1. Extreme Beer Fest tickets go on sale Sat, Sep 27 @ Noon EDT.
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special Brown - Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs s.a.

Not Rated.
Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special BrownAbbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special Brown

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

650 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 650
Reviews: 500
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 10.9%
Wants: 34
Gots: 26 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs s.a. visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: jdhilt on 10-08-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 650 | Reviews: 500 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of scottoale
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This came in a 11.2fl.oz. brown bottle with a Best before end (what looks like) 2007. It pours into a semi-tulip 13.5oz. a dark murkish hazelnut brown with a solid, tight 2-finger tan head that lasts. Some thick lasting lace left stuck to the glass as you drink.

The smell is of thick, chewy malt and caramel...sweet and very malty, nice strong aroma of unhopped wort...sticky sweet.

The flavor can best be classified as a "Malt Bomb" in that it is very sweet and thick, almost malt syrup like. This brew is just about the opposite of a "Hop Bomb", although there are hops that manage to tame the sweetness quite nicely. Just a big, fat malty brew that is very tasty and fairly strong as well.

The body is massive, thick and chewy, with a good smooth mouthfeel and the right amount of carbonation to give this strong ale a good drinkability...the alcohol is well burried in the malty thickness. A good solid drinker that deserves a try for this style...another unique Belgian for sure.

scottoale, Jan 08, 2007
Photo of tgbljb
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Opening the bottle resulted in a slow oozing over the kitchen table.
Poured a cloudy brown color into a Duvel glass. Pronounced tannish head with great retention and lacing.
Smell is a pleasant mixture of candy sugar amd ripe dark fruits (raisins, plums).
Taste matches the smell with a rich malty sweetness. Very light on spices.
Full and creamy in the mouth.
Nice and easy to drink.

tgbljb, Jan 01, 2007
Photo of SilentSabre
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Part of my recent large purchase of assorted Belgians. $6,59 / 750mL at Michael's Beer and Wine, Marietta, Ga.
My first beer from Brasserie Des Rocs. Poured a very murky reddish brown with red-orange highlights. Quite a lot of sediment can be seen floating about in this. The head on this beer was beautiful! A khaki coloured foam about two fingers thick that stayed around for much longer than I was anticipating. This was simply a very, very nice looking pour. Smell was bread dough, mild mulling spices, dark stewed fruit, and just a hint of brown sugar.
Taste is sweet malts, a bit of yeast, some spice, and has a little longer finish than I was expecting. There is also some faintly noticeable alcohol, but faint none the less. Mouthfeel was quite average for a Belgian Brune. Very drinkable, though, considering its style and 9,5%abv. A lovely ale.

SilentSabre, Dec 30, 2006
Photo of sloejams
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Seconds after opening this bottle, the carbonation went buckwild and went everywhere. I rushed it to the sink where it would cause the least amount of harm. After it settled down, I poured into my chalice. Sadly, 1/3 of it was lost in the foam explosion.

It was a dark, murky, muddy water with an enormous head. Sediment swam around the bottom. It smelled of brown sugar and raisin - sweet but not overwhelming. As was the taste - the spiciness carried well with the dark malts. I paired it with some spicy Thai food and the combination was brilliant.

I'm still a bit saddened to see that the former Abbeye Des Rocs Grand Cru is no longer being made. It was a favorite. I enjoy the Special Brown but it's really not in the same league. But still, it's a fine Belgian brew.

sloejams, Dec 08, 2006
Photo of grub
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

tasting party dec 6/06 with northyorksammy, crwills, biegaman and me (grub). everyone threw in a few bottles and we had an interesting mix of beer. crwills contributed this one, so thanks craig!

pours a very cloudy red-brown colour with a gushing huge tan head. the sediment hangs throughout the glass.

aroma is great. roasty. slightly sweet. honey and caramel. raisin and grapes. slightly vinous. just a hint of spice, maybe clove. i think i could just sit and smell this one all night.

taste is good. light bitterness. caramel sweetness. bittersweet chocolate. dried fruit, maybe cranberries. not quite as nice as the aroma, but still good.

mouthfeel is good. fairly dry with a nice carbonation level.

drinkability is great. well balanced and very enjoyable. liked this one alot.

grub, Dec 07, 2006
Photo of phishgator
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured this into a wide mouthed goblet. The color is brown; there are a great deal of perticles in the brew and it has a large gushing foamy head. The smell is of rasins, chocolate, and pumpernickel bread. The taste is sweet and slightly tart upfront. Then there is alcohol soaked dried fruits and it finishes with a crisp dry edge. The body is big and filling. There is a lot of belgian sugar in this and I can taste the hangover if I were to stick to only this all night.

