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

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Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature)Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature)
Very Good
79 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 79 |  Reviews: 70
Photo of slvrmon82
3.8/5  rDev 0%
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.

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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 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 Nickls
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

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Photo of MisterClean
3.86/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of CoolJosh
3.54/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of thirdeye11
3.63/5  rDev -4.5%
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!

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Photo of jujubeast6000
3.54/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Lexluthor33
3.61/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours amber brown with red tints and has a nice sized head that settles to a nice foamy lace. The aroma is of fruits,raisins and yeast. the taste is of raisins,grapes and malts with sweetness and some alcohol. There are some caramel tones. The feel is light bitterness and a well balanced,well carbonated yet smooth finish.

notes: I tried this because I wanted to try something that was retired and I found it available. I felt it was a good brew and I appreciated the good balance, but it was just a good brew. Not the best for the style,just good and worth my money. I did feel it was better as it warmed and cold it was not as good. Try it if you can find it.

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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 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 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 Tawnos
3.35/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy reddish brown, two fingers of head, pillow-foam that leaves sugar lacing on the glass.

Smell is subdued, dry, roasted sugar and caramel.

Taste is decent, nothing spectacular, but a very clean mix of flavors. Probably will get a bit more flavorful as this one warms.

Mouthfeel is a bit crisp, high fizz that dries out the palate. Not as thick as I'd expect from the pour.

Overall, an average beer. I remember trying it before and thinking it was better.

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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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Photo of blakesell
3.66/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle aged about a year (early 2007), poured from the 750ml caged and corked bottle into a Belgian pint glass.

Appearance- Beer pours overly carbonated into the glass. Less than half the beer is able to make it in the glass due to the head rising. Head is persistent and takes quite a while for it to die down into its sponge cake/iceberg pillow head it had going on. Lacing clings to the sides to the glass. Beer itself is a cloudy brown with lots of little yeasties sinking to the bottom of the glass.

Smell- Not a lot going on in the smell when rating it as a Belgian strong dark. A bit of raisin, and fig. Malty but even the smell comes up a bit short as if there wasn't near as much malt as would be expected. A hint of a rose floral thing going on.

Taste- Grapes, raisins (I guess that could go in with the grapes), spices, dates, and figs. Once again the malts expected in the mouth are a bit thin. Soft water on the tongue. I wouldn't particularly call this beer complex. The thin mouthfeel really takes away from the beer.

Mouthfeel- Highly carbonated and as I said before, very thin on the mouthfeel. Smooth, and medium light bodied. A little creamy, maybe even some lactose would benefit this beer a bit.

Drinkability- Smooth and easy to drink, I may even come back to it one day, but I'm in no hurry with the way Belgians are making more and more beers for me to try by the week. I would rather have a Trappist ale any day.

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Photo of Big78CJ
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought this beer from Brawley's in Charlotte, NC a few months back. It has been resting peacefully in my cellar until now (I published my MS thesis today). The review...

A: Medium brown body with a bit of reddish orange highlights. A thin head sits on top but shows little signs of receding.

S: Nice ale yeast signature with a definite sweet fruit aroma, characteristic of a abbey brune. A bit of raisins and candied granny smith apples round out the nose.

T: Somewhat highly carbonated at first with a slight yeasty flavor cruising on top of subtle sweet fruits. It is too cold right now.

After allowing the beer to warm some...

T2: The flavor is similar to the way it was before it warmed some. I do notice that the carbonation has dropped down to a reasonable level, which is allowing the sweet ale flavor to emerge and unfortunately the yeast too. The sweetness is very good but the bitterness is somewhat too much, taking away somewhat from the overall flavor. According to the back, Pierre Celis recommends aging the beer longer than I ended up aging it. Perhaps that is why the yeast flavor is a bit strong.

M: Much better now that it has warmed but the bitter flavor (not like any skunking or oxidation I have ever tasted) was still a bit drying on the mouth. In that sense, you needed more to wet your whistle.

D: I enjoyed this beer at a basic level but I would like to get another and put it away for a couple of years and see what happens.

Serving Type: 750ml in Achel chalice.

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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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Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature) from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Beer rating: 3.8 out of 5 with 79 ratings
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