Grand Cru Abbey Ale | New Belgium Brewing

very good
172 Reviews
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

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Reviews: 172 | Ratings: 332
Photo of benito
2.46/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Glancing at the other reviews, I realize that I'm going to be the lone dissenter amongst the crowd that recommends this beer; I know full well that my taste buds may (must?) be out there on this one. A second caveat: for whatever reason, dubbels (and Belgian darks) are a style that I struggle with. My fun tickets ran out quickly on this one...

A: Light brown with low carbonation and little head.

S: Caramel and flesh. Not exactly appetizing, but it's not that different from the slight repulsion I detect at most dubbels.

T: Most of the fruitiness I like in the regular NB Abbey is absent, though there is a nice banana and fig presence. Nonetheless, for a 'grand cru' this is like a quad that forgot half of its malts! It's very peppery and light on the finish.

M: Too thin overall. I would have liked something with more length and strength to back up some of the flavors.

D: The lack of body detracts from overall quality. To my palate, there was just too funky a mix of strong fruits and spritzy tonic.

Take a pass on this, and try one of NB's other fantastic brews.

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Photo of craytonic
3.08/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Amber pour with a small off-white head

Smell: Sweet and fruity, some caramel and toffee

Taste: A bit milder than I expected and somewhat muddled, weird mix of citrus, toffee, malt and oak

Mouthfeel: Perhaps a bit thin

Overall: Unimpressive, I was tickled with Terroir but this and Clutch have been major disappointments.

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Photo of chocosushi
3.1/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

6oz Pour->Duvel Tulip
A ~ Pours a Very Grapey red. Almost akin to Burgundy. 1/2 head.

S ~ Grape Juice, Crystal Malt, Noble Hops, Grass, Caramel Syrup...very Saccharine

T ~ Dates, Pears & Red Apples make up the body with Lots of malt (pale & crystal is my first guess) lending caramel/sweet roll notes. Phenolic in a strange way...Cinnamon, Clove, Anise & Fennel. Mild Banana.

M ~ Didn't cohere like I expected with the ABV very loosely hidden. Sticky & Flabby.

D ~ Didn't care for this one too much. Not very balanced, making it not very drinkable. I poured out my last 2oz to make room for better things. My first disappointment in the LoF series.

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Photo of claspada
3.12/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear, dark mahogany-hued body with a small, scant, white head from a generous pour. Quite tame for a Belgian ale; usually much more fluffy head is expected for the style

Aromas begin particularly sweet-scented and almost unforgivably phenolic and estery. As it warms you get a ton more yeasty spice and a splash of booze.

The tastes begin with malty, hard-hitting sweetness and considerably fruity esters. Simple syrup, biscuity bready maltiness. Then some yeasty clove, overripe banana and the poignant fruitiness of plum juice and a few ripe pear slices. No hops or bitterness to provide any balancing relief to the caramelized sugariness, but it is clipped a bit by the alcohol.

The mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with medium carbonation. Finish is malty sweet and yeasty, a bit overly so of both.

The sweetness and in your face Belgian phenols and esters leave this one a slow, laborious sipper for me. I prefer my Belgian Dark strong ales with much more dark fruit malt complexity and much less banana and clove forward. Alcohol is a bit too overstated as well. Not a top notch American-made Belgian style ale and not worth seeking out.

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Photo of Soonami
3.17/5  rDev -20.4%
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 beertunes
3.18/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in tulip. Poured a clean, clear brown, with just a hint of red, color and had just a thin cap of off-white head that low retention and lacing.

The aroma was good, but had that grape scent I get from some of NB's brews (maybe the yeast?). There was nice grain in the nose and some spiciness. On the tongue, the story was pretty similar, base grain, spice and some fruit.

The body was crisp and clean, but thinner than I like for the style. Drinkability was good, I'd have a couple. Overall, a nice little beer that's worth trying when you see it.