I like their beers and this is one that everyone should try.

phishgator, Nov 30, 2006
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark orange/weathered bronze with more than a dash of candy apple red when backlit. It took quick action on my part to pour the beer before foam exited the top of the bottle. As I type, multiple streams of bubbles are leaping off the bottom of the glass and are creating a softly rocky crown of pale caramel foam. Unfortunately, it isn't tacky enough to leave more than an afterthought of lace.

The nose is classic BSDA with an emphasis on sour dark fruit that I hope is countered by a sufficient amount of candi sugar on the palate. It's also brown malty with an earthy, musky hoppiness that adds some amount of complexity. It doesn't quite equal the best of the style though, despite the fact that I like it more each time I put my nose over the glass.

ADRGCBSB is very good beer and explodes on the palate with flavors that were only hinted at in the nose. The center is occupied by heavily toasted, brown bready malt and has all sorts of interesting things zinging around in its orbit. The beer is impressive dark fruity with dried figs and cidery, fermented apples contributing the most. It's also musky and yeasty and earthy and spicy and... well, it's just chock full of flavor.

I'm sure that other combinations would have been just as enjoyable, but it just so happens that sweet, bitter and tart are nearly equal in intensity. Each one of those flavor sensations are able to be appreciated in turn if one simply focuses the taste buds for a second or two. Warming brings about the expected increase in amount of and depth of flavor. This is not a subtle BSDA by any means (that's a good thing).

I felt pretty good about the mouthfeel early on, even with all the bubbles. As I enter the bottom third of the bottle though, I have a full appreciation for its wonderousness. It's medium-full, voluminous, creamy, lightly silky and lightly slick... all at the same time. I don't care what it took to get there, I just like where it ended up.

My first two bottles of Belgian Special Brown ('best by' dates of 2007) were drainpours due to an overwhelming amount of chunky, proteinaceous garbage. This bottle ('best by' date of 2008) is nothing but sweet, sweet beer. If you can find a fresh one, this is a BSDA to be reckoned with.

BuckeyeNation, Nov 27, 2006
Photo of weeare138
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Ortino's Northside...
Appears a a caramel toned dark amber with a small, off white head that quickly fizzles out into a thin collar. Only tiny spots of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is heavenly of brown sugar, ripened dark fruit, melted caramel, raisins, doughy yeast, vanilla, and perhaps a touch of coriander.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a gentle amount of roasted grain complimenting the sugary flavors with a light citrus hop flowing along.
Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy, sugary, fruity, and semi-dry in the finish. Carbonation is well done and gentle enough to let all the flavors and textures flow evenly.

weeare138, Nov 25, 2006
Photo of UncleJimbo
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This ale poured a very hazy, red brown color with light tan foam that settled and clung to the glass a little bit. The smell was malty and fruity with a touch of hops. The taste was malty and fruity with a light sugar sweetness and moderate hoppiness. The mouthfeel was smooth and malty with full body and good carbonation. There was a residual sweetness and fruitiness in the finish and aftertaste. This was a very nice and enjoyable beer.

UncleJimbo, Nov 11, 2006
Photo of JoeyHotrod
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quite a beautiful beer to look at here, with it's brown body and huge head that doesn't ever go away and the nice lacing left throughout the glass.

From a scent standpoint this beer has elements of fruit, malt and a touch of alcohol, though by no means overbearing and in fact quite tame for a 9.5 percent beer.

The taste is what you would expect from the style. Dark Fruits, malt and a touch of spices. Again the alcohol is there, though undervalued enough not to be a disturbance.

This is a quality beer to had here. My first ale from these guys, though with my love of Belgian Beer and if this is an example of what these guys are capable of, I hope to try some others.

JoeyHotrod, Nov 10, 2006
Photo of bennetj17
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Murky, mahogany color, medium thick head, tan, made of tiny bubbles, with nice retention.

S: Rather sweet, cinnamon raisin, aspirin, slight alcohol fume.

T: Tangy sweet, caramel and dark fruit malt flavors, light alcohol and hint of bitterness in finish.

M: Medium thick, lightly creamy on the palate with subtle carbonation.

D: This one opens up smelling like their Triple Imperiale, but the taste doesn't have the same complexity. I would try it again...

bennetj17, Nov 10, 2006
Photo of nickss
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bad first impression!... I open the bottle only to have about an ounce of it explode out of the top in the form of foam.
However, first impressions are quickly overcome as I pour the brew into the chalice. Deep ruddy brown with some ruby highlights, capped by a beautiful 2" head which refuses to subside.

Wonderful berry notes mingled with a spicy alcohol aroma. A certain breadiness as well... quite nice, yet not as pronounced as I would like.

Huge and complex... a very nice tasting brew. Berries, chocolate, cookie dough... fantastic.

Crisp with some heady carbonation, but moderately thick. Nice.

