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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: 21
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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 255 | Reviews: 202 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SkeeterHawk


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

Appearance: Pours an extremely clear deep brown color with a thick tanish head that lasts forever. There are a lot of bubbles rising that you can see straight through when holding the beer to the light.

Aroma: A lot of fruitiness in the aroma. There are also some well defined toasty notes here also. There is a slight sour aroma that gets more noticeable as it warms up a bit. There is also a mild minerally aroma that I can’t put my finger on, but it reminds me a bit of chalk.

Taste: Wow, this beer is wonderfully complex! I get a whole lot of the toastiness that I would imagine is from Munich malts. There are ripe plums playing havoc on the palate as it is bombarded with some spicy notes. The start of the profile is very balanced, but the beer then fades to a slightly sweet finish. I think that the balance is derived as much from the sourness as any hops (that I don’t notice). This mild sourness serves to add complexity rather than bringing the beer over to the “tart side of the force”.

Opinion: This is an incredibly drinkable beer, and it was no wonder why Michael Jackson raved about it. The flavor is passive enough to slip past the palate of the typical swill drinker, while there is plenty of underlying complexity to challenge even the most seasoned palate. Reading the style guidelines, I don’t see that this beer is supposed to have a sour component, but the example that I am drinking certainly has a sour presence. It is by far not a big enough part of the profile to suggest that this beer be in an Oud Bruin category, but it is something to be noted...and the reason for some of my scores being 4's. This particular example may have caught something, but in my opinion, it helped! Reading the literature on this beer, one would think that it would be really consistent from bottle to bottle, but I can not say that I know what this beer has been through to get to my glass. Regardless, I would highly recommend this beer, and I will certainly try it again when the opportunity arises.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2005 01:23:01 | More by SkeeterHawk
Photo of KarlHungus


3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color with a huge fluffy dirty white head. The aroma is very spicy. I've never smelled a beer quite like this before, but it is nice. The taste is similar to the aroma. The mouthfeel is rather thin for a brew this dark. Overall, this is an enjoyable beer. It's not a beer that I would want to have everyday, but it is an interesting occasional choice.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2005 18:52:57 | More by KarlHungus
Photo of grassrootsVT


3.35/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Have had this one on tap at Monk's before but thought I'd give a try out of the bottle. Poured into a red wine glass a murky brown - caramel color, with no head. Smelled tangy sweet with an earthy musty character - it sits unlively, giving nearly no aroma. A caramel hint in the palate - i almost detect a bit of rusty iron - a soury sweet balance that intensifies and the abates - as it warmed, the flavors became more apparent. A good carb level but not much else to be said for mouthfeel - perhaps a well spread equilibrium of flavors.. Drinkability? I'm all good on this one - can't believe michael jackson is quoted on the bottle as believing this to be beer of the year.

Serving type: bottle

07-04-2005 16:30:03 | More by grassrootsVT
Photo of Sephiroth


3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The cork pops, and this much hyped beer pours into my Westmalle chalice a ruby, brown like color. It smells of yeast.

I was at first extremely dissapointed by this beer, but as it warmed from cellar to room temperature, I discovered a much fuller flavor. This beer has dark fruit flavors aplenty. The finish is quite dry.

I forgot to mention the wonderful head retention of this beer. I should also mention that I paid only $7.50 for this beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-27-2005 06:51:53 | More by Sephiroth
Photo of budsboy


4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Corked, caged bottle. Uncorks with considerable force. Pours clear, brilliant amber with a big, creamy, billowing head.

Smells of spicy malt, almost syrupy. Hints of fruit. Less pungent than other St. Bernardus products, a little disappointing.

Rich malty mouthfuls of beer goodness, wow. Bread and dark fruit flavor, warming, with a bitter-sweet finish. Very pleasing and a bit surprising.

Full-bodied, meal like, with a bit of zip from the carbonation.

Well, I've finished this bottle already, far too fast. That, I would judge, is a drinkable beer. Try some.

Serving type: bottle

06-13-2005 14:03:30 | More by budsboy
Photo of OatherS


4.38/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is amazing.

Appearance: Nice head. Slight amber/brown color.

Smell: Caramel/chocolaty hints. Similar to a dubbel.

Taste: This beer is very good. Nice dubble type taste. Caramel and chocolate type tastes.

Mouthfeel: Smooth.

Drinkability: I could drink this all night long!!!

