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

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very good
1,128 Reviews
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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 | website

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:
1,128
Ratings:
2,901
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
21.61%
 
 
Wants:
88
Gots:
432
For Trade:
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Reviews: 1,128 | Ratings: 2,901
Photo of TurdFurgison
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Drank on tap at Naja's in Redondo Beach, served in a Fin Du Monde chalice.

Appearance: Dark reddish brown, with wispy head lingering for a few minutes.

Smell: Sour lambic kind of aroma, with some cherries.

Taste: Very sour and bitter, nice cherry flavor.

Notes: Tart, sour, sweet, and good. This was my first Flanders Red, so I really have no right to judge it. I just know I enjoyed it. Maybe I'll revisit this beer review after I get more experience.

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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 Jwale73
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle served in my new Chouffe N'Ice 25 cl flute at 52 degrees (wish I had let this chill down a little more). Poured a translucent chestnut with a tight two inch off-white head pock-marked on the surface, but composed of compressed, tiny bubbles along the shoulders; head eventually recedes into a consistent, dense cap. A half moon band of lacing coats one side of the glass with spatters coating the opposite side of the bowl. Nose indicated some acidity off the bat; suggests sour cherries. Taste consistent with nose, but sour character is muted and even; not overly bold upfront but consistent throughout the tasting experience. Mouthfeel is light and lively with a slight acidity at the finish. Easy drinking and flavorful with a low abv makes this a great introduction for sour beer newbies (like myself).

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Photo of cbutova
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a gloriously dark red into my Duvel tulip. A head builds up to a few fingers but fizzes out very quickly and you can actually hear it. Dies down to a funky looking cloud and ring. A few sticky suds but looks more like wine with a mutant cloud in the middle of it.

S- Strong and sour. The aroma even made my cheeks pucker. Smells a lot like red wine, a very lot. Lots of grapes, fruit and acetic and lactic acid.

T- Pretty damn sour at first but that goes away pretty quickly. It starts off with huge fruit and vinous notes, lots of grape and dark fruit going on here. The finish is hugely unexpected, malty and very bready. The moderate sour level (after first sip) lends a great touch to these nice flavors. Vinegar levels not very present here for some reason. Wow, toward the ends this really tastes amazingly like tart cherry pits.

MF- The body is fairly light and highly carbonated. It is, however, very smooth and creamy. The sours make your cheeks pucker as the palate is coated with great fruit and vinous flavors.

DB- I bought this because it was the cheapest Belgian single on the entire shelf of a local store. Turned out to be a great buy, successfully blending wine flavors with a great malt and yeast backbone. I would be proud to have this brewed for my restaurant. Probably a one or two bottle thing but still one of the most drinkable sours I have come across.

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Photo of glid02
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours a slightly hazy brownish-red color with a one-finger off-white head. The head dissipates quickly into a wispy layer of bubbles on top and a medium-sized ring around the glass. Lacing isn't very sticky.

Smells of tart cherries with a small amount of yeasty funk. It's almost like a light red wine when it's cold but as it warms it gets more of a malty character.

Prepare yourself, because the first sip is VERY sour. I wasn't expecting it to be this tart from the smell, and though it's not overpowering it certainly makes me pucker up a bit. Sour cherry and apple flavors mostly, with a vanilla-esque flavor - almost a bit woody.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a good thickness and active carbonation.

Drinkability is good once you're acclimated to the sourness. The flavors are clean and crisp and I had no problem finishing off one - although I'm not sure how much I like the prospect of having another.

Overall this is a great beer for the price. Pick this up if you see it, and the next time I'm in Philly I hope to stop in for a glass.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a 10 oz chalice glass

Appearance – The beer served a reddish brown color with a nice clarity. Upon swerving there is a thick white head floating atop the brew. The head sticks around for quite some time eventually fading to leave a decent level of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is sweet and tart with lots of dark cherry and plum with souring notes of an apple cider vinegar and some lactic acid bacterial funk smell.

Taste – The taste begins with a sweet dark cherry and a little bit of sour grape and sour cherry. As the flavor advances it gets more and more sour and tart in nature, but maintains, all the while, a good level of sweetness. Apple cider vinegar and some funky yeast flavors accompany the souring and tart flavors at the end leaving a pleasant sweet and tart flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is one thinner and crisper side with tons of tiny carbonation bubbles. The prickly carbonation and thinner body are great for the sweet, sour and tart fruit flavors of the brew and help keep the tart from becoming too overpowering.

