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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.

650 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 650
Reviews: 500
rAvg: 4.22
pDev: 10.9%
Wants: 34
Gots: 25 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs s.a. visit their website

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
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Ratings: 650 | Reviews: 500 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rodrot
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 750ml bottle. This beer poured a hazy reddish brown color with a 1 inch light tan head. The beer left some nice lacing on the side of my Duvel glass. The aroma was sweet, candyish and spicy in the nose. Taste was wonderfully malty and fruity with notes of spices, honey and maple syrup. This brew was medium bodied and very easy to drink. The alcohol was just barely noticeable as the beer warmed. Another winner from Abbaye des Rocs and a bargain at 6.99 a bottle.

rodrot, Mar 08, 2006
Photo of yelterdow
3.78/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Rochefort chalice at cellar temperature. Paired with Chimay a la Biere cheese after dinner. Best by date reads April 2007.

Upon lifting the bottlecap, the beer hissed urgently upwards, creating a fizzy waterfall in my sink. Thankfully, no beer was lost... just a whole lot of carbonation. Due to the generous amount of yeast in the bottle, I'm sure there is nothing to worry about.

Appearance- The beer pours a hazy cognac/raisin with a nicely constructed head... tight, soapy, off-white bubbles... almost two fingers, with terrific lacing.

Smell- Huge malts and old, sweet, fermenting fruit... almost like a moist cake doused in a reduction of alcohol and old peaches. After the yeast is added, the aromas become more full and pronounced.

Taste- A gigantic malt presence drives the fruit and spiciness to the wall... hints of old floorboard and perfume come forward. Upon swirling the sediment and pouring it into the last several sips, a marked complexity takes hold. The maltiness and fruit character integrates with a very natural sweetness, but it isn't sugary. It's a richly flavor-infused intergration of the major components of the beer; malts, fruit, spice, and alcohol... which is nicely hidden.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Good for the style; consistently slick, with just the right amount of carbonation to lift the flavors up and off the tongue... and the drying finale works nicely too. Try it with some strong cheese, I know it worked well for me.

yelterdow, Mar 01, 2006
Photo of BillyB
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A good example of the Belgian strong dark ale.

Pours a dark brown/burnt copper with a nice tan head.

Aromas are of citrusy/piney hops and hazelnut malty sweetness.

Taste is a good combination of bitter hoppiness that becomes sweet caramel/toffee-ish maltiness.

Strong alcohol warmth with a decent carbonic bite.

BillyB, Feb 25, 2006
Photo of dreadnatty08
3.8/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured over my sink due to extreme fizziness. Pours a dark amber, opaque, can't see a damn thing through it. Off white head dissapates to about nothing quickly. Aromas are very yeasty and barnyard like, some super funk going on. Flavors are a rush of craziness. Not altogether really sweet, a little bitterness and some sourness in the finish. A little too funky for me, rather go with a Rochefort 10 (dissimiliar style?). Mouthfeel is lighter than expected, not so heavy and syrupy as other strong Belgians. This beer is basically a loaf of bread in flavor, not sure if I enjoy that (I have excellent nearby local bread I'd rather eat). Alcohol isn't too discerning, but is warming. Still not quite sure if this "Special Brown" is in fact the same as the original, but still a good brew IMO.

dreadnatty08, Feb 24, 2006
Photo of mentor
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best before 2007. Pours a swampy brown liquid with a light brown-caramel head of two fingers. Froth crowned out the bottle when opened. Smells funky phenol, belgian candi sugar, chocolate, yeast, pepsi, and clean fresh straw. Tastes mild phenolic edge. Chocolate malty sweet with some candi sugar. Yeasty. Raisins and caramel. Mild alcohol. Overall, a nice deep and wide dark character. Md body and moderate carbonation.

mentor, Feb 15, 2006
Photo of Tupperwolf
4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So, while I'm trying to get the oversize cap off of the bottle without bending it, bubbles spill down the neck - and continue fizzing out until I manage to pop the cap off and get the beer into a tulip glass. Seems to be a common experience with this beer!

