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

BA SCORE
86
very good
2,948 Ratings
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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
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
Ratings:
2,948
Reviews:
1,144
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
13.28%
 
 
Wants:
88
Gots:
452
For Trade:
5
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,948 |  Reviews: 1,144
Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

Photo of dmorgan310
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

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

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 11/17/2011. Pours slightly cloudy deep ruby red/brown color with a 2 finger fairly dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of tart cherry, green apple, pear, raisin, plum, fig, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, cider vinegar, leather, hay, straw, grass, musty funk, light oak, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity/funky yeast, dark/bready malt, and light oak notes; with solid strength. Taste of tart cherry, green apple, pear, raisin, plum, fig, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, cider vinegar, leather, hay, straw, grass, musty funk, light oak, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Light fruity/earthy tartness on the finish; with lingering notes of tart cherry, green apple, pear, raisin, plum, fig, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, cider vinegar, leather, hay, straw, grass, musty funk, and herbal/yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Nice complexity and balance of fruity/funky yeast, dark/bready malt, and light oak notes; with a good sweetness/tartness balance and no cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth, crisp, and slightly creamy/acidic mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a nice Flanders Oud Bruin style. All around good complexity and balance of fruity/funky yeast, dark/bready malt, and light oak flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. More of an entry level sour for sure, but has all of the normal flavors I would expect from the style; just more toned down and approachable. A nicely enjoyable offering.

 1,838 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.14/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle picked up at Rick's in Alexandria a little while back. Served in a Hill Farmstead wine glass. Thought it was an appropriate time to crack this after getting home from my first visit to Monk's.

Pours a nice crimson color with some really nice lacing after a white head falls down. Not much light makes its way through. The nose has some mild cherry character plus some sweet malt. There's a touch of oak there along with some light acetic character. A bit of sweetness carries through. The flavor is somewhat tart with a bit of acid, along with a mild acetic character. A bit of oak and cherry. The mouthfeel is medium and has a dry finish. A decent example of the style, though nothing too memorable, unfortunately.

 723 characters

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

Cork comes off with a nice pop.

Poured into bruery snifter.

Pours about 1/2 finger of light khaki head. Fades to a thin layer and leaves some splattered lace. Color is a dark ruby hued caramel brown.

Aroma: There is a nice amount of cherries up front, some sour notes that follow, but not overly sour. It seems to have a decent amount of fruit flavor to complement the cherry upfront, Granny smith apples come to mind. I get some oak as well. The aroma is pretty solid.

Taste: The cherries are again up front, but the taste is different compared to the aroma. It has some different fruit flavors here, sour grapes and raspberry, and more of a funky taste. The green apple flavor is here, but not as defined. I actually get a cider flavor out of this beer. The malts also stick out a lot more. The oak flavor is a lot less too.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, smooth, and a little sour. Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Ends a little dry and funky.

Overall, this is a pretty decent beer. My expectations were not that high for it, but it not only met them, but exceeded them. A very nice sipper. I am definitely savoring it. It isn't as sour as I would like, but I still think it is good.

 1,199 characters

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

A - Nice reddish brown color. Creamy, slightly off white head that settles quickly, but leaves a film on top and nice laceing.

S - Sour, lactic aroma. Musty, horse blanket with notes of orange and cherries.

T - Sweet and bright, with refreshing acidity of course. Citric character, reminicent of grapefruit zest. Still detecting a cherry like note, black cherry. Lingering maltyness in the finish.

M - Puckering and dry from the acidity. Good level of carbonation keeps it light on the palate.

D - Very drinkable beer, as a flemish red should be. Less acidity than some examples of this style, which makes it less intense and easier to drink, but it is also not as complex as something like Rodenbach.

 713 characters

Photo of Boone757
4.04/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

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

Pours a deep red with abrownish tint with about a 1/4 inch head that leaves some nice lacing,aroma is of sour cherries and light mineral notes.Taste is hits ya with a big sour note that slides into some stone-like qualities with that sour lemon flavor always there to linger.This style is not my cup of tea for sure but this beer is complex with alot of different flavors well made.

 382 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another one I'm surprised I haven't reviewed.

Light fiizzy head, darker toasty brown color.

Nose of sweet malts, fruit, apple, pear, cider like, vinegar, light lactic acid and very light sour tartness.

Taste is sweeter, light toasty brown malts, fruits with apple pear and tart fruit flavors, light sour and tart.

Mouth is lighter bodied with good carbonation.

Overall not bad, basically what I call the introduction to sours and wilds, etc. It's a light sour tart beer but nice and malty at the same time. And very drinkable.

 532 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A slightly hazy (but surprisingly clear given the style) mahogany body appears reddish in the glass and reveals crimson, ruby and orange highlights when held to the light. The creamy off-white head holds quite well and leaves some nice streaks and splotches of sticky lace throughout the glass. The nose is vinous with tempting, delicate, tart cherries and what appears to be some oakiness. It's not as bold as many other examples of the style, and it's certainly cleaner; but it is quite nice. A gentle massage of soft, fine carbonation washes over the tongue as it warms to become slightly creamy. The body is light, and it's quite smooth. Again, it's more delicate than many examples but very nice in its own way. The flavor mimics the nose with mildly vinous cherry and raspberry. It's acidity is restrained in comparison to most, and it's quite refreshing without becoming puckering. There's a bit of an oak character to it and it finishes dry with a slight astringency; but the sticky-sweet residue of many other examples is not present. Overall, this is a quite refreshing and enjoyable beer that represents the style well, but is somewhat restrained in comparison to most others.

 1,187 characters

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

On-tap 1/25/09 at Julian's in Providence, RI, served in a snifter glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is cherries, light malts and a vinegary sourness.

