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Grottenbier | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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Very Good
277 Ratings

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Style: Belgian Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
From Pierre Celis, brewed at Brouwerij St. Bernardus.

No longer available in the US.

Added by stcules on 01-29-2003

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 277 |  Reviews: 203
Photo of putnam
5/5  rDev +32.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A 16oz. shot into my 34 oz. wine glass produced a 3 inch tall merengue of off white and tan. It lingered even while marble-sized explosions on the surface carved deep craters on the top. The liquid is quite dark and brown.

The aromas are of cinnamon-dusted, candied orange peel in front of doughy, candied pineapple and vanilla.

On the palate it melts away with undulating surges of flavor. Bitter chocolate - simple, clear, and pure - benignly rules as it borrows light herbal bitterness, bready sweetness, milk cream and exotic fruits and spices from other, more transparently arrayed elements.

It is velvety, with only the barest, sooty dustiness to offset the impression of melting buttercream.

What is truly stunning about this beer is that when you think it's going to zig, it zags. It appears exotic, with citronella hints on the nose; but, on the palate, it is classically proportioned with chocolatey, powdered slate flavors. The texture is broad, but there is no residual sugar. It is fruited, but bitterly dry. Simple but soulful. Considering its lightness and seriousness, it is amazingly drinkable.

Any fan of St. Bernardus beers, especially Prior 6, needs to seek this one out. Wonderful beer.

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Photo of rekel
5/5  rDev +32.6%

Photo of tzunoi
4.75/5  rDev +26%

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.74/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked up this bomber for $8.99 at Palmers in Columbus. The beer is dark copper color, clear with a hint of haze, and has a thin off-white foam comprised of relatively large bubbles. The aroma is nearly perfect, a wonderful mix of esters and phenols, all sorts of fruits from plums to bananas. The taste is strong with these fruits, very rich and flavorful bananas, plums, a little apple, and some caramel malty sweetness holding everything together. Actually I found it to smell and taste very similar to Prior 8, possibly with extra banana. Exceptional beer from an exceptional brewery.

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Photo of bhb
4.7/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ths beer poured into a Chimay chalice with a big frothy off-white head, settling to a half centimetre and lasting the whole drink through. Good lacing, and an enticing dark ruby colour, somewhat hazy.

Has a strong malty presence, with molasses in there and some roasted cereal. Floral and herbal notes came through, and I even sense some lemon.

The low 6.5% alcohol doesn't come through too much. The full bodied flavour includes some cherry and brown sugar, plus nutmeg comes through also. Celis seems to have popped some coriander in the recipe too. It's also got a beneficial nuttiness to it. I love the flavour of this.

Brilliant carbonaton, feels divine in the mouth with the right carbonation to go with it all. Hoppy bitterness to the end, but overall very refreshing. I could drink lots of this. The case of this that I just cellared will certainly give me plenty of enjoyment!

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Photo of kolbe
4.57/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I was surprised to see all of the negative/mediocre reviews for this beer. I think it must be a side-effect of inconsistent quality controls due to the intricacies of the aging process applied to this beer or something along those lines.

My bottle of this beer was absolutely fantastic. It had a great nose, high carbonation, and fabulous drinkability. The only flavors were pleasant and organic, none of the acidic or other offensive flavors noted by other tasters. Any more details were unfortunately obscured by my subsequent enjoyment of a fair quantity of Caracole Nostradamus, but I do specifically remember being quite pleased with every aspect of the Celis Grottenbier, particularly its flavor and lively carbonation.

I strongly recommend this beer, but I must add the caveat that negative reviews by otherwise reputable and wise individuals appear to make this one hit-or-miss.

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Photo of marburg
4.55/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer seems to revel in its own well-integrated simplicity. Molasses cookies, "exotic" microbrewed root beer, and cinnamon spice. A very appealing, coherent aroma.

Very smooth brew. Somehow this beer feels sweet, but it's remarkably dry. Molasses, cloves, and doughy bread are the backbone here with touches of the spiciness hinted at by the nose. Straightforward and simple but remarkably well integrated. I mean, this thing tastes like it's a natural liquid of the Earth. Light hop finish. Alcohol presence dominates as it sits out and warms. Superbly drinkable.

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.52/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is absolute quality, as I've come to expect from the rest of the St. Bernardus line.

Pours into my St. Bernardus chalice to a clear and dark ruby red color with a good carbonation and a thick creamy head that sticks around through the duration of the glass. Leaves a spotty lacing.

The smell is the weakest link of this brew, but still good. Has an almost over-bearing candi sugar aroma. The smell is good, but not any more distinct or noteworthy than 90% of fine belgian ales I've had the pleasure of sniffing.

The taste soothed my worries about the beer being "just another belgian." This is a sessionable version of the Abt 12. Has some subtle dark fruity/berry flavors with a candi sugar backing (much less dominating than it is in the nose). The flavors are balanced quite perfectly. There is a tiny hint of ethanol in the finish that is soon accompanied by a light fruity aftertase.

The body is full and very smooth and creamy. Chewy. This is a very highly drinkable beer. As I said earlier, its a more easily sessionable version of Abt 12.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.5/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – The luscious, thick brown body was topped with a beautiful head that went down slowly and pooled in the center of the ale.

