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

very good
70 Reviews
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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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Reviews: 70 | Ratings: 79
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 Phyl21ca
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | 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 zeff80
3.92/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a copper color with flecks of ruby. It had a foamy, tan, one-finger head that left faint trails of lace.

S - It smelled fruits (cherry mostly) and caramel maltiness. A slight floral aroma.

T - It tasted nutty and of sour cherry flavors. It had nice caramel malt and Belgian yeast.

M - It was soft, smooth and creamy. A medium to full bodied beer.

D - This is a very tasty Belgian brown. It's too bad that this is retired, I'd like to try more.

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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 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 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 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 Gueuzedude
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap at the First Annual Stone Sour Fest, July 2007
This is topped by a creamy, persistent, though small, light colored head that sits on top of a hazy, gold colored beer. This beer has a very grainy aroma to it; this is made up of notes of fresh crushed grain and a sort of malt room aromatic quality. This has a very subtle sour character to it; it is almost note even there. Hints of orange zest are also noticeable in the aroma.

The taste has notes of lemon zest and a very subtle sourness. The malt is still pronounced, even in the flavor, though it is not quite as much as it is in the aroma. Notes of toasty grain, a distinct biscuit-like note, touches of soda crackers and a light, sweet, maltiness. The beer has a nice, light, creamy mouthfeel to it. The clean malt character is quite interesting (especially in this flight of sour beers), but this only has a hint of funkiness a perhaps a drop of acidity. I'll definitely have to try this again, as it almost seemed out of place at a sour beer festival.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle, original review 11/28/08,

A: Pours brown with a light off-white head, good retention and lacing.

S: Caramel, maple syrup, light but some nice scents here.

T: Caramel and brown malt, almost an English taste, but then the Belgian yeast hits and you no where it is from. One of the maltiest Belgians out there, nice mix of dark fruit and brown sugar.

M: Medium-bodied, yeasty, smooth and relaxing, good for a Belgian dark.

D: A nice beer to go with Thanksgiving dinner, I really liked this one and would buy again. Recommended.

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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 beerthulhu
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a dark, near opaque ruby red with a 2 finger, soft creamy light tan head that retained nicely.

S: On the nose was a light soft caramel nuttiness and bread. There was some spiciness and fruitiness (cherries) and raisins.

T: The initial flavor yielded a light smoky caramel nuttiness with a light earthy bitterness. There was some light dried fruit (cherries, raisins) as well. A musky yeastiness is detected but the sweet caramel finish covers this up nicely.

M: silky smooth, lightly carbonated and very light on the tongue.

D: A very drinkable Belgian brown, simple, yet solid all around.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
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 "épices"). 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.

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Photo of corby112
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

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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 jera1350
3.8/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of Bierman9
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16NOV03 - This is a new offering I found today at The Wine Society in Tyngsboro MA. Label says "Pierre Celis Signature Selection" as well as "Michael Jackson's Beer of the Year" (which year?).

It poured into my goblet a nice chestnut color, with tinges of ruby to boot! The head was beige and frothy, lasting at about 1/2" for quite some time. It also had really good sticking power on the insides of the glass. The nose is a bit sweet and malty, with candi-sugar and fruit attributes being on display prominently. Body was reaching for the medium range. As far as feel on the tongue, a more than ample amount of carbonation gives this Bier a very bubbly, airy sensation in the mouth (perhaps a bit too much). The lead-off flavor is a combo of lightly sweet malt and a touch of tropical fruit. Soon thereafter arrives a dry, bitterness which tends to take over and detract somewhat from the initial, pleasurable flavors. As the Bier warms the fruitiness actually tries to re-assert itself, but only partially succeeds. I seem to detect a smidge of both cinnamon and pepperiness, too. This isn't too bad a Bier, yet it lacks the depth and complexity that the label suggests. Prosit!!

