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

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale
Very Good
2,989 Ratings
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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,989 |  Reviews: 1,157
Photo of RoyalT
3.48/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This red ale is brown in color with a nice head. It is very cloudy and full of small, tight bubbles.

Smell – The sour aroma is rather dull and muted by a malt that almost smells toasted in a way. I can pick up some darkly sweet citrus notes as well, giving this one a decent nose.

Taste – The sourness really kicks things up at the taste, to the extent that it’s about all I can distinguish. The light fruiting wants to come out and play but is squashed like a small bicycle seat engulfed in the ass of a circus fat woman.

Mouthfeel – The carbonation is the strong point of this barely-legal medium-bodied floozie. Otherwise this tease disappoints.

Drinkability – This sour ale went down OK but was nothing special and came in a tad under par for this prolific Belgian brewery.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.15/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a two-finger white head that fades quickly to a ring leaving no lace. Cloudy amber color. Light bodied and light carbonation. Nose is sour cherry . No sweetness here starts and finishes with a sour cherry taste. Clean, tart finish. $5.25 for a 330ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, MA.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured with a great, thick brownish head, but it dissipated all too quickly, leaving behind a thin, wispy reminder. The color is a deep ruby red/brown. The nose is very tart with an underlying smell like toast right from the toaster. It has a thick, almost creamy mouthfeel and a flavor that is very reminiscent of SweetTarts from childhood. It has what I can best describe as a candy-like sweetness, but offset/balanced by an extremely tart flavor. The finish reveals this dichotomy to a greater degree, with me being unable to pin down either sweet or tart, but more like both at once. This is very enjoyable and I would certainly have more than one on a hot summer's day, when the beer would be quite refreshing.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque reddish-brown with a 1/2 inch tan head. Smells of sour cherry. Acidic and winlike with hints of vinegar. lightly sweet. Tart black currant.

Taste is sour up front. A puckering sourness. Sour cherry and wild berry. Acidic and fruity but certainly not sweet. Mouth is a bit thin cold but fill sout as the beer warms. This is no Rodenbach, but like Rodenbach this beer delivers the sour in Flemish Sour Red.

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Photo of blitz134
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Initially a really strong aroma as the cap was popped. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.

Poured a predominately brown color with fainting hits of a garnet deep in the body. Head was just barely off white and disappeared rather quickly to only a circlet of bubbles around the outer edges.

Aroma is slightly sweet and has some hints of bread. But mixed in with all of that is a tart granny smith apple aroma with some other dark fruits. There is an overall sour candy smell to the whole thing. Nothing in the aroma is overly strong but nicely balanced.

Holy sh!t at the tartness of this on the first sip. This is the first beer to actually wrench on my tastebuds a bit and I love every bit of it. Overall there is a dry mouthfeel as this goes down but still coats the mouth well. The taste, as I said above, is extremely tart and consists mainly of apples. I don't pick up too much extra from the flavor as the tartness dominates. I'm torn between a 4 and a 4.5 for the taste. I want to give it a higher score b/c of the uniqueness of the flavor but I feel it fits with the common flavor profile of the style. Additionally the flavor seems a bit one sided compared to other flemish reds that I have had.

Mouthfeel is dry and coating at the same time but a little thin.

This one gets a good drinkability rating but the tartness might become overbearing after a while. Its still good though.

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Photo of Truh
3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had a few sips of this before the conclave on 4/22/2005. 11.2 fl. oz. bottle poured in an Allagash snifter.

Good bubbling, though forced, which settles to what is likely a more natural flat sheen with some piling on the sides. Deep orange to an almost brown hue with a fair amount of haze chimmy-changa-ing around. Lemon/cherry sour tart on nose with a hit of watermelon and a gangly malt; sour patch kid sweetness seeping in. Green apple tart on mouth with a candy apple twinge to it; some underlying yeast breadiness adds some body to an otherwise light profile; kind of a meringue-like feel to it.