Pours out a ruby-highlighted brown with an eggshell-white head that fills the narrow portion of the tulip for a few moments before falling back to a thin ring and leaves little lacing. Deep, mysterious, strong-looking.

The smell is of raisins, toasted wheat bread, almonds, brown sugar, charcoal, caramel, plums... Damn... What a complex scent... It's such a delight to just sit and sniff this beer. There's a hell of a lot going on inside.

The taste begins with malt, malt, and malt - a brassy, bold, sweet malt that kicks the front of your tongue and then tag-teams its friend sugar. What's amazing to me is that the brewers claim that no candi sugar has been added, because this has a HUGE pack of very sugary tastes - unbelievable from an all-malt Belgian. It has a sharp, fruity body with a spicy but delicate hop finish - slight notes of smoke... Absolutely amazing.

The mouthfeel builds on the tongue, from a creamy beginning to a slowly building frothiness of tiny, energetic bubbles. They recede as you swallow, leaving behind sugary tastes that linger for a while and then dissappear, leaving the mouth feeling clean.

Awesome! I was really looking forward to trying this beer, and have been storing it for a few weeks. A bit of a wild mood was enough to dare me into popping it open for a glass. Definitely deserves to be rated so highly.

Tupperwolf, Feb 14, 2006
Photo of BEERchitect
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's basically all in there. If it's every been in a beer, then you'll find it in this Grand Cru (except for, perhaps chili peppers and chicken wings...don't ask). Right from the pour, a muddy bronze, rust color emits aromas that are distinctly Belgian, but with even the kitchen sink. Aromas lead right into the flavors with: bready, malt, spicy, fruity, vineous, musky, grape, figs, dates, nuts, toast, candy sugar, yeasty, astringent, sherry, citrus, alcohol, peaches, woody, pears, mangos, fruitcake....the list goes on and on. All of the flavors meld together and are well aged into a delicate, yet bold prague for the beer lover (it's all in there). The feel to the mouth is everywhere from astringent to sweet to dry to full. The finish is lightly dry, tart, and sweet. One of the more complex beers out there, but difficult to put into perspective. Could be a bit cleaner.

BEERchitect, Feb 12, 2006
Photo of chOAKbarrell
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Popped the cap, and off to a bad start. About 2 ounces of this 11.2 ounce beer ended up on my desk top from the bottle overflowing. Once in the glass, the beer had a decent one inch head that settled down to a thin layer, and never disappeared. The beer itself is a very very dark opague brown.

Saison yeast in the nose. Cant pick up much else.

Taste is excellent. Very nutty with some fruity tones underneath. I taste raisins as well. A very satisfying, chewy mouthfeel. Nice and hearty. I cant believe this beer is 9.5%! Very deceptive.

Great stuff. If I ever see it again, I will have another.

chOAKbarrell, Feb 11, 2006
Photo of Franchise
4.83/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This belgian pours a cloudy brown with lots of nice yeast floating around the body. It leaves a thick frothy tan lace that sticks to the glass and looks magnificent. The aroma is fruity peach, plum, raisin, dates, figs, honey, spicey vanilla the nose is so complex. The taste is so smooth, is this really 10% abv? cause it can't be found in this brew it is very well hidden and the fruit, and the slight hops in the beer just compliment each other so well. It finishes bitter sweet syrup thick and creamy. This is one of the best crafted brews I've had in awhile, fantastic.

Franchise, Feb 06, 2006
Photo of Gavage
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: pours a cloudy brownish copper color with a one finger head.

Smell: tons of yeast, with some spicy crushed pepper and some hop bitterness.

Taste: very complex and many flavors are present. Overall bready texture with some brown sugar, caramel, green apples, lighty toasted nuts, plums, yeast, pepper, and alcohol.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp at the start and finish. The pepper, plums, yeast, and alcohol linger long into the aftertaste. Medium-heavy in body.

