Grand Cru Abbey Ale | New Belgium Brewing

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Grand Cru Abbey AleGrand Cru Abbey Ale
Very Good
334 Ratings
Grand Cru Abbey AleGrand Cru Abbey Ale

Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing
Colorado, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-11-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 334 |  Reviews: 173
Reviews by nsabo:
Photo of nsabo
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Malt and yeast are the stars of this brew. I get stewed red apples, funky banana yeast, syrupy bread malts, and a charming hint of booze. I'd like the mouthfeel to be a bit more viscous, but this is a great beer regardless, easily my favorite new belgium brew. Other Belgian strong ales I've had have tended to stunt my palate with their fermented booziness that is nice for the first few sips and boring for the rest. AGC is a beer that is able to balance its strengths, and is one of those rare beers where smelling and drinking it are almost equally enjoyable.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Maybe not the perfect beer while out grilling chicken in this heat but it wasnt a bad choice.Poured into an Ommegang chalice a chesnut infused burgundy with a one finger slight off white head atop.Aromas of candied sugar and spicy phenols,flavors are somewhat cakey at the onset,and phenolic,but the sweetness is held at bay really well in the finish.Its a nice Grand Cru, it has all the character but its not over the top with yeasty phenols and sweetness,I will say its not overly complex for the style though.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.52/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – Nice deep brown color with good head that left a little lacing.

Smell – Big, sweet malt on the nose of this one. The huge date and raisin aroma jumps right out of the glass along with a sense of alcohol. This one reeks of grand cru and means business.

Taste – This is a good representation of the style. The sweet flavors come out in force here. Big, ripe fruits like peaches, dates, and figs along with a lot of raw cane, melted toffee, rich caramel, and wet, sticky brown sugar. There’s some yeast in there as well, but mostly sweetness in accordance with the style.

Mouthfeel – Very little carbonation, but the sugary flavors are pleasing to the cheeks.

Drinkability – Definitely a “sipper.” The 9.4 ABV commands respect, and the sugary nature precludes guzzling. This is a good dessert or end-of-night beer to open and split between friends (good friends).

Comments – True, this brewery has put out some duds. But, mostly, they are innovative and strive to hit the style dead on. This was a bull’s eye.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #53 (June 2011):

This is a hefty-looking brew—impressive lacing tops the dark amber, almost burgundy-colored ale. Hermit cookies, raisins, cotton candy, faint Band-Aid and green plantains. Creamy smoothness, a body almost like a fine sherry. Mildly boozy, alcohol stays mellow but very warming. Broth, bread and fruit, all of which are savory. Mild hopping, though the phenols help to balance. Plums? Ripe cherries? Sweetness is not overbearing; lots of layers peeling back here. Malty and spicy finish with more of that alcoholic warmth. Such a striking beer, but well matured—a choice pick, for sure.

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Photo of DaftPatrick
3.75/5  rDev -6%

Photo of Beaver13
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle. Pours a dark amber with a medium creamy off white head that goes to a thin film that laces the glass.

The aroma is banana and clove with some sweet malt and a little spice.

The flavor is sweet malts, molasses, some chocolate and some lighter banana and spice notes from the yeast with some alcohol notes in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with smooth carbonation.

Overall, a solid Belgian. The banana is a little strong for me. I recall this being better balanced on draught.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is from the new release in the Lips of Faith series.

The beer pours a dark brown color with an off-white head. The aroma is full of caramel malt and dark fruit. I also get some nice brown sugar notes and a little bit of Belgian yeast.

The flavor is more of the same. I get a lot of candy sugar and brown sugar as well as some caramel malt. The beer is very sweet and has some great dark fruit notes.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A very nice Belgian-style ale that I hope to have again.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl L: Clear amber to chestnut, not much head. S: Light fruit and spice, some Belgian yeast. T: Yeast driven with a little caramel, hints of chocolate, light fruit. Moderately sweet. F: Medium body and slightly above average carbonation. O: A well made easy to drink Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

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Photo of Soonami
3.17/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

LoF Abbey Grand Cru, shared by ThoreauLikeAGirl

The beer was a reddish brown with fairly thin head. Bruised apple and cherry in the nose complemented by Belgian yeast esters. Fruity with a slightly sticky sweet, light spicy finish. An easy drinker that doesn't have the darker fruit flavors, spice and deep complexity that the better SDA's have.

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Photo of Seattle_Suds
4.28/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of chinchill
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle allowed to warm for about an hour, then served in a snifter.

A: Pours a dark, clear, orange-mahogany with a 1-2 finger tan head. The head has weak retention, but moderate lacing is left on the glass.

Smell is a but subdued for style, but as expected, it's fruity, spicy and yeasty. The flavor profile is complex, and suggests cherries, plums, raisins, nutmeg, cloves, yeast and medium malt. The high ABV is well-hidden. The flavor leans to the sweet side, like St. Bernadus. A good bit of spice and dark fruit in the lingering aftertaste.

