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Grottenbier - Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Not Rated.

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

255 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 255
Reviews: 202
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 13.23%
Wants: 20
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
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: 255 | Reviews: 202 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Truh

New Hampshire

3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Left a trail of bread crumbs while clutching the evil idol with this one on 10/13/2004. ?-oz. pour at ACPH in a tall, bulbous, stemmed, and utterly wonderful glass.

Huge billow of head to start that laces and clings on its way down. Deep, dark brown hue to the point of mud, with just a touch of blood red where bulb meets stem. Nose held a kind of sweet malt and frankly somewhat chummy fruit flavor, but that was just a side note to the overall malt profile that dominated. Very fast on the tongue and quietly dissipating mouthfeel; able-bodied malt structure with just a hint of sweetness that again evaporates like a heat mirage on a hot pavement. This is one that I could drink until told I must stop.

Serving type: on-tap

10-14-2004 01:47:13 | More by Truh
Photo of ppoitras


4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml corked and caged bottle obtained via trade with LuckySevens82. Thanks for the opportunity...

Once uncaged, the cork came loose with a tug and a satisfying pop. Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed 2" of dense, creamy, tan/light brown head over the cloudy, reddish-brown brew. Head shows great staying power, and lacing is chunky and bountiful. Aroma is Belgianish spicy, with sweet malt and a slight effervescence present. Taste is initially lightly of dark fruits, with a rounding out of Belgian malt and yeast flavors. Mouthfeel and drinkabilty are both very good. An enjoyable brew, worth both trying and revisiting.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2004 22:42:12 | More by ppoitras
Photo of crookedhalo


4.35/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

75 cl cork and caged bottle. Pours a hazed copper to brown color with a pillowy, thick beige head that subsided into a thick collar and some nice lacing. Malty, doughy, and yeasty nose with a slight presence of citrus zest, barley husk and maybe apple skin. This beer has a really nice, dry finish. Quite atypical of a finish for a brown. Lots of earthy, husky malt notes amidst a solid yeast character, an air of fruitiness and, again the wonderfully dry finish. Faint spicing is suggested. Sweetness is present in the beer, just kept to a minimum. Carbonation is rather high, but the carbonic acid complements the dryness in the finish. Good to the very end. A fantastically well-rounded beer that's not too cloying or overbearing, as some brown ales from Belgium can be. Cave aging plays an integral part in this ale's softness and complexity.

Serving type: bottle

10-06-2004 07:43:33 | More by crookedhalo
Photo of frank4sail

New Jersey

3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown look in the goblet with a pleasent lasting beige 1/4 inch head. Detergent like clean nose. Rich sweetish hazel nut tinted taste to the brew. Slight touch metalic touch on the tongue. Nice malty smooth finish. Smooth comforting mouth. Soild and quite nice. A decent drinkable brown that goes well with football in the fall.

Serving type: bottle

10-03-2004 19:26:50 | More by frank4sail
Photo of beerceller99


3.25/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

75 cl. bottle pours a massive head if yer not careful. Dark, ruby- brown color. Has a subtle bread and butter smell. Very nice smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Pretty mild flavor of nine grain bread with a mild, citrusy hop bite to finish. A well balanced brew, but too mild in the flavor department.

Serving type: bottle

10-01-2004 05:43:48 | More by beerceller99
Photo of granger10


3.48/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I would go so far as to call this an extreme beer. The dryness displayed by this beer was amazing. No sweetness to speak of which is quite amazing considering the alcohol strength and malt flavors. Loads of complexity here. Main flavor is bitter orange peel but there's more tarty citric flavors. The bitterness and tartness are really soft. A peppery spice is there as well as more spices that were unique to me. Strong hits of yeast midway through and then in the finish. A solid beer but almost too much to me. I have to give respect to the brewers here, but it's just not my cup of tea.

Serving type: bottle

09-20-2004 21:24:08 | More by granger10
Photo of lackenhauser


4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Very very nice deep ruby color with a head that goes on forever-it took 3 pours to get the whole thing out of the bottle.Great earthy aroma-very yeasty-hints of oak and somewhat breadlike.Nice big malty flavor upfront.Somewhat sweet,a tad of lingering bitterness.Wonderful silky smooth mouthfeel-the huge malt profile is very smooth-almost syrupy.A very quaffable brew-I could see enjoying this one all night.It was really quite nice as it warmed in the bottle.Damn sure worth checking out.

Serving type: bottle

08-30-2004 22:04:17 | More by lackenhauser
Photo of allengarvin


4.22/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle, bought online from beergeek.biz. Cork popped out easily. Poured it into a Duvel goblet.

