Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature)
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature)Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature)
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Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
3.84 | pDev: 11.2%
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature)Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature)
Reviews: 70 | Ratings: 79 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of superspak
superspak from Michigan

4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, best before 11/22/2010 date on the bottom. Pours lightly cloudy light reddish brown color with a nice 2-3 finger fluffy light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass; with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of pear, raisin, apple, pepper, clove, floral, candi sugar, brown bread, light caramel, and yeast earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity/spicy esters with light-moderate malt balance. Taste of pear, apple, raisin, clove, pepper, floral, candi sugar, brown bread, light caramel, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of light fruits, clove, pepper, candi sugar, brown bread, light caramel, floral, and earthiness on the finish for a bit. Excellent balance and complexity of fruity/spicy esters with moderate bready malt balance; with a great spicy ester balance with malt; and no cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium bodied; with a smooth, crisp, and moderately prickly mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a highly excellent Belgian dark ale! All around great balance and complexity of malt and yeast flavors; very smooth and crisp to sip on. A highly enjoyable offering.

May 17, 2013
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kegger22 from Michigan

4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Brouwerij's Grotten Brown is a Belgian strong dark ale that poured a warm, light brown in color with a generous, three-finger head of foamy beige that displayed good retention.

The aroma was of figs and that mildewed scent that I often associate with Belgians.

Grotten Brown tasted like candied, overripe pears. Absolutely no hops to be found, this was apparently an aged beer when I bought it. But the aging doesn't detract, it just makes it different. Now sweet and malty, a little bit of caramel drizzled over that old pear.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation still.

Drinkability was very good, a whole bomber going down nicely. It's a shame that I have only discovered this beer after it has been retired. I would liked to have tried it fresh for comparison.

Jun 19, 2011
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bluejacket74 from Ohio

3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml caged and corked bottle. I'd guess this bottle is 2-3 years old, maybe older. There wasn't any date information on the bottle so I can't say for sure how old it is. Served in a St. Bernardus chalice, the beer pours a reddish/brown color with about a half inch creamy tan head. Head retention is excellent, and there's a good amount of lacing left on the glass. Aroma is dark fruit (cherries, figs), caramel, green apples, and peppery spice. The brew tastes like dark fruit (raisins, cherries), peppery spice, candi sugar, grain, and a little bit of tart green apple. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit slick and has good carbonation. Overall I think it's a good brew, I didn't have any problems finishing the bottle. If I ever came across this beer again I'd probably buy it.

Mar 18, 2011
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Georgiabeer from Georgia

4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours brown with some floaties, and a huge head with some lacing. Smells yeasty and slightly grainy up-front, followed by a brown bread maltiness. Aging has killed the hops, but has accentuated a delicious creamy brown bread flavor. There is still a slight resonance of hop bitterness, and a touch of grainy sourness. Still very nice. Very smooth and creamy in the mouth, with a bit of a bitter snap on the finish. Still lovely.

Sep 22, 2010
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elricorico from Canada

4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

From notes dating way back to my May Vegas trip:

Medium to light brown, slightly hazed. Big beige head on fairly quick pour, falls steadily but leaves sticky lacing. With each subsequent pour the head lasts longer.

Aroma is immediately tart and slightly sour. There is a cherry richness and something that brings red apples to mind. Funkiness develops as it warms.

Somewhat sharp tartness on the tip of the tongue. Some cherry flavours follow, filled out with a mix of apple, melon and candy sugar. Some yeast mustiness. A little herbal/medicinal hop flavour if you look for it.

Aside from some carbonation bite on the tip of the tongue, the mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Quite nice.

The complexity and balance mike this a winner. I can barely put down the glass long enough to scribble these notes.

