May 17, 2013

Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale

I’ve had my share of Flanders Oude Bruins in my time, but apparently I’ve been lazy about publishing reviews of them on this site — there’s only one review that I can find.. New Belgium La Folie? An excellent beer. Liefmans Goudenband? Awesome. And Goose Island’s Madam Rose? World class. But none of them have gotten the proper respect they deserve. Hopefully, this review of Brouwerij Van Steenberge Monk’s Cafe will change that.

I cracked this one open the other night as I was in the mood for something sour, but not too biting like a gueuze. And this bottle of Monk’s Cafe that I had just picked up earlier in the week was just what I wanted. It’s got a welcome amount of sourness, but not too much as to detract from the cherry or caramel that drove the predominant flavors. It’s not quite as good as some of the Oude Bruins I’ve had in the past, but it was still darn tasty.


The beer pours a clear, dark chestnut in color with a large, khaki colored head of foam.


Caramel and dark cherries fill the nose immediately while a light sourness and subtle woodiness linger in the background.


It’s not as sour as some of its peers, but it’s also got a bit more of a tart bite than others. It’s pretty much right in the middle of the road when it comes to the level of sourness — which is what I was looking for this evening. Slightly sweet fruit notes, caramel and earthy grains take to the forefront of the flavor profile as hints of wood rest in the background. The beer has a bit of a metallic character as it warms which is unfortunate, but not so bad that dampens spirits.


The level of tartness and overall flavor of Monk’s Cafe was exactly what I was in the mood for when I popped the cork on it. The mineral/metallic character that appears as the beer has had time to rest in the glass is disappointing however. I’m not sure that I would pick up another bottle of this one for that reason alone. Perhaps it was just an off bottle. I suppose the only way to find out would be to suck it up and purchase another one the next time I visit those shelves in the shop.

Rating: 3.5/5

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