Grotten Flemish Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

very good
63 Reviews
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Grotten Flemish AleGrotten Flemish Ale

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
A "Blond" from Pierre Celis, brewed at Brouwerij St. Bernardus.

No longer available in the US.

Added by Todd on 05-08-2006

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Reviews: 63 | Ratings: 73
Photo of largadeer
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Hazy yellow with a tight cap of white foam.

Smell: A pleasant fruit medley of banana, peach and apricot. Grain and faint hops underneath.

Taste & mouthfeel: Wheat and spice, a touch of banana, slight fruity sweetness. Husky grain and bitter herbal hops follow in the intensely dry finish, with a slight sourness residing beneath. Body is medium/light, crisp on the tongue. Very drinkable.

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

I purchased this one a while ago and literally just never got around to trying it. Last night I figured it would go good with dinner, and in my never-ending effort to clean out the fridge, I plunked this one down and checked it out. Very nice looking bottle with a good cork and cage. Some sediment laying on the bottom. Served the 750ml into a Chimay Goblet at a slightly chilled temperature.

Appearance - It poured out a bright golden yellow, with a deep haze and cloudiness to it. Lots of suspended particles were floating around throughout( I took a previous reviewers advice and made sure I blended in the sedimentation). A nice three inch white frothy head of foam then rose up over the top of it, and then started to slightly crater and become a tad rocky before finally settling down to jus a thin film across the top that lasted throughout the rest of the session. A nice amount of side glass lace then came down through it. Lots of carbonation was visible throughout the session and it had a very nice, lively overall look.

Smell - The aroma was light, a bit too light at first. A nice touch of banana and lighter fruits permeating though at the beginning, really setting the table so to speak. I let it warm up a touch and the aroma did get a little bit stronger, with some light smells of hay, and grass coming through fairly well now. Still though a banana and apricot like smell was the dominating force here.

Taste - The flavor followed suit as well, really just being dominated by light grains and banana like flavor. Light hints of apricot and a slightly sour back taste were all easily discernable. Not a touch of alcohol in the flavor which was nice, as at over 7% it is usually a little it detected, especially on the lighter profiles. Finish was light and quick, refreshing without much of a long lingering flavor though. To be honest a little bland, but good for a blond.

Mouthfeel - This was highly carbonated, though not explosively so, just a nice bit of rushing bubbles throughout. Played very well on the tongue letting the flavors dive in and out quite well. Decent feel and very light body.

Drinkability - it was a good session ale, as the alcohol was nowhere to be found and the smooth refreshing taste was very nice as well. The flavor was a bit too light, but I could easily have thrown down another, just not sure if it is really my thing.

Overall this was pretty good for a Blonde ale, one of my least favorite styles. I imagined it could have been worse. Not terrible by any means though. I could drink it again though I do not think I would pay for this one again.

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Photo of Billolick
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Large typical Belgian bottle, caged and corked and no freshness/brewing date/best before dating :-(, anyway, this one pours chill hazed cloudy, light apricot, bubbles rising under and loooong lasting nice, tiny bubble eggshell head, plenty of sheeting and sticky lace. I allowed this one to warm up outside of my house, (its about 50 degrees outside) Nose is of plentiful fruit and a hint of gentle spice in the rear. Complex and flavorful, plenty of ripe tropical fruit, bananas, melon, tangerine, some "soapy" notes and then a dose of coriander and pepper, nice. Pleasant offering, would work great with a summer lunch of salads, cheese etc or likely would cut through and compliment Thai or BBQ dishes. Well worth a try.

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Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in my Maudite tulip. Poured a hazy honey gold with a one inch fluffy white head that settled into thin skim of foam and ringlets after about a minute. Concentrated ring of foam coalesced around the perimeter of the glass with generous sheets of lacing during the tasting. Scent of fruit and yeast, but difficult to tease out the specific smells (possibly banana, maybe bubblegum). Flavors of banana, candy sugar, pepper and some citrus astringency. Lively, effervescent mouthfeel with some tingle in the mouth and a slightly sour finish. Very enjoyable with lots of complexity.

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Photo of scootny
4.42/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into my Chimay chalice. My first pour is gentle and yields a straw colored brew with a light one and a half finger head. It gently fades leaving some streaks of lace and a thin foam on top of my glass. The covering remains as I consume the contents. The second pour introduces the yeast to my vessel and while it is clumpy cloudy and indelicate its presence is a welcome addition to the taste and overall character of this ale.

