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 Sammy
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Foamy tan head, fragrant natural fruity yeast, lace bubbles. Chocolate malts, vanilla (aaah yum). A bit bitterness and sourness on the finish balanced with malts. Light mouthfeel and smooth and drinkable.

Had on-tap nine months later and noticed nice brown colour, yeasty aroma, licorice. Smooth.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Surprised at the style classification--the beer tasted like a very good Oud Brune. A hazy brown brew with mild red highlights decants from the bottle with a overwhelming carbonation and loosely knit head retention. Solid malt bready / fruity aromas combine with a tart (almost sour) note that promises complexity. Flavors of sweet candy and malts are challenged by moderate, earthy hops, wine-like tartness, and a pixie stick-like sweet tart-ness. The sourning compliments the fig, date, plumb flavors nicely without dominating. Very creamy and bready to the texture with that 'crazy' Belgian yeast twang. Finishes with a vineous dryness and a resisual sweetness to allow lingering in the aftertaste. The oly hitch is an astringent bite in the back of the throat that doesn't seem to be hop deriven--maybe a bit too grainy. Nevertheless, the beer exemplifies why this is my favorite brewery--period. Thanks Clvand0

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Photo of emerge077
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Grotten Brown pours a reddish light chestnut, with a huge billowing head. Streams of carbonation are visible, and a sticky lace develops as the foam recedes. Aroma is pretty subdued. Initial taste is of mild fruity esters, a slight plum essence. Malty backbone dominates, and a measured hop presence closes it out. Suggestion of clove also in the finish. Very smooth and velvety, goes down easy.

Bottle was served cool, seems to be best at a constant cool temp.

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Photo of brentk56
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a cloudy garnet body with a fluffy head that settles down and hangs around, lleaving some lacing behind

Smell: A range of medium fruits such as apples and cherries with a touch of nutmeg

Taste: Very subtle flavors of sweet apple and cherry along with a woody aspect; the wood takes over in the finish along with a peppery, nutmeg tone

Mouthfeel: Velvety smooth, medium bodied and highly carbonated

Drinkability: A very pleasant sipper; certainly not as challenging as many other Belgian styles

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.8/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a muddy brown color ale with a medium head with pretty good retention. Aroma of caramel malt and slightly funky Belgian yeast is quite evident. Caramel malt with some spices dominated the taste at first and then the yeast signature shows up with a slightly funky feel. Body is quite full but could have been fuller and carbonation is perfect. IMHO, a bit more alcohol and body would do wonder for this beer.

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Photo of oberon
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep tawny brown with some ruby tint a thinner light brown head sat atop,big spice in the nose that of cinnamon and clove with some prune/raisin underlying as well.Again the flavors are quite spicey maybe even a little over the top in that department,clovey with notes of cinnamon and even a touch of ginger there is a dark fruit element but it seems to take a backseat to the spiced flavors.Eh its decent but not alot of character and a little one dimensional flavor wise in my mind.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of dcmchew
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of ygtbsm94
3/5  rDev -20.4%

Photo of russpowell
3.82/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The bottle says 6.7 abv

Pours chestnut with 3 fingers of fluffy offwhite head. Good lacing & great head retention

S: Fruitty notes & caramel

T: Fruitty, with choclolate and a slight woody dryness up front. Biscuitty malt & hints of raisins & dates follow. Caramel follows. Slight hints of apricot follow as it warms. Fruitty with hints of brown sugar, pepper spice & chocolate on the finish

MF: Medium bodied with low carbonation with slickness/creamyness at the bottom from the head that went to the bottom, like a good captain should!

Drinks pretty easy not a bad belgian dark, just nothing special

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.13/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Glazed terra cotta with wealth of fine bubbles that initially only need to travel an inch or two in order to bury themselves in the underside of the glass-filling head. Within minutes, the khaki-colored cap has shrunk to a mere three fingers and is a marvel of melted rockiness. More lace would be great, but this is a splendid looking Belgian.

Although it's tough to appreciate much through the still thick crown, what reaches my nose is very nice. Heavily toasted brown malt, medium-dark fruit (figs especially) and clove spice combine beautifully, leading me to look forward to the first mouthful. That's a nose's job, is it not?

Grotten Brown doesn't have quite as much palate-saturating flavor as I'd hoped it would, although I still like it just fine. Perhaps once it loses the chill that it started out with, it'll be more generous. It's obvious from the lightness that the beer has been correctly categorized, since it really doesn't seem very dubbel-like to me. As an aside, I've always thought that Belgian Brown Ale would be an even better name for this style.

Thanks to the crisp dryness of the flavor and mouthfeel, the malt is more toasted crackery than it is toasted bready. As hoped for, as it warms, I'm able to appreciate much more flavor, especially with regard to an almost rye-like spiciness. Warm cinnamon is in the mix as well. This really is good beer that isn't as subtle and as delicate as it appeared at first blush.

Subsequent pours result in huge, fluffy heads that take a while to surrender. Patience is definitely rewarded though. Bitter is far and away more prevalent than either sour or sweet, so hops must be contributing more than their flavor transfer (or lack thereof) would suggest. I'm attributing the peppery spiciness to the yeast, not to noble hops. If I had to pick one fault, I'd say that there isn't quite as much complexity as there could be.

The mouthfeel is amazingly light and airy, while being energetically, almost hyperactively, carbonated. The bubbles never cross the line into annoying buzziness, however, and there really isn't anything that I'd change about the mouthfeel if given the chance. It works perfectly well given the rest of the beer's attributes.

Grotten Brown is a wonderful BDA from one of the best breweries in the world. A quick look at my reviews tells me that it's the best that I've ever had by a fairly wide margin (I could just as easily have chosen the higher taste score, it was that close). The bottom line is that I'm not sure there's another beer of this style that is capable of giving it any serious competition.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

Photo of Hayley_86
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of Billolick
3.92/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

large bottle, with cork and cage. Pours dark and cloudy/muddy. Burnt figs and yeast in nose. Tastes of yeast, sludgy malt,burnt fruit, chocolate, coffee. Lighter then expected body, nice smooth, and slightly oily mouthfeel. A lighter duty strong dark ale. Decent enough, but did not amaze with body or complexity.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.58/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at Fathead's along with St. Bernie Abt 12. Appearance: Pours a mahogany brown hue thin tan hed leaves thin lacing down my chalice not a bad look to it at all. Aroma: Finding it hard to get anything out very light somewaht airy herbal hop mix with spice and fruit accents in the background of mild chocolate notes and darker toasted soft roasts.
Taste: Herbal hops flood the palste with a woody oak barrel aged rawness to it, very mild sweetness dry quality in the finish. Spicy edge to it with a slight citrusy note picked up seems that the sample is aged a bit not gone south just not fresh. Mouthfeel: Medium body steady carbonation, nothing that thrilling here. Drinkability: A decent unique Belgian bier but I can't give it the highest marks it just seems pretty good to me.

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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 GClarkage
3.43/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

March 2005- On tap at the Toronado in San Francisco, CA

Presentation- Poured from the tap into a tulip style glass.

Appearance- Dark red, maybe scarlet coloring with a nice tight dirty white head and very nice lacing.

Smell- A very sweet and fruity scent along with a few spices and maybe some cloves in the mix.

Taste- Adequate amount of fruit flavors, sweet malt mixture, but far to dry and a bit unbalanced for me. My buddy loved it though.

Mouthfeel- Moderate carbonation and lip smacking dryness.

Drinkability- Interesting at that, but the dryness and it's unbalanced nature doesn't do it for me.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.97/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: a deep, ruddy brown, no closer to violet, so let's settle on eggplant, and possessed of a thick, fluffy, cream-soda-toned head of foam.
Aroma: Ah! Beautiful! Grapes, plums, raisins, more, with plenty of spice, tingling and tantalizing, stimulating, arousing, feeling both ancient and exotic and altogether inviting.
Taste: the fun continues on the tongue, with a luscious wave of hops, a brilliant blitz of spices. Very fun in the mouth, at first, hops and spice keep the palate occupied. But later on, disappointment arrives, as the mouthfeel dips in enthusiasm some, falters, mellows too much, the finish is not quite as we'd desire, a bit short, flat, light.
A pity that the initial promise did not deliver any greater complexities, but it's a nice enough beverage as it is, just nothing too terrific.

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Photo of Gavage
4.16/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Arrived bronze in color with thick 2 inch head. The aroma was light as only some maltiness was detected. There were many flavors that make this up, as roasted malt, light spice (nutmeg, allspice ?), decent bitterness, and prunes were nicely married.

The mouthfeel was smooth as the malt seemed to ride the tongue well into the aftertaste. Carbonation levels were light. Nicely drinkable.

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Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of tempest
3.8/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the BeNeLuxx Tasting Room and paired with Mi-Amere dark chocolate.

Looks a brown-red with a creamy off-white head. Smells of sweet bready Belgian spice with dry raisins with a similar taste. I'm not finding this to be the most complex Belgian brown, but it's very drinkable and pairs very nicely with a dark chocolate.

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Photo of WesWes
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a translucent brown color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a dry roasted malt scent along with a mild yeast fruitiness . The esters meld well with a crystal and roasted malts. The taste is good. It has a smooth mix of malts and fruits. It's easy going down with an almost refreshing finish. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a highly drinkable beer. It has a nice roasted element that really seems to thrive with the Belgian yeast.

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Photo of Zorro
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear brown beer with a high carbonation level. Puffy tan head hangs around for a while.

Scent seems subtle at first. Sweet sugars and spices with coriander being one that stands out. Honeysuckle and flowers make a floral appearance. There is a tart tang of lemon in the scent. The scent of apples completes the scent. For the mild scent I realize I can smell this sitting on the table 3 feet from my nose! This isn't lacking in scent; it is just mild and well balanced.

Taste is sweet with a little tartness in the finish. Pleasant flavor of brown sugar and spice rounded out some oak and a bit of raw bitterness in the finish. Seems to have a fairly high tannin level like a red wine. Noticeable alcohol flavor and enough hop bitterness to give this a hop aftertaste. A bit of lemon and floral flavors in the finish. A tasty brew that only has one sort of flaw, I expected a bolder and stronger flavor profile.

Mouthfeel is good but not great, I have tasted several better this week.

A good drinkable beer and my first cave aged beer. A tasty pleasing brew here but I expected a more intense flavors from this one. A recommended experience but this is surpassed by quiet a few other Belgian beers, not to mention Ommegang is better too. This would be a good beer for a brunch where you want something light.

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Photo of enelson
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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