Drinkability: a real slow sippin' beer. The flavors are well balanced but the alcohol levels cut into the overall drinkability here. One bottle is sufficient in a session.

Gavage, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of pbr85
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a chalis that was split with two friends.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown opaque with a nice, off white one inch head. Beer looks nice.
Smell: Lemon and orange scents dominate with slight hints of alcohol and white bread in the background.
Taste: The taste is much more subtle than I thought it was going to be. Wheaty malts with an ever so slight hint of bitterness at the end. Lemon grass flavor is mixed in with the malts and hops.
Mouthfeel: Pretty smooth going down, with decent carbonation. Its a little too light on the tongue for my preferences.
Drinkability: For 9.5% it is very drinkable, though I doubt I could have finished the whole 750 by myself. I would definetly try this again, or at least try the other Grand Cru that looks so similar...

pbr85, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of clabaugh
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a deep, deep ruby graced with a creamy, tawny head. Retention is strong. Lacing is visually impressive, ornamenting the sides of the chalice with hazy tan sheets.

Smell: Roasty wheat, earth, and significant grape presence. Definitely yeasty in the nose. Some spicy hop character interjects itself as well.

Taste: Very wheaty in character, along with grape and spice. Hints of brown sugar. Hops are present in a mildly bitter, lively spiciness. Fine balance.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, and pleasingly creamy. Somewhat bubbly on the palate, creating some welcome sensations. Finishes pretty clean.

Drinkability: Nice and warming, with an excellent flavor. The hops emerge in just the right proportion to even out the intensely malty backbone. Well crafted, enjoyable, and excellent all around.

Notes: 750ml bottle, with freshness date.

clabaugh, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of spiffylubes
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a nice dark brown/amber, about a finger and a half of very fluffy off-white head with significant lacing. Smell is very much of dark fruit, very sweet, and slightly alcoholey, like most belgian strong darks I've had. Taste is similar to smell, but less sweet and alcoholey. Dark fruits, spices, yeasty and somewhat malty, with a nice slight warmth obviously due to the alcohol, but not too much flavor due to it. To be honest, I wouldn't've minded a bit more of the alcohol flavor, I think it would have gone well with the present flavors, but thats just me. Smooth beer, smooth finish, delicious aftertaste, very drinkable. I could definitely drink more than one.

spiffylubes, Jan 31, 2006
Photo of Erdinger2003
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a nice head that dissapated into a small head with a lacing that's slighty sticky. The color is bright red to dark. Smells very nice, pretty sweet and it's very smooth on the palate. It also has a little nutmeg flavor in it with some slight orange undertones. It's a little smooth and slightly crisp. I feel like it could've had a better head and mouthfeel, it seems like this beer had been abused and incorrectly aged.

Erdinger2003, Jan 30, 2006
Photo of jaluria
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought this bottle from Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits and was saving it for a special night. Opened it tonight (prelude to my wife's birthday) and I was suprised to see a bottle cap instead of a cork when I pulled back the foil.

Pours a lovely cloudy, murky, light brown color with loads of debris and what appeared to be very tiny bubbles and residue. The head was thick and aromatic with a tan color that left behind subtle lacing. I could detect candy, roasted malt, caramel, and lots and lots of plain ol' sugar. Not as complex as I would have like; no fruit aromas or earthy scents. The taste was quite sweet with a dynamic intensity upfront and a lingering fruity follow-up. The roasted/grilled flavors were present throughout the session. The texture of the beer was very creamy easily engulfing my tongue and begging my taste buds for another sip. The fruit flavors created a sweet & sour aftertaste with a medium-dry finish.
An excellent beer that hides the alcohol exceedingly well and has evolving sweet flavors that entices and mystifies.

jaluria, Jan 12, 2006
Photo of bitterdestroyer
3.65/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

i strike again. hiiiiyooo YES!!!