Appearance: big creamy head at first, which settles down and leaves about a fingers-width on top of the beer. Dark dark color, which shows a ruby tint when held up to the light, but otherwise opaque.

Aroma: Spicy, estery aroma.

Tasty: Good malt, a little toasty, with a good mouthfeel. Hints of breadiness, along with caramel notes present, and a good spiciness from the yeast. Long aftertaste at the back of the tongue. Slightly acidic, and actually quite refreshing for the strength of the beer.

This isn't as complex as many of Belgian's dark beers that one finds in the state, but it's interesting, and highly drinkable. I hope it'll become available in Texas; it's good to have Pierre Celis' brewing skill back.

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2004 22:01:15 | More by allengarvin
Photo of Mitchster


4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pierre Celis Signature Selection. Matured in the Kanne and Valkenburg Caverns. Considered "The Beer of the Year" by Michael Jackson. 750ml corked and caged silk-screened bottle. 6.7% ABV.

Cork pops off with a brish "Whissh". Pours out to a brilliantly clear dark brown with beautiful ruby accents, forming a tall and dense rocky beige head with excellent retention and beautiful lacing. The head peaks out of the glass, supported by brisk carbonation. Great looking brew. arpma of Belgian sour funk, musty basement, dry husky malts, mild penols, distant earthy hops, mild phenols. Very nice. Mouthfeel is spritzy with an airy, medium body. Taste begins with initial sweet and sour, followed by belgian phenols intermixed with metals, earthy and dirty amber malts with a faint suggestions of figs and cinnamon, the suggestion of dark candi/brown sugar arrives towards the finish, which is bone-dry and has an earthy bitterness of moderate intensity, accentuated by the unfortunate metals. As it warms, distinct flavors of cotton candy, pineapple, and grapefruit become apparent, a touch of orange peel appears, the carbonation and alcohol mellow, the sweetness softens, and ultimately it becomes a much better beer. At room temp, it's all about the toast.

This is a complex, yet odd beer. It held alot of promise with the nice aroma and the initial sour zip, but I kept wanting more tartness. This beer is schizophrenic...the 1st half is a completely different beast than the 2nd half. There is little continuity until it warms. As it warms, it really unfolds and nearly meets my lofty expectations. Reminds me of Goudenband mixed 30/70 with a decent abbey single poured over a fresh tropical fruit cocktail. Unique and very good. Worth the $10 I paid for it? Almost.

Serving type: bottle

08-10-2004 22:46:18 | More by Mitchster
Photo of Crosling


3.45/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sampled at Beer Mania in Brussels, Belgium.

Dark Orange.

The aroma was fairly subtle, roses being the most enjoyable but dark fruits, cinnamon and pepper.

Dry and medicinal throughout with notes of dark fruits, nuts and cinnamon and a suggestion of cellar mustiness as well.

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2004 22:26:01 | More by Crosling
Photo of Guinness4me


3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It seems a shame to be drinking this beer in Florida in the middle of summer! I feel I should have it while I sit on a bear-skin run in a ski lodge! Bold, spicy and easy to drink.

It pours an impressive creamy, plentiful head which dissipated quickly. To me, the aroma is a true beer smell, but tastes nothing like it smells. I think the flavor reminds me of a black and tan! It has a smooth mouthfeel and I barely tasted the alcohol in it. I could drink quite a few of these. I'd love to try it on tap.

Serving type: bottle

07-18-2004 21:45:48 | More by Guinness4me
Photo of WVbeergeek

West Virginia

3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at Fathead's along with St. Bernie Abt 12. Appearance: Pours a mahogany brown hue thin tan hed leaves thin lacing down my chalice not a bad look to it at all. Aroma: Finding it hard to get anything out very light somewaht airy herbal hop mix with spice and fruit accents in the background of mild chocolate notes and darker toasted soft roasts.
Taste: Herbal hops flood the palste with a woody oak barrel aged rawness to it, very mild sweetness dry quality in the finish. Spicy edge to it with a slight citrusy note picked up seems that the sample is aged a bit not gone south just not fresh. Mouthfeel: Medium body steady carbonation, nothing that thrilling here. Drinkability: A decent unique Belgian bier but I can't give it the highest marks it just seems pretty good to me.

Serving type: on-tap

07-14-2004 14:34:30 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of ngandhi


3.08/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dominating phenolic Belgian yeast. Highly carbonated, causing the cork to shoot out once the cage was loosened. Constantly fizzy with no head. Served at cellar temperature, this comes off as more of a tripel than anything else with minimal dark fruit -- a little raisin maybe -- on the dry finish which also helps accentuate some chocolately malt. Cola. The midpalate is balanced, but that dry finish brings too much into the forefront with an ultimately astringent yeasty spice that lingers, troubles me.

