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

very good
79 Ratings
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Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature)Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature)

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.70%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerBeing on 12-30-2006

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 79 |  Reviews: 70
Photo of BevMoAndrew
4.67/5  rDev +22.9%
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!

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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.58/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark amber brown with an ample head that quickly dissipates, leaving a very fine layer of foam and lacing on the glass. Smells inviting, with sweet, tropical fruit tones. Tastes a bit of sour fruit at first, but then raisins, cloves, cinnamon, brown sugar, and coffee. Highly spiced, must be the Pierre Celis influence. A lingering metalic sensation follows (sort of that coca-cola taste). Moutfeel is like a blond ale, lacking the usual body of a brown or Trappist ale. Light in body with fine carbonation, it drinks very smooth. At 6.7% ABV, this is outstanding as a summer session beer with a Belgian brown ale panache.

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Photo of elricorico
4.42/5  rDev +16.3%
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.

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Photo of jwc215
4.42/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a glass chalice.

Pours ruby brown with a thin white head that eventually becomes a lasting swirling patch that nearly covers the top. Some dots of lacing remain on glass.

The smell is of bubblegum with hints of spicy clove and coriander. Some banana. Very aromatic.

The taste is of spiced dough upfront. Sweet caramelish/sugar-candy maltiness soon takes over. Tropical fruitiness - banana, orange and lemon - lie supportively in the background. Finishes with a balanced caramel sweetness.

At first, it almost thins too much, but it holds together in a light body. As it warms to room temperature, the body thickens a bit more. It is very smooth - alcohol almost completely unnoticeable. It is coating.

A very enjoyable Belgian treat. I would like to buy another to cellar - according to the label it is even more complex with aging. Smooth and very easy to drink.

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Photo of AlphaFireX5
4.36/5  rDev +14.7%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Geez, what a fantastic beer--the brewery simply can do no wrong. The beer decants with a delicate amber / brown color with a rocky head formation that released a lot of sweet-tartness, cotton candy, and ripe fruits. The taste is even better--a hearty, juicy flavor of sweet malted candy, cookie dough, peaches, pears, apricots, plumbs, dates, berries, and just vineous enough to balance out the richness and add character to the taste. The body is a bit heavy despite the high carbonation and alcohol thinning. A mild hop bittering intensifies in the finish, but remains firm, spicy, and sweet throughout. Not as dark or deeply flavored as most Belgian Darks, but certainly no lack of character or quality. Simply a supurb beer! Thanks bmock.

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Photo of Brianmerrilyn
4.32/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured the largest head I've ever seen, with slow angled careful care. Remains entire quafing providing additional aromoma. Crimson or burgany red, which ever adjective you prefer. Interestingly continued bubbles even with dark hue.

S: Dates and plum smell immediately.

T: Rich texture,

M: Smooth and slicker in aftertaste

D: Easy if you like heavy earthy beers.

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Photo of Raymond69
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown , rich head , some lacing.

Yeasty , sharp brett nose.

Barnyard tang , some residual malt sweetness. Not detecting any hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium , good carbonation.

Easy drinking with the low ABV, I may need to pick up a few more of these.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.28/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a medium brown color, with a very large off-white head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of a lot spices along with caramelized malts, Belgian yeast and a decent amount of hops.

T: The taste is complex and very well-balanced with flavors of caramel and spices up front. There's a hearty malt character that establishes good substance. The hops presence is pretty decent for the style. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, this is an excellent session beer if you want something in the Belgian style that is just a little bit stronger than most typical session beers. The complexity just adds to the intrigue and makes it that much better.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

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Photo of BlindPig
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Thick tan head on a cloudy amber brown body.
S- Light citrus European hops, light nut, some yeast, sweeter malts, and some spices.
T- Some hops make their way through. A light citrus, and spice. Some nut malt in back ground along with light pepper, hint of yeast, medium malt character, and some other stuff I can't pin point.
M- Thin to medium body with some higher carbonation.
D- I really like this. A little to thin and high carbonation but other than that it is really nice.

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Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of kegger22
4.23/5  rDev +11.3%
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.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
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.

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Photo of watchnerd
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Carbonated like pop rocks, fizzing and crackling if I inhale through an open mouth with a quaff still on my tongue. Didn’t taste really any sourness at all, the taste being dominated by caramel and yeast. Despite that, it doesn’t feel heavy in the mouth and the xXxtreme carbonation makes me want to chug it like root beer. Head was good, lace florid and better than average, but who cares about such slow sipping pleasures when you’re drinking the ale version of soda pop or sparkling cider? Must buy more.

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Photo of Derek
4.19/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've cellared this one for almost 2 years.

It's really more of a Belgian Dark (at 6.7% it isn't really strong).

A: Reddish-brown with an off-white head; not much retention or lacing (could be the age).

S: Earthy-yeastie aroma with bready malts, dark fruits & a hint of banana & spice. Great aroma.

T: Tropical fruit (banana & mango), caramel, some dark fruitiness, bready, balanced bitterness, modest alcohol.