overall: 3.8
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | mouthfeel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5


beer review id: 104954 / 11-16-2003 01:02:39

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Photo of dsa7783
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ML bottle copped for $7.99 from Wine and Beverage Depot in Totowa...
Pours a mahogany brown, dark, ruby-red colored appearance with an initial huge frothy head that soon receded leaving a copious amount of lacing...
Outstanding smell bursting with caramel, toffee, and roasted malts...
Taste strongly mirrored the aroma, with a noticeable licorice aroma replete with caramel, Belgian candied sugars, vanilla, honey, and esters...
A good, sweet, filling mouthfeel...
Pretty easily drinkable due to the not-over-the-top ABV of 6.7% and the clean, crisp, clear, smooth and tasty flavor...
Not the best depiction of the style, but still a solid representation nonetheless... I liked this one... Recommended...

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Photo of koopa
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

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Photo of GbVDave
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a St. Bernardus chalice at Map Room 11/27/07. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist. Listed on their beer menu and website as being the version rated at 6.7% abv...

A: Served a dark, plummy brown with a nice creamy, pillowy head.

S: Aromas of sweet malt, candi sugar, grapes, and sweet dark fruit.

T: See above. Interesting hint of grape.

M: Quite smooth with a tangy fruity finish.

D: Good. This one is interesting enough to bear further examination...

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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 Overlord
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark reddish brown. Gigantic foamy white pillar. Lots of lacing on the glass.

Not much of an aroma, really. Some raisiny/dark fruit aromas, but no real malt, hops, etc.

Taste is much more robust, with a raisin/fig background, candi and malt, and a nice rich "sweetness" about it. I keep coming back to how sweet this beer is. It really doesn't seem like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale ... I'm not sure what category to put it in, but that's not it.

A good beer. Very drinkable.

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Photo of BretSikkink
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Deep copper-brown, caramel like soda, off-white head. The head gives off a slightly spicy, cinnamon-like aroma. Subdued nose - not unpleasant, just not assertive.

After the first goblet-full, I had nothing good to say. The bottle had not been refridgerated, but it's winter here in Iowa, so "room temperature" was fairly chilly. There was almost no flavor whatsoever. Extremely dry, it was like the aging had taken all the roasted characteristics out of the malt while the yeast had given up; hops are minimal anyways. The only taste of any kind was spicing.

The other glass was excellent. Without hyperbole, it was reminiscent of St. Bernardus' Prior 8 (I did not realize it was made at the Brouwerij) - the warming phenols and caramely, full flavors. I think this beer needs to sit out and warm up for a while, as cooler temperatures just kill the flavor. Still dry, the beer is much more balanced as you can taste alcohol and malt in addition to the spicing. The suggested serving temperature should be followed only for those who don't like tasting their beer - let it warm, and don't be afraid to wet your whistle with a glass of water if the oxidized alcohol aftertaste gets annoying.

Note: I had posted this under the other Grotten brown originally. Reposted for the proper beer. Whoops.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

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

This beer was a nice, clear amber brew with a four finger head in my pint glass. The head was composed of large bubbles... one, by the side of the glass, grew to a half inch in diameter before it burst. It was quite rocky. WHen I poured out the rest of the bottle, however, it was hazy.

Aroma was hoppy, with medium-bodied malts underneath. It was quite crisp. There was almost a hint of red wine.

The taste was nutty, yeasty, and bready, with a bit of hoppiness overlaying the whole experience. A little bit of earthiness. Pretty good, and much lighter than a usual strong dark ale.

Mouthfeel was all right, not too chewy, not too watery.

This is an easy drinking beer, even with the higher ABV. It went down really nicely.

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Photo of brdc
3.41/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i think this one has not "matured" yet.
It is a beautiful reddish-brown, with a plentiful whitish head, but has little aroma, with some hoppiness, bread and malts.
Medium to full body, its taste is a little bit too bitter and hoppy for the style, with a somewhat subdued malt that, if you believe the text on the bottle, is not fully developed yet.
Somewhat disappointing as it is, I will still try to find another bottle and lay it down for two years.

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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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