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 hopfacebrew
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewery. Served in mini globe glass.

A - The beer was served in a mini-globe sample glass. A lighter ruby color with a nice thin head.

S - Similar to Abbey in aroma: sweetness, honey, cloves, banana, yeast.

T/M - The beer starts and finishes very smooth. Flavors similar to the nose in a malty sweetness with detectable honey, cloves, banana, yeast. Mild bitterness. The alcohol is hidden well. Finishes crisp and clean. Medium bodied with good carbonation.

D - Very drinkable.

Note: This review was a re-post from my former account, jmkratt, which was hacked and I lost all my reviews...sorry for the redundancy.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 03-07-2011 17:58:42

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into tulip, no bottle date. Pours a clear, yet finely cloudy, reddish orange color with a nice 2 finger fairly dense off white head with good retention that reduces to a thin cap. Some decent lacing on the glass. Aromas of big banana, molasses, caramel, clove, pepper, plum, cherry, apple, bread, light fruits, and yeast spices. Some nice and well balanced Belgian aromas. Taste of big molasses, nuttiness, banana, clove, caramel, raisin, light fruits, biscuit, pepper, and yeast spices. Lingering notes of light fruits, pepper, clove, banana, and molasses on the finish for a good bit. Not overly spicy from the yeast at all; yet still has nice balance with no cloying sweetness. Slightly above medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a slightly creamy and slick mouthfeel. Very smooth to drink but it is still a bit of a sipper. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming well after the finish. Overall this is a very excellent Belgian style offering. Great flavor balance and complexity; with smooth drinkability for the level of alcohol.

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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 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 dejrrma
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

650 ml, bottle conditioned, $7.99, poured into an oversized wine glass.

a- pours a dark ruby color, with less than half of beige head. some lacing.

s- sweet oats, figs, banana and banana nut bread,very light citrus.

t- brown sugar, caramel and malt, a little citrusy. it all gets kinda muddled together, though.

m- medium bodied, and overall, pretty well-balanced. i can hardly taste the alcohol, which is surprising considering the high abv (but i guess dangerous, too,

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Photo of stealth
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One of the first belgians I tried. Nice amber/bronze color with a thin bright white head that dissipates quickly. The nose brings a good hit of sugar and alcohol, with that classic Belgian tone. Sweet beer, sweet malts, a little bit of roastiness. Alcohol is pervasive throughout. Finishes dry. Like other belgian ales, it tastes better (to me) cold out of the fridge.

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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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Photo of yamar68
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured vigorously to achieve a one finger beige head. Drinking in a terribly lit room but it appears quite clear with a ruby brown haze to it.

S - Clove, cherry, banana, nutmeg - a lot going on

T - Taste doesn't seem capture everything that I was expecting by the smell. I can say it is balanced quite well but all those unique base flavors seem to get lost in the mix.

M - Carbonation is fine. Mouthfeel is just a bit thin for the style if you ask me.

O - It's a fine beer that doesn't bring anything very exciting or different to the table.

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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 DesMoinesMike
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I first sampled this at Des Moines Brewfest and found it quire compelling. However, that was after about 20 other samples and my taste buds were probably overwhelmed at that point. Now having this by itself I'm more aware of its nuances.

A brownish red brew with a lot more foam than carbonation. The aroma was light, I was able to pick out grapefruit and plumb. The taste is close to what I remember. It hits strong with plumb, grapefruit, and a hint of cherry. There's also a slight sour element I don't remember from my first tasting. The body is thick and it doesn't hide the alcohol. This one is good but I'd rather go for Chimay if picking this style.

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Photo of rmcnealy
3.7/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark, minimally translucent dark copper color that appeared to be totally filtered. Produced a tiny ivory white head that was reduced to a thin layer and evenutally leaving a slight ring. First aromas are of slight hop, malts, heavy yeast, dark berries, age. The tastes mirror those smells with a tartness to it. It is very *clean* for a Belgian and the 9.50% is masked well. When I mention clean, I really mean that the taste is fresh and smooth. I'd imagine most import Belgians I try are a bit older (naturally just from the trip here alone), more complex and less filtered. Just as enjoyable. The tastes retreat to just the slightest bitter bite. A nice brew, good example of a dark Belgium.


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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 cosmicevan
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

picked this up last time i was in chitown.

a - opened and filled my maudite snifter. poured a semi transparent ruby with a finger full of frothy head. not creamy, frothy. nice rich deep color with visible carbonation...but looks like an american take on a belgian classic, but a good one.

s - boozy candied dark fruit...very much on the sweet side.

t - the flavor picks up where the nose left off with a subtle candied plum flavor. the booze seems less upfront in the taste than in the nose. kind of dubbel-like. a tad on the sweet side for my tastes, but a really good take on the style.

m - a bit on the thin side, but not as thin as most american takes on the style.

o - overall a pretty solid american belgian strong dark ale. doesn't hold a candle to the classics, but enjoyable none-the-less and worth a try if you like the style.