The smell is of gentle fruit esters, ( apple/banana, pear, and grape ) mild alcohol and candy sugar. A faint floral hoppiness plays peek-a-boo as I take deep sniffs.

My first taste is pleasing. Mirroring the nose with a greater sweet malt presence. The candy is there as well. Yeasty fruitiness is in abundance and the finish is gently hoppy. There is however a sourness that while not overbearing is a little out of harmony with the rest of the taste experience. Then I pour in the yeast. PERFECT. All components are in harmony and the carbonation is put into proper place. The sourness becomes a counterpoint to the fruitiness from the yeast, its subtle nuttiness adding another layer of complexity and delight.

Mouthfeel is a solid medium but a touch too bubbly at first blush. Second pour it becomes just short of sublime. I could keep this stuff on my tongue for decades and never complain.

Drinkability is just short of sessionable. The alcohol is always in the background until it hits you. Still I could easily go through a couple of bottles if I am not driving. It's that good.

Pierre you've done it again! An excellent ale that I will be stockpiling in my cellar. As with the Grotten Brown the secret is to drink it cloudy with yeast. Delicious.

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

The beer pours a pale gold color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice pale malt scent along with a spicey/earthy Belgian yeast aroma. The taste is good. It has a crisp and refreshing pale malt flavor that is only slightly tart. It's more earthy with a peppery spice in the finish. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is not at all what I expected. It's not a super tart beer. It more of a Belgian Strong instead with just a hint of sourness.

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Photo of frazbri
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Grotten Flemish Ale poured slightly cloudy straw yellow topped by a bright white head. A good deal of lacing was left behind on the glass. Aroma had notes of banana, orange peel, pepper and lemon. Flavor consisted of a slight citrus taste, malty sweetness, a touch of bitterness and a little spice. Medium-light in body and highly carbonated.

Solid and balanced beer.

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Photo of dsa7783
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1 Pint, 9.4 Fl Oz bottle copped caged and corked from Wine and Beverage Depot in Totowa for $8.99... "Pierre Celis Signature Selection" on the front logo - an individual, whom I understand, had a lot to do with the creation of the world-renowned Hoegaarden beer... His depiction of this Belgian Strong Pale Ale is on-point, bursting with character, flavor, and style... Pours a golden color with a subtle frothy head that soon receded and obvious carbonation visible... smell and taste alike were both very fruity, and the nose especially was replete with fresh apples, pears, and slight grapefruit... taste was very sublime and complex, slightly sweet without being cloying or overbearing... powerful honey, melon, and canteloupe tastes burst through on this one, leaving a pleasant lingering smooth finish with subtle notes of bananas, peaches, and cream without the slightest hint of alcohol manifested in the 7.7% ABV... Good, rich, creamy mouthfeel and ultra-easy drinkability... Really good stuff... Definitely recommended...

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Photo of wheelinshirt
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased from Abe's in Bethlehem for under ten dollars, thought i was getting a flemish red or something else like that, turns out it is a belgian blond which happens to be one of my favorites, so a little bit of a surprise, but not a disappointment. Poured into two tulips and a chimay chalice.

Nice golden color with a little bit of orange, big fluffy eggshell head that sports okay retention and okay lacing. Would have like to see a huge, lacing head on this one.

Smells yeasty, a little funky, not very sweet (good), i think there is some wheat in there, I am digging this one. It tastes dry, yeasty, a litttle funky, no significant hop profile. Mouthfeel is medium with a healthy dose of carbonation that keeps this one very light and drinkable. Very nice indeed. I would like to have this one back to back with duvel and don de dieu and see how they stack up against each other.

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

(Served in a chalice)

A- On the first pour, although gentle, the glass filled with nothing but head. As the mosey eggshell colored head began to melt back into a lightly hazy golden yellow body with a strong carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- The soft smell of yeasty perfume had a dry quality to it with a faint hint of green herbal notes in the background.

T- The light smooth taste of pale wheat has some light fruity qualities and a soft yeast flavor to it. There was a slight cola note to the malt with a hint of dried apricots coming through as the beer warms. The soft green note at the finish doesn't have any distinct hop qualities to it.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a tight fizz finish that cleans it up.

D- This beer is very filling and could be a meal with a smooth creamy taste but not a lot of depth or interest in the smell or taste.