Aug 31, 2010
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BeerResearcher from Massachusetts

4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

25.9 oz brown bottle. No freshness date listed. Poured into an Orval goblet.
It pours an auburn, leathery tan color with a fast-fading beige head. Not much lacing to make a big deal about.
A very complex range of aromas from horse barn, leather, tobacco, malt, fig, fresh flowers (at a distance) resinous hop and a whiff of dark rum meld well together.
A velvety slightly sweet malty body carries tastes of caramel, plum, bran flakes, brown sugar, lemon zest, orange peel, herbs and light rum (in that order). There's a slightly off-putting astringent edginess to the mouthfeel, though not entirely a bad thing.
I would LOVE to see this "Signature Selection" come back for another go-round. I would cellar many and drink more.
Thanks Genaro!

Aug 17, 2010
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jmhart from Georgia

3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL poured into a goblet.

A- Pours deep brown, almost mahogany, but clear. Thick bubbly head, tan in color, one finger thick with moderate pour. Leaves a nice lace. The head is fizzy, large air bubbles. Almost more like soda than beer.

S- Roasted almond, hits of brown fruits but not as many as you would expect. Overall, not nearly as aromatic as I would have liked. Alcohol is present in the smell with a small bite.

T- Initially the taste is hard to describe. No flavors stand out, but there's a nice mix. Malt, sugar, nuts, brown fruits all pretty evenly balanced. The flavor is good, but not exceptional.

M- Medium bodied...lighter than expected. Big bite, either from alcohol or carbonation, but more than likely both. It really dances on your tongue.

D- I really enjoyed the beer. It was easy drinking, with a good flavor. Nothing really stood out, but that was nice because there was nothing to get tired of.

Overall, while a fairly average beer for the style, I really enjoyed it, would recommend it, and would buy it again. It was tasty, easy drinking. This beer is good and would be good for your average day. Hard to describe my sentiment here, but hopefully it's come through.

May 29, 2010
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tdawgydog from New York

3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a nice deep murky golden color kinda like your favorite Belgian Wit and Belgian ale had a mix up at the brewery. A great two to three finger head when first poured subsides and leaves a nice lacing.

S - Stinks of barrel aging... in a good way. I've had my bottle cellared for nearly a year. There is a slight scent of alcohol in the nose.

T - A well done Belgian ale. I have to admin that I was originally drawn to this by the "Pierre Celis" stamp of approval. I see this beer has been retired so I guess I better enjoy what's left in the bottle.

D - Goes down smooth. The 7.7 ABV is not very noticeable. I've been laying off the brew lately (trying to shed a few lbs) and I can certainly feel it now that I'm toward the end of the bottle.

M - Great body, I was concerned that I had let this beer hang around too long but it certainly hasn't lost anything with age. The carbonation is perfect and only adds to the almost perfect head on the beer upon pouring.

May 17, 2010
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lacqueredmouse from Australia

3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky deep brown, with a crackling head of beige foam which is monumental at first, but which slips to a pillowy sludge on the top, leaving great slicks of lacing down the side of the glass. All up a pretty damn good looking Belgian.

Quite sweet on the nose. Lots of round caramel notes and a smooth lacing of vanilla. Not a huge amount of Belgian spice notes (especially as the ingredients list "├ępices"). Not bad though.

Similar on the palate, but perhaps a little more subdued. Vanilla again is prominent, with some round Belgian yeast notes. But it tapers out abruptly near the end, leaving very little after palate. Feels slightly too thin, or not full and complex enough. Round palate until the abrupt ending, at least.

Still, it's very drinkable and smooth, and a very decent drop of beer. Even though 6.7% is the low end of the spectrum for this style of Belgian ale, it can pack a punch, but this one stays smooth, and manageable all the way through. A very nice drop, glad I managed to try it.

May 01, 2010
Photo of washburnkid
washburnkid from New York

3.89/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pulled the last of these off the shelves at Frank's in Visalia. So glad I had the opportunity to try it!

A: Ruby and caramel brown hues with a small beige head that doesn't do much to linger or lace.
S: Straight up sour and fruity, reminiscent of green apple. Nice spiciness as well.
T: Fresh grain and wheat flavors, subtly sour and dirty, making it reminiscent of a farmhouse ale. The expected candied sugar malt sweetness is there. An interesting combination of flavor profiles, but it works very well.
M/D: Lighter body but a ton of residuals left on the palate. Sad to see this one go! I'm glad we picked up a bottle.