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2005 03:46:10 | More by OatherS
Photo of TheJudge

New York

4.4/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beautiful bottle pours a nice deep caramel color, just off brown, with a light brown head that holds well, and laces beautifully. Smells real good, sweet on top, but you can feel the malt. No real hop to speak of, but I wasn't expecting any. The malt smell follows throught in the taste, front to back. The sweetness of the aroma is not there in the taste. Bitter, in fact. It goes down very well, not too bubbly, not too heavily malty. This is indeed a beer that you can drink all night.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2005 15:20:40 | More by TheJudge
Photo of amatuerbeerguy


4.08/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark Brown incolor clarity fair, head retention high. Some raison break thru, with malt being dominant, phenols present spices fairly prevelant, hops flavoring moderate, slight sweetness. with a medium to high body, warming prevalent. Dark color rich malt flavor some accentual flavors prevalent. Warmong and sweetness, medium to high body. A drinkable beer with the 6.7% alcohol.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2005 04:49:51 | More by amatuerbeerguy
Photo of dgallina


3.1/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a slightly-cloudy copper with a significant creamy white head and good lacing. Smells spicy and fruity (cinnamon, floral notes, perhaps nutmeg), quite effervescent. Flavor is surprisingly weak and thin, however. A *very* brief burst of spice and fruit followed by a big dry finish that doesn't stop. Unnaturally thin and highly-carbonated body for the style.

Easy to drink, sure, but an overly light and flavor-thin beer.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2005 15:42:30 | More by dgallina
Photo of GClarkage


3.38/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

March 2005- On tap at the Toronado in San Francisco, CA

Presentation- Poured from the tap into a tulip style glass.

Appearance- Dark red, maybe scarlet coloring with a nice tight dirty white head and very nice lacing.

Smell- A very sweet and fruity scent along with a few spices and maybe some cloves in the mix.

Taste- Adequate amount of fruit flavors, sweet malt mixture, but far to dry and a bit unbalanced for me. My buddy loved it though.

Mouthfeel- Moderate carbonation and lip smacking dryness.

Drinkability- Interesting at that, but the dryness and it's unbalanced nature doesn't do it for me.

Serving type: on-tap

03-15-2005 17:25:26 | More by GClarkage
Photo of Dogbrick


3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is a dark mahogany color with a thick beige head that never goes away. Thin, sticky lacing. The aroma consists of yeast, spices and some banana. Medium-bodied with flavors of fruit (cherry mostly), yeast, spices and a bit of alcohol. The flavor falls off a bit and it would have been a lot better with more malt flavor. The finish is vinous and somewhat bitter. All in all a pretty good Dubbel.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2005 20:06:02 | More by Dogbrick
Photo of BeerResearcher


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

25.4oz brown bottle. Pierre Celis Signature Selection. Cave Aged Brown.
It poured a chestnut/teak color with a solid beige head and some sticky and sliding lacing.
Smells like a farm on a rainy day. A dry malty smell mingles with a bit of cloves and citrus.
A sufficient and deep malty flavor is balanced nicely with resinous hop bitterness. An upfront earthy & oaky taste gives way to a taste sour dough bread, bananas, cloves and peppers. This brew is crisp, lightly sweet and finishes dry.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2005 05:40:35 | More by BeerResearcher
Photo of blitheringidiot


3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Label Lingo and bottle babble: Golden caged & corked 03:52 L3405 on the cork cap top. This cork slipped right out of the bottle with a pull and without a pout.

Foggy brownish orange pour into a tulip with rising tiny microscopic bubbles rising up to a khaki, sticky, inch high, cratered surface of the moon, spumescent foam cap, which remains well retained.

Spicy malt nose of red apples and cinnamon notes with sugary, bunt cake aromas.

First Swigs: Deep apple cider malts. Drying hop finish. Sweet caramely cocoa aftertaste. Rootbeer anise hints. Astringent walnut shell and nutmeg dry aftertaste which lingers in a massive bittering flavors.

Quite a frothy sipping lil’ number. Medium bodied, but leaves a tongue lashing coating behind.

Last Swigs: Walnut shell and cake malts. Somewhat one dimensional in the flavor department. Just to be honest, what the heck does a cave have to do with this?

Beer is good. Happy beering.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2005 11:30:08 | More by blitheringidiot
Photo of maltydog


3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draft - 10 oz. fluted goblet. burnt amber with ruby highlights. Nose was extremely, but pleasantly, herbal (maybe some anise). Head is opaque and healthy, belgian lace is evident. The herbal nose is very evident in the taste. Pleasntly bitter and complented the rabbit terrine that I was enjoying perfectly. Herbal quality mellows as beer warms and the malt becomes more evident. Definitely a good food beer, particularly terrines, pates and foie gras. The finish is very dry and, again, herbal. I think this beer is definitely better when paired with food than on its own. It seems that with all of the herbal qualities that this offering could be considered a gruit. All in all, a nice effort from Pierre Celis and definitely a beer worth trying!

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2005 20:24:13 | More by maltydog
Photo of Dukeofearl


3.23/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I have real mixed feelings about this beer. I have tried it in the US and in Belgium, I have tried it and enjoyed it, and tried it and shrugged in complete lack of excitement. Not sure why, to be honest. It's a decent brew, just doesn't grab me.

Pours a medium murky brown with a medium off-white head that quickly dies off. Aroma is the best part of this beer. Semi sweet, with an interesting spiciness (clove?) that isn't your average Belgian Brown Ale.