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Photo of Philousa
3.23/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Imbibed at Harry's Hofbrau for their Lips of Faith Tap Takeover in 8/29/12

Very clear ruby with no head, but is coaxed out with a swirl. Tan and clings to the glass. Lots of sweet candied sugar, confectionary sugar, like a red vine. A little cedar and some berries; strawberry and cherries, all this is faint though. Tastes like a double. Pungent and bordering on too sugary as it warms. Light body and dry finish. Very good cold to middle, dies a little warm. This one was hinting towards interesting but ultimately isn't something special.

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Photo of mikereaser
3.25/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Abby Grand Cru 2008
Poured 7/3/11

A - pours a dirty brown with 2 inches of off white foam that quickly faded leaving some decent lacing on the glass
S - Smells of caramel and malty sweetness, this is definitely showing its age
T - super sweet maltiness, just caramel, just a bit of spice left
M - medium bodied, with light carbonation, there is a bit of syrupiness to it.
D - I would recommend not aging this one. well i guess i can just say, not this long.


Time for a fresh bottle
Purchased after the BA Sexual Chocolate release and consumed 8/3/11
A - Pours a clear chestnut brown with an inch of off-white foam that slowly faded.
S - roasty malts, brown sugar, some earthy hops, plums
T - dark fruit, cherries and plums, roasted malts and brown sugar, a bit sweet
M - medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation
D - pretty easy to drink, a bit too sweet to be more than a once in a while beer.

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Photo of abrand
3.28/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bomber poured into snifter.

This pours deep copper almost brown color with not much of a head. No lacing on the glass. Smells of nuts, malts, and alcohol. Smell is not doing much for me. Taste is mediocre. Lots of malts and a syrupy texture. Some raisins and figs are also present. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and pretty well carbonated. Overall this just isn't doing that much for me. Some many amazing belgian darks out there that it needs to stand out to be remembered.

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Photo of jimmah120
3.3/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22oz bomber into pilsner glass

look is a clear brown amber with a small khaki head. smell is warm toasty malts, grain, pepper, spice, ginger bread, clove. Taste is much of the same but with a finish of alcohol and overly sweet apple juice.

Good flavor but ultimately unimpressive.

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Photo of KajII
3.32/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

[Best served in a Trappist glass]

The pour was a clear medium brown with a slight orange hue and an average sized (1-2 finger) light brown creamy head that reduced to a thin layer of residue that lasted throughout and had excellent sheets of lacing.

The aroma was strong of a moldy doughy yeast and a caramel malt with hints of dark fruit, bubble gum, wood and a mild alcohol tinge.

The taste was very yeasty and a bit sweet with a nice caramel note in the beginning and then became nice and malty and mildly bitter with a strong taste of bubble gum and a moderate woody alcohol flavor at the end. The flavor lasted for an average amount of time after the swallow letting the woody alcohol taste linger for just a short while longer.

Mouthfeel was just a tad under medium in body and nice and creamy in texture with a lively carbonation.

Overall a sweet strong ale with a nice mix of flavors, but mostly reminded me of a alcohol infused Bazooka Bubble Gum...

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.33/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottle: Poured a clear brown color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of dry caramel malt with a bready yeast is interesting. Taste is dominated by dry caramel malt notes with very subtle residual sugar notes and some bready notes. Body is about average with good carbonation and light warming alcohol can be detected. I am not sure where all those high ratings are coming from. I was expecting more complexity from the yeast ester which I could find here and I thought the beer was too dry for the style.

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Photo of ferrari29
3.33/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beer poured from bottle into a Tulip shaped glass

A - Beer poured with a brown/dark amber color translucent body; pour produced a one finger frothy looking head, leaving behind a moderate amount of lacing

S - Beer gives off an aroma of dark fruits, like raisin or dates; well roasted malts; subtle hints of spices and yeast; bananas; touch of high ABV comes up; mildly aromatic

T - Beer had flavors similar to those of the smell; palate picks up caramel, toffee, dark fruits; taste is a bit watery and could stand to use some more bite

M - Aftertaste is mild, crisp and dry; some bubbly; medium bodied feel, almost chewy

D - Overall, I thought this beer could stand to use a bit more flavor; I really felt that this beer was kind of all over the place; not really sure what the brewers were going for; I was shocked that this received better reviews than the Super Cru; I had both this evening and this doesn't even come close to touching the NB Super Cru

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.38/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap in a goblet at Firkin.