Feb 01, 2010
Photo of jera1350
jera1350 from Minnesota

3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lovely belgianesque look. Deep ruby brown color with a thick and fluffy tan head atop.

Sweet, bready, fruity. Some citric zest to it. Smells complex.

Light tartness, some bitter hops and sweeter and slightly sour malt. Lots of caramelized sugar, some raisin, prune and touch of lemon zest. Decent complexity.

Carbonation feels soft and creamy once it warms up. Medium bodied.

Solid beer. Quite drinkable. I would call this pretty run of the mill for a belgian. Nothing that stands out either positively or negatively.

Jan 24, 2010
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BevMoAndrew from California

4.67/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served into a Bruery Tulip glass at about 40 degrees.

Shows a rich mahogany with a thick white froth, great retention, and above average lacing. The nose is soft, complex, but full with aromas of caramel, toffee, raisins, prunes, dutch chocolate, black raspberries, blackberries, vanilla, blueberry waffles, light maple syrup, light dark belgian candy sugar, & subtle banana's foster. Exceptional! The flavor is more pronounced than the nose, but still possesses that same elegance & complexity. All of the characteristics from the nose follow through on the palate with an emphasis on dark fruit esters, a slight yeastiness/subtle earthiness,& dark belgian candy sugar/light molasses. There is a bit of alcohol on the finish, but not unwelcome. The texture is a lighter than I would have desired, but still creamy and adds to it's drinkability. Overall a world glass beer & one that I would highly recommend....damn shame it's retired!

Dec 09, 2009
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corby112 from Pennsylvania

3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark cherry chocolate brown color with a 2.5 finger foamy tan head with good retention that slowly fades into a lasting cap. Spotty chunks of soapy lacing.

Spicy peppery aroma with hints of roasted chocolate malt and dark fruit. Raisin, plum and fig stand out. Slight alcohol presence.

Spicy and hoppy up front with a lot of zesty peppery notes which are quickly countered by silky chocolate maltiness with hints of licorice and slightly tart dark fruit(mostly plum, raisin, grape and fig). Slightly creamy body with sweet estery notes balancing out the smooth maltiness. Slightly dry finish.

Oct 31, 2009
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NorCalYeti from California

2/5  rDev -47.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

taste- apple, wood

color- amber

clarity- clear, dense

smell- bread, apples, spice, wood, cinnamon

body- hoppy bite, no mid-palete or finish, light-weight, thinned-out

appearance- nice color, small off-white head

overall impression- good beer, i cellared it too long

notes- lost some of its fruit, would have cellared about a year from release. matured in the kanne and valkenburg caverns. this review is for a 2005 vintage tasted in 2008

glassware: tulip

Oct 17, 2009
Photo of thekanna
thekanna from Maryland

3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into a crystal goblet. Dark amber with ruddy hues when held to light. Gorgeous tan head with huge retention that only settles after a long while and leaves patchy lacing down the glass.

S: Strong apple cider aroma; some peppercorns mixed with herbal medicine and nutmeg. Some faint raisin-like fruitiness is also present.

T: Nice tantalizing taste of apple cider with the sugar removed. Slightly spicy with a strong earthy tone and an herbal backing. The unmistakable taste of prunes in the aftertaste; some phenols linger on the tongue.

M: Medium body with fairly strong carbonation which complements the brew well.

D: Nice yet subtle complexities in this beer. Too bad it's retired... I would've loved to be able to find another bottle and analyzer the complexities a little more.