Quite drinkable for a brew of this abv. 9.5%, youve got to be kidding.

nickss, Nov 04, 2006
Photo of aforbes10
4.45/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

review from notes about a month ago....red and cloudy with floaty sediment. nice white head. great fruity clove odor. oh man, oh man...mmmm....smooth with delicious cloves and red fruits (plums?). soft malt and slightly sweet. alcohol not hiding very well. a good one.

aforbes10, Oct 24, 2006
Photo of UncleFlip
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very active tan head tops a scant b it of beautiful copper liquid. The head falls slowly, revealing more of the beer.

The smell is nutty and yeasty, with malty bits dancing about. There's also some almond and peach here.

Flavour is woody yet hearty. It's a bit spicy just up top. There's some almond here, and some fruitiness. It's a very distinctly Belgian flavour...

Mouthfeel is hearty but not thick. Carbonation is higher than I generally like, but that seems the style here.

VERY drinkable. Not the most complex, but well done and agreeable.

Be well
-UF

UncleFlip, Oct 23, 2006
Photo of wl0307
4.88/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750ml green bottle, corked and capped, with no freshness info. printed on the bottle but the cork has a number for reference: 065/759976. Served lightly-chilled to cool in a large Burgundy bulb wine glass.

A: elegant dark copperish brown colour, coming with a 2cm creamy beige frothy head that sustains really well and leaves tight and even layers of lacing on the way; very gentle and tiny fizziness witnesses successful bottle conditioning.
S: how can I relate this beer to... a bowl of overly ripened stone-fruits on top of a bed of aromatic hops? The fruitiness and malts come in full force, showing ripe melons, preserved-plums, figs, dates... mashed and sweetened Chinese red beans and a flow of melted brown sugar with a slightly sharp and spicy edge of very ripe pineapple, pepper cone, and coconut. Hoppyness and yeasts play the second fiddle, yet just in place to keep a balance. Especially after a good swirl, the yeasty bouquet in the form of sweet wood and extra-creamy malts both emerge... Overall, thick and rich, very complex yet very settled.
T: wow... a mouthful of creamy and rounded malts upfront, without any bits of sharp carbonation at all... slowly bringing aboard abundant mouthfeel of dried stone-fruits and aromatic yeastiness like Chinese red bean paste, a touch sour-sweet with a healthy input of brown-sugary sweetness of malts, while constantly a kick of hops skirts the main theme just elegantly. Soothing, bitter-sweet chemistry b/w hops and malts lingers in the lo...ng finish, added with a mildly herbal bitter mouthfeel, a bit like licorice but not exactly that. Sublime...
M&D: absolutely great, creamy, silky smooth, and rounded on the mouthfeel, yet much lighter than its abv. tends to suggest!! It's so hard to believe this is a 10%abv. beer--it's rather like a medium-bodied malt soup with plenty of crushed fruits in it. A superb balance between yeasts, hops and malts realises in this sublime and super-approachable ale, that it's slightly too dangerously easy-drinking. Highly recommended!!!!

wl0307, Oct 14, 2006
Photo of shivtim
3.65/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A mean-looking beer. It's a clear red/brown, but with evil little chunkies floating in it. Good lacing. The nose is sweet and syrupy, with some sweet and tangy apple and a whiff of alcohol. Taste is again sweet and syrupy (a little too syrupy) but has some good hop flavor. Mouthfeel is fine, and drinkability is not bad for the ABV.

shivtim, Oct 08, 2006
Photo of ken3c
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer gushed a little but didn't seem to affect the taste. Served at about 55 degrees. The appearance however...
Starts very foamy with a large rocky head but dwindles to a ring of foam with small islands. Medium brown with a hint of red. Floating debris makes this beer rather cloudy.

Aroma has hints of biscuit, molasses and something spicy like allspice, nutmeg, and a little cinnamon. I can't sense very much alcohol at all.

Taste is first like eating a piece of cinnamon roll but then there's a taste of some peppery coriander, a brief bitterness and a lingering tartness. Again, if I didn't read 9.5% alcohol on the label, I couldn't guess it.

Mouthfeel is quite foamy and a sense of chewyness. I'd have to say mouthfeel is this beer's best feature.

In one sense (the hidden alcohol) this beer is dangerously drinkable. In another sense (do I want another one?), I'd have to say that it's merely good.

ken3c, Oct 04, 2006
Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks awaisanen. A incredibly smooth Belgian, milder on the corriander and spice. and sweet spice side, including ginger. Good creamy mouthful.Nutty, alcohol is disguised. Lovely brown colour and foamy head. Above average carbonation.
Had it again four years later and noticed the lace, a pleasant yeast treat.

Sammy, Sep 25, 2006
Photo of yemenmocha
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a muddy apple cider brown with yeast floaties. I tried hard to avoid the floaties but it wouldn't allow a clean pour.