But it's the taste where I lose interest. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, but it's just not interesting, and not nearly as exciting as the anticipation brought about by the aroma.

Oh, well.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2005 03:10:40 | More by Dukeofearl
Photo of gentlebubbles


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

Cola-colored brew with red highlights under a looseknit off-white head that shortly falls.

Sweet malty scent with overtones of prunes and port.

The aggressive fizziness and thin body make it hard for me to taste much aside from raisins. It's okay, but I have to say I'm not getting much from this.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2005 22:24:04 | More by gentlebubbles
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Foamy tan head, fragrant natural fruity yeast, lace bubbles. Chocolate malts, vanilla (aaah yum). A bit bitterness and sourness on the finish balanced with malts. Light mouthfeel and smooth and drinkable.

Had on-tap nine months later and noticed nice brown colour, yeasty aroma, licorice. Smooth.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2005 04:44:09 | More by Sammy
Photo of paterlodie


4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

productiocode 1279 best before end 2005. Pours in mighty fine and forms a thick a stable head. Has the same nice yeastsmell as the other ones from the Watou brewery. Further a nice caremelmalt arome together with roast and these fruits& spice from the yeast make it a complex smell. Taste is full malty, dry, spicy with a roast and hoppy finish. Good beer to enjoy on a long dark and cold night, feels like a lot more then the 6.7% alcohol it says it has.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2005 19:09:19 | More by paterlodie
Photo of Citadel82

New Jersey

3.05/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750 ml bottle with cork and cage. Wide mouthed Grottenbier goblet.

Pours a hazy brown with a short lived one finger head that becomes a thin creamy layer atop the beer.

Smells of yeast and fresh fruit. Melon???

Taste is slightly sweet though not malty - drying to a grapefruit-like sharpness with some detectable alcohol.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with some carbonation.

Drinkable yes, but not so spectacular that I will seek this one out any time soon.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2005 00:04:11 | More by Citadel82
Photo of GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

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

The beer poured clear amber brown with a tan head that was large and in charge. (The beer opened with a huge carbonation burst.)

The aroma was earthy with a slight farmhouse character. Also present was a slight citrus aroma.

The flavor was crisp and tart with an earthy hop bittering and flavor and a light citrus note. The bittering was substantial and well done to keep the flavor in check. Also a slight oak character existed in the background.

The finish was dry with a lingering citrus and earthy bittering long into the aftertaste. The body was medium but seemed lighter due to carbonation.

750 ml bottle. The beer was nice, nothing to write home about, but well bittered and with a decent drinkability. The citrus note makes me wonder if orange peel was involved.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2004 23:52:34 | More by GCBrewingCo
Photo of oracle


4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

10 oz draft pour in a tulip chalice.

Beer was quite dark brown with about 2 inches of foam, basically from the narrow point of the glass up. Large amounts of lacing left behind.

What little smell I could detect was very nice. Pleasantly sweet malt with floral tones.

Taste was quite mild and very good. Mildly malty and a little dry, quite smooth and delicious.

Very good

Serving type: on-tap

12-29-2004 20:02:14 | More by oracle
Photo of clvand0


4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on tap at Rich O's Public House. Poured into a Liefmann's wide brim 33cl glass. Pours a ruby brown color with a small head that leaves nice lacing. The aroma was almost nil. Nothing there. Flavor was malty and sweet with a strange tartness on the finish. Somewhat thin bodied, but very well done. Not as malty as I expected, but slighly spicy. Easy to drink. I'd have this one again.

Serving type: on-tap

12-29-2004 18:44:17 | More by clvand0
Photo of BrewMaster


3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a dark clear color and and a clean tan head. The nose is very sweet with notes of plum, caramel, and sweet malt scents. The flavor is full with dark caramel malts, raisin, and a bit of hop bitterness up front. There's a nice balance of tartness and sweetness to balance the light bitterness of the beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2004 20:04:14 | More by BrewMaster
Photo of Padron4KM


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

750ml bottle, poured into a Grottenbier challice.

Pours a murky brown, with a creamy beige head.
Head subsides to a uniform 1/4 in cap. A thin sheet of lace coats the glass.
Aroma is malty, plummy, winey with a slight sour note .
Flavor is malty, yeasty, hints of dark fruits, a bit of funky mustyness, a little clove spice. Slight hoppiness on the finish.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2004 04:43:56 | More by Padron4KM
Photo of PopeJonPaul


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

Smells like a waterfall and sugar-free root beer (I don't know how else to describe it,) a musty and malty dark brown with a foamy head and good lacing. The taste was yeasty, with sweet but tart fruit flavors, a slightly thick creamy mouthfeel and a milky finish. Good and complex but didn't bowl me over for some reason, maybe this yeast strain just doesn't agree with me.

Serving type: on-tap

10-25-2004 02:39:19 | More by PopeJonPaul
Grottenbier from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
85 out of 100 based on 255 ratings.