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

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86
very good
1,132 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
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
Reviews:
1,132
Ratings:
2,916
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
21.61%
 
 
Wants:
88
Gots:
447
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 1,132 | Ratings: 2,916
Photo of livingregret
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle

Appearance: Pours a deep brown, 2 finger head. Ample lacing and the head lingers for quite some time.

Smell: Sour/Tart apple smell. Maybe even a hint of cranberry? Plenty of fruit and a touch of sweetness. more tart than sweet though

Taste: Tart and sweet at the same time. Almost a mouth puckering sour berry that blends in nicely with the apple finish.

Mouthfeel: Thin, bubbly. A touch almost...over carbonated.

Drink: It's good, and i've enjoyed a few of these over the past couple weeks. Always enjoyable but not one I could pound during a night. Only reason it's not rated higher is because the aftertaste does start to wear on you and you could only drink so many

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Photo of y2jrock60
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Very dark red, almost resembles Coca-Cola. The head disappears fast and leaves behind no lacing.

S- Apple cider vinegar.

T- Sour, apple cider vinegar, with a lingering sweetness.

M- Medium bodied with high carbonation.

D- I could probably drink 1 or 2 of these before becoming tired.

I thought this beer was delicious. I never had this style before so I didn't know what to expect. It tasted like apple cider candy to me. Apparently this is one of those beers you either love, or hate. I loved it!

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Photo of hiku7
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy cherry mahogany with a tall light tan head that quickly recedes, but is easily revived with a swirl.

Aroma is overripe fruit, maybe raspberry and strawberry, and funk with spice. Flavor is a rounded comforting sweet malt base with barnyard funk and substantial but balanced tartness giving way to a dry finish.

Medium body with foamy carbonation. Starts with a slightly sticky sweetness, but ends dry.

Solid Flanders sour ale.

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

Little head, lots of carbonation though. Light ruby color. Served in a snifter and picked up some sour notes but not as strong as many other Flemish reds.

The taste to me was a little bland. Sure theres a bit of sour in there and maybe, a little oaky fruit tone but overall seemed a little weak to me. There is also of course a bit of acidity to the mouthfeel but this quickly disappears. I wouldnt say this is a newcomers sour ale since it doesnt seem to really catch all of what a belgian red can encompas. Its still an ok brew though Im rating the smell and taste down a little since this kind of beer really should be more powerful.

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Photo of RidiculedDisplay
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My first Oud Bruin.

Appearance: Pours with a lively Brett-like head, which fizzes and pops appropriately. About half-finger which settles into a quarter-finger. Lacing is sloping and jagged, with some spotting. Very consistent lacing, certainly. Body is a strange beast - outside of light, it gives off a sapphire-ish ruby red, but when held up to light, it becomes a far more opaque off-brown. Strange.

Smell: Apple cider, champagne-like vinousity, brett, a solvent-like buttery soy aroma. Corkiness. Some butter. Dried fruits deep underneath, like raisins and dates, mostly. An interestingly complex nose, with some definite funkiness to it.

Taste: Slight sourness on the tongue. A hibiscus flower-like flavor. Corkiness, vinousity again. Apple cider, hay. A little more one-note here, but still harbors some unique characteristics that I haven't particularly detected in other beers or, in what might be closest to this, lambics.

Mouthfeel: Fizzy and fluffy.

Drinkability: Surprisingly drinkable. This was a very interesting drinking experience, and makes me want to try more Oud Bruins.

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Photo of Boppar
4.48/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is, perhaps, my favorite beer. It is certainly very high up on the list.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a red wine glass/

A: Deep brown with hints of ruby, and two fingers of billowing, playful, foam. Excellent retention.

S: Lactic acid, sweet malts. Faint aromas of alcohol and vinegar.

T: It opens with a slight tang, segues into a rich, malty, sweet-without-cloying body. Faint notes of bread, chocolate, and ripe, dark stone fruits. The finish is acidic, slightly sour, and lingers.

M: Delightfully well-balanced between delivering a beer of substance, and yet one that is light enough to slake any thirst.

D: Exceptionally refreshing and drinkable. I would take this over any session beer, any day.