Generally, this is not a style I would choose to drink or gravitate towards, but very enjoyable nevertheless.

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Photo of whartontallboy
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this one on tap at Monk's for the first time today. Pours deep red-brown with a small white head. Smell is sweet and a little sour and funky. Flavor is extremely tart with some funk sourness. Bit of fruity cherry flavor to it as well. Malt presence is strong and pleasant.

Overall: This one is interesting. I didn't like the first few sips, but after I got accustomed to it, I really enjoyed the sourness. Quite a nice one to have on tap.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first time sampling this brew, despite its accessibility in this city. Next time I'm at Monk's I'll be sure to try the draught version, though the bottle will do for now on this snowy evening.

Pours a murky, mud color near the top of the glass and fades into a light ruby near the bottom. Tart aroma of mahogany wood and cherries. Flavor has some ripe cherry and plum flavors with a lemon zinger kick in there, all melding into the mildly hoppy middle and eventual tart finish. Hops seem to come through better as it warms, and overall gives it more balances to cut the sour fruitiness. Mouthfeel is enjoyable - a bit bubbly to blend with the tartness. Looking forward to the draught, but this is a nice take-home version.

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Photo of Stimack
4.17/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this brew the other night and poured to a dark red/mahogany color with a thick off white head that holds up quite well leaving a fair amount of lacing around the sides of the chalice. The aroma is definitely of sour/tart cherries with highlights of what I think is an oak barrel smell. This is a very nice smelling brew although it is funny having some friends take a whiff of it, as they have never had anything like this. The brew has a strong cherry (and other berry?) flavor that dominates from the start. The sour taste seems a little more harsh (?) than the Mestreechs Aait that I love but is an excellent taste as well! Also I can sense more of a oakiness from the taste mixing with the aroma which is a fantastic addition. The carbonation of this brew is very nice, seems to be at the perfect level as well. Over all this is a fantastic brew. I have just gotten into this style of brew but I must say that I am sold!

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

brew is from Irishredrock. Thanks for the hookup! I am sampling at room temp in a tulip glass. With an agressive pour, I get a good 2 inches of beige fluffy and frothy head that fades gradually with spacious latticework on the glass. Aroma is as expected, sour cherries, some oak/wooden scents (popsicle stick), tart raspberry as well. I find it very appealing.
First sip reveals a slightly oily texture with large and prickly carbonation. Flavor is fruity sweet up front for a second and then is tart tart tart! Sour cherries, again wooden flavors, granny smith apples. Reminds me of jolly rancher candy. The beer finishes leaving a tart coating on my palate. I find the beer to be very refreshing and enjoyable. A nice example of the style!

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Photo of WilliamPhilaPa
2.89/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Nice deep burgundy color, with a decent white head which dissipates to a good rim lacing.
Smell: Sweet cherries....sour berries, red wine and oddly (to me) vinegar
Taste: (only took 4-5 sips) Short and simply put....very sour and nasty tasting. A few sips and I knew I would not be able to finish this brew.
This is the first flemish sour I ever had and it will most likely be my last.
Kicked: Perhaps a desired then aquired taste for certain sour ale drinkers....and this is probably very good brew in it's category/style but it's just not my style....take this review w/ a grain of salt.

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

This Flemish sour ale poured a cloudy, chestnut color with tan foam (needed to be coaxed) which dissipated flat but remained as a ring around the glass. The smell was tart and lightly malty with notes of caramel and a pungent spiciness and a bit of lactic acidity. The taste was tart and sour with malt and yeast flavors coming through together with a hint of dried fruit. The mouthfeel was sour and crisp with medium body and moderate carbonation. It was refreshing with a lightly tangy aftertaste. This was a nice sour ale.

Sampled another bottle at The Sunset and update review 3/10/05.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Label Lingo: 12 oz browner.

Murky russet brown hues, nearly opaque with a thin clinging egg shell white collar. Warming swirls rise up a foamy collar that quickly descends down me Ommegang tulip.