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Photo of watchnerd
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The name, and the categorization, is a bit misleading. If you're expecting a Flemish red, this isn't going to be one. If you're expecting some like the Demonfish Flemish Primitive, well, this isn't like that. And if you're expecting something similar to the Celis Grotten Brown (a better, more distinctive beer, IMHO), with its near champagne-like level of carbonation, well you won't find that here, either. What you do get is a well made, but not especially unique, representation of the Belgian blond style. Enjoyable, but if you're in North America, other options like the Unibroue Don de Dieu represent equivalent, or better, quality and certainly better value for money. But *do* check out the Grotten Brown, a truly unique and special beast.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.94/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

$8.99 for a 750ml bottled, corked and caged. 7.7% ABV. Pours to a deeply hazy, near milky pale burnt golden orange, forming a small white head with average retention and lacing. Very minimal carbonation which is odd because the cork was very difficult to remove. The aroma is intense with fruit unlike that I've ever smelled in a beer literally smells like a freshly cut fruit salad of peaches, pears, pineapple, mango and white pepper. The mouthfeel is unlike anything I've tried with this snappy upfront bite, then a crisp bite in the finish which is partly composed of bitterness but also with a watery smoothness which belies it's strength. Dangerously drinkable! The taste is just exceptional...fresh fruit salad sprinkled with lemon pepper and a touch of bitter salad greens. A touch of barnyard, stables and dusty cellar are thrown in for good measure. The belches are delicious, kinda like I just ate a bag of Jolly Ranchers. Bitterness is perfectly balanced..not too strong, not too just sits right there and is perfect. A testament to the brewing art.

Wow! Just an amazingly well-crafted beer. I rarely score a beer so highly, but this is just mind-blowingly delicious! The 750ml goes down way too easy and I want more! Currently recieving an average rating of 4.1, I think this brew is a sleeper. Not to sound stodgy, but if you have a refined palette, try this one out! It's subtleties may be lost on those unfamiliar with the style. EXCEPTIONALLY FAN-FUCKIN-TASTIC!

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Photo of n0315
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown almost like apple cider, with a head that dissolves quickly. Smell is of yeast, like an old must. Taste is nothing like it, with tartness and sweetness. Mouthfeel is very soft and almost like a hefewessie, just not as soft. Taste gets more complex as it warms, and I would say gets better. A good beer, but not a session beer. I'll drink it again.

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

750 ml bottle from Hi Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, Ca. in September 2007, tasted in November of the same year. Price not recorded.

I was uncertain about this one- I had tried the Grotten Brown a couple of times (in the US and in Belgium), and to be honest, didn't really enjoy it all that much. But I have such a fondness for Flemish Ales, I just couldn't resist.

Pours a pretty golden color with a beautifully proportioned off-white head that has great retention. So far, so wonderful.

The first whiff yells out the sourness of a Flemish Ale- yep, there's some good stuff afoot. Then, when tasted, the sour I love was very muted- definitely there, but not the obvious tartness of the great Flemish ales. More spicy than sour. A bit of citrus fruit, but quite muted. Much lighter malt profile, but what a great yeasty twist!

So what do I think? Actually, I like it- this has a bit of tang that makes it very interesting, but it's not overpowering or challenging to drink. I'll take it!

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

750ml bottle poured into a tulip glass. Hazy orange color with a thick, sticky, white head. Sweet, somewhat malty aroma. Not much there. Nice taste. Yeasty and malty, some pepper in the aftertaste. Bread-like. The carbonation was quite pleasant in the mouth. An enjoyable beer.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A friend was kind enough to share this with me. It had a cloudy yellow color that looked murky and the head was a white sticky pillow. The smell was musty and earthy to me. The flavors tastes yeasty, Belgian, and not much fruit. For some reason I think this would be perfect with some mussels and pomme frites.

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Photo of whynot44
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Hazy apricot color with a tremendous off-white head that retains well and leaves an incredible amount of sticky lacing. The aroma is yeasty, somewhat earthy, with some banana and citrus notes, though very mild, and hints of coriander. The taste is sweet and bready at first, then spicy with coriander, cloves, citrus zest and pepper. The finish is somewhat peppery with a trace of citric hops and just a touch of alcohol warmth. The aftertaste lingers with something like allspice. Light/medium bodied and smooth textured and creamy. The flavors definitely come out more as it warms up from refrigerator temperatures so take your time and enjoy it. Nicely drinkable and well worth a try.

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Photo of GreenWBush
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Never seen this before – nice to be able to pick it up at a beer drive-thru!

A wild billowing head exists atop a dull golden body. Ridiculous cling.

Nose is phenolic, cracked pepper, clove, and general yeastiness. Falls in line with much of the Bernardus line. Attractive.