appearance: deep dark amber/brown like molasses

smell: nice bouquet of fruit and sugar cane. very nice, very belgian.

taste: very full bodied, nice mixture of sugar, fruit, and just the right amount of alcohol to make you respect and sip this grand cru. sweet and warm.

mouthfeel: very creamy, with a nice flow of carbonation.

drinkability: great, so long as you're only gonna have one 750ml of this bad boy.

bitterdestroyer, Jan 09, 2006
Photo of karst
4.68/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Head forms before you get it poured. Very nice appearance: clarity, color, retention and lace. All the usual suspects indicating a well brewed strong dark Belgium Ale. Has a hefty lineup in the aromatics as well. Its fruity esters and sweet biscuit malt hide all but faint traces of alcohol. Warmth and a little patience adds a boquet of roses to the aromatics. Moderate to full in body, with a velvet mouthfeel. Reserved hop bitterness let a hint of green apple yeast character add to a complex and sweet absolutely drinkable Grand Cru. Difficult to stop with the first glass.

"Your going home by the back roads, right?"

karst, Jan 08, 2006
Photo of Suds
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I’d wanted to try this one for a while.
When removing the cap, this one burst forth with explosive carbonation, making a hell of a mess. After a things calmed down and were cleaned up, the brew revealed itself as a murky, muddy, reddish-brown color with a bulbous, towering light-tan head. Brown sugar, plum, sour apples, alcohol, yeast, and spice all mingle in the aroma. It’s a funky, spicy, musty, earthy, resoundingly intense aroma…intriguing to say the least. The taste is only a little sweet, with a serious meaty yeastiness. Stingingly high carbonation. For a such a high ABV, this one hides it’s alcohol well…there’s a little in the aroma, and just a slight warming, but it doesn’t overwhelm the taste. Full and complex…no question about it.

Suds, Jan 08, 2006
Photo of IceAce
3.6/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 ml green bottle with a 'Best before end: 2007'

Pours a ruddy / hazy brown with moderate coagulation settling to the bottom of the glass. Light tan foam collar dissapates quickly leaving 20% lace on a beer-clean tulip.

Nose is rich with sweetly spiced apples and plums along with alcohol esters. Entry is an adventure with tiny-bubbled carbonation providing a wake-up call for the palate. Midtaste shows candi sugar, plums and alcohol soaked raisins.

The finish features a nicely funked earthy Belgian yeast fade with just a little warming of the throat from the 9.5% abv.

Many thanks to Brewfan for trading this to the Left Coast!

IceAce, Jan 07, 2006
Photo of ChampionJaguar
2.78/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bias alert - I'm not into hoppy beer.

I should avoid reading reviews before writing them because I had such high expectations and I'm severely disapointed. I poured the 750ml bottle into a St. Bernadus goblet and it's a looker - a nice head and pretty dark redish brown color looks just like you would expect from a great Belgian brown. That's where the joy ended for me.

Smells like hops and hops and a touch of caramel malt. Nothing special to be found here.

The taste - well I don't like hoppy beer and I'm noticing that on this site many people do like hoppy beers - even when they are hopped beyond what the style normaly calls for. All I taste is the friggin' hops and a touch of sweetness with just a faint sour in the finish. I guess this is fairly complex if you can get past the hops but after about 6 ounces - I still can barely taste past the hops. It's a shame really because I think there's a good malt backbone here - if only it wasn't so buried. After about 15 minutes in the glass and at room temperature - I still taste hops over anything else. There is a slight plum-like yeast finish that's kind of nice but hardly what I'd rate a perfect 5.

The mouthfeel is nice as the relatively high carbonation work well with the high alcohol content. This almost feels like a Delerium T in that it's bright but warm.