Oct 04, 2009
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chinabeergeek from Massachusetts

3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle w cork and cage. no date found. tasted in late may 2009. poured into tulip.

dark ruby amber w dark brown hue. almost clear on first pours, but with some bits of sediment in suspension. 3-finger foamy off-white head, fades to foamy, creamy thin layer. very consistent rings of lacing.

aroma: euro and noble hops w sulfurous (not skunk) and even metallic/ferrous note, both herbal and mineral, with caramelized malts, light raisin fruitiness, and mild licorice and nutmeg notes. grass and hay.

taste: lots of euro hopping, grassy, earthy, herbal and floral, w moderate, crisp bitterness. all this upfront, plus a malty caramel note underneath, but all just seems a bit watered down. faint plum esters and spice w light phenols cleaning up the finish, with more mineral character again, plus hay. relatively dry.

light to medium body, with some astringent notes towards the finish. carbonation is moderate, tingly, but also very creamy and fluffy.

Sep 24, 2009
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slvrmon82 from Delaware

3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark hazey red. Very malty and dry mouthfeel. Very sweet upfront with lots of sour at the end. Thanks zenos. Very rare to find in pennsylvania. Little fruity. Staub is the man for bringing in so many off the hook beers little. Less drinkable as it sweet and a little heavy in mouthfeel. Spli between 3 friends.

Sep 21, 2009
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HalfFull from California

3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 ml. bottle into a large red wine glass. Shows a hazy brown in color with an inch of off white foam with good retention. A bit light on the nose initially, though served somewhat cold. Improves notable as the beer warms and opens up. Light fig/date and a bit of caramel in the background. Good dose of yeast notes with a hint of green apple.

Taste is slightly sweet and offers notes of dried fruit and yeast with a slight bitterness. Carbonation is a bit firm at first but settles down to offer a steady moderate carbonation that never goes flat. Somewhat light in body for the style but appropriate given the moderate ABV of the beer and allowing for a strong drinkability.

Overall a well constructed and somewhat delicate beer for the style.

Sep 20, 2009
Photo of koopa
koopa from New Jersey

3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle purchased 1 year ago from Buyrite Liquors in South Plainfield NJ. Allowed to age in a temperature controlled environment until today.

Appearance: Pours a lovely chestnut brown into a Chimay goblet with a 1 finger cappuccino crown that shows some retention and lacing.

Smell: Toasted malt, a hint of brown sugar, a soap quality, a mild hop note, and a slightly root beer like quality.

Taste: If you drink this cold it comes off as a really watered down and boring brown. When cold it gave me the impression that this one doesn't age well and if you still have it, it's probably past peak already. But as it warmed up I got more flavor out of it. Still not a fantastic brown by American standards, but a decent Belgian brown.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Slightly creamy due to the time allowed for the bottle conditioning to continue.

Drinkability: Simple flavors, not a heavy mouthfeel, and an abv below 7% so its pretty sessionable.

Aug 09, 2009
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Nickls from District of Columbia

3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured with a cap of slightly off-white, thick and dense looking head; murky darker brown color.

S - Red grapes; touch sour; some yeastiness

T - Much sweeter than suggested by the aroma; plums; a bit of candied sugar (not too much though);

M - Lighter to Medium body overall; vibrant and prickly carbonation; touch dry in the finish

D - Decent drinking here; nicely packaged and a good warming effect even though the abv is relatively low against others in the style

Overall, not the best I've ever had in the style, but a good drinking brew and nice flavors. Worth a look.

Jul 12, 2009
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MisterClean from California

3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From bottle barn in santa rosa.

A - Pours a rich caramel mahogany with a white 2-fingered head. Doesn't really dissipate and leaves nice lacing.

S - Caramel, light roast coffee, and brett.

T - Caramel, light roast coffee, hop bitterness, and a slightly bretty flavor.

M - Creamy, well-balanced, and very light.

D - Good, very easy to drink, but nothing special.

Jun 29, 2009
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CoolJosh from Pennsylvania

3.54/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up at Zenos per Dave's recommendation.

Very nice appearance, incredibly gorgeous creamy light brown head which pours 2.5 fingers high. The body is an incredibly hazy dark ruddy brown with red tones.

The smell is a little funky, and the only scents that really rise up are lemon, brett, and airy belgian yeast. While light and refreshing, I was hoping for more complexity.