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Photo of BeerGodz
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Bright cherry red color, clear, small head with little retention or lacing

Smell: Apples, raisin

Taste: Up Front: Tart, green apple, Finish: Cherry, sweet & earthy

Mouthfeel: Light/medium body with a medium yet soft carbonation. Coats the palate nicely

Drinkability: Refreshing and very easy to drink

Overall Impression: This is a very interesting style - one that reminds me of really good cider. If you like slightly tart flavors or apples, you'll love this beer!

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Photo of Bruiser81
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Best thing about this brew was its look in the glass with a big ol frothy head. Smell was kinda yeasty. This was my first Flemish sour. Almost reminds me of a gueuze, maybe with a bit more fruitiness. Def a bit sour. Mouthfeel kinda thin but I think that'd be expected? Good beer. I'd drink another.

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Photo of Psilo707
3.22/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I believe this is the first Flanders Oud Bruin type of beer I have ever actually reviewed (and in recent knowledge - have even tried), and I was not sure what to expect. The appearance is a very piney red, slightly brown, as it pours with a thick head into a glass. Lacing isn't as nice as the head, but it's present.

Smell is very strong and I like it much. A very cherry and exciting scent, much like a fruit juice but with alcohol.

The taste took me for a surprise and I had no idea it would be this much like a fizzy wine. Now I understand why it's truly called Sour Ale. I didn't dislike the taste at first, but it took me about half a glass to get into and understand more thouroughly. By the end, I was enlightened somewhat. Decent stuff.

Mouthfeel is bubbly and erratic; good overall. Drinkability a bit lower than the rest as I don't think I could continue with these for too long, at least not in my current experience.

Overall I would recommend, but be ready for something new if you've never tried a Flanders Bruin.

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Photo of katybee
2.56/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

My first sour ale...this might take a bit of getting used to!

Pours a clear amber brown, and light frothy head which quickly dissipates.

Very light smell, but distinctly not hoppy...somewhat like an aged browned apple.

As an ale, this tastes very different from barley-hops beer. For me, it was similar to a fermented apple cider with less apple, and a little vinegar tartness. Unusual. Very soda-like, with a musky off taste on the tongue. Not as fruity as a [raspberry] lambic, but with no barley or malt character like a wheat beer. No real spiciness I could detect.

The carbonation gave a very soda-like effect, but like soda, and not like champagne. Very light-bodied.

Fortunately, this beverage was alcoholic, which gave a purpose to the drinking of it. The ale might blend well with cheeses and pie or crackers, and as a desert on its own, however the off-ness of the taste, and mild sweet carbonation for me wouldn't sit well with other meals (hamburger, pizza, chicken) and a definite no-no to doritos, onion-flavored chips and barbecue!

A quality taste experience, but not one I'll likely repeat!

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Photo of BostonBrewins
4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Big off white head that sticks around literally, some really nice lacing going on here. Color is mahogany, in the light its a brilliant amber. This beer looks so good in the snifter it's almost a shame to drink it.

S - Earthy boarding on musty fruity esters. Notes of apple and pears.

T - Tangy and just the right amount of sourness. Not as tart as I expected. The fruity ester flavors are definitely there, particularly that of sour apples, raisins and red grapes. Undertones of dark caramel malts are there, but subtle, maybe too subtle. Slight metallic aftertaste, but it's hardly noticeable.

M - Not too heavy but very full mouthfeel. Becomes even more full when I swirl it in my mouth. Superb, definitely this brew's best characteristic.

D - I really enjoyed this one, complex yet very drinkable.

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Photo of 7ways
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark copper/ruby with a full yellowish-white head that remained at 1/2 cm for quite some time. Ungodly thick lacing.

N- Red wine/apple cider vinegar, sour grape, cherry, and apple. No distinct malt or hops. The smell alone makes my mouth water.

T- Very strong apple cider vinegar, which I happen to love. Quite acidic. Oakey cherry, sour apple candy. Balanced with moderate sweetness.

M- Prickly, but not so much as to be offensive or get in the way of the taste. Slightly more full than many Flemish reds, which to me increases drinkability.

D- I could drink many of these in a session. In fact, I do. Often.

This is only the second dark sour I've had, and it has made me determined to seek more out.

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Photo of HossMcGraw
4.67/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Monk's.

Dark red, almost brown color with small head and awesome lacing. The aroma is sour cherry and mustiness with some slight malt sweetness in the background. The flavor is phenomenal.

I'm new to sour ales so there are probably better examples out there, but for me, this was perfection. Not too sour but enough to keep you on your toes. Also quite musty and woody with a bit of malt sweetness in the background. Finish is bone dry and makes this ridiculously drinkable.