Smell – The dark, malty yeast came out big here, even while it was still cold. As it warmed, the flavors erupted. Besides the wonderful yeast I could pick up a dash of cinnamon and some beautiful brown sugars.

Taste – The taste came straight from the nose. The yeast in particular was big and inviting, while the sweetness brought up the finish. In between there was some wonderful flavors of tobacco, figs, cherries, and a hint of anise.

Mouthfeel – The carbonation was moderate and very tight, tickling the tongue and cheeks nicely. The body was a tad over medium.

Drinkability – A fine BDA fit for a king. I’ll close the night with this one.

Update – I first reviewed this with a 2003 vintage so thought I’d give it a formal review again using an ’04. Well, I wasn’t disappointed.

The aroma of this beer is amazing. The yeast and malts are just huge, even when cold, which is what struck me in my initial review. The flavors are complex and explosive, and the carbonation was much bigger in this latest example. I’m upping all my ratings to 4.5s and considering that “reserved”.

 1,248 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.5/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, clear ruby with a nice tan head. Nose is sugary sweet and yeasty with a pungent tone to it overall. Flavor is smooth, woody and sweet. Low yeast flavor, but an underlying sweet tone that hits the tip of your tongue and never comes on strong at all. Wood-like aftertaste. Feel is a perfect balance of carbonation and use of ingredients. Overall a damn good brew. Even and well balanced and one I would constantly go back to time and time again.

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Photo of BJSmit
4.5/5  rDev +19.4%

Photo of Imbiber
4.49/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Reddish brown with a lively white bubbly head, slightly hazy. Aroma is yeasty, slightly peppery, with a hint of spices. Lots of flavours, this is a complex beer. Malt, cloves, hops (to a degree), candy sugar are all interwoven and doing what they do best on the tongue. Aftertaste is quite spicy, there's a long finish with this beer. Not the most outstanding Belgian I've had, but quite high on the list; a bold beer.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.48/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pierre Celis Signature Selection. Matured in the Kanne and Valkenburg Caverns. Considered "The Beer of the Year" by Michael Jackson. 750ml corked and caged silk-screened bottle. 6.7% ABV.

Cork pops off with a brish "Whissh". Pours out to a brilliantly clear dark brown with beautiful ruby accents, forming a tall and dense rocky beige head with excellent retention and beautiful lacing. The head peaks out of the glass, supported by brisk carbonation. Great looking brew. arpma of Belgian sour funk, musty basement, dry husky malts, mild penols, distant earthy hops, mild phenols. Very nice. Mouthfeel is spritzy with an airy, medium body. Taste begins with initial sweet and sour, followed by belgian phenols intermixed with metals, earthy and dirty amber malts with a faint suggestions of figs and cinnamon, the suggestion of dark candi/brown sugar arrives towards the finish, which is bone-dry and has an earthy bitterness of moderate intensity, accentuated by the unfortunate metals. As it warms, distinct flavors of cotton candy, pineapple, and grapefruit become apparent, a touch of orange peel appears, the carbonation and alcohol mellow, the sweetness softens, and ultimately it becomes a much better beer. At room temp, it's all about the toast.

This is a complex, yet odd beer. It held alot of promise with the nice aroma and the initial sour zip, but I kept wanting more tartness. This beer is schizophrenic...the 1st half is a completely different beast than the 2nd half. There is little continuity until it warms. As it warms, it really unfolds and nearly meets my lofty expectations. Reminds me of Goudenband mixed 30/70 with a decent abbey single poured over a fresh tropical fruit cocktail. Unique and very good. Worth the $10 I paid for it? Almost.

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Photo of Hefe
4.44/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted on tap at RFD in DC on 1/17/04

Appearance: Hazy, bordering on murky brown, with a tannish head that becom a nice sticky lace after several minutes.

Smell: Wowsers! Ridiculously complex, notes of orange rind, banana, toffee, asian spice, peat, caramel malt, yeast, and on and on.

Taste: The aromas follow through to the tastebuds, everything in balance, no one flavor dominating. This finish lingers for quite some time.

Mouthfeel: Just a little less full than I would have liked. Still, yeasty and creamy with slight acidic bite.

Drinkability: Thank you sir may I have another?

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Photo of EPICAC
4.43/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had a bottle at De Hopduvel in Ghent.

Appearance: Pours a clear ruby-brown with a three-finger, fluffy, beige head with impressive retention that leaves thick rings of lace.

Smel: Light overall. Notes of cherries, grain and sweet malts.

Taste: Notes of cherries and chocolate not accompanied by sweetness or tartness. The finish has some light roasted character.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, high carbonation with a light dryness in the finish.

Drinkability: Very balanced.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.42/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my parents for giving this bottle to me as a gift! Nice pop of the cork and the beer pours from the 750ml bottle into my tulip glass a nice deep brown with a reddish tinge to it. A half inch of bubbly off white foam sits atop the brew. Aromas of lightly roasted malts, brown sugar and a forward spiciness that has a hint of clove. Dark fruits lurk underneath along with an earthy, musty yeastiness. Quite lovely, maybe even a hint of cinammon.

