Nieuw Ligt Grand Cru Vintage 2003
Stadsbrouwerij De Hemel

Nieuw Ligt Grand Cru Vintage 2003Nieuw Ligt Grand Cru Vintage 2003
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Barleywine - English
4.25 | pDev: 8.94%
Stadsbrouwerij De Hemel
Retired (no longer brewed)
Nieuw Ligt Grand Cru Vintage 2003Nieuw Ligt Grand Cru Vintage 2003
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Reviews: 20 | Ratings: 21 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Jugs_McGhee
Jugs_McGhee from Louisiana

3.5/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes taken in Summer 2015.

12% ABV. Grand Cru 2003. 33cl bottle purchased at Pikkulintu for 10 euro and served at fridge temp into a whiskey taster. Has a red waxed top.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: None. No lacing.

BODY: Dark full translucent amber. No yeast or sediment is visible within. Has an impressively robust appearance for its 12 years of age. This could be either terrible or great...

AROMA: Sweet as hell. Fruity, with heavy sugars and malts. No toffee, no marshmallow, no barrel, no caramel, no English yeast character...just raw sweetness redolent of fruited aged wine. I find no cardboard or other off-notes (e.g. oxidation). Honey. Marmelade. Traces of peach and apricot.

Aromatic intensity is average.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Sticky and chewy, with marmelade-y/jammy fruit dominating over an amber malt backbone. Full-bodied and syrupy, with ample sweetness.

No yeast, alcohol, or off-flavours come through.

The ABV is shockingly well-disguised, and it drinks much younger than it is. Surprisingly balanced.

Wine-like vinous flavour mixes with faint red berry/currant to good effect. Sugarcane and rum notes are in there too. Nicely built, with a refined yet robust taste.

Carbonation is perfect. Its texture suits its taste, but there isn't an ideal harmony of the two.

Very likable approachable stuff which never betrays its age or ABV.

OVERALL: Shockingly drinkable for a 12 year old ale. It's opened up nicely, but still can't hold a candle to the best beers in the style. Worth its 10 euro pricetag going by Finnish standards, but it's far from world class. Still, there's something here for the discerning drinker, and I'm glad I tried it. Absolutely worth a go if you come across a well-kept bottle.

High B- (3.50) / WORTHY

AROMA: Sweet as hell.

Apr 30, 2017
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jgasparine from Maryland

4.26/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured into a wine glass with virtually no head, just an off-white collar atop a hazy copper colored body. Not surprising, given the age on this beer.

S- It took a little warming of this beer to help the nose blossom. Once it did, you got rich pale and candy malts, all kinds of fruity esters, leather, non-descript spices, and an overtone of madiera-like oxidation. The level of oxidation suggests that this beer is *just* past its peak, but still quite nice.

T- A perfect replicate of the nose. Showcases rich malt, esters, leather, subtle clove-like spiciness, and a pleasant madiera/sherry note from the oxidation. Finishes somewhat dry with a brief echo of madiera. The alcohol is EXCEPTIONALLY well-hidden here.

M- A medium body. Well-attenuated, but perhaps a little texture lended by spice particulate and/or yeast in suspension. The carbonation is faint, but definitely there.

D- Drinks very well. Particularly for the high ABV. This is a very rich beer, though, and its richness would prevent me from having more than one bottle in a sitting.

Apr 23, 2010
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koopa from New Jersey

3.62/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Boring flat iced tea with no head, lacing, or retention. Of course this is a 6 year old 12.00% abv brew so that is not uncommon.

Smell: Beautiful nose full of sweet sugar, ripe fruit (actually smells like Japanese Yuzu fruit to me!) raisin rum cake, and sweet malt. A touch of oxidation is noticable.

Taste: The hop bitterness and Yuzu like quality I found in the 2005 bottle this year is all but faded in this 2003 bottle. The same candied sugar / malt blast, and a medium finish exists though.

Mouthfeel: A bit thin.

Drinkability: Past peak IMHO (although this bottle didn't come from the most reputable source).

Nov 25, 2009
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geetlord from Florida

4.66/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer came in a beautiful brown bottle with a wax seal over the cap. It poured the color of a very dark apple cider with almost no head. The smell was of ripe apples and yeasts. The flavor was intense and complex. I found it tart, and spicy with bittersweet citrus flavors, apples, berries, fresh baked bread, chocolate, coffee, and a smooth coffee finish. This beer was very smooth and overall wonderfully tasty

Oct 06, 2007
Photo of jdhilt
jdhilt from New Hampshire

4.21/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Straight up pour leaves virtually no head and no lace. Murky amber color. Light-medium carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Raisin/fruity nose. Flavor is sweet raisin/alcohol, don't get the caramel other reviewers have found, alcohol finish is warming. 325 calories. Wicked expensive - $11.09 for a 330ml bottle from John's Market Tigard, Or.