Relax, relax.

Serving type: bottle

07-04-2004 17:49:53 | More by ngandhi
Photo of Wildman


3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a dark reddish amber color and formed a nice bubbly white head that left circular lace as it subsided. A medium amount of carbonation is present. The aroma was of malt, cinnamon, and spices. The flavor was of malt and spices. The finish was fairly light and sprite. Compared to the other from this brewer, it was a bit of a let down, but it had a lot to live up to. It is a servicable brew, just not outstanding.

Serving type: bottle

06-30-2004 03:18:41 | More by Wildman
Photo of mickeymac


3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It comes in a regal-looking 750 ml bottle. The beer pours a deep, dark brown with a billowy off-white head that leaves plenty of lace. The smell has traces of ripe fruit and just a bit of tartness but nothing really outstanding. The same holds true in the taste: interesting fruit flavors with a slight sour note but nothing particularly noteworthy. For some reason, I was reminded of a piece of fruit-flavored chewing gum that had been chewed too long, leaving little of the original flavor. The mouthfeel is decent and it goes down well. It's just not one worth searching out when the world is full of so many outstanding Belgian Strong Dark Ales.

Serving type: bottle

05-07-2004 04:17:16 | More by mickeymac
Photo of ZAP


3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Auburn colored...big fluffy ol white head...nose is musty....a bit spicy....flavor is sweet tropical fruits....some spicy pepper...some cinnamon on the finish...subtle flavors...smooth....almost creamy texture...perhaps a bit light bodied and flavored...

Enjoyable....not a powerhouse of flavors, but is more of a smooth, understated Belgian....

I'd buy several others before this but I'm glad I tried it once...decent enough..

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2004 02:59:38 | More by ZAP
Photo of rdrummer

New Jersey

3.55/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Okay, I'll admit from the start that I expected this to be a beer that would beat all my prior experiences. It didn't. It is one beautiful beer from the first cork pop to the effervescence of the pour. It is a beautiful, deep amber color with a pure white head that is not long lasting.

The aroma is above average but hard to distinguish. There is the hint of clove and cinnamon with a serious malty base. There is a hint of the hops in the nose as well.

Things start to go down hill from there. Maybe, it is wrong to rate beers because they don't meet expectations, but with Pierre Celis name on the label, the idea of cave aging, and the praise from Michael Jackson, I expected much more than I got. There is an exteme dryness to the maltiness of the beer. It is representative of cheaper brown ales that have little taste. I was expecting more not the same amount of taste from a Celis beer.

This is a dry beer. I like dry wine and some dry beers, but this was parching. It could be that this is simply not aged enough or aged too long. My ability to taste is not up to that distinction.

I was not impressed enough that I would seek out this beer again, and was certainly not left desiring more. It's a good beer, but not a great one.

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2004 23:15:35 | More by rdrummer
Photo of RedDiamond


3.28/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Absolutely the most violent cork busting POP I’ve ever gotten from a corked beer. And the ensuing carbonation roils and blazes with the jubilant overabundance of champagne. A thick tan head sits like it intends to stick around awhile. Sourish aroma gives me some concern. Is it supposed to smell like that? Best guess is yes. Still…..

The color of course is brown. It is the brown of a chestnut mare, the brown of sad puppy dog eyes, the brown of soiled bus depot toilet seats or the air above Mexico City. It’s pretty darn brown.

The flavor – alas, I was hoping I could just stick to the color and carbonation. The flavor is fairly disappointing. It says “Chimay” at first, which is good. But the body is thin and aside from all that mad-as-a-hornet CO2 that’s surging up from the glass, there’s nothing robust here or especially compelling. There’s no accentuated clarity or verve. There’s nothing to savor or sing praise about.

I suppose this brew would do well at a picnic in which one’s attentions may be focused on one’s food and paramour. And honestly, the Grotten Brown does inspire some appetite. Mind you, this is not an awful brew. But it doesn’t inspire any profuse willingness to drink the stuff. And I don’t care how many Belgian caves this has been aged in or if, as the label proclaims, it is Michael Jackson’s beer of the year. Must have been an uneventful year, and I believe MJ needs a cup of coffee.

Seriously, a good Chimay tops this one any day of the week.

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2004 22:59:37 | More by RedDiamond
Photo of Billolick

New York

3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

large bottle, with cork and cage. Pours dark and cloudy/muddy. Burnt figs and yeast in nose. Tastes of yeast, sludgy malt,burnt fruit, chocolate, coffee. Lighter then expected body, nice smooth, and slightly oily mouthfeel. A lighter duty strong dark ale. Decent enough, but did not amaze with body or complexity.