T: The taste is very nicely balanced for a sour ale, with flavors of tart cherries and other dark fruits. The sourness seems to creep in slowly rather than hitting intensely. The malt character is thin and there's very little hops presence as you would expect. The after-taste is slightly sour.

M: Smooth and very crisp, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, I'm not usually a sour ale fan but is one that I liked and is worth drinking for a while.

 832 characters

Photo of Kurmaraja
4/5  rDev +4.2%

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

A: Pours deep red to mahogany with a fluffy off-white head and some visible carbonation. There is very good head retention and large bubbles in the head. Very little lacing.

S: Overall the aromas are light in this beer but complex with hints of cherry, raspberry, and cranberry. There is a slight amount of mustiness and hints of some spices.

T: Flavors of cherry/raspberry/cranberry followed by slight sourness and a little bit of funk.

M: Light to medium bodied and smooth with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: I really enjoyed this as a sessionable beer as it is light and easy to drink that would allow it to pair with many different foods. I really enjoyed the acidity in the beer.

 694 characters

Photo of wethorseblanket
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of nathanmiller
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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 BuckeyeNation
4.09/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Overcast, orange-infused apple cider brown on the coaster... lucent dark cherry when held up to my sunlit front window. The pale caramel colored cap looked (and sounded) excessively fizzy immediately after the pour, but has settled down nicely and may last for a bit. It looks like melted styrofoam, though, and lacks character. A few blips of lace is about it.

The aroma is classic for the style and is immensely appealing. It's sour, snappy, tart, tangy, acidic, acetic... take your pick. If forced to come up with a difference between this beer and others of the style that I've tried, I'd say this one is less funky than some.

You better be a fan of SOUR if you plan to drink and enjoy Flanders reds. I can't imagine a more salivary gland-squinching beverage than this one that would still be drinkable. I feel a need to wait for my mouth to unpucker between each sip. Unripe fruit (cherries and green apples especially) comes to mind, although I know that no fruit is used.

Again, funkiness is at a minimum. That isn't to say the yeast strain is a slacker. It's just that it excels at acid production and is otherwise exceptionally clean. Even though my Flanders red experience is minimal, I feel that Monk's Cafe, while perhaps not the best on the planet, is as classic and as representative of the style as any other.

The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium, with just a hint of stickiness on the finish. I'm amazed at how well the airy, well-carbonated, exceptionally clean mouthfeel dovetails with the flavor of the beer. Any heavier or more clingy and it wouldn't work nearly as well.

No matter how much I enjoy a good Flanders red, I'm perfectly content to go weeks or even months between bottles since my tolerance for sour is a fraction of my tolerance for bitter. Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Red is an excellent version, though. If I'm ever in Philadelphia, I'll make it a point to stop in at Monk's for a glass. What the hell, maybe two.

 1,959 characters

Photo of mdaschaf
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a really nice deep red/burgundy with a light tan head that reduced to a thin layer of foam on top. Nice sheets of lacing.

S: Light, tart cherries. A little bit of wood and vinegar.

T: Nice cherry flavor, a bit less tart then I was expecting. The cherry flavor transitions to slight oxidized flavor that remains on the flavor profile on the finish.

M: Medium bodied with nice carbonation.

O: Nice aroma and upfront flavors, but the oxidation was a bit much, giving it a metallic finish that was a bit unpleasant.

 526 characters

Photo of duceswild
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

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

Got this long wanted one the other day and I knew I just had to get it right into the rotation. This one I have been wanting to try as I have heard it is an outstanding version of the style. Served at cellar temp and poured into a goblet this one was consumed on 04/23/2009.
 
The pour was wonderful, deep and dark red in color with a light tan head that came up to a height of around two inches before settling back down and leaving tons of lace all over the sides and bottom of the glass while never really falling much below the one inch level. The aroma was lightly tart, sour cherries, hints of earthy and spicy notes and even a touch of what seemed like brown sugar or something along those lines. Rally very well done and quite complex. The flavor was a little less tart then what I would have liked but I have to admit was still done very well. Rich and full, it was never flat or boring and I have to admit I found myself returning back to it time and again for another go round.
 
Overall a very solid Flemish ale, not the best I have had, but this was very well put together. Highly drinkable and something that I would not turn my nose at if I ever received it again, very well done.

 1,201 characters

Photo of Slatetank
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Gagnonsux
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%

Photo of atrocity
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of mdfb79
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From 09/04/10 notes. Poured from a 750ML bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a dark amber color with one inch of white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sour cherries, dark fruit, raspberries, and a hint of funk.

t - Tastes of sour cherries and other dark fruits mostly. Some fruity malts and spice as well.

m - Light to medium body and high carbonation.

d - Thought this was a a pretty good flanders; my girlfriend loves this beer. I enjoyed the sour cherries in the smell and taste and wish it was a little less carbonated, but definitely a good beer. Will definitely be getting more of this for my girlfirend and will definitely have some as well.

 674 characters

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

Bottle purchased at Total Wine in Tustin and poured into an oversized wine glass.

A: An opaque reddish-brown color with an red-tinted foam which quickly subsides.

S: The nose is full of sour cherries, vinegar, and oak. There also seems to be some hints of sweetness coming through the pungent and strong aromas.

T: The taste is quite similar to the nose. The oak flavor is very prominent, as are the dark fruits. The vinegar component is a somewhat muted, compared to the aroma. Overall, the beer is tart, but not overwhelmingly so.

M: The beer is medium in body with a dry finish, and mild astringency. I enjoy this type of dryness in a beer.

D: The flavors are good, and it's certainly not a beer that will knock you over with alcohol. But, the vinegar character and the dryness lead to the beer being something you can't drink too much of.

 847 characters

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
3.84 out of 5 based on 2,948 ratings.
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