Mouthfeel is my only complaint. A bit flat for my tastes. Overall though, one of my new favorite beers. I hope I can get this in Lancaster. Planning on buying a case.

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Photo of earthboundagain
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-This beer is a reddish, brown, reminds me of balsamic vinegar, the head is not huge, but laces well.

S- We have grapes and sweet cherry, and vinegar twang, some woody notes as well. This beer smells of a funky promise.

T- The taste is a sour red grape, mixed with slight cherry and some oak. This so reminds me of balsamic vinegar it is not funny, but it is oh so good.

M- A medium body with lots of carbonation, this beer is a beauty on the palate.

D- The glass empties quickly, with strong deep sips.

I know this beer gets a lot of abuse, but I think it is a good beer. While it might not be top of the line, it is a wonderful beer to keep on hand. I have also used this to convert a few wine drinkers in my time.

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Photo of dejrrma
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

4 pack for about $14. 11.2 fl oz bottle poured into snifter. No date (that I could understand)

a- pours a deep amber, large off-white, froathy, buttery head that slides as i move the glass. a little lacing composed of foamy bubbles.

s- vinegary scent with notes of dark/red fruits (prunes, cranberries, raspberries). A hidden sweet aroma.

t- tastes like tart fresh fruits and balsamic vinaigrette. It's more sour than sweet, as I'd hoped, and but I wish it was more sour. Leaves a lingering earthy/metallic taste. Slight yeast

m- okay carbonation. Light and airy, and refreshing. A little watery as it warms .

o- Good, but not sure if I would buy again.

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Photo of Giovacchini
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- pours a reddish brown with a tan head.

S- cherries, oak, vinegar, malt, and cranberry.

T- oak, cherries, vinegar, caramel malt, and cranberry.

M- mild carbonation, mild sourness and a dry finish.

O- I like this beer. This is my go to so far when I'm craving a sour beer and I don't want to pay 8-10 bucks. Nice beer but not awesome.

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Photo of pastradul
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured into a lost continent tulip.

poures a deep ruby with a slightly pink head with lots of bubbles riding the glass.

The smell is all viniger, some sweetness fighting through but mainly tart viniger.

the taste starts of with a good amount of sweetness. Lots of cherry or maybe even strawberry would be the closest fruit flavor that would fit. Then a very tart acidic flavor kicks you in the mouth. then finishes with a dry warmth around the mouth.

a pretty good beer. after a couple of sips it grows on you a bit.

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Photo of fatmcb1
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark amber with an off white head that leaves a ring with little lacing.

Tart sour cherries, green apple, and raspberry. Very tart.

Taste is balanced between tart sourness and sweeter citrus. Also, there is a level of funk that changed as the beer warmed.

Very strong, prickly carbonation.

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Photo of cvaypai
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Taken from notes. In bottles at Titletown Brewery for FeBREWary.

Appearance - Deep mahogany red, ruby when held to light. Poured with a tan, reddish-white bubbly head that dissipates at a medium pace and leaves a very nice lacing.

Smell - Smells of sour cherries and tart cranberries, a small bit of sweetness can be picked up. Vinegar and oakey woodiness can be discerned. Other fruits can also be picked out, sort of underwhelming.

Taste - Extremely nice and refreshing. Lots of cranberry and cherry as the nose indicated. The other dark fruits are there and it is a bit lactic and tart but it works well. A small amount of sweet malt on the end and some possible grapes on the finish. The tartness stays and the candy likeness pales as it warms and sour green apples come out.

Mouthfeel - A bit thinner and light but incredibly easy to drink and the tart buckles the tongue. A tiny bit of carbonation works great with this and makes it slightly effervescent.

Drinkability - Immensely drinkable, reminded me of a wine/beer hybrid. Would reach for many more, tastes like candy and goes down like it too.

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Photo of StevenBilodeau
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have never really been a fan for sour ales, but the Belgians make some very good sour ales. This is a very good sour ale. Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale is another amazing ale to add to your repertoire of unique and strange beers. Tart, sour and sweet, this ale is drinkable, but isn't for everyone. Nice head, some lacing, and is a decent beer overall, I enjoyed it.

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Photo of SJ-IABrews
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was my first sour beer, so I wasn't sure what I would be getting into. I was overall pretty impressed with this. Pleasing color and a clean taste, not overly sweet and not as cloyingly sour as I was expecting. Smooth drinking with a very appealing smell. This would not be my go to beer, but I would definitely drink this again.

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Photo of joeysmokedporter
4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a bottle into a Sam Adams glass.

A: pours mahogany red, clear, with a 2 finger reddish tan head.

S: dominated by vinegar, although cherry and woody aroma also present. this is one beer where the aroma and flavor are fairly disconnected, and in this case for the better.

T: an aceto-vinegar flavor, but also sour-cherry-like, with a sweet malty flavor coming in and a bit of a tannin finish. while some beers in this style have tasted like salad dressing to me, this one has a flavor that balances between sour, vinegar, and sweetness. Cherry doctor pepper-like flavor is evident in the middle of this, and finishes on the bitter side with a strong hint of wood aging.

M: light although puckering in the end, with the effect of the bitterness. carbonation high but appropriate for the style.

D: The more i drink the more I want. This is quite an enjoyable sour beer. Paired up with trappist cheese for a nice contrast, but alone this beer is fine as a drinker.

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Photo of MOB210SA
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The first sour ale, of any kind, I have tried.

Nice retaining creamy medium tan head about a finger's worth and slowly fades. Some good looking lacing is left after the action. Small patches and thin film cover the beer eventually. Deep colored scarlet, ruby red in color. Lots of scattered lacing cling nicely.

Nose- They weren't lying on the label about a sour lactic nose. Smells of milk, I don't want to say soured milk, but it is a little funky. A very lightly underlying caramel with a wine-like quality too. Maybe light touch of leather.

The taste is like really overripe fruits maybe peach, banana, raspberry smoothie that has a little funkiness too it as if it was left out for a while. I can also taste a hint of apple. Somewhat strange at first, but I tried it with a open mind and slowly starting to like it more each sip. You will probably either love it or hate it. I think it's worth a try and would probably be excellent paired with the right foods.

Medium bodied mouthfeel, smooth, and creamy going down. Rather bitter, sour finish with a lightly sweet end finish. The drinkability isn't high on this one. I really would not want more than one in a day. Maybe once they grow on me more, but right now every sip is a little shocker. Probably the hardest beer I've drank down in a while. Not because its not good, because this beer is just so different, I think I'm still not sure what to think. Usually they go real quick but this one I've been sipping and still have half the 12 oz bottle left. Worth a try, it is certainly different.

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Photo of jhu1995
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark red with purple hues. Minimal head which quickly dissipates. Smell is slightly vinegar and sour with some sweetness. Taste is sour, vinegar-like, with some mild sweetness in the finish, mostly cherry-like. Very light and refreshing on the palate. Easy to drink, particularly for a red ale. Worth a try.

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Photo of hayesez
2.75/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Been on a real sour kick lately and have been picking them up whenever I find a new one. On our recent trip to Texas I saw a bottle of Monk's and figured I'd give it a shot. I was in Philly last month and was hoping to try it right there at the café, but wasn't able to make it - the bottle will have to do.

Poured into a wine glass producing almost zero head. A thin ring of fizzy bubbles surrounds the surface, but that is about it. Absolutely no lacing left behind. Sitting on the table, it looks just like a glass of iced tea...color is spot on, and there is no head.

Smells quite strongly of vinegar. Also a slight hint of sweet fruitiness, but definitely hard to get past the vinegar. Zero funkiness.

Ok, the taste of this thing caught me way off guard. You'd think that after smelling the strong vinegar, I'd be ready for the taste. However, after talking with people who have had it in the past, and reading some of the reviews, I was expecting a bit more tart unripe fruit. I was wrong. Apple cider vinegar. Frankly, I'm having a really hard time getting past this. I drank an entire glass being as open-minded as possible, but I have to admit, I am quite disappointed. Hidden through several layers of vinegar, there is a bit of sour fruit taste in there, but that is about it. Mouthfeel is actually ok with a decent amount of carbonation even though this wasn't evident from the pour.

Overall, I was really disheartened with the whole experience. I'm kind of thinking there is a chance that I got a bad bottle. I will definitely give this a shot again down the road, and if different, I will certainly come back and alter the review. That being said, this is going to go down in my books as one of the lower ranked sours I've had.

Consumed: 04/08/10

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
3.84 out of 5 based on 2,916 ratings.
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