Lemonade and lemon peel and lemon oil (lemons lemons and more lemons) apples, woody scents that linger and induce mouth watering pucker. Musty attic scents.

First Swigs: Lemon juice pucker. Some pekoe tea malts but this is lemony sour all the way. Metallic acidic. Extraneous notes of under ripened grapes.

Little warming carbonation fizzle rolls on. Thin body. As enjoyable as this is, not a perfect drinker, but close.

Last Swigs: Thanks to PopeDX for the offering. Half lemon juice, half pre mixed tea and like licking a 9 volt battery’s terminals. How good is this? Goood. All lemon lime citrous killer. My best guess is 6% ABV.

Beer is good. Happy sour beering.

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Photo of PatandDavid
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had a bottle of this at AC last weekend. Overall, an alright beer drinker experience, but not enough to make me ooh and aah. After being poured the beer looked like balsamic vinegar, and frankly, the aroma was also pretty reminiscent of the same. A thin white head topped it off. Medium in mouthfeel, I got some faint kriek like notes (aka sour ones), along with some dried fruit. Not as complex as anticipated, even the 'sourness' seemed a bit tame.

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Photo of waughbrew
2.95/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Murky acorn color with no head, just a collar. Smells of cherries and cider. Flavor is bright fruits that quickly swirl into a tartness that is very present but not extreme. Woody notes add depth at the beginning but disappear as it becomes more tart and dry. Thin body and low carbonation makes this seem like a relative of red wine. The finish does not seem very interesting or complex and fails to really inspire another sip. A pleasant beer that could serve others as a decent introduction to the style.

It should be noted that this beer was the first ever to have devastating effects on my digestive system. You have been warned.

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Photo of NearerMyBeerToMe
4.26/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with very little head but for a filmy ring of foam at edge of beer that doesn't cling. Beer itself looks like dirty apple cider, and wow is this murky! Wayyy up close I can see streamers through the murk, so I give it a few good swirls and am able to bolster up a head about a quarter inch deep. Beer is a dirty, rosewood color with slightly reddish highlights. As soon as beer is poured, lactic, yogurty smells fill up the entire room. Up in the nose this only gets stronger. Bananas soaking in vinegar; pomegranate fruitiness with extreme sharp sourness. Nosefeel is so pungent it feels like buttermilk is clotting inside the nasal cavity, desensitizing the entire sinus... Blades of flavor slice through the tongue--apple juice/cider vinegar, sour whey, and pectin. As it warms, it starts to taste more like gin and grapefruit juice, but.. oh man, this is SOUR! with eons of aftertaste. Pungent! Wanna know what the mouthfeel is like? Go do a shot of lemon juice, it's exactly the same... but put an enormous bite at the end. The alcohol went straight to my head, but the beer is remarkably quenching... it sent cooling waves of pleasure up and down my spine. This is the third time I've had this, and it just keeps growing on me. And people say Flemish Red Ale is hard to love? Haters can send their glasses my way!

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pouts a lovely, slightly hazed brown in color. This fades into red and then orange towards the edge of the glass, giving a really attractive sunset impression. Moderately sized light tan head. The aroma is tart, with light oaky notes.

The taste hits big and sour at the start, but blends into an appealing woody malt character mid-palate. A bit sticky in the throat at the finish, but this problem fades as the hops strengthen with warmth, giving the beer a lightly floral finish with a slight metallic tinge. Despite how it sounds, though, this actually seems to work in conjunction with the malt middle. Pretty damn drinkable.

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Photo of ybnorml
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A cloudy Dark, almost brown, amber ale with a small light brown head. Has a very distinct tart sour apple aroma. Slightly fruity flavor at first that gives way quickly to a sour tartness which is followed by a very puckery dry finish. This is my first try with this style. I could drink it fine but would not want more than one. Also the bottle I have is labeled : "Monk's Cafe" Flemish sour ale. I hope this is the right beer.
Note; The website lists the ABV at 5.5 and call it a "Old Brown Ale.