Taste is saison-y minus the funk: wisps and threads of alternating minerals, dryness, earth. Rather a stock Bernardus, really supertasty, still, too pricey for all-the-time consumption. Seems to lack some distinction.

MF: One of the slinkier Belgians on the tongue. Drinkability suffers just from the sense that I’d be more inclined to sack another single from the Bernardus line.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.16/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Bu11zeye: Poured a deep orangey color ale with a nice big foamy head with good retention and some great lacing. Aroma of sweet malt is dominating with a light yeasty note. Taste is also dominated by some quiet sweet malt with light yeasty dry finish. Body is a bit oily and cloying with light alcohol being perceptible and some great carbonation. Definitely lacking complexity and a bit too sweet for my palate but then again I had high expectation from that brewer.

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Photo of bruachan
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

super heady (i'd stored it a little warm) and a clear golden underneath

from the fuzz erupts spicy goldenness and noble hops. sweet n' spicy

hoppy flavoring. not bitterness, but the middle and late additions are substantial. malt flavors are subdued but detectable: light, clear pils malts hide under the hoppi-spiciness. the finish is actually unremarkable, and the mouthfeel a little flimsy (though somehow coating)

you know, in's not all that spicy. i guess i just expected it to be. spicy, yes, but it's no chouffe

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dispensed from a corked and caged 25.4oz bottle into a large snifter. Appearance is a slightly hazy straw color with a huge head. The head and the beer are about the same size as the first pour comes to an end. Not a whole lot of lacing but the rocky, fairly dense head stays around for quite awhile before shrinking to a fish eye film on the beer.

Aroma is yeasty and full of Belgian candi sugars. Also some pale malts and maybe even some wheat in there as well. Slight hop aroma is earthy and slightly spicy. Maybe there is some corriander in there as well. Smells awful wheaty.

Flavor is light and refreshing and quite fruity. No bitterness at all. Quite smooth but a bit sticky on the tongue as it slinks down the back of the throat. More spiciness and a slight alcohol taste. Not overwhelming but noticeable.

Overall this is a nice beer. Alcohol seems about right for a 7.7% and this beer went well with the warming temps outside today. I would recommend this. It was a little cheaper than other Belgians too!!!

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Photo of kajerm
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark gold with a decent white head and good lacing; surprisingly clear for the yeasty, estery smell.

The aroma is yeasty as hell, with strong banana character and a background of light malts. My notes have me smelling something vaguely Bretty, but I'm not sure this is actually a farmhouse beer.

Tastes exaclty like it smells, almost completely dominated by yeast and esters, with a surprising dry finish. This is probably the first time I've noticed tannins in beer-- pretty interesting.

The mouthfeel is light, maybe a little too light.

A solid beer, but the dryness and over-the-top esters hurt drinkability a little.

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Photo of russpowell
3.76/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle pours straw/honey colored with 2 fingers of rocky eggsell colored head. Insane lacing & head retention

S: Spice, esthery notes, lemons & coriander

T: Tart malt, lemons, coriander, breadyness & phenolics up front. Then grapefruit & lemon hops. Finishes with phenolics & lemon hops

MF: Low carbonation, medium bodied & pretty smooth

Drinks slow; too phenolic for this reporters taste

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Photo of BretSikkink
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy golden, gets really hazy with the sediment addition late in the game. Active carbonation, great head architecture, quickly diminishes. Like the Grotten brown, takes on a whole new level of complexity as the beer warms up: tasty and refreshing chilled, much like a German hefeweiss, and uniquely Belgian in complexity as it nears room temperature. The nose wafts up the bubble gum-clove scent particular to wheat beers, some spicing. The taste is full-bodied, a little like a good thick witbier, citric and herbal. Intensely quaffable, what a beverage. Another success from Pierre Celis; if not St. Bernardus' most complex, definitely unique.

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

Served from bottle into standard pint glass.

Pours a slightly hazy light yellow color. Tons of bubbles rising into a huge, fluffy white head. Superb retention, and tons of lace.

Aroma has some yeast, with fruits (maybe some lemon, and banana) and spices.

Flavor is toasted malts upfront, with some sweetness and a touch of fruit going right into a bold, lingering spicey finish with cloves and pepper coming through. Some slight hop bitterness comes through into the aftertaste, but the spices dominate.

Medium body, with brisk but not overbearing carbonation. Everything seems to be balanced just about perfectly. Alcohol seems expertly hidden, as I don't get any traces of it anywhere.
Overall very drinkable, and I certainly would seek it out again.

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Grotten Flemish Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
3.98 out of 5 based on 73 ratings.
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