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2004 10:22:23 | More by Billolick
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a three-finger light brown head that stays and leaves a good lace. Nose has hints of raisin. Medium bodied. Very good carbonation and a cloudy amber color. There are traces of yeast. Starts and finishes sweet, not an intense brown. $7.99 for a 750ml bottle.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2004 23:54:37 | More by jdhilt
Photo of Gavage

New Jersey

4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Arrived bronze in color with thick 2 inch head. The aroma was light as only some maltiness was detected. There were many flavors that make this up, as roasted malt, light spice (nutmeg, allspice ?), decent bitterness, and prunes were nicely married.

The mouthfeel was smooth as the malt seemed to ride the tongue well into the aftertaste. Carbonation levels were light. Nicely drinkable.

Serving type: on-tap

03-03-2004 13:26:19 | More by Gavage
Photo of TheLongBeachBum


3.38/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: A fancy looking 750ml brown glass bottle that appears to have a front and back label, but they are actually screen printed onto the bottle. The dark blue and cream colored screen printed obverse label lists the beer as ‘Pierre Celis Signature Selection Grotten Brown’. It also lists the beer as 6.7% and ‘Belgium Cave-Aged Ale’.

Appearance: Silky smooth pour that readily forms a nice thick head. Well carbonated and creamy in appearance, the tan brown head is resolute and remains throughout the drink.

Nose: Another let down, deep inhalation does reveal some dark fruits, malts, yeasty aromas. Hardly complex, but entertaining at times when you can get deep into the nose.

Taste: Smooth but grainy malts, when I started this it reminded me a little of some Milds I drank in England. In the middle it develops some cinnamon towards the end and an astringent nutty finish. It goes as soon as it comes, so to speak. It improved a little as it warmed, but not any significant degree. I found this to be lacking to be honest.

Mouthfeel: Thin and uninspiring it has no depth, but the finely attenuated carbonation and smooth feel on the tongue rescues it from a lower mark.

Drinkability: Reasonably quaffable but a little boring. Inoffensive, but a tad one dimensional and timid. I am glad I shared the one bottle I had, because it may have been a chore to get the whole bottle by myself.

Overall: The presentation of the bottle and the ‘cave-aged’ hype all fooled me into thinking that this would be something special. Sadly it wasn’t. Not that bad, but really just above average. But given its background, hype and price, it was a big disappointment. Think hard before dropping your money on this one.

Serving type: bottle

02-29-2004 23:36:47 | More by TheLongBeachBum
Photo of cokes


3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Particle-strewn ruby-brown under several inches of wet cement.
Molasses lathered tangerines and prunes on the nose, with a pepperized yeast backup.
Begins dusty and vacantly fruity. Figs and raisins, with more tropical suggestions deeper down in. Molasses cookies (or at least gingerbread) stripped clean of their sweetness. Spicy, with cinnamon and ginger. Black pepper mingles with a forceful astringent dryness. The minor sweetness that appears suggests saccharine-constructed grapes. Closes musty, like a basement long unattended, full of damp cardboard boxes.
The mouth is medium, spritzy, and especially dry.
Not a bad beer; It's just a bit dull.

This was not done any favors by the cave.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2004 03:45:43 | More by cokes
Photo of benmiliron


2.25/5  rDev -40.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Paid $6.99 for a bottle.

Beer of the Year my ass. The cork popped off as soon as I removed the wire restraint. Must have had an infection. No hop character, just musty, brown funk. Was tolerable though, as most infected beers appear to be. Further inspection revealed a lot of residue near the miniscus of the the beer, validating the infection hypothesis.


Serving type: bottle

02-18-2004 00:34:47 | More by benmiliron
Photo of GreenCard


4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Sampled 33cl bottle...

Appearance: chestnut brown, thick layer of tannish foam that compacts into whipped cream, lots of bubbles

Aroma: malt, dark bread, dried pears, clove, speculoos

Flavor: mild malt sweetness, a slight acidity, dried fruit, spice, yeast, mild continental hop flavor, very balanced, finishes semi-dry with a dark malt aftertaste

Mouthfeel: medium body, zesty carbonation, slight warmth, very smooth

Overall Impression: Tried this beer for the first time at The Belgian Beer Weekend 2003 and I was quite impressed with it. It seemed to be somewhat of a "sleeper" hit at the festival. Not a lot of it on hand, but it was gone by the end of the weekend when word had gotten around. Great beer with a lot of subtle things going on. Nice, tasteful label too!

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2004 21:13:56 | More by GreenCard
Grottenbier from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
85 out of 100 based on 255 ratings.