Overall – This is a great sour. It isn’t too heavy in any one component – not too sweet, sour, or tart, but the right blend of the three for a very enjoyably drinkable brew.

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Photo of Gusler
4.37/5  rDev +13.8%
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 champ103
4.51/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a cloudy reddish/brown color. A two finger white head forms and recedes after a minute. Light lace is left behind.
S: The aroma is of funky sourness. Ripe fruit of apples, pears, and cherries. Some vinegar, slightly acidic, and tannin aromas. Oak and wood lingers on. I can just plant my nose in the glass all day. Truly amazing.
T: Follows the nose. Lots of barnyard funky flavors and fruits. Apples and pears are most prevalent. Oak and wood. Again this is slightly acidic. Plenty of sweet sourness. Though it never becomes cloying. Very balanced between the Belgium funk and sweet fruit flavors.
M/D: This has a medium body. At first it has to much carbonation. Though as this breaths a little the beer becomes more creamy and smooth. The great balance between the fruit and sourness makes this a treat to drink. I wish the bottle would have never ended.

This is one great beer. I really enjoyed it. Something I would highly recommend.

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

Reviewed from notes: Had on draft at Monk's Cafe thanks to Maggie for DIPA Trivia Question. : )

appearance: dark red / brown with a 1 finger minimal head

smell: sour, tart, cherries, apples,

taste: sour, tart, refreshing, cherries,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, medium body,

overall: really impressed how refreshing this beer was. So glad I got to try it and had a great time at Monk's.

cheers,
the CPJ

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Photo of AgentMunky
2.45/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 33cL bottle into a brandy snifter. Stamped 08KK 17:46.

A: A finger and a half of rich head bubbles and collapses on itself fairly quickly. The beer is barely translucent mahogany brown.

S: Poop, metal, dead skunk, and spoiled wine. This is utterly abysmal. The worst smelling beer of all time? It has not a single redeeming feature.

T: I don't like it...I wonder if something is the matter. The first 2/3 of the flavor is metallic, thin, sour, and poor. However, the last third of the taste really opens up. Fruit (grape soda), wine, tasty sourness, and candy sweetness. The aftertaste is lingeringly (sour) yeasty and perhaps the best aspect of the beer.

M: Smooth (like juice) with a tinge of carbonation. Decent. Grape juice is a recurring theme.

O: I am a pretty generous reviewer, but this is just...unacceptable. Maybe it's better on tap? At any rate, definitely NOT recommended. I will never drink this beer again.

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

12 oz tap pour into a stemmed glass at bnieman's Dad's house before watching some Brew Masters on Discovery.

A - Beautiful mahogany amber in color with a light tan head. Good retention with some thick lace clinging to the glass.

S - Crisp amber malts with a sweet caramel aroma. A hint of vinegar sourness that is very nice. Good, but a little cold in aroma.

T - A touch of metallic flavor to the amber toasted malts. Nice mild sourness with a little hint of the awesome vinegar I love in this style.

M - Crisp and light-bodied with a smooth follow-through and light sour finish.

D - This will be dangerous on tap in the basement. I could drink this all night if I didn't have to drive (aka didn't feel guilty of emptying the keg).

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

Poured in my Belgique tulip, Monk's Café is a clear ruby with a very tight light tan head, leaving pretty nice lace.

Smell is very vinous, sweet malt and vanilla notes.

Taste is pretty heavy on the acetic acid vinegar, I think maybe an increase over having it a year ago, but maybe not, there's still a nice balance from the richness of the sweet malt. Strong oak and grape mid-palate before a pretty clean finish. Very intense, like the smell.

Mouthfeel has very creamy carbonation, which helps keep the body light and cut the viscosity of the malt, oiliness of the acids and tannic bite.

Drinkability is pretty good, this has held up well, maybe improved a bit after a year in the cellar. I think the acidity has increased, and while it's still to sweet and cider vinegary for my taste in the style, I think the age has helped it, as I don't recall being to pleased with the first bottle when I bought it (and ultimately busted out a little later in that night then I should have, so who knows).

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Photo of Rutager
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours a pretty clear, deep amber-red with a small head that fades quickly.

