Review: Monks’s Cafe Flemish Sour Red Ale

The night before I picked this beer up from my neighborhood Binny’s, I was at Sheffield’s for the tapping of Vrienden, a new collaborative ale between Allagash and New Belgium. That reignited my interest in sour ales, so when I saw this Oud Bruin, I had to pick it up.

Sour ales seem to be one of the final bridges craft beer folk cross. There’s something very different about the tart, lactic taste that sort of goes against the flavors I typically associate with beer. It may be that exact reason why I like them so much. They’re so very different from the rank and file beers and, to an extent, even the crazier craft brews.

This particular beer is brewed in Belgium for Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia, PA. It is a mix of old, aged beer and young. My tasting notes are below the picture.

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale - 5.5% ABV

Appearance: It pours a cloudy, brownish red with a thick, tan head that receded quickly with a bit of lacing. The last half inch of the head is holding strong. I can see the CO2 bubbling up from the bottom.

Aroma: The aroma is almost all that lactic sourness. There may be a light fruitiness, but nothing comes through clearly over the sourness.

Taste: The taste is nowhere near as overwhelming sour as the nose. In fact, I might almost want a bit more sourness. My first sip had a lot of fruity, caramel-malt sweetness, tempered with a note of sourness and finishing witha  smooth sweetness. The more I drink it, the less cloying it seems, and the balance comes through. No hop character to speak of, but that really wouldn’t be necessary. There’s the smallest hint of funkiness, but it comes and goes. Very complicated and tasty.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and just shy of creamy. It’s lightly carbonated, but still with a nice, light effervescence.

Overall: I really like this beer. I’ve been into sours of late, and this hits the notes without being overwhelming. The sweet and tart notes play well together and produce a really tasty, well crafted beer.