Monk's Café Grand Cru
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

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Flanders Oud Bruin
Ranked #23
Ranked #6,010
4.25 | pDev: 5.88%
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Very Good
Notes: Flemish Sour Ale is a blend of 3yr old and freshly brewed triple ales. The blend is then aged for 6 months in oak casks.
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Reviews: 13 | Ratings: 30 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Darkmagus82
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass
Appearance – The beer pours a ruby brown color with a one finger head of tan colored foam. The head has a great level of retention, slowly fading over time to leave a ton of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.
Smell – the aroma of the brew is of a sour vinegar smell mixed with some fruitiness of apple and cherry as well as a bit of caramel. Along with these smells comes a little bit of a woody aroma as well as a touch of yeast.
Taste – The taste begins with a sweeter sour taste with the sweet being of a cherry and plum flavor while the sour is that of a tart green apple and lemon taste. Here is also a decent showing of a vinegar taste and a touch of a woodiness. Most of these flavors take the taste to its end, where there is a bit of increase in the cherry fruit and a loss of some vinegar, leaving one with a nice subtly sour and sweet taste to linger on the tongue.
Mouthfeel – The body of the brew is light and thin with a carbonation level that is rather high. For the mix of sweet and sour and the nice easy drinking flavor profile the feel is great and makes for one super easy drinker.
Overall – This is a very tasty sour. The sour is not over the top and is matched by a nice sweetness, which makes this a very easy drinking and flavorful brew overall. Quite nice!!!

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Photo of DIPA10
4.88/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Perhaps the best beer I’ve ever had, and I like most styles. And have biked around Flanders visiting many breweries. That they can pack this much flavor into a 5.5% beer is pretty much impossible. Try it if you have the opportunity.

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DIPA10 from Colorado, Apr 18, 2020
Photo of stortore
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle into a tulip glass. Had 4/24/19.

Pours a nice looking mahogany color, mostly clear, with a two and a half inch foamy head with great retention and lots of foamy lacing. Aromas of cherries, grapes, some Belgian yeast, oak, caramel, red wine, raspberries, some cranberries, light toffee and black pepper, light toffee, some grassy funk, a little leather. Lightly tart and sour. The flavor is a little more focused- grapes, cherries, malt, caramel, cranberries, raspberries, red wine, some oak, some brown sugar, a little chocolate. Some tartness, lightly sour, a little acidic. Smooth, a solid medium body, well carbonated.

This was a fun one. Lots of great red fruit, the blend was expertly done, lots to pick out and savor. For me, not really tart and sour. Very enjoyable.

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stortore from Illinois, Mar 19, 2020
Photo of Mugman8
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Part of Belgian variety sampler at Total Wine. Cloudy, dark garnet on the pour with a rich beige head and lots of lacing. Taste is a complex mix of sweet and sour fruit and malty flavors. Finish is dry, but tangy. A great beer and a pleasant surprise....never had this style before.

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Mugman8 from New York, Mar 11, 2020
Photo of Beginner2
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

It is usually a pleasure to find a new face in the sampler from Van Steenberge (Global Beer Network.)
This Grand Cru is a particular pleasure because it reminds me that I should not be so shy of this style just because some brewer's are not proficient in it. This Grand Cru is more than proficient; it may be great.

For reference, of BA's top 50 most often rated Out Bruin's, I rated 2/3 below the average. I clearly have an aversion to too sour. But Grand Cru is not sour, it is nicely tart. Approachable and full of a grapey, musty flavor.
It Looks rich, generous foam until the end. Led by its yeast, Smells are a medley of malts wanting to become fruits. In the Taste, the grapes dance to the front and steal the show and dry out my palate. As the bubbles calm, the long dry finish is superb.

As the BA Notes below, my label says two tripels (new and aged) are blended. However my label then says a "high fermented lager blended in at bottling" to reach the 5.5% ABV. So if this is different than the release 30 months ago, it is good to know Van Steenberge is still experimenting on the recipe.

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Beginner2 from Illinois, Feb 20, 2020
Photo of Thankin_Hank
4.59/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This was a great beer at the beer dinner. I wish I had time for more notes between beer tastings. If I ever find this again I'll be buying some for sure.
Revisiting this beauty. Has a tea or CocaCola color and a thick creamy head that is holding on. It has a sour/ Saison aroma. The head is hanging on. It has a lot of carbonation. And I think the head is growing. The taste is like a sour and is malty sweet but not too sweet. The head refuses to go away. The taste is so different and a real joy. The mouthfeel is thick, creamy and tart. Overall this is a must have beer. This came from a bottle and halfway through the beer, it still has head and the most lacing I think I’ve ever seen. Hang on #2 will be coming.

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Photo of officerbill
3.92/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L: amber/red with a foamy, long lasting, cream colored head and steady carbonation
S: toffee, yeast, brown sugar, citrus zest
T: sweet/tart, some funkiness at the front with raisin, cherry, fig gaining strength as the beer warms
F: tangy & dry with a slightly sweet/sticky aftertaste
O: a 5.5% blend of aged & fresh triples mixed with a “high fermented lager”. The base triple comes through without being heavy. The sweet/tart aspect makes for a nice change. A good beer, but I don't really see it becoming one off my regulars

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officerbill from New York, Nov 16, 2019
Photo of BEERchitect
4.23/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Expounding upon their classic, tried and true Flanders style ale, Steenberge Brewery uses extended aging to turn their Monk's Cafe Flemish Ale into something special, something worthy of the moniker Grand Cru.