Smell. Sweet and lightly sour cherries, pears, and canteloupe with some light, woody funk.

Taste. Nice sweet cherries and apples with a little sourness in the end. Very little funkyness and even less wood.

Mouthfeel. Medium+ body, slightly syrupy with medium-low, fine carbonation.

Overall. Nice and easy drinking. Not a whole lot going on in this one, but a fine casual drinker for sure.

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

33cl bottle $3.99 Looked red to me, decent head. Smelled a lot like glue but a cheap kind and not the top shelf Elmer's that I get from La Folie. A little vinegar in the smell also, not bad. Mildly sour but also a little one dimensional. I'd take a rodenbach or la folie over this any day.

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

on tap at Monk's - review done from notes.

A - Nice clear reddish color which leaves sticky lacing all along the rim of the glass.

S - Dashes of fruit and coriander populate the nose, along with hints of sourness.

T - The beer almost instantly refreshes the drinker despite the sweet and tart flavors which swirl around the palate. Dark fruit and sour flavors glance the tongue without becoming overwhelming. Lactic sourness rounds everything out with a dry, bitter finish.

M/D - Bubbly and smooth, you can't help but desire another one, especially with its surprisingly smooth and refreshing qualities.

This was one of the first sours I ever tried years ago, and the delicious qualities are still ringing true to this day.

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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 papat444
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to franksnbeans for this one.

Poured from a 11.2oz bottle.

Appearance: Opaque with brownish-red color kinda of just sitting there. Held to the light, you can see the red hue. About a 3 finger head.

Smell: Sour notes apparent with some acidity.

Taste: Acidity is definitely present, dances on the tongue, very lively. Not too sour.

Mouthfeel: Light, very wine-like taste. Dry with some wood in it. Tartness is subdued, not mouth puckering.

Drinkability: Quite good, almost finished glass before i noticed.

Overall: I couldn't shake the feeling that i was drinking wine with more carbonation. Very interesting beer, pick it up if you're in the mood for something different.

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

I don't know how they measure things in Flemland, but this here ain't red. It be brown as a dog's asshole, only in means in which the dog's asshole is made to be appealin', and with a little white head.

Very sour malt. That's it. Intense, candy sour. Very nice; reminds me of when I was little, buying Tearjerkers at the gas station.

Sour! Sweet and sour citrus to start, moving into an almost chemical, candy sour middle, ending on a more dry sourness, like a sour wine. I'm no good at picking out different types of sours: my pallete isn't used to them. Alls I can say is that this is sour, and it's good.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the Oak Cafe. It's got a pretty solid, burnt ruby color with a mahogany base. It seems to be somewhat translucent, although the bar I'm in is pretty dimly lit and therefore the opacity is hard to judge accurately. Basically no head on top of this one - just a small, beige ring that only stays for a minute or so before floating away.

Juicy, ripe apples and cherries outline the aromatic profile, or at least the first sniff. Residual sweetness backs up the apples nicely; a very faint tartness can be detected at times, though this is still telling me that this brew will be more sweet than sour. Time grants the ability for the beer to open up a bit; berries, darker cherries, acetic acid, light vinegar, and some mild barrel/oak.

Funk in the aroma is definitely there, but in small quantities. There's a slight "wet hay" and faint must character, but it's minimal compared to some other Belgian sours. This follows through into the flavor profile, as the first sip contains almost no funk at all, rather it's pretty heavy on the fruits - cherries, grapes, red apples. Vibrant, zesty, and juicy are good words to describe the flavors.

This beer is mildly tart, but only for a brief moment. The residual-like sugary sweetness creeps in pretty steadily and washes out any hope of this beer actually being "sour", despite the name. More vinous notes come in, although the more I drink, the more it just seems like heavy grapes rather than actual wine-barrel notes. The finish is fruit juice-like with fading cherries and grape skins, and maybe a hint of oak. Still no funk, sad to say. Snappy, crisp mouth feel, wet and slick; thin bodied with medium-heavy carbonation.

Pretty good beer, drinkability is insanely high - a 5.5% ABV beer that tastes like bold fruit juice. I would have like to see a bit more tartness or funk, as this one was kind of mild all around. But hey, perhaps that's the style they were going for. Still a nice drinking sour ale as long as you're not expecting it to be too sour (or too funky).