First sip brings a nice smooth, slightly nutty, lightly roasted maltiness upfront that moves into a wall of spiciness midway through. Earthy yeast tones, brown sugar and a touch of cinammon and clove. Slightly fruity on the way down and even a bit woody. Finsihes dry with a lingering spiciness. This is one tasty brew!

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a vibrant, champagne-esque carbonation that rushes across the palate and makes it a bit creamy. This is a tasty brew that doesn't fail to impress me. I can definetly see myself picking this one up again in the future. A tasty, spicy Belgian brown ale. Thanks again to my parents for this one!

 1,105 characters

Photo of ThomasKoren
4.42/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of RBorsato
4.42/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Note: This is a review of the bottled version originally brewed by Br. de Smedt, Opwijk, Belgium.

Mahogany colored with a low-moderate light brown head. Carbonation has subsidede likely due to age but can be swirled to reinvigorate. Strong raisin and dark fruit aromas and flavors with lots of toffee-like maltiness. A strong dubbel in flavor without the ABV to match. Medium bodied with a dry malty and light spicy finish.

Per label: "Kanne" (?)

Per MJ notes:
-Malts: Amber Vienna, Caramunich
-16P / 1064 S.G.
-Small quantities of South American spices (?)

Best Before: 03/01/03 ('9/01' on cork)
Tasted: 09/29/06

(25.4 oz. / 75 cl tall straight brown wine-like bottle, corked, and caged)

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Photo of czfreeman
4.42/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought at De Honte, Cadznd.
Pours a highly carbonated murky dark brown color. Foamy tanhead settles slowly. Great for BDA apperance.
Smells of cherry, musty yeast,oak, wet leaves, cloves, nutmeg, dried fig, apple, yeast, and a nice finish of sour fruit make the nose much more complex and interesting than anticipated
Flavors of sour apple,cherry, yeast, lambic-like bacteria sour notes, pepper, nutmeg, sour wood, oak, spicy overall, nice touch of yeast marries perfect with the light creaminess form the yest.
The body is highly carbonated, well balanced and very drinkable. Beautifully balanced, one of the best BDA's I've ever enjoyed

 638 characters

Photo of k75
4.4/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

on tap.

dark brown pour with a caramel head

aroma is of biscuit dough, pancake batter and caramel candy

taste is rich malts with a sticky mouthfeel.

finish is medium long with sweet banana bread dominating.

nice brown. the cave thing? don't know what that does but I'm happy with it.

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Photo of Phatz
4.4/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer was absolutely something else. I am a sucker for a good Belgian Strong Dark Ale and this is no exception. Served on-tap at Zeno's in State college.

Appearance: Plumb colored brown.

Smell: Sour ale with dark fruity scents and a brown sugar malt aroma.

Taste: Smooth easy and approachable. The flavors of dark fruits swirl around the palate with hints of orange peeking though the plum and dates. There is a nice hint of yeast and nutmeg as well. A bit of a pucker finish and voila.

Mouthfeel: The flavor has a nice balance of tart (hop) spices and sweet sugars. The mouthfeel is confusingly crispy in feel though so smooth.

Drinkability: MMM. You can just park the *truck* at my house I'll drink it all. Fantastic!

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of TheJudge
4.38/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beautiful bottle pours a nice deep caramel color, just off brown, with a light brown head that holds well, and laces beautifully. Smells real good, sweet on top, but you can feel the malt. No real hop to speak of, but I wasn't expecting any. The malt smell follows throught in the taste, front to back. The sweetness of the aroma is not there in the taste. Bitter, in fact. It goes down very well, not too bubbly, not too heavily malty. This is indeed a beer that you can drink all night.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.36/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer appears brown with reddish notes when held up to the light, quite cloudy. Pours with a lively carbonation that creates a beige head. A slightly sweet aroma, along with a mustiness and a bit of a sour aroma. A definite sour taste in this one but only lightly so. Definite Belgian character in this beer; musty, fruity, and slightly funky. A tart cherry flavor is here as well. Fairly dry, a slight pepperiness and a general spiciness to this brew. Fairly complex, even has a slight vinous note to it.

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Photo of OatherS
4.35/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is amazing.

Appearance: Nice head. Slight amber/brown color.

Smell: Caramel/chocolaty hints. Similar to a dubbel.

Taste: This beer is very good. Nice dubble type taste. Caramel and chocolate type tastes.

Mouthfeel: Smooth.

Drinkability: I could drink this all night long!!!

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Photo of eric5bellies
4.33/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drank from my Duvel Tulip

A - This beer pour a very dark ruby colour with an off white head that reduces to a film.

S - Slghtly sour aromas from the pour, a little stewed dark fruit as well.

T - Quite a bit of sweetnes up fron with some boiled sweets flavours in the middle that are mostly dark fruit. Finishes with a sour bitterness that is balanced.

M - Medium to light body with fullish carbonation.

D - This is a beer that has a bit of everything and yet retains balance.

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Grottenbier from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Beer rating: 3.77 out of 5 with 277 ratings
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