M: Very smooth and creamy; medium-full body; a bit sticky in the finish. Lightly warming.

O: In terms of flavor, mouthfeel and appearance, this could readily pass for a fine Belgian abbey ale -- is there a higher complement? Glad a have a 2nd bottle which I will let age a bit longer. I enjoyed this notably more than NB's 'regular' Abbey Ale.

{2nd bottle consumed July 2013 - delicious. Light revision of rating}

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Photo of OStrungT
3.98/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a brownish red color, with a creamy, light tan head. the head fades slowly, leaving a good lacing.

This beer has a fruity aroma. I smell figs, dates, and raisins. The dates really stand out. It has a caramel like malty aroma. Some earthy funk is also present.

This beer tastes like it smells. Dates up front, with some fig and raisin. A sweet caramel flavor is also present.

This beer goes down smooth, leaving a date aftertaste. The alcohol is hidden well in this beer.

This beer would be a decent session beer. It tastes good, but it may get cloying after a time. Also, the alcohol content is rather high, making it hard to drink too many.

Overall: Good beer, and I am glad to have been able to try it on tap.

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Photo of jpbebeau
3.53/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 22oz bottle I've had for a couple months poured into my Duvel tulip...

A: A very dark reddish-hued brown; two fingers of dense head that leaves behind luxurious lacing as it somewhat rapidly dissipates to a thin film.

S: Sweet malts and yeast. Bananas and spice and alcohol—not necessarily in that order.

T: Underwhelming. No aspect stands out, no flavor jumps to the forefront. There's not much too this besides a bordering-on-unpleasant aftertaste. Perhaps that's the 9.5% ABV exposed.

M: Very smooth with moderate carbonation. Wet. A little thinner than I expected, perhaps, and harmed by the aforementioned finish.

This was a good-looking beer with little else going for it, in my opinion. At least I didn't hold onto this for any longer.

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Photo of ste5venla
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of quirkzoo
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice dark amber with medium-thick head that recedes to heavy lacing that lingers.

Smell is very belgian with lots of fruity esters and medium range fruits orange, peach, with a touch of banana and malty/caramel base. Taste is more of the same with a little hit of spicy pepper yeast and negligible hop bitterness. Very malt forward sweet fruit beer. Mouthfeel is medium with good carbonation (not syrupy, not bubbly).

Overall this is a very good beer. It is not going to give you anything especially unique but it stays true to style and delivers an enjoyable drinking experience.

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Photo of nickthegun12
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

i like this beer, its not what i thought it was gonna be though.

appearance is a medium to dark ruby color with thin lacing and little to no head.

the smell is good, but one dimensional, like this beer overall ...bubblegum comes to the nose first and foremost....a little bit of light fruits come to the nose as well

the taste is thin, this beer is definitely that...but great drinkability....not nearly as complex as i would like to see a belgian strong dark ale

the feel is the carbonation and the fizzyness of it....

although i really enjoy drinking this and will have no problem doing so! live up to a belgian dark strong it def falls short

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Photo of MelJ
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of GilGarp
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I loved this beer on tap last year so it's nice to see it in bombers now.

Served cool into a NB goblet, the Grand Cru is a deep redish brown color with good clarity. The head is thick and settles very slowly leaving some nice lacing behind.

Aroma is very strong, even from a distance, and has a lot in common with the standard Abbey. Lots of banana and clove over a rich malty base.

Flavor is intense as well. Heavy malt backbone supports a robost yeast strain. Spice notes are strong with pepper and clove. Banana and bubble gum also in there.

Mouthfeel is medium-plus in body and moderately carbonated.

Overall a very solid beer and one worth seeking out if you like New Belgium's dubbel.

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Photo of LeeW
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of Metalmonk
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep garnet color, with a thick bubbly off-white that tries to hold its fluffiness, but reduces to a half-inch layer in a couple minutes after each fairly hard pour.

Nose is quite malty, with pretty heavy toffee tones, and hints of tobacco, cinnamon, root beer, nutmeg and a kind of pine/evergreen character. Smell-wise, yeah, it's got BSDA written all over it, but also edges into something that reminds of big US craft Winter Warmer.

Flavors bring in all elements found in the aroma, with the evergreen being very spruce-like, and root beer turning more cola on the tongue, and a general dessert-like spiciness/nuttiness happening (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, brown sugar, pepper). Dark fruit too, something usually always detected in this style it seems (date, raisin). There's also a tell-tale American hops slant to this beer. Not that they used brash West Coast hop(s) here, I don't know what was used, but there's something about the hops, a citrus vibe I suppose, that you probably wouldn't find in a Belgian-brewed dark. Vibrant, a bit spicy, well-incorporated alcohol, and generally a very comforting sort of taste.

Feel starts out superbly creamy, and then the carbonation pushes in, giving you the best of both worlds. Somehow it manages both slickness and bubbly tickle, neither too heavy nor too wimpy, body-wise. The mouthfeel ends up being my favorite part of this beer, just hangs out very nicely in the mouth.

Solid and somewhat complex...and also a bit different for the style, yet respectful of it at the same time. Definitely recommended.

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Photo of beerbrains
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

Photo of cokes
4.24/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark, translucent cherrywood with a modest beige head that laces better than it lasts.
A loud, varied aroma, big on cloves, pepper, toasted bread, raisins, cocoa, caramel, and cherries, and a grape-y big red fruity wine essence, and a nod towards spiced rum.
Doughy as it rolls into the mouth, quickly morphing both sweeter- with caramel, and drier- with coffee and bitter cocoa. Fruitiness gathers in the middle, bringing stewed, spiced apples, raisins, bananas, concord grapes, prunes, honeydew melons, and kiwi. All simmered in rum. Yeast adds cloves, allspice, and pepper. Red vinous notes on the finish, with lingering spiciness, and a resurgent caramelly fruitcake kaleidoscope and a touch of chalkboard astringency.
Medium-full bodied, with an initial surge of CO2 that dwindles over time. Flavorwise, it's probably one of my favorite American Dubbels (or Imperial Dubbel as we'd tend to call it), it just needs a but of airiness to bolster the carbonation and head to seem as though it was brewed at Old Belgium.

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Photo of ChopperSmith
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip beer glass.

Appearance: Slightly hazy deep amber color. Nice creamy foamy two finger tan head that receded slowly to a nice quarter inch creamy foam cap that lasted throughout. Good sticky lacing left behind. A very nice looking beer in a glass.

Smell: Sweet malts and a great Belgian yeast smell up front, with hints of cherries, plums and candy sugars beneath. The malt and yeasts overpower any hops that might be there somewhere. Smells like a good Belgian Dark Ale should.

Taste: Very sweet and malty, with great yeast phenols. Flavors of roasted malts, raisins and plum. Just a little hint of hops bitterness on the finish. Like the smell, the flavors of the sweet malts and yeasts hide any hops that are lurking beneath. Only the slight hops bite at the finish lets you know they are there. Very tasty Belgian Dark Ale, on par with Trois Pistoles from Unibroue...another favorite of mine for the style.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with low to moderate creamy carbonation. Sweet and sticky on the palate.

Drinkability: I wasn't a huge fan of some of New Belgium's earliest entries into the Belgian styles, but they keep getting more and more respectable. This beer definitely goes a long way towards furthering that cause. This is an excellent American interpretation of the Belgian Strong Dark Ale style. A good warming high ABV, sweet malts and tasty yeasts all make this a top notch beer for the style. Will definitely buy more of this to store for the fall/winter months...but it tastes just as good on a nice spring day like today.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, very deep orangish-mahogany body that appears to have an almost burgundy cast in the full goblet; and displays some crimson/ruby highlights. Beautiful! Upon inspection, hundreds of tiny bubbles can be seen streaming to the surface, helping to support the short but creamy bone-white head. It holds fairly well, but eventually the circle cannot hold and it drops to a creamy collar and minor whispy surface foam. It leaves some transient spotty lace, but nothing of substance. The aroma, however, is much more noticeable and displays a softly toasted malt amidst sprinkles of peppery spice, dollops of dark fruit (prune, raisin, fig) and to a lesser degree some almost cake-like sugariness. It's firm body is rounded by the gently effervescent carbonation that caresses the tongue, and it's surprisingly smooth across the palate. The flavor is rich with maltiness that's at first lightly toasty with just a mild acidity; then soaked in ripe dark fruits; and finally followed by some peppery spice and alcohol in a long-lasting drying finish. It's really well-balanced and quite excellent! I'm immediately reminded of Chimay Premier, although this is softer; and the De Koninck Cuvee comes to mind as well. Wonderful. A real treat! The alcohol is extremely well-hidden; and it's drinkability is quite good! This is a beer that I will seek out to enjoy again and again!

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Photo of Fatehunter
4.16/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a goblet. Nice amber color, almost transparent. Barely any head though.

The smell... am I back at Delirium Cafe? Strong malt, candy, ripe plum and other fruits. Wow. Knockout here.

Malty taste, sweet in the middle to end, alcohol hidden just below the surface, kept down by mild bitterness. Like drinking candy.

Medium body and low carbonation. It almost gets that sticky texture that this style usually has, but just short.

Smelled amazing. Great beer overall, excellent job.

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Grand Cru Abbey Ale from New Belgium Brewing
Beer rating: 3.99 out of 5 with 334 ratings