Nose is tepid. Where is the damn nose? Some estery yeasty notes and faint typical abbey components are there.

On the palate it is very estery/yeasty, reminiscent of German hefe-weizens that are estery/yeasty. Palate has an interesting creme malt profile with some fresh paint flavours in there too. Interesting.

Finish is cloyingly sweet. Hmmm.

yemenmocha, Sep 24, 2006
Photo of sacfly
3.7/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish brown with big chunks circulating around, even with a gentle pour. Thin head of brown bubbles. The head is ever replenished due to the high carbonation on this one. Ginger immediately comes to mind in the aroma. Mild alcohol and a hint of spicy yeast. Taste follows suit almost to a tee. Light to medium body. I think this one is a bit past it's prime. Good, but glad it is retired...

sacfly, Sep 15, 2006
Photo of akorsak
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a 750 mL bottle of the Special Brown Ale version of Rocs Grand Cru. It is served in a Troegenator seidel and is chilled.

A: The ale is a dark ruby red color with a thick 2-finger head.

S: The nose is a mix of spices, primarily cinnamon and cardamom.

T: When colder, the taste is heavily spiced, too much so, and has a medicinal taste. The medicine taste finishes long. As the ale warms, the medicinal qualities lessen and spices become a little more palatable. There are also fruit flavors here, primarily raisin.

M: When cold, the mouthfeel is not so hot. As the ale warms, it improves immensely.

D: The drinkability is determined by the temperature. Avoid is beer when cold! The abv is a little tough but not a deal breaker.

akorsak, Sep 02, 2006
Photo of DogFood11
3.8/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thin 11.2 oz bottle with Belgian Special Brown Ale at the bottom of the label. Poured into a tulip it formed a nice tan head that falls to a solid covering and leaves sliding ring lacing. 9.5%.

Lots of caramel and dark fruits. Sleek sour bill creeps into the show ever so slightly. Not much balance to this but to me there is really not much needed as the malt bill mixed with a touch of spices is really all it needs. Very well done. Mouthfeel was interesting in that it was on the thick side but was able to burn through a bit with a snappy carbonation. Thankfully the carbonation was not fizzy or annoying just zippy.

Notes: It was above average but for me this was just good. Not such a bad thing by any stretch. Worthy of a grand cru status...ehhhh not in my opinion.

DogFood11, Aug 31, 2006
Photo of Reidrover
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle, very beautiful bottle. Label says "Brasserie Des Rocs" Nice chesnut brown, murky beer, with a good sized ,tight bubbled light tan head. This is after the fowm escaped from the bottle before I even noticed, flooding the computer desk!!. Very dried fruit like aromas, dried apricot, prunes, sweet gooseberry, and a touch of ginger/coriander thrown in. Lovelly tasting ale, all of the aroma was present in the beer, but a tad more spicy/peppery. With a slight buttery taste, some sourness. Darker chocolate tones set in then a nice bitterness, peppery after taste. Warming in the lower throat and belly, quite impressive. The palate was quite full and slick to begin with but dried out nicelly near the end, leaving traces of alcohol . very very nice beer, I was rather concerned at the price of this but its well worth every penny..the slippery slope has began!
Great beer for my 800 th review!

Reidrover, Aug 29, 2006
Photo of klewis
2.88/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Best by 2008

A: Caution! This bottle was very highly pressurized, and I lost a bit upon opening. (Other reviewers mention a corked bottle; I didn't get one.) Pours a murky brown with a big foamy head. Huge gelatinous globs of sediment fill the glass. A bit of sediment is fine, but this looks kind of gross, or it would otherwise get a 5 here. Lots of lacing on the glass.

S: Odd aroma. There's a bit of fruitiness, but also something unpleasant that I can't quite describe... meat maybe?

T: Sour and spicy with fruity flavors and notes of sourdough, lemon, and a bit of Belgian funk. The alcohol is well hidden.

M: Medium-full in body with moderate carbonation. A bit of warming from the alcohol. The sediment is noticable as it slides down the throat. eeewww...

D: I could probably deal with the sediment if the taste was better, but alas. I'll finish the bottle without too much trouble, but I won't be buying this again.

klewis, Aug 27, 2006
Photo of TheLiterati
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy, yeast infused ruby-brown. Strong aroma of malt and fruit, with a nice hoppy backbone.

The seven malts and three hop varieties blend richly, yielding a delicate but aggressive balance of sweet and sharp tastes. Fruit fills the mouth on first sip – the raisin, date and plum variety – and then settles to a pleasant but subtle smokiness.

Velvety mouthfeel, pleasant for sipping, and definitely drinkable.

TheLiterati, Aug 26, 2006
Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special Brown from Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs s.a.
94 out of 100 based on 650 ratings.