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Photo of BMMillsy
2.54/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours dark red with a fizzy head that recedes quickly. Smell is faint and not what I wad expecting. Smells like a weak dubbel or belgian strong dark. Not much sour on the nose. Flavor tastes like carbonated artificial cherry drink. No real sour flavor to be found. Not what I wanted, and rather disappointing. Finishes as clean as a Bud Light. Doesn't taste terrible, but misses the bar as a beer. Maybe okay as an energy drink or coming out of a Capri Sun package. Wtf is this?

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Photo of FLima
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown color with a thin off-white head with short retention.
Light aroma of red wine and a hint of funky notes.
Wonderful flavor with notes of red wine, bread malt, vinegar, raspberries and cranberries, a hint of sulfur, with a pleasant mild tartness and lactic acid.
Full body with a bit effervescent carbonation and a light acid sensation.
Very assertive and easy to drink. As other Flemish Ales it is a good introduction to Sour Ales.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.96/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear reddish brown color with a big-bubbled cream colored head. Decent retention and some nice sheets of lace on the glass.

I get some red wine vinegar smacking me in the face, damn near to the point of a nostril burning sensation. Other than that maybe some dark cherry and woody raisin aromas.

Ranks fairly high on the tart-sourness scale. Deep fruitiness reminds me of the time I was drugged to sleep by small green gnomes with red pointy hats and sealed up in a kriek barrel for two days and when I woke up, my wallet was missing. Ok, maybe not quite like that, but the fruitiness is very complex and unique. Still has a slight vinegary feel to it, but not nearly as much as the nose-twitching aroma. I like the fact that I can still detect some maltiness under all the other flavors. I dont think I have ever had a beer that has tasted this much better than it smells. Very good brew that can satisfy a sour craving quite nicely.

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

A: This poured a mostly clear garnet with lots of tan head.
S: It smelled very metallic, with sweet prune and earthy caramel and a little balsamic vinegar and herbal hops.
T: It tasted like sweet prune and balsamic and earthy caramel, with white vinegar and metallic tin and sour Belgian yeast. It had a mouth-watering sour aftertaste that was smooth and clean.
M: It was thin with lots of carbonation. Not normally the body I like, but it really worked well for this beer.
D: This had great complexity and balance of sweet and sour. It had very nice scent and taste, with the exception of the metallic sense. Body really helped lighten the intensity of the sourness, making this easier to drink. But it's still better as a sipping beer. Age may help improve, but it's very enjoyable fresh.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a tumbler glass.

A: Pours a reddish chestnut color with low translucence. The head is a two finger offwhite color featuring nice retention and a wonderfully frothy texture, leaving prominent patches of lace on the glass. The head settles down into a one finger size.

S: Surprisingly malty, and even a little grainy in its aroma - but luckily, the lactic sourness comes to save the day. A bit fruity, too. Kind of expected more from a Flemish-style sour.

T: Sour enough, but rather restrained in its strength. There's enough sourness on the opening flavors to satisfy, but I don't like how it vanishes after the mid-taste, leaving the malt backbone to do a lot of the heavy lifting, while the aftertaste is even a bit hoppy. There's a little bit of a lactic cream flavor on the finish. Good, but it could have been great if the tartness extended more strongly past the mid-palate. In particular, it lacks the subtle complexity of something like La Folie.

M: Has a medium texture with moderately strong carbonation. Drinks quite easily, but somehow isn't quite as refreshing as it could be.

O: It's a nice beer, to be fair, but after coming to the realization how much I love sour ales - this isn't quite cutting the mustard. On the plus side, it's cheap-ish, and VERY approachable to beginners. Worth a shot.

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Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darkish ruby hued brown with a tan colored head of foam that is rather thin, but has staying power and some fine lacing.

The nose is tart and vinegary with some sweetness and notes of grape.

Pretty much mirrors the nose. A nice puckering tartness right on the tip of the tongue. A bit of a vinegar character along with sour cherry and grape. A really nice balance of sweet and sour with the scales slightly tipped towards the sour end.

Smooth with some soft carbonation and a bit of a tingly prickle to go with the tartness. The finish dries out the palate completely.

Drinks quite nicely. The balance is their to keep the sour in check and allows this to go down well. Really a nice beer overall.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
3.84 out of 5 based on 2,901 ratings.
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