This has low drinkability for me and I honestly wanted to just pour it down the sink after the first 10 or so ounces. This is just too bitter and I'd swear someone snuck a hoppy microbrew in this bottle if I didn't know better. If it had an American lable on it - I'd be impressed - but knowing this is a Belgian ale - I'm disapointed and knowing that this is rated among the top Belgians on this site concerns me. This is in no way better than any trappist, any 't Smisje, any De Dolle etc etc. Taste is relative and if you're a hop-head looking to get into Belgians - maybe this is your gateway.

Upon reading more reviews I'm noticing that few others have called this hoppy - my bottle says best by 2008. Did I get a different year than what other people are reviewing? I'm aware I've presented the lowest rating so far and I'll stand by it.

ChampionJaguar, Dec 29, 2005
Photo of NiceGuyMike
3.63/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark redish brown with a bit of a head, not much lacing. Smells of sweet plums. Tastes of sweet plumbs and hints of brown sugar. Warming alcohol that hits hard and fades quick, you get use to it.

Overall and interesting brew, but not overly impressive.

NiceGuyMike, Dec 28, 2005
Photo of DrJay
4.7/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep ruby/brown, fairly clear from the initial pour, but with lots of tiny, suspended yeast particles. Fine, light tan head with decent lacing and good retention. Mild aroma with some bread, apple, and chocolate. Malty, but subdued. Moderate malt character with chocolate and orange, and slight raisin. There's a nice breadiness and apple flavour that runs throughout, and it finishes with lingering fruit and mild chocolate. Fine carbonation and a silky texture. An excellent beer, complex without being overpowering, and the alcohol is completely hidden.

DrJay, Dec 21, 2005
Photo of stof0048
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep hazy brown with hints of red and a slightly tan head that sits between 1/4 - 3/4". Heavy lacing coats the glass as I drink it down.

S: Dark malts, slightly sweet smell, complex.

T: Dark malts, slightly candied flavor (plums, brown sugar...), hint of alcohol but it is well balanced with the other flavors.

M: Very smooth, medium to full bodied, has an almost creamy texture, quite nice!

D: A little on the sweet side to drink a lot of this stuff, but still a winner. This is perhaps one of the best brown ales I've experienced... and I mean experienced, not consumed. Very good to curl up with, especially on a cold winter night and enjoy with the closest of friends!

stof0048, Dec 09, 2005
Photo of blitheringidiot
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally, I get to review this gem!

Pours out from a magnum with the punt in the bottom as a hazy russet hue with a half 'n half of beer vs. head cap pour. Loads of scrod chunkerz contained in the pour. Mega foamy spumescent headcap with drippy lace left in the glass. Yes, this gets the 5!

If marriage between man and beer were possible, this would get an engagement ring from me. Pecan and vanilla ice cream notes. Sweet maple syrup and waffles. Dark ale is a misnomer. Mysterious ale is more like it. Root beer and spices. An aroma bomb!

First swigs: Drippy vanilla ice cream. How I waited to taste this? Dunno. Caramel and root beer. Dr. Pepper even. Some pecan extract. Unfathomable sweetness and rich creamy texture. What beer dreams are made of. Soft sweet confetioners sugar and pastry chef delicate perfection.

Feel is a touch of crisp heaven. Soft silky carbonation and a smooth character. Totally smooth incredible offering. I could easily drink this one all night long.

Last swigs: Liquid dessert pastry root beer float. Quite close to Westy 12. Can't wait to see how my friend will receive this as his early Christmas present. Thanks to me for sharing the bottle.

Beer is good. Happy beering. 197/4.35

blitheringidiot, Dec 06, 2005
Photo of Viggo
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a chunky ruby red/brown, medium off white head, lots of sticky lace. Smell is sweet, molasses/caramel, orange, spice, alcohol, chocolate/coffee, yeast, and cherries. Taste is molasses/brown sugar, apple/pear, cherry, yeast, chocolate, caramel and orange. Mouthfeel is smooth, medium to high bodied, medium carbonation, lives up to reputation. Thanks DrJay!

Viggo, Dec 04, 2005
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.