Raisins and brown sugar are at the forefront. Very watery taste with some refreshing lemon accents. Not funky like an american wild ale by any means, more like a lemon tasting grand cru. Light cinnamon and coriander linger in the background. Very rugged texture, but it goes down fairly easy. It filled my sour fix.. for the night at least but it didn't quite live up to expectations.

Apr 21, 2009
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thirdeye11 from Texas

3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at the Arlington Bottle Shop. I see that it's retired, but I found it and there was more where that came from. I bought it because I'd never seen it before.

Presentation: Poured from 750ml bottle into my Duvel tulip.

A: Pours a huge 2 finger tan colored head that crowns the beer nicely. The beer is a pretty plain brown color, but the beer has nice lacing.

S: Smells of dried figs, but not a lot else. Not very complex, but enjoyable. There was another smell here too that I could not identify.

T: This beer doesn't remind me of any other Belgian Strong Dark that I can recall which is good and bad. Good because it's unique, but bad because it seems out of the style. It is refreshing though. The bottle recommends to never serve this beer cold, and I agree. Cold it is not very good and doesn't have a lot of flavor. It's actually not so enjoyable. As it warms I am enjoying some nice dark fruity flavors that aren't identifiable, but good nonetheless. There is a nice bitterness too which is definitely from hops, and this leaves a very good aftertaste. My only real complaint is a lack of complexity or depth in this one. Pretty straightforward.

M: St. Bernardus makes some of the best in this category and this beer is no exception. Creamy, well carbonated, and coats my mouth really nicely. Stays there too which is good because the beer tasted nice.

D: I'm not sure I would want more than the 1/2 a bomber I had last night. Shared the other half with zdk9 and we both enjoyed it as it warmed up.

I don't think I would buy this again only because there are so many other good Belgians out there which are superior in my mind, but I recommend anyone who likes Belgians and trying different beers that this one is very worthy. Cheers!

Apr 10, 2009
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jujubeast6000 from Texas

3.54/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 2/2/2007 (25.4oz bottle):

Pours a huge head, light brownish. Active & bubbly. Lasting head, good lacing. Brownish coppery color. Enticing. Sweet aroma, some kind of sweet fruit, ripe green grapes or something light, flowery...can't name it. Intriguing. Good Belgian taste. Flowery taste. Light tasting, refreshing. Not as complex, but tasty.

Feb 02, 2009
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AlphaFireX5 from Texas

4.36/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Poured from a 750mL bottle into a goblet glass. A healthy pop from the cork indicates that there has been no loss in carbonation. Been aged for some time now.

Appearance: Pours a deep golden hazy brown, with bubbles lining the entire bottom of the glass. A thick light tan head sits initially, but dissipates to a smaller, more manageable head leaving lots of sticky lacing. The bubbles continue to rise. This is a damn pretty beer. Tons of sticky lacing as the beer is drained from the glass.

Smell: Complex, with scents of caramel, bready malts, plenty of spices, and a lingering almost fruity sweetness.

Taste: Just like the smell, starts off with caramel and toasted malt flavors, with a touch of citrus twang in the middle, followed by a light, crisp finish, followed by a slightly bitter aftertaste. It's not hoppy bitter, but it isn't dark roasted malts bitter, but rather leaves you wanting another taste. Smooths as it warms, bringing about a better balance of all the flavors.

Mouthfeel: Oh the carbonation! The bubbles never stop, it's quite impressive. Mouthfeel is medium to medium-light, not overly heavy, not overly light. While it feels heavier than many Belgian brown ales, it is lighter than most of the Belgian strong ales I have tried as well.

Drinkability: Easily drinkable, even with the heavy carbonation. Finding yourself emptying a bottle before realizing it is not out of the question.

Notes: Unfortunately, this beer has been out of production for some time and is becoming increasingly difficult to find. I have two more bottles, the last in Austin as far as I know, which I am saving for enjoyment later.

Dec 29, 2008
Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature) from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 79 ratings