Mar 25, 2007
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jjayjaye from New York

3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours slightly hazy with a suspension of particles from top to bottom; an orange amber color with little head.

Smells sweet and rich with dark fruit,Belgian yeast and abundantly alcoholic.

The mouth feel is medium heavy and your mouth is instantly immersed in the presence of liquor. That perception follows in the flavor as well; very much like having a mixed drink.

Quite a sipper. Every bit of the 12% is there. Peaking out from behind the liquor is a malty caramel flavor.

Mar 11, 2007
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barleywinebrewer from New Hampshire

4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Picked this up on a whim, couldn't resist the dipped in wax bottle and almost no english on the label. Pours a nice reddish orange with a light wispy head.
S- Rich malt, ripe fruit right and a nice undertone of spice.
T - Similar to the smell. Nice blend of sweet malts, toffee, light spices and a tasty belgian yeast character.
M - medium bodied, nice warming effect over the course of a glass
D - Oh yeah, this one's a tasty drinker. Savor after dinner and relax.

This is a classic case for me of buying one beer on a flyer and wishing I had bought more. Enjoy if you can find it.

Aug 22, 2006
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AlexJ from North Carolina

4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Slightly hazed bronze capped by a dollop of lasting beige froth with great staying power.

Aroma is massive and bold, huge malt and scorched brown sugar notes with a basket-full of over ripe fruit right behind it. There are delicate hints of spice and sweet and spicey yeast.

The flavor is just as huge, copiuous sweet malt notes, chewy caramel and scorched toffee are matched by intense strawberry jam, peach, berry, and tropical fruit notes. The yeast really reminds me of De Rocs or Binchoise with all it musty fruit intensity. A true belgian Barleywine!

Body is very big, chewy , and slick. carbonation is tight and gentle, with a very creamy, rich mouthfeel. Only a slight tingle of alcoholic heat makes this a sipper.

Jul 16, 2006
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Crosling from Colorado

4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003. Dark orange color. Unbelievably rich aroma, which opens up upon warming, and hints of various fruits (blackberries, raspberry, red fruit), port, scotch whiskey, strawberry jam, spicing and a bit of caramel. Beers that cost enormous amount of cash, like this one, make me want to take small, baby sips to savor and enjoy. But, when you take big gulps, giant mouth fulls of this beer, the rich caramel and toffee elements become much more profound. Orange peel and a variety of fruits come into place, and the overall depth and richness is just astounding. I was amazed by the minute amount of oxidation and the well hidden alcohol. I love great beers that come from special places.

Mar 24, 2006
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Sephiroth from Indiana

3.75/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this before I knew anything about beer, and I remember taking this straight out of the fridge. I know better this time. Pours a deep orange, with a decent head. Aroma is complex, coriander, anise, spruce.

Taste is also complex. Anise, coriander, spruce, and loads of booze. Same as it smells. As this warms I am noticeing a smoked peaty flavor. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy. Finish lasts a couple minutes. Drinkability is low, though this is a well made beer. I will cellar my other one for several more years.

Mar 14, 2006
Photo of UnionMade
UnionMade from New York

4.75/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I should say thanks to Jim for buying this bottle for me, uring the week when my wallet got stolen and I was without ID. He told me it was $1.99. Ha. I was a little suspicious with the presentation, fancy bottle, wax dipped cap and all, but you never know with imports. I owe you a few bucks, bro.

Pours a coppery orange brown. Very interesting color, a universe of floating yeast particles populate it's depths. Thin, large bubbled head. Great retention, actually sticking around for a while. Impossibly, the head actually laces some. Very impressive considering the alcohol.
Potent aroma packed full of higher alcohols. Big and hot. So much that a deep whiff makes your sinuses burn, nearly evoking a coughing fit. Massive fruity esters, big fusel alcohol with a paint thinner edge, and plasticine, clovey phenols. Ponderous caramel malt definitely has a big, muddled belgian feel. Golden apple, brown pear on the cusp of going south, golden raisin and apricot. Floral and perfumey. Spicy belgian yeast character. No discernable hop aroma. Perhaps a light floral touch buried within the fruitiness. Smells sweet and delicious. Amazingly complex, alcoholic peach juice.
An immediate burst of flavor envelops the tongue, fruitiness so potent that it hits you right away. Amazing, very distinct peach (maybe nectarine, whatever's sweeter) taste. Giant caramel toastiness, slathered with clover honey. A bouyant mouthfeel, the flavors moving along quicky with lively, wide-eyed bubbles. Admirably big bodied, although the carbonation levels make it more spry. Green raisin. Tons of flowery brightness dominates the flavor. Sweet citrus, maybe tangerine. Powerful phenols and spiciness in the finish, peppery, very clovey and quite complex. Some odd earthiness, maybe it's a touch of leather? The spiciness and a hint of green apple sourness balances out the languid sweetness masterfully, thoug a sugary, candy quality prevails. A pretty convincing peach schnapps aftertaste. Noticable alcohol throughout. Really a blast of higher alcohols all the way through. Definitely some major heat in the throat, nearly liquor like, warming all the way down in my stomach. Sweet, really hot, but quite delicious. Decadent. A real pleasure to drink.

