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Grottenbier - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV


Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

249 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 249
Reviews: 202
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 13.49%

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV visit their website

Style | ABV
Belgian Dark Ale |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
From Pierre Celis, brewed at Brouwerij St. Bernardus.

(Beer added by: Todd on 09-19-2003)
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Ratings: 249 | Reviews: 202 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by the Alström Bros:
Photo of Todd


2.6/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

An offering from the Pierre Celis (creator of the modern day Belgian Wit, like Hoegaarden and Celis White) Signature Series. Matured in Kanne Caverns (near the Dutch border) and touted by Michael Jackson as the "beer of the year."

My expectations were very high ... and I'll state that I understand completely what happens to a beer when it's aged, these are simply my notes on what I tasted.

750ml corked and caged bottle with probably the most beautiful screened label I have ever seen on a beer bottle. It poured wonderfully, showcasing its dark, rich copper color. The head was wonderfully laced and slightly off-white.

A submissive cinnamon in the aroma, backed by a mix of floral and granola. This is a bone-dry beer. Probably the driest beer I've ever tasted. Bold flavors of cinnamon and husky grain tannins last but a brief second on the palate before they are gone. Flash of tartness and perhaps some clove. You really have to concentrate and find the flavor, and unfortunately the novelty of aging this beer removed most of the flavor. No real sweetness, only hints of florally saccharin remain, giving way to the dryness. The dryness works long and hard after the flavors dissipate to continue to dry your palate to the bone. Notes of oxidation become more and more noticeable as the beer warms. Left my palate feeling unpleasant.

Not impressed, overall. A very one-dimensional offering, that's too expensive and extremly over-hyped, in my opinion. This is a great example of why some beers should not be aged ... some beers simply do not hold up and lose their zest.

The bottle and concept was more impressive than the beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2003 17:20:12 | More by Todd
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01-06-2014 11:48:23 | More by Saind
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3.1/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Sappy crimson in color, a big foamy head with lots of rising carbonation within the veil of the deep red. beautifully smooth lacing
S: In the Flemish red family, cherry, sweet and sour, cut with fertilizer
T: The scent is only 25% reflected in the flavor, the sour elements moving far into the background and just a bit of fertilizer. It does taste more like a Belgian Brune. The flavors pull in several directions but don't seem to go anywhere, like a kitchen sink sort of recipe. An odd, planty flavor.
M; very low carbonation
O: In certain ways appealing, and another repulsive. An odd one.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2013 01:27:53 | More by sfprint
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3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

11-04-2013 12:03:27 | More by dcmchew
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3.66/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5


An interesting blend between what seems to be a Belgian dark amber and a Brettanomyces-flecked, young Flemish red, St. Bernardus' resurrection of Pierre Celis' Grottenbier recipe is an interesting mix of typical Belgian phenols and Special B malt flavors with hints of cellar-like complexity and sourness. This was pleasant fresh, and could be more interesting when aged, which might allow the obviously young "wild" character to develop further.

Pours a 2.5cm tall head of beige to light tan-colored bubbles, small to medium in size, giving a . Retention is excellent, the head never really fading, forcing the drinker to take a sip, the lipids and chemicals in which reduce the head to a 0.2cm cap resting atop the body of the beer for the duration of the session. Lacing is also excellent, with thick webs and arrays of dots clinging to the sides of the glass. Beer is a very dark amber color, with light bringing out slightly brighter amber hues. Carbonation visible streaming along the sides of the glass, substantial in number and fairly active.

Aroma is slightly mild, light Brettanomyces "funk" and cellar mustiness, caramel malt sweetness, slight raspberry and cherry. Subtle, but pleasant, and complex enough to be interesting over the course of a 750ml bottle.

Overall flavor palette is richly malty, with dark caramel and light roast characters with a hint of Brettanomyces complexity, cellar-like mustiness, and vague fruity tartness. Opens on front of palate with lightly roasted and dark caramel malt characters and some sweetness, bread, anise, and slightly spicy phenols. Mid-palate of caramel malt characters, hints of lightly roasted malt, anise, ripe plums, slightly spicy phenols, faint tart raspberries and cherries, light Brettanomyces, extra mild tartness. Back of palate finds slightly stronger tartness, anise, spicy phenols, cellar mustiness, and a bit of mushroom. Aftertaste of lightly roasted malt and dark caramel malt characters, bread, with hints of residual light tartness and anise.

Beer is medium in body, with high levels of carbonation, leading to a fizzy, then softly foamy mouthfeel. Closes dry, with little stickiness remaining on the palate and lips.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2013 05:43:17 | More by falloutsnow
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4.26/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After being reserved for a while it was opened with 10 month left to maturity.
Amber copper color with a thick three fingers off-white head with good retention and leaving laces. Got murky brown after pouring residual yeast.
Aroma with a nice funkiness going on, notes of Belgian yeast, nutty malt and lemon.
An incredible fast mutating flavor with a nice tartness, condimented yeast, ginger, figs, roasted malt, umami from Shitake mushrooms, licorice, vanilla, green apples and plums. Dry aftertaste and mildly bitter.
Medium body with a somewhat effervescent carbonation and acidity sensation.
Truly fantastic beer and very enigmatic. You have to swiftly chase its multiple taste facets. Though, ain’t for all beer drinkers. While drinking I did some research given my rates were off (much higher), but rest in peace after knowing, no wonder, to be one of favorites by the beer hunter.

Serving type: bottle

10-20-2013 15:21:30 | More by FLima
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United Kingdom (England)

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3.86/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

330 mL bottle with freshness date, poured into a tulip glass produced a large creamy tannish head, retention is decent, but it leaves a nice frothy film and good lacing. The beer is a dark ruby brown, slightly muted, some visible carbonation. 4

S- strong notes of caramel malt, spicy with slight booze kick, a strong yeast note. Subtle clove, plum, woodshop smell, some malty sweetness, notes of cinnamon, christmas cake. After it mellows it becomes really nice and soft, not a lot of bitterness but some pepper and aged chili spice. Quite complex and balanced. 4.25

T- a pretty big malty body with spice and chili notes initially, lemon zest, hazelnut, then more astringent yeast. Aged caramel, wool blankets. It has an initially lightness then more of a tartness, lemon meringue, transitions quite smoothly. Ends very dry, with a bittersweet caramel, and a bit of alcohol. Warming all the way down, lingering smooth spice. Pretty good, balance is alright but falls short in complexity. 3.75

M- Moderate maltiness with a smooth consistency, moderate carbonation, a coating prickle of yeast lingers with a dry malty finish. Some slight alcohol presence but this mostly enhances the malty and dry yeasty aspects of this beer. 3.75

Pretty enjoyable beer, there are a few aspects it could improve. A bit much carbonation, it is quite well balanced, though a bit tart/spicy on finish. Together it isn't the most memorable beer, nice Dark Ale with a fair bit of yeasty presence that has some issues incorporating into the beer, sometimes feel thin. I wouldn't rush to get this again, but its nice nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2013 16:58:15 | More by mick303
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Grottenbier from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
85 out of 100 based on 249 ratings.