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Photo of Gatch
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Beautiful amber color with shades of brown and bronze. A thick, memory foam-like light-brown head that holds strong at first but fades quickly. Some decent lacing down the glass and of course the booze-induced, oily "legs."

S - Some serious sweet malt with a slight roasted character. Caramelized sugar, alcohol, and some Belgian, syrupy notes.

T - Sweet, roasted malt hits you first, followed shortly by alcohol, and finished with a dry, earthy taste. I'd actually venture to say that this beer is better straight from the fridge than at a warmer or close-to-room temperature. As it warms, the ABV becomes way too apparent. It masks a lot of the flavors.

M - Some tingle from the carbonation and some serious bite from the booze. Not to the effect that it's unenjoyable or grimace-inducing, but it's definitely there and makes its presence known.

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Photo of axeman9182
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle, with a well hidden "bottled on" date of 3/16/11. The beer was allowed to warm a little bit before being poured into my Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

New Belgium's Grand Cru Abbey Ale pours a good looking clear maroon color, with some nice amber highlights that shine through when given the occasion. The khaki foam that serves as a head comes up to between two and three fingers in height on the various pours. Head retention is just alright, and lacing is very inconsistent. There's a nice bit of plum in the nose, as well as a markedly peppery phenolic character. Those are joined by a slightly abrasive fusel alcohol aroma. There's just a hint of caramel to play off the dark fruits in the malty opening. The booziness from the nose is still present, but a little bit more subdued. It also serves to help highlight the prominent pepper notes in the close. The body is on the dry side, yet with a creamy edge to it, really nice for the style. The carbonation is just a touch too flat though, which keeps the beer from hanging with the best in terms of mouthfeel. Grand Cru Abbey Ale is a fairly well executed BSDA. That said, as someone who lives outside of New Belgium's distribution range, I wouldn't go out of my way to get my hands on some more of this over what's readily available here in NJ.

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Photo of lonestar4lunch
4.39/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my New Belgium goblet and man that sweet, Belgian sugar aroma is perfect. It is a dark brown but still can see thru it. The head settles quickly to just lacing. This is the aroma that made fall in love with Belgian ales. That sweet, buttery, toffee aroma with just a bit of banana and malts. Man, this one packs a punch. The alc is there but not too over powering. You get that sweet banana sugar taste with some Belgian malts and then a somewhat light finish. This is so good. Every sip is enjoyable at various temps. To me this is very drinkable but the alc does creep up on you. Really enjoy this one.

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Photo of nickfl
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours with two fingers of white foam on top a perfectly clear, amber brown body. The head fades slowly and leaves nice lace.

S - Lots of coriander with a little bit of clove. Some caramel and toffee malt character in the background.

T - Sweet, malty caramel up front with coriander and allspice flavors that come or in the middle. Finishes with lots of clove and nutty caramel malt as well as a hint of red apple yeast character.

M - Medium body, moderately high carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - Pretty standard for a spiced dark belgian. A little more spice character than I like but not bad.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: 3 finger frothy off white head. Nice lacing and not much retention. Amber with brown hues . Hazy

S: Belgian yeast eaters produce a fruity, mostly spicy banana aroma with caramel notes.

T: some dark fruit and fig up front. Fairly sweet but not overwhelmingly so. A little sourness to the finish.

M: smooth, light to medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: excellent drink ability. Not the best representative of its category but a very good beer overall.

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Photo of blakelive784
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 1 pint 6 fl oz bottle into a snifter:

A - Pours a rich, semi-transparent amber with a just off white head of 1.5 fingers. Surprising retention for the high abv.

S - Banana, floral notes and sweet caramel. Pungently malty.

T - Follows the nose closely, with more distinction though. Banana and tart fruit open, heavy malt foundation follows. Alcoholic on the finish, but nicely so. Very subtle hops character come throughout.

M - Prickly on the open, but finishes smoothly. Thick. Tailored to the flavors quite well.

D - drinks a lot easier than the abv would suggest. Sweet, but not cloyingly so. I'd definitely suggest this one.

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Photo of DCon
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 64OZ Growler of this from The Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar in St. Louis, MO for $24. Tapped from the red/white surfboard tap handle w/ "Abbey Grand Cru" into my 64OZ Cicero's Growler and then distributed out to 4 16oz Pint Glass w/ my bros on Washington Ave (meaning I only got to enjoy 1 glass of this...).

Aroma- Has a very strong banana aroma with caramel and nut hanging in the background. Sweet and malty with a ton of strength also. May have a medium amount of alcohol present too.

