartness, while the caramel and butterscotch undertone gives this some decent depth. I wouldn't be opposed to buying this again, though it's not exactly my favorite style of brew, that being sours in general. That counts for something, right?

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Photo of WesMantooth
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a very deep, opaque, ruby/mahogany brown. Very thick, light brown head that is surprisingly frothy. A very nice film. Incredible retention, and leaves significant lacing.

Smells sour, but not overly so. Funky Belgian yeast. Fermented apples and cherries. Kind of musty.

Initial tartness/sourness subsides and I taste cherries, or some sort of dark fruit. Maybe red grapes too. The yeast starts to come through, but is not real prominent. A little bit of apple juice and some wood. More sourness in the end along with my least favorite part, a slightly metallic and bitter aftertaste. Almost like an asprin on your tongue. I don't find it to be overly sour, which I like. It doesn't mask all of the flavors.

Nice body. Slightly prickly

I was enjoying this one a lot until the bad aftertaste. Not sure if this is common. This is not my first sour, but I have not had many, and this is my first Old Bruin style. I am definitely interested in trying more. Just not at this price though. $4.75 for a single.

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Photo of breadwinner
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I thought this little Flemish ale worked pretty nicely. I appreciated its light tartness, certainly not a sour for sour fiends, but really quite pleasant, and working in concert with a raisiny/dark berry-ish flavor and touches of funk to create a nicely drinkable brew.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.06/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle served in a tasting glass.

Very dark red with a nice brown head. Clear and beautiful. Sour cherries and a little sour funk in the nose. Thin mouthfeel, sour cherries, tart but not too much. Heavy medicinal flavor but not in a bad way. No oak character, I guess that vanished generations ago. Wonderful Flemish Red.

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Photo of alexanderplatz
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Like Rodenbach Classic Red this is an easy to drink sour beer. The flavor is slightly tart, sweet and dominated by berry flavors. It is not hoppy at all. Descriptions of sour beers often feature terms evoking barnyard odors, which to me implies an acquired taste that may be not for me. But I didn't find Monk's to have any sort of challenging/weird/offensive flavors at all. If I had to use a single word to describe it, I would say "tangy."

I find one bottle very drinkable but the sweetness is such that it isn't the sort of beer I would drink two of back to back.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 fl oz. bottle, no bottled on date present. My first encounter with this beer and this brewery, acquired the 4 pack at the local beer store.

Poured into a Unibroue La Fin Du Monde tulip glass.

A - Pours a murky brownish red body, a bit more clarity than I would have thought, with three fingers of fluffy pinkish-brown tinted head that stays for a while.

S - Aroma is pretty bland. A touch of lactic sour, green apples, mixed berries, and some mustiness.

T - Not sour at all, in my opinion. Minor tart. Lots of mixed berries. Taste at times almost reminds me of berry juice concentrate. Very plain and boring.

M - Smooth, wet, & sticky. Light-bodied, low carbonation. Easy-drinking, but not quenching.

Overall, a very plain and boring example of the style, I'd have to say. Definitely not worth the $15.99 price tag.

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale -----3.5/5

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured on tap in a tulip, the beer is a bright, crystal clear, straw coloring with a thin, clingy, white head. Aromas of toasted grains, subtle grape must, and lemon. Flavors are toasted forward, with a subtle lemon tart and sweet, white grape must, and floral highlights. Very balanced, light, and refreshing. The aftertaste is tart and sweet, with a dry, crisp, clean finish. Very drinkable.

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Photo of MLoxxer
3.16/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

I enjoyed this beer on tap at Yia Yia's in Lincoln Nebraska. Although the head consisted of larger bubbles retention was very good. Living up to its reputation its flavor does have a very lambic-like start with a sour finish. Mouthfeel is moderately tanniny. I could detect no malt or hop character which leads me to believe the base is wheat and fruit. This isn't a beer for everyone but it does have an adventurous flavor.

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Photo of Slack
4.47/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mahagoney in color with about 1/2 inch of head and no lacing.

Aroma is sour, acidic, with sweet undertones. Am picking up vinegar and grape.

Taste is acid up front mixed with wine. Finish is sweet grape.

Mouthful is light and crisp with high carbonation.

This is a nice beer that is very easy to drink. I paired it with some BBQ and enjoyed it even further.

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Photo of Qbdoo
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark, dark brown, almost black with frothy tan head. Smells like cherries and tastes similar. Starts with a touch of sweetness but finishes super dry and crisp. Light-bodied. I am not a lover of sours but this is the best I've had and one I will drink again.

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Photo of BenwayPHD
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a reddish brown with a full three finger head. The appearance bothers me. It's too clean. I want to see the funk in a sour beer. The nose is also a letdown. It smells like sour, sweet, and slightly citrussy, but it's all a bit too mellow. The flavor is similar. It's good but not great. I like a sour that punches me in the gut. This feels safe. It's a sour for people who are new to sours.

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Photo of stompilator
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 11.5oz bottle into a snifter.

A - Poured a hazy dark brown, slimy, off-white head.

S - Heavy, almost astringent sourness, akin to paint fumes. Slight bit of caramelly grain aroma.

T - Initial sour taste follows the nose, very harsh and vinegar-y with some stone fruit notes.. Tartness builds to a peak and fades into a nibbling residual sourness, allowing the slightly sweet grain and yeast spice to really shine.

M - A tad dry, but nice carbonation and medium body.

O - The astringency of the sourness masks the complex flavor profile a bit, but is still an interesting and evolving brew.

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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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