If this is already a couple years old, it can easily go another five years, maybe ten, before showing any signs of slowing down. It tastes like it was brewed six months ago. There's a lot going on in this brew, you'd be hard pressed to find something more complex. I could easily drink another and relish it just as much, although the 12% would certainly lay me out. Too bad this is so expensive. I'd love to age a bottle and see what happens. Well worth the $10 price tag.

I'm actually surprised there's so little buzz about this brew. I'd put it in the top 100, easy.

Dec 07, 2005
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ppoitras from Massachusetts

4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle purchased as a single somewhere in NoVA, either WF/Vienna, WF/Annadale, Norm's, or Rick's. Cap dipped in red wax, and not much info in English on the bottle or the very colorful hangtag. Hopefully the beer will speak for itself.

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed 1/4" uneven beige head over the cloudy reddish copper brew. Head is quite short-lived, down to a film with some big bubbles here and there, with sparse, small-bubbled lacing. Aroma is sweet malts and light spicing, with evidence of alcohol. Taste is strong spicing up front, coupled with citrus-tinged malt sweetness, and a warming alcohol close. Mouthfeel is quite nice for the style, not harsh like some can be, and drinkability follows the same road, although I think this comes in a small bottle for a reason. Very nice brew for a "what is this, let's give it a try" pick off the shelf.

Nov 28, 2005
Photo of hero27
hero27 from Minnesota

4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle. 12% abv. Red wax molded over the neck of the bottle.
$9.99 at John's Grocery in Iowa City, Iowa.

Pieces of yeast hang suspended in the crimson/orange brew. Fizzy head which doesn't last long. Definitely more fruity than I peel, lemon, spices, and anything-but-modest alcohol. Spices are done in just the right proportion to compliment the fruits.
Exceptionally soft mouthfeel.

Since the name and graphic are silk-screened on the front of the bottle, I found it a bit odd that there was a plain white label on the back. After closer examination, I peeled off the label to find dutch silk-screened writing underneath...

Dutch translation.. "Heavy beer 12% Alc., brewed long to ripen. Full, dark, and aromatic. Also delightful as an aperitif. Can be kept until 2008, on its high point. Store in a cool & dark place, and it will last till in the aeon." Ok, that's a pretty rough translation, but you get the point.

A very unique Grand Cru..probably not worth the high price tag, but nice to try a rare brew such as this.

Nov 13, 2005
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goodbyeohio from Oregon

4.39/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

nice bottle.. stubby with a red wax top. pries loose easily and pours a murky peachy brownish.. high alcohol means low carbonation.. usually.. and the age factors in too. some bubbles, more of a wispy ring that leaves some tiny citcles of lace on the glass.

aroma is big fruity belgian.. some banana, some orange, and a bevy of dark, overripe fruit sweetness. malty with ester-laden wafts of alcohol. glorious in its fruitcakey sweetness.

flavor starts off with the acidity and big sweetness of fresh-squeezed orange juice. candi sugar is the next thing i notice, rounding out the belgian (dutch) experience. generous hop additions that seem to have survived some time in the cellar.. prominent in the finish. slight spiciness adds good balance to this brew. warming increases the spice threefold.. nutmeg and white pepper take center stage. stomach warming and a big smile for the finish.

is it supposed to be impressive that the netherlands made something so belgian? i think so. insanely drinkable for 12%, a sipper and full of flavor. not harsh at all.. aged perfectly and a good amount for personal consumption. a bit pricey at $11 for this little bottle, but a good indulgence for a one-off experience. if i had to compare it to something else, i'd say it reminds me alot of unibroue edition 2004 with more depth and flavor. definitely recommended.

Oct 17, 2005
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thesilverhand from Canada (BC)

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

Thanks to Robbeer for making the trek to Japan, and to Naerhu for sharing!

Poured a beatiful bright red coppery gold, with just a fringe of off-white foam ringing my glass.

The aroma is gorgeous! This is where this beer truly shines. Sweet brown sugar and candied fruits - I thought of cherries and apricot - are met head-on by the alcohol. The result is a rich, warm, somewhat medicinal elixir that was just wonderful to inhale.

After being thoroughly seduced by the aroma, I expected more from the taste. Don't get me wrong - it's very nice. It just didn't quite live up to the advance billing. Quite sweet - honey, brown sugar - but the sweetness is cut through by strong boozy alcohol. The end result is a great sipper, with plenty of heat all the way down.

Surprisingly smooth, with just enough carbonation. It ends up feeling lighter than expected. Very nice. Try this! I'll be looking to have it again.

Jul 22, 2005
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paterlodie from Belgium

4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Beautifull bronze beercolor, cristal clear. Litle head, cause of low carbonisation. Nose is unbelievablely fresh for its age. Giving you the sweetest coctail of hops(!?), malts( with lots of munich), spices( gagel,paradijszaad,koreader and anis as I guess) altogether peppery. Woww this is great, and it gets even better with the first sip. Sweet fresh malty, orange fruity, strong alcoholic, honeylike sweetness and a good bitterness in the end. Woww again, this low carbonisation is just right to make mouthfeel extra thick and oily; hell yes gonna buy more of these! Cheers Herm, great adchiement!

Jul 20, 2005
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Naerhu from Japan

4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - No head on this amber red/orange beauty.
S - Huge cinamon and brown suar, medicine alcohol.
T - Elegant barley wine like maltiness, sugar and spice.
M - Smooth, syrupy but balanced by alcohol and acidity.
D - The taste was kind of a let down compared to the beautifully fragrant aroma. This is a marevelous beer.

Thanks to Robbeer for bringing this all the way to Japan

Jul 20, 2005
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Rastacouere from Canada (QC)

3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy orange, no apparent carbonation, no head. Strong liquorous aroma, very perfumey, very alcoholic, even more so than a 12% bill would let you believe. Dry biscuity and woody flavours, peachy and sweet. It was interesting to have that in the same tasting than Buh prestige, it doesnÂ’t have the refinement, but I could trace a few parallels. Medium bodied, ripe fruits feel, low to moderate carbonation surprises when taking the first sip. Plenty of dry yeast flavour, but the abundant fruitiness heads in another direction and detracs a bit from the cohesion. Strong alcohol is a constants, mellow meaty, earthy undertones and soft balancing hops bring the scale back in its favour in the end, because this is one aggressive and uneasy beer. Challenging and to be shared.

Apr 21, 2005
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cokes from Wisconsin

4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Muddy tangerine with a modest off-white lace.
When we speak of perfume, let us speak of this. Bursting with honeyed orange rinds soaked in rosewater, smeared with apricot jam, sprinkled with caramelized ginger and cedar chips, and, finally, spiked with dark spiced rum. Haunting.
Begins with a sedate fuzziness, which mimics the resulting condition of the drinker. Waltzing fruit notions laid upon a bed of toffee, gingerbread, anise, and powdered sugar. Bittersweet curacao is the most readily identified, and I'd wager that it is actually used. From there on out, it's all shape-shifting, illusory, hallucinogenic fruit punch. Baked apples and brown sugared pears, apricots, tangelos, minced sweet cherries, plums, and green raisins, blueberries, and furry peaches, and star fruit, and plaintains. It gradually dries as it gains cedar and maple wood nuances. Lightning bolts of white rum dot the close, as it finishes with the breezy bitterness of a garden full of lilacs and pastel roses.
It resides at the juncture of fizzy syrup, thus the mouthfeel appears a bit confused, or at least contradictory. But even, so it still conjures euphamisms of texture. Everything else, however is completely coherent and divine. At $10 for a 33cL bottle it's the priciest beer whim I've even had, having never hearing a whisper about it beforehand. Any dread notions of money wasted are vanquished, as this is akin to winning the lottery....except that I'm left lugging the painful lament that I have not secured several more.
Like a witbier painted on a tripel, and hung on a quadrupal frame in a gallery of barleywines. This makes many a Trappist brew seem Godless as it moves very close to the top of my list.

Feb 22, 2005
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Ego from New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

$10.99 for a pint sized bottle @ Oak Tree Buy Rite, N. Plainfield, NJ

the bottle has a wax sealed top like maker's mark whiskey. This brew was smuggled into the US as there is no importer listed nor is there a surgeon general's warning. The bottle (in dutch) says that this one is good enough to age until 2008.
what about the beer? ok... amber to golden brown but easy enough to see through, no real head to speak of, nice and clean looking, no haze whatsoever, looked alot like the dogfishead 120 min IPA except a hair darker.

slight yeast, honey and bread (and some syrup notes), a whiff of hop florals

in the mouth:
the alcohol is apparent and strong, this is more like sipping brandy (thankfully I was splitting this amongst 2 other friends!). it is syrupy and moderately thick, very low carbonation. you get the yeast and honey flavors more in the aftertaste. It isnt overly sweet but the syrupy sweetness lends itself to a sipping session. later on down the brew some citrus notes play in the mix to a small extent

damn pricey for something that didn't completely knock my sox off. this is very strong tasting alcohol wise so if you need something after a meal in the colder months this might be a something to try as the ABV says "I'm rick james bitch!". The flavor is strong enough to pair with really sharp blue cheeses and the like. