Grottenbier | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

very good
276 Ratings
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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

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Reviews: 202 | Ratings: 276
Photo of Gusler
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours from the 750ml corked bottle with a rich and full sound, the color a lightly hazed deep orange tinted copper, the head is brontosaurian in size, the texture semi creamy and the color a beauteous light tan with the lace a firm sheet to conceal the glass. The aroma of black walnuts, lightly sweet with a bit of plums and a hit of cinnamon, fresh and citrus crisp, start is slightly sweet with a thin malt profile, the top is middling in its feel, the finish is stingingly acidic, hops are basal, but spicy enough to make me notice, aftertaste vinous, dry and long lasting. I was expecting a bit more from this beer than it gave me, nonetheless a decent drinking beer, but certainly not anything to get excited about.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.36/5  rDev +15.3%
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 BierReise
3.87/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Dark murky brown with nice head yet lacing is sparse. Spicy aroma with notes of berries and clove. I definitely get the wheat beer similarity that another rated mentions. Lively mouthfeel that dances the LaBamba on your tongue. Interesting blend of flavors here and not one thing dominating. Fruity, malty, spicy, earthy and yeasty all at once. Another fine brew from St B's!

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Photo of UncleJimbo
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a hazy, amber color with tan foam. The smell was tart, with a hint of wildness more typical of gueze. There was also a spiciness to the smell, almost cinnamon-like, but not quite. Alcohol was also noticeable in the aroma. The taste was tart, almost sour, with some bitterness in the finish. There was an oakiness with some harsh, phenolic elements present, but also a very light, subtle, caramel-type sweetness far in the background. The mouthfeel was tart and a bit harsh on the tongue: very dry, almost astringent. The tongue was left feeling very dessicated. Overall, however, this was an interesting beer to sample.

Thanks to David at Anam Cara for this one.

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Photo of Todd
2.7/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

An offering from the Pierre Celis (creator of the modern day Belgian Wit, like Hoegaarden and Celis White) Signature Series. Matured in Kanne Caverns (near the Dutch border) and touted by Michael Jackson as the "beer of the year."

My expectations were very high ... and I'll state that I understand completely what happens to a beer when it's aged, these are simply my notes on what I tasted.

750ml corked and caged bottle with probably the most beautiful screened label I have ever seen on a beer bottle. It poured wonderfully, showcasing its dark, rich copper color. The head was wonderfully laced and slightly off-white.

A submissive cinnamon in the aroma, backed by a mix of floral and granola. This is a bone-dry beer. Probably the driest beer I've ever tasted. Bold flavors of cinnamon and husky grain tannins last but a brief second on the palate before they are gone. Flash of tartness and perhaps some clove. You really have to concentrate and find the flavor, and unfortunately the novelty of aging this beer removed most of the flavor. No real sweetness, only hints of florally saccharin remain, giving way to the dryness. The dryness works long and hard after the flavors dissipate to continue to dry your palate to the bone. Notes of oxidation become more and more noticeable as the beer warms. Left my palate feeling unpleasant.

Not impressed, overall. A very one-dimensional offering, that's too expensive and extremly over-hyped, in my opinion. This is a great example of why some beers should not be aged ... some beers simply do not hold up and lose their zest.

The bottle and concept was more impressive than the beer.

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Photo of PatandDavid
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another beer specialty enjoyed with my fellow BAs...Lovely cognac color when poured. Cinnamon aroma. This was cave aged, give me more cave aged beer! The cinnamon was also predominant in the taste, which I also found slightly tart and dry. Glad to have been around when this was being poured. pat

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Photo of beerinator
3.94/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Amber with hints of brown. Solid head of nicely shaped large bubbles. Good retentive head.

Aroma: Hay in the nose. Spices are evident immediately. Sweetness shows through in the aroma. Natural aromas present.

Taste: Little flavor on the tip of the tongue. Sweetness abides near the back of the mouth. Dry finish, with quick disappearing aftertaste. Carbonation bubbly on the tongue, mouthfeel is pleasant. The spices are muted based on the assumption made from the aroma, but they're present.

Notes: Solid beer. Very drinkable. The flavors seem deep, with hidden characteristics that would be fun to search for. The bubbles in the head are simply mesmerizing, and they lend well to the mouthfeel.

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Photo of rastaman
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served way too cold, had to wait about 20 minutes until it was warm enough to taste anything. The flavour is quite subtle and soft, something about it was quite soft-drinky, had some nice bitter slightly acidic characters towards the end, quite soft and smooth aswell, with some light spicyness.

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Photo of jcalabre
3.55/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Originally sampled from bottle 11 March 2002. Grottenbier Bruin has a good mix of malt & dried fruit in the bouquet & on the palate. The flavor has some spicey notes as well. Grottenbier Bruin is quite delicious and simply another winner from Pierre Celis.

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Photo of aracauna
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The body is a dark mahogany with a good creamy white head. It has a very spicy nose. Banana and cloves mix w/ cinammon and buttercream. More bananas and caramel cream on the tongue. The mouthfeel is a bit fuzzy. Very warm, relaxing beer. Reminds me of Bananas Foster.

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Photo of StevieW
4.23/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big brown 750 ml bottle. With a cork and cage. Dated 010303, is that January 3 or March 1, 2003 ? Oh well. Blue label depicts sketch of a cave. The label descriptions are in belgian gibberish...sorry not gibberish, just belgian. The cork exploded off this one, bounced around my kitchen, nearly broke a light and hit me right in the noggin. Poured into my St. Bernardous wide mouth goblet.
Murky brown color, deeper and darker than expected. Matched the color of the bottle actually. Creamy biege bubbly head, exploded up then settled to a thin sheet covering the beer nicely.
Smell is mostly sweet, carmel like. Lots of candied apples, and toasted carmel smells. Odd sugary smell hits the nose, more than anything.
Taste is dominated by sweetness, toasted carmel malt and sugary sweetness. Some earthy spices coming through as well. Highly charged carbonation, lots of bubbles, affect the taste. I was worried it was too old. Not so. Bubbles are everywhere. Getting past the bubbles, some oak, and vanilla notes slip by, very much port wine like flavors. Light yeast flavors also hit the tongue. Just the slightest whisper of hop bitterness, but the overall impression is sweetness and carbonation.
Feel is highly charged and super bubbly. Murky yeast presence adds some body but, the carbonation does thin it out a bit. Light to medium bodied.
A good belgian more toward sweet than expected, and worth a try.
Thanks to my friend BelgianBum for this treat !

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Photo of stcules
2.78/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Foam wide and abundant, not completely compact, with some big bubbles, maybe due to the glass?. Color brown, with mahogany reflexes. Smell of flowers (forget-me-not, periwinkle, etc.). The taste is round, not too dry, with honey, well balanced. It needs a second and third taste... A solvent like note, perceptible specially in the flavour, when the beer got warm.

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Grottenbier from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
3.78 out of 5 based on 276 ratings.
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