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 CHickman
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours dark red brownish color with a 2+ finger foamy tan head that faded very slowly and left great foamy lacing and thick rings as it went down.

Smelled of sweet dark fruit, orange peel, sour fruit, yeast, caramel and tart rotting fruit like apple or pear. The sweetness gets cut off by the citrus, and then it turns sour and filled with a mix of dark fruits.

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Photo of akolb
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours dark with a huge head. Aroma of tootsie rolls, prunes, funk, and figs. Tart and fruity taste. A very nice beer, complex, sour, and refreshing, I enjoyed this quite a bit.

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Photo of dantheduck
4.14/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is a very nice sour. Had it on tap at our favorite bottle shop in Raleigh, The Hop Yard. Nice dark color, very good fruity aroma, and a full body mouth feel that could only have been made better by a little more pucker. Definitely a do for sour loving fans.

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Photo of nebula1999
4.24/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This beer is not really sour or tart...compared to the more recent examples of "sour" beers. But the Flemish Red style is more than just being sour.

This beer has more malt than you can shake a stick at....and full of dark fruits..cherry, prune, raisin, currant, etc.

Love Love Love.

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Photo of MUTINY
3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

11.2oz bottle into a Teku...I know, I know - odd glass choice...just breaking in some new glass.

A: Pours a nearly-opaque chocolate/mahogany with crimson highlights when held up to direct light. 1/2" light-tan head recedes somewhat quickly. Retention & lacing are both about average-to-style.

S: Extremely deep & well-defined macerated & pitted fruit notes. Plum, date & fig are all very up-front with a slightly tart raspberry character that serves to bind everything together.

T: Comes on with a faintly funky apple/pear quality that leads into a somewhat more tangy mid palate. Overripe raspberry & blueberry come into play along with a just-slightly brettish quality leading toward the finish. Finishes overly simple with a one-two punch of fructose & barnyard.

M: Pleasantly effervescent medium carb married to an appropriate-to-style mid-weight body. Finishes moderately dry.

O: This brew walks a fine line between subtle & overly-simple. I'm inclined to place it closer to the overly-simple side.

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Photo of DonaldS
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip glass from bottle. Deep brownish red almost opaque with a small head dissipates. Minimal lacing. Smell vinegar, hint of cherry. Taste is fairly sour with strong vinegar on the tongue. High carbonation. I would buy this again if I was in the mood for a sour. I don't think this is for everyone, especially the vinegar taste might put people off.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Red and brown, muddled, thin tan head on it, 1/4". The aroma was plenty sour, minimal wood, and some bitter darker cherry fruit notes.

Taste was fairly sour, a little bit of vinegar like acetic acid, milder wood, plenty acidic. This one isn't a mild blended sour, it hits with a sharp quotient, even if it isn't the most complex or top tier kind of flavors, not a lot in the way of fruit impressions, cherry, mild.

These are plenty affordable, good intro to sours kind of beers.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.31/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Dark brown to amber with a quarter inch of beige head resting on top. Light lacing. The aroma is tart Brett and horse blanket. The taste is lightly tart Brett and dark malt and is very balanced. The mouth is highly carbonated and very dry.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Type: 12-oz. draft
Glass: Clear tulip glass
From: Junk House in San Diego, Calif.
Price: $7.00
Purchased: Jan. 8, 2016
Consumed: Jan. 8, 2016
Misc.: N/A

Poured a dark reddish auburn color with 1-to-2 fingers of dark khaki-white, frothy head when I got it. Excellent, foamy layered lacing on the sides of the glass. Above average retention on the top of the glass. (Sight - 4.25)

Smelled dark fruits - raspberry, red apple, strawberry and pomegranite - along with raspberry sorbet, sour lactose notes and some rosy vinegar. (Smell - 4.25)

Tasted similar to the nose, getting dark boozy raspberry, raspberry sorbet, dark apple, pomegranate, light blueberry, plum, purple grapes, rosy vinegar and sour milky lactose. (Taste - 4.00)

Medium body. Oily texture. Average-to-lively carbonation. Long, smooth finish. (Feel - 4.00)

This was a very good beer. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to have it. (Overall - 4.00)

4.08 | 91 | A-

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Photo of JayKay
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A nice dark brown with a tint of ruby. My first sour ale and I could smell a bit of sweet and sour on the nose. Sourness at the start to a somewhat malty sweetness finish.

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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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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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