Appearance- Pours a 1.5 finger head that stays. Has a reddish brown tint on amber color body that is dark. Leaves thick lacing.

Flavor- Caramel and strong sweetness. Awesome banana character with quite a bit of spice behind it all. Medium bitterness finishes it off.

Mouthfeel- Medium-Full Bodied, Medium Carbonation, Sweet, and goes down quite smooth.

Overall Impression- I'm VERY glad I was able to catch this one before it was never on-tap again! Always a shame that the Lips of Faith series is only a once released series of brews (except for finding stray bottles around all the time). I'm going to be getting more Growlers of this stuff so that I can enjoy more of it at a later date with friends. I suggest you do the same! Cheers!

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle split and poured into a New Belgium globe.
9.5% ABV, Bottled 3-16-2011

A - Clear ruby amber in color with a dense bone head, the great retention leaves collar after collar of lace on the glass as it drops.

S - Fruity Belgian esters flood the aroma with hints of cherry, fig, and raisin. Banana pulls through pretty significantly while the amber malt provides a smooth, rich backbone.

T - Amber malt galore loaded with banana esters and earthy clay Belgian yeast notes'll get ya' there. Slight floral hop traces come through the background with a mellow alcohol heat to the finish.

M - Medium-high carbonation and a medium body balance well with a crisp finish. A light dryness graces the tongue as it drains down the hatch.

O - A great Belgian-style brew overall, there's quite a bit going on here but, it never becomes too much; too cloying. Nuanced and quite tasty.

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Photo of Whadawookie
4.47/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I haven't been drinking abbey ales for a while, but it's cold and gloomy out today so I thought what the hell. I poured into a goblet and couldn't seem to produce much head. Fine lacing sticks to the glass a little while you drink. It's sitting in the goblet with a nice deep red hue. This beer has a lot of flavors going on in it. Very nice. I'll have to compare it to others of this style, it has been so long I'm not sure how this beer stacks up to the the best of this style, however, I'm extremely pleased to be drinking this at the moment. What a complex, balanced beer! Yum. Sit's on the mouth very lovely. I'm eating some alfredo sauce pizza with chicken/artichoke/tomato/feta/basil on it and it is pairing fantastically!

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Photo of katan
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz into a pint

A - Solidly brown, but mostly opaque. Lots of bubbling, resulting in a large mocha colored head formation.

S - Light amount of pilsner malts, lots of yeast and just a bit of citrus sour like off notes. More spiciness comes through as it warms.

T - Starts off lightly malty and a huge bubble gum like flavor. Mid-stream gets some nice spiciness, white pepper, and a bunch of raisins and currants. Fruitiness grows big time. Finishes iwth a little alcohol warmth and a citrus like finish.

M - Solid mouthfeel, moderate carbonation, somewhat heavy and sugary. Lightly cloying finish.

D/O - Well hidden but strong abv. Nice winter warming to it, both in a dark sugar malt base and some hot alcohol. A bit heavy but certainly enjoyable.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beer served from a bomber into a New Belgium globe glass because I can. This beer is not currently on the Belgian Strong Dark Ale best of list but is still quite a decent ale.

Beer is brown and hazy with a decent head with some retention, nice lacing on the glass, moderate carbonation, off white head.

Aroma is sweet, yeasty, and caramel.

Beer is medium in body but has a slightly dry finish. There is a mild grain bitterness at the end but the lead off here is some nice caramel with a strong body of yeast esters on the midpalate. Overall a very nice little beer, I'd have it again but probably not a whole bomber alone again.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

New Belgium Abbey Grand Cru, a brew they make after every 1000 batches of the Abbey Dubbel ale. The same recipe, brought up in ingredients and fermentation time, with added Belgian yeast fermentation. Brought up to 9.5 % ABV. Custom made for a dubbel lover like myself. Let's get to it.

Dark, plummy brown body, beneath a thick, lush, creamy head, off-white/eggshell-colored, last long and leaves lacing.

Aroma: rich and sweet in the nose, plump with spice, sugar, dark fruit and cocoa. Cinnamon, clove, brown sugar, figs, and raisons. Ginger bread cookie in a glass. Soft and lovely.

Taste: Sweet and sharp at once, with the toasty dark malt taking center stage. Low hops, high booze. Alcohol shows itself early, but stays in the sidelines until late. Toffee and caramel. Starts sweet, but ends dry and smooth.
Halfway in, the booze is creeping, and flavor remains tasty, sophisticated, clean and classy. Beautiful stuff, really. Nicely balanced, exquisitely crafted, nothing too out-of-bounds, nothing out-of-step, just right and just delicious.
I'm glad to drink this on tap, but I'll be looking for some bottles to cellar before they're gone.

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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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