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Photo of belhav0322
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very different. This was my first time trying this style, so it is hard to compare it to anything. Pours a very reddish-mahogony tone. Floral aromas are very apparent and are noticable on the palate upon first taste. Underlying sweetness is balanced by sour aftertaste. Very quenching and full mouthfeel. Fruitiness and tartness are apparent as the beer starts to warm. This actually reminded me of certain Rose wines (I know, bad analogy on this site). This could make a good session beer if you were in the mood for something lite and refreshing. Other than that, this would make an excellent dessert beer.

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

Pours a deep murky brown with red hues and a small white head that left barely any lace. Aromas give off a mix of tartness and sour cherries with tones of barnyard vinegar tones. Flavors are intially nicely tart and sour which a nice fruit tones. This flavor is predominently of sour cherries with some grape and raspberry like flavors. This beer finishes with an acidic tartness and sourness, with a nice zinging carbonation. The body to this brew was a tad thin but overall a nice offering for a flemish sour that was not too syrupy or sugary.

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Photo of Gusler
4.37/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Draught @ O’Brien’s San Diego
Just goes to show you, that you never know what you will find in a great pub, owned and run by great beer loving people, a beer brewed in Belgium exclusively for a pub in Philadelphia, in a pub in California!

The beer as it sets in the Belgian Chalice a somewhat murky deep red to almost brown color, the head a medium tan color that is also creamy in texture and the size perfect, the lace forms a tight skirt to cover the glass. Nose is crisp and tart, the aroma of over ripe fruit, a hint of yeast, a bit musky, quite a pleasant sniff this beer. Start is lightly sweet then tart with the top middling in its feel to the palate, finish is austere in its acidity, the hops perfect in their spiciness, very dry after taste that lingers on and on. I was simply forced to have several glasses before I boarded my incredibly long flight back to Phoenix, geez I needed the energy to withstand that hour and five minute flight! Lol

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Photo of rdrummer
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I try to have one of these whenever I visit Monk's. It pours a really nice, light amber color with a small whitish head. It has the aroma of roasted malts and sourness. The taste ranges from very tart to moderately sour. I find that it depends on what I have been eating or drinking before tasting. The sourness is never off-putting, though. I almost find it pleasantly refreshing in a way. It has a very clean feel in the mouth that really prepares you for a meal. I love one of these on draft before my lunch but have never really wanted a second.

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Photo of ElGuapo
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice brown amber pour with a decent helping of off-white head. It is somewhat cloudy. The aroma is a bit weak, but it has some nice sweet malt hints as well as a delicious sour smell that tingles the nose.

The body is medium, and it has mild carbonation which all comes together to produce a very smooth mouthfeel. Flavor is a bit more dull than my beloved Duchesse, but it is still pretty good. The sour flavor is there with notes of balsamic vinegar. Some fruit flavors as well as citrus come in. Grains lay behind it all to bring in some balance. The drinkability is excellent, and I would have grabbed another or two if I weren't on my way out.

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Photo of 99bottles
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From an 11.2 ounce bottle this beer pours a rich ruby-brown color with a fizzy active head of white carbonation. The smell is very interesting. Sour and sultry, if you get a big whiff it makes the back of your mouth pucker and smells of turned milk (the label calls it lactic). The first taste is of tart cherry. The finish is vert TART. Sour, yes...but the sweet cherry is in there also. Wow. Incredibly refreshing. Incredible tasty. Dry earthy taste from the unique ferementation. I love the sour ending ! A class act all around. However, if fermentation run amok gives you the willies, you might want to look elsewhere. Little pricey also, but worth the bucks.

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Photo of ark57
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

It is a brownish red with very little head. The reserved aroma has some oak and vinous notes and a lactic sourness to it as well. The taste is sweet and sour with some fruit and oak in the finish. The sourness is mild and it is quite refreshing. I always start a visit to Monk's with one of these.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Beer rating: 3.86 out of 5 with 2,989 ratings