M: Moderate body is well-attenuated; carbonation is a little low for a Belgian (though it's corked & has been cellared).

D: Quite drinkable.

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Photo of cabsandking
4.18/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear dark amber with a solid 4 fingers of off-white head. Big zesty fruit aromas, some tropicals, florals, a bit of prune, and a nice belgian yeast character. A sharp contrast between aroma and flavor is noticed first with minty, and piney hop character but then jumps quickly to a dry, yeasty funk and dark, tart fruits. Citrus lime, plums, raisons, berries, tart fruits that avoid being overly sweet and toasted grains. The yeast character isn't as strong it could be but does nice job holding the other flavors together. Mouthfeel is superb with lots of carbonation and an underlying silkiness. A nice complex belgian again from St. B.

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Photo of dnichols
4.18/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I poured a 750 ml capped and corked bottle into a chilled chalice.

A: It poured a cloudy amber body with a thick sticky tan head consisting of large dense bubbles. The head lingered long into the drink and supported a dense even lacing.

S-: It was yeasty and rich in sweet roasted malts that gave off a thin chocolate and spicy citrusy aromas.

T: It began with sweet nutty roasted malts accented by dark spices (black pepper) and hints of thin citrus flavors.

M- Medium body with moderate carbonation and a clean finish.

D: It was a joy to drink. Even balanced flavors with a medium body and moderate carbonation. It could have used a bit higher ABV but otherwise it was a joy that I intent to repeat.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
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!

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Photo of Floydster
4.07/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

8 ounce glass at Naja's Place for $7.50, consumed 8/20/08, reviewed from notes, surprised to see this one on draft

A-Medium brown with a lot of red in it, 3/4 inch creamy and bubbly off white head, stuck around for about five minutes, decent retention, not much lacing
S-Bready malt aromas, caramel brown sugar, various dark fruits, mangos, bananas, a bit of funk, some spices, and sweetness
T-Taste started off with lots of caramel, citrusy fruits in the middle, some dark fruits in the finish with some dryness coming from somewhere, gets a little hotter as it warms, gets less chewy as time goes by too, nicely balanced, slightly funky at times which made things more interesting
M-Medium bodied, needs much more carbonation and that was probably the biggest flaw of the beer, sweet, sugary, and chewy mouthfeel, taste lingers moderately
D-Could drink a couple glasses of this stuff, ABV is not high right below seven percent, smooth and inviting, not heavy on the stomach

Never bought a bottle of this because it was pretty expensive, wish I would have now, this seemed to popular at the bar the other night too, probably will have some one when I go back later in the week, recommended

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Photo of oelergud
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Corked and caged 1pt 9.4oz bottle.
Beautiful dark mahogany clear body with light carbonation. Huge light tan, creamy head with large bubbles here and there. Good rentention and lace.
Fresh scent of slightly sour fruit, apricot, brown sugar and dark roasted malts.
Malty and spiced flavor still with a touch of fruit. Prune and abit of pear and cherries. Aftertaste of spiced malts with some mildly pine-like hops.
Medium to full body, some good coating and a slight dry finish.
Good drinkability. Nice to have a big bottle without the monster abv being involved. Though not quite worth the 10 bucks.


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4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of imperialking
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of bluejacket74
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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

A 750 ml bottle with a full description of the ale, how to drink it, and what to expect from aging it.

A soapy one and a half finger head that slowly thins to a wispy covering of my Chimay Chalice. Some spotty lacing. Quite a bit of carbonation is evident. I initially had the bottle too cold and as the chemists among us will note this affects the amount of gas in solution. This beer as it states on the label is temperature sensitive. A pretty enough orangey brown. My first pour was gentle, keeping out the yeast. Subsequent ones I swirled the bottle, greatly improving the beer as the yeast is a necessary component to this brew.

Dark fruit like figs and raisins. Sweet malt and a mild hoppy astringency. As it warms mild banana esters and alcohol along with dainty spice notes. Adding the yeast increases the complexity of the nose

This beer comes with instructions for a reason. It really comes into its own at true cellar temperature. Matter of fact IMO it is a waste to drink it below 50 degrees and 53 is the beginning of the sweet spot. It also needs the yeast to to be complete for me. That was not on the bottle. It's clumpy and lumpy and not much to look at but it does beautiful things to this ale. When too cold the balance is off and it is just an average Belgian brown. With the yeast and at the proper temp you get a malty front accompanied by banana and tart pear. A nuttiness rounds out the profile. Cleansing hop bitterness that is too present without the yeast is just right and kicks off the long dry finish. The astringency in the nose shows up here and I can see age really smoothing out the final note of this beer

Mouthfeel is too light and somewhat overly carbonated without the yeast and too cold. Once yeasted and cellar temp it is not perfect but certainly a good and pleasing experience.

Certainly drinkable but this beer is better suited for great food and well planned meals. It went well with Asian ginger shrimp and noodles, Kielbasa, even peanut butter pretzels.

I am cellaring several bottles as I believe this has the potential to become something special. Either way, fresh or cellared worth the effort to try this one

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Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature) from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
3.8 out of 5 based on 79 ratings.
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