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Sour Beer?

Last summer at a Monks, Belgium-centric bar/restaurant in Philadelphia, I had a 'sour ale' for the first time ever. I ordered in desperation when faced with an entire bar backed with beer coolers full of things I couldn't prounonce (it was the tap right in front of my bar stool) and I LOVED it. It was perfectly refreshing on a rather hot sticky day in the city and I've been thinking about it ever since.

This is the description from the online menu:

Monk's Café Flemish Sour
Brewed in Belgium exclusively for Monk's Café. A refreshing and quaffable ale with medium body. Red color. Crisp finish with a distinctive sourness.

Could somebody direct me to a similar beer that would be fairly widely available?
(I'm in the DC/Baltimore area if that has a bearing on what I'd be able to get my hands on)

If you couldn't tell, I'm a bit clueless when it comes to beer. I'm a Yuengling girl...so branching out into things that aren't brewed less than an hour drive from my place of birth is a bit new. ;-) Who's got a helping hand to get me into the wide world of non-standard beers?

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  1. "Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Red Ale" is also available as a bottled beer- brewed by Br. Van Steenberge, imported by WIN-IT-TOO, Inc., which is a "dba" business name for the Global Beer Network- http://www.globalbeer.com/ , http://www.globalbeer.com/body_pages/...
    Their website lists state distributors. I find the bottled stuff in NJ, so they might also sell it in MD. The website implies that it's the same beer as "Bios"- a Flanders Brown Ale.

    You might check the beer websites for various beers listed as "Flanders Red/Brown Ales"- like Duchesse De Bourgogne or Rodenbach Classic and Grand Cru.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JessKidden

      It's amazing what phone call can get you. I called the MD distributed listed on the global beer site and asked them who they recently sold some Monk's flemish sour to...and I got three stores with addressses and phone numbers from a very helpful and cheerful lady. So...yep, available in Maryland.

      Thanks for the lead JessKidden.

      1. re: wawajb

        You should also try and get your hands on some Petrus Aged Pale Ale. It's a pale ale made in the Flemish sour style, and one of the most delicious beers I've ever tasted.

    2. As Jess mentioned, Duchesse and Rodenbach are two solid choices. You might also look for bottles from Jolly Pumpkin in Michigan. Their La Roja is a textbook Flemish sour. Welcome to the world of sour beers, your palate will never be the same.

      1. These beers are what I like to call "half-sours" - authentic lambics are the real sour beers. I must admit, for years, I didn't get this style, but then I had a freshly made version at a local brewpub that blew me away - all of a sudden I had an appreciation for these types of beers. Liefman's Goudenband is one of my favorites - Petrus Old brown is pretty interesting also.

        Check for Flanders Brown/Red beers here:


        You are in luck, Monk's Flemish Red, Duchesse de Bourgogne, Rodenbach/grand cru, and Jolly Pumpkin La roja all seem to be available at Max's Taphouse in Bmore - that means they are distributed in your state and should be available at better beer stores near you.

        1. Fantastic! I also have been trying to find Flemish sour ales after discovering them at Monks. it seems i can get the world beer network beer by driving only 45 minutes! If you happen to be at monk's and they have the Meestrichts Aijt (sp?) give it a try. It is another sour but more delicious and interesting than the Monk's.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kolgrim

            Funny, I had the Aijt recently and just thought it was OK. I thought the sourness on it was a bit too pronounced for the style.

          2. A Yuengling girl coverted to the esoteric world of Flemish Sours? You win my hero of the day award. That is so very cool.

            If you want refreshing-yet-sour, try Redbach by Brewery Rodenbach. It's a sweet, cherry-enhanced sour that's been marketed as an alcohol-pop in Europe. The brand has been much more successful here in the US. It's outlook is uncertain for now -- grab it while you can.

            1. Any good Gueze or Lambic...

              1. We did sour ales for BJCP class review yesterday. Both the Rodenbach Red and Rodenbach Grand Cru are very good. The Grand Cru is more complex and more sour than the Red, but the Red has a bit more maltiness. I have a bottle of Duchesse de Bourgogne at home that I need to try while my memory is fresh. It's been a while since I've had the Monk's Cafe beer, but I really enjoyed it.

                Our fearless class leader also managed to track down a six of Kindl Berliner Weiss, which isn't imported any longer. When one of the folks in the class proclaimed that the Kindl was intensely sour, I knew he was in for a shock w/ the Flemish reds and other lambics we tried afterward.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ted

                  That's really a pity. I just picked up 2 bottles of Kindl and finally opened one. What a great beer! Exactly what I'd expect a sour German beer to taste like.

                2. I don't think you can get it in D.C. but if you ever see it, New Belgium brewery (makers of Fat Tire) have a blended sour flemish brown ale called La Folie that is fantastic...

                  Also if you make a bit of a drive to the Capital Ale House... (Several locations in Northern VA) They have traditional Guezue's and Lambics as well as Flemish brown, and all kinds of beers produced with bacteria and other wonderful critters for souring and flavor.

                  1. You can get Cantillion Lambics in Baltimore at the Wine Source or at Max's the Gueze is very good. I think they brew the Monk's beer, but could be wrong. Visit the brewery if you are ever in Brussels, it is a lot of fun and they beers that they don't export.

                    1 Reply
                    1. believe it or not, one of the most traditionally-made flemish-style sour ales comes from italy, not belgium. Try finding Panil Bariquee, if there are any specialty beer stores near you. it'll be pricey, but it's definitely interesting stuff.