Appearance: This pours a medium to dark brown with a ruby tint to it. Somewhat transparent, which surprises me for the style and ABV. A small off-white cap rests on top for a minute, before fading away and leaving almost no lace behind.

Smell: Lots of different aromas, especially as it warms. Dark fruits, mostly plums, some clove, green apples, some alcohol, and white grapes. Lots of caramel malt. The aroma is fairly sweet, with no real hop presence.

Taste: The flavor starts out quite sweet, and I can tell already that it might be a struggle to finish this glass. The caramel malt is nearly overwhelming, and the plum and raisin fruit flavors exacerbate the situation. Some vague fruity esters in the middle accompany a light general spiciness and some cloves. Interesting - the next flavor to hit my palate is an apple brandy. The beer dries out a bit at the end, leaving behind some green apple and white grape skin as a souvenir. The finish is a little tart as well. The overall combination of flavors kind of throws my palate into shock.

Mouthfeel: The medium carbonation lends a creaminess to each sip, which creates a smooth sensation overall. The front is juicy with fruit flavors, but the end turns lightly acidic and fairly dry. Fuller than medium bodied.

Overall: There is a nice complexity here, which I appreciate, as it signifies the brewer's effort to make an interesting and unique beer. However, the sweetness up front and the combination of flavors are not that appealing to me overall, so I would not order this again.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.4/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Buckeyeboy supplied this bottle at a recent tasting.... Thanks Jeremy.

Pours clear amber brown... tannish head with decent lacing and retention.

Nose shows peppery mix of booze soaked prunes and raisins... maybe some clove.

Flavor is sweet toasted bread.... clove and overripe pears... caramel essence.. some banana with warmth.

Pretty big body with a medium carbonation.

Overall too sweet for my liking and pretty boozy.


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Photo of klewis
3.4/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at the New Belgium Tap Room

A: Rich bronze color with little head or lace.

S: Spicy with light fruit aromas. A prominent solvent-like character.

T: Flavors of a potpourri of spices and banana. Heavily phenolic with a slight taste of household cleaner.

M: Medium body and mouthfeel. Sticky with a lingering phenolic taste.

D: Decent, but far too phenolic for my taste.

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Photo of Zorro
3.47/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sampled due to the kindness of gbontrag.

This pours a clear reddish brown colored ale with a skimpy head formation.

Smell is a little sweet and fruity with a dried dark fruit aroma of Bing cherry and currant. Sugar scents of brown sugar and candy mix with vanilla, oak and caramel to give this a slight whiskey barrel aroma. After I warm this with my hand a little bit the aroma of chocolate cake comes on strong along with a spicy whiff of alcohol.

Taste is light and slightly fruity at the beginning of the experience. Mild flavored to say the least, to light actually. Good mild flavors of citrus, rum, vanilla, chocolate and wood probably oak. Definite taste of cake in the malt here. Only problem with this is that the flavor isn't as strong as it could be.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side.

Drinkability is fine probably because this seems to be a bit under-flavored. It seems that the alcohol is diluting out the taste and the mouthfeel in this one. An OK beer but not a great one.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.48/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle picked up for $6.99, which is cheap for a lips of faith beer. drank from the new belgium globe glass that the bottle asks for.

A- this one pours out a murky cola colored brown body with a small but neat khaki colored head on top. the head is quick to fizzle away, but leaves behind complete rings of lacing.

S- the first thing i pick out of the nose is belgian yeast. after that i get some dark fruits. raisins, plums, figs, dates, cherries, and banana. a little bit of brown sugar adds to the overall sweetness. spicy and boozy.

