Van Steenberge “Monk’s Cafe”
This Flanders Oud Bruin pours a weak, minimal head that bubbles away quickly. The lacing is nearly non-existent, just a couple spots here and there. It’s a malty, fruity, aged, somewhat sour Belgian-style brown ale.
The aroma is sweet and sour. Plenty of funky Belgian yeast to fill things out in that odd way I love. A nice degree of complex fruity esters add a nice cherry and orange touch that complements the sour yeast nicely. Rich caramelized apple makes up the malt body. Sourness is very subtle. Comes across sort of damp and musty.
The flavor is malty and fruity, though not too rich, sweet, or sour. Nice balance. This is a very stable beer with a modest degree of fruity complexity consisting of plum (dominant), cherry, raspberry, and fig. All the flavor components fit nicely together. Just a dash of spicy alcohol phenols add a background note. Feel is a tad creamy, with a some prickly carbonation on the finish. Only lightly sour, not very acidic. Super easy to drink. Too sweet, and falls too flat on the feel, not quite full enough. It’s like drinking juice.
I’ve had Flanders Red’s before and they’re quite sour, where as this is more sweet. This bottle was on sale for about three dollars, which is totally absurd, so I had low expectations after the purchase. While not the best Belgian beer, it was totally worth it. If you’ve never had a sour ale, this would be a good first shot at the style because of its’ mellow nature. Not bad, not great.
History: An “old ale” tradition, indigenous to East Flanders,typified by the products of the Liefman brewery (now owned by Riva), which has roots back to the 1600s. Historically brewed as a “provision beer” that would develop some sournessas it aged. These beers were typically more sour than current commercial examples. While Flanders red beers are aged in oak, the brown beers are warm aged in stainless steel.