Rusty brown and deep garnet, the glossy haze brings a handsome but ominous appearance that crowns with a frothy sepia stained froth. Candied aromas of caramelized malt, red wine, bold grape esters and a twinge of tartness grace the nose ahead of an equally candied sweet upstart of steely caramel, grape lifesaver and robust sweet wine.

The beer's wine and candied grape influences only intensify across the middle palate while hints of weathered woods, balsamic, blackberry, black cherry and currant complete the background medley. Glimpses of red apple, date, fig and prune offer a deep and earthen sweetness on the late palate. Mild tartness offers a sense of balance against the sweetness for a closure of red wine and mild balsamic once more.

Medium bodied and trending slightly fuller once the carbonation is displaced, the beer's overwhelming character is that of concord grape juice with very little exception. Its masterful character is in its simplicity and what the barrels have added to the maturity of the ale. A medium length afterglow of grape and red wine highlights what exceptional Belgian beers do best.

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BEERchitect from Kentucky, Jun 03, 2019
Photo of metter98
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very hazy brownish red in color. It poured with a quarter finger high light beige head that has very good retention properties and consistently left a short head covering the surface.
S: Light to moderate aromas of cherries are present in the nose along with notes of sourness.
T: The taste follows the smell and is a little sour with strong notes of cherries and faint bits of associated sweetness.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied and a little tart on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer has a very nice blend of cherries and sourness.

Serving type: bottle

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metter98 from New York, Feb 03, 2019
Photo of BerryKumquat
4.72/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

L: Dark amber color.
S: Slight apple notes.
T: It's a sour with very little funk and crisp but a light taste. It doesn't have bold, loud notes but a simpler apple notes that fades at the end.
F: Doesn't feel anything like any other sour. It feel like beer with alcohol flavor done right.
O: An enjoyable beer you can either drink or sip but it also light.

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BerryKumquat from California, Jan 03, 2019
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. "Monk's Cafe Grand Cru"
750 ml brown glass bottle, corked & caged.

Notes via stream of consciousness: So here we have a 5.5% abv "Grand Cru" Flemish sour ale. It's poured a very dark brown that's almost black. Held to the light it's a hazy dark chestnut or mahogany. The head is a finger-thick cap of creamy sand-colored foam. In the nose it's fruity like berries, a touch caramelish, a little oaky, and just slightly musty. The flavor follows that pretty much, adding in a gentle tartness, some soft notes of cherry and fig, and some light chocolate toffee. Is there a little bit of leatheriness and wet straw to it as well? It's a little sweet, but also balanced by it's soft acidity and a very low level bitterness. I'd say it's right on regarding balance, and it's nicely rounded as well with multiple notes that all work together. Could it be more complex? Certainly, but it's still pretty nice. The head dropped rather quickly but it's left some solid sheets of lace behind. In the mouth it's medium bodied but with a clear dextrinous edge, and it's a little sharp and effervescent on the tongue to begin with but then it warms in the mouth to become creamy-smooth. It's quite impressive.
Review# 6,351

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NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania, Nov 16, 2018
Photo of Bitterbill
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Kinda pours a murky rust colour, great head of off white foam. Lacing is not lacking.

The smell is acetic, fruity in a sense of both tart AND sweet, noticeable oak.

Tastes more tart than sour due in part I reckon from the sweet fruity notes I'm picking up. Still acetic, with an abundance of dark pitted fruit. Notes of oak throughout.

Medium body with close to medium carbonation.

This tickles my fancy.

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Bitterbill from Wyoming, Dec 03, 2017
Photo of superspak
4.23/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 6/13/2017. Pours crystal clear deep ruby red/brownish color with a 2 finger fairly dense and rocky light khaki head with amazing retention, that reduces to a large cap that lasts the whole glass. Nice thick soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Fantastic appearance. Aromas of big lightly tart/sour cranberry, cherry, raspberry, strawberry, pomegranate, lemon, lime, green apple, red grape, red wine, vanilla, toasted oak, pepper, hay, straw, grass, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, and brown bread; with lighter notes of leathery/musty funk, balsamic vinegar, and yeast/oak/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of fruity/funky/light acidic yeast, dark/bready malt, and oak barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of huge lightly tart/sour cranberry, cherry, raspberry, strawberry, pomegranate, lemon, lime, green apple, red grape, red wine, vanilla, toasted oak, pepper, hay, straw, grass, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, and brown bread; with lighter notes of leathery/musty funk, balsamic vinegar, and yeast/oak/toasted earthiness. Light fruity/lactic tartness and yeast/oak spiciness on the finish. Lingering notes of tart/sour cranberry, cherry, raspberry, strawberry, pomegranate, lemon, lime, green apple, red grape, red wine, vanilla, toasted oak, pepper, hay, straw, grass, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, brown bread, light funk/vinegar, and yeast/oak/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/funky/light acidic yeast, dark/bready malt, and oak barrel flavors; with an awesome malt/tart/spiciness balance, and zero cloying/puckering flavors after the finish. Touch of lingering tannic astringency, but not overwhelming. Lightly increasing dryness from tart/spiciness. Medium-high carbonation and medium-plus body; with a very smooth, creamy/bready/grainy, and fairly acidic/tannic balanced mouthfeel that is great. Zero warming alcohol as expected of 5.5%. Overall this is a fantastic Flanders brown ale! All around outstanding complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/funky/light acidic yeast, dark/bready malt, and oak barrel flavors; very smooth and easy to drink with the mellowly lactic/tannic/drying finish. Very rich and complex maltiness; awesome balance of Lacto/Brett complexity and nice oak barrel presence. A highly enjoyable offering, and spot on style example. Far more impressive and complex than the regular Monk's Cafe.

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superspak from Michigan, Sep 09, 2017
Monk's Café Grand Cru from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 30 ratings