T- the taste starts out with belgian yeast which imparts some banana and spiciness. clove and nutmeg i think. after that i get some fruits. banana, plum, raisins, cherries, figs, and dates. more sweetness from brown sugar. decently boozy.

M- the body is light and thin. the carbonation is pretty high. more warming from the alcohol than i would have liked.

O- this is a decent american attempt at the style, but it has nothing on the traditional belgian brewers. they need to tone down the sweetness and alcohol. maybe it would benefit from some time in the cellar.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.48/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

11 ounce goblet - Taco Mac in Woodstock, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a clear, dark mahogany-hued body with a scant, head white head from a generous pour.

Smell: Particularly sweet-scented and almost unforgivably fruity on the nose with a rounding out from a hint of ground spices and a splash of liquor.

Taste: A malty, hard-hitting sweetness and considerably fruity at the opening. Simple syrup saturated bread, a pinch of nutmeg and clove, a piece of Trident gum, and the poignant fruitiness of plum juice, banana puree, and a few ripe pear slices. An altogether understated hop character and essentially no bitterness provides zero balancing relief to the undaunted sugariness, but it is clipped a bit by the heated alcohol. Finishes as sweet and fruity as it started, but with a vein of booze running through it.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium-plus carbonation. Lightly sticky.

Overall: The sweetness and alcohol leave this one a slow, laborious sipper for me. A glass of water and a few necessary refills (and, later, a pat on the back for a job well done) were a must here.

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Photo of illidurit
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Clips of Faith event in Santa Cruz. 3 ounce sample pours dark amber with a khaki head. Bready/fruity aroma, raisins and dates with cloves, light roast, bananas. Fruitcake malt flavor, lightly acidic fruits, leather, coriander. Maybe a bit overboard with the spices. Not a fan of the finish, the roast and spice don't mix well to me. Decent enough beer though.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.51/5  rDev -11.8%
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 freed
3.52/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was surprised to see this on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Looks like a treat.

Pours surprisingly clear. Must be filtered. Nice clean head, thicker on the edges. Aroma is primarily malt. Yeast doesn't at much to the smell, excluding the hops. Taste nice and sweet, though not very full. Malt body is nearly full; fills towards the end, though isn't' full.

I'm not sure if this is filtered or not, but if it is, it shouldn't be. The lack of body and yeast flavors. Please bring them back.

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Photo of jpbebeau
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
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 kbuzz
3.56/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. No bottling date to be found.

A: Pours a crystal clear burnt orange/rust color. Red tints on the table...more orange/brown when held up directly to the light. Gave a finger and a half of foamy off white head. Pretty beer.

S: A hint of tartness/funk...just enough to let you know that a Belgian yeast strain was used. Sweet apricot and caramel malts. A decent helping of breadiness as well.

T/M: Pretty much follows the nose. Some funk and breadiness from the yeast. Lots of caramel malt notes. I get a bit of citrus at the back of the palate. Don't know if there was any barrel aging on this, but I almost a sherry type wine taste throughout. Moderate carbonation...medium bodied. Warming effect sets in after just a few sips...but no astringency on the taste. I would almost call this an Imperial Saison if there was such a thing.

O: Not bad, not great. Ended up drinking like a boozy Saison. Since Saisons aren't all that complex as a low ABV style, it just doesn't make sense to boost the ABV on the style. I've had much better, much more complex Belgian Strongs. If it wasn't for the ABV, I would almost consider this a light drinking beer.

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Photo of brystmar
3.57/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brought this from Texas until New Belgium decides to distribute to NY.

Pours like a Belgian, minimal lace and average head. Nose had strong banana esters, fruit & malty sweetness, and Belgian yeast; many similarities to a witbier. Doesn't fit the style, but I like it.

Malty sweetness dominates the flavor. Hints of fruit, but lacks the spicy herbs that are the hallmark of this style. Decent body and not bad overall, but misses the mark on the style IMO. Just too sweet.

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Grand Cru Abbey Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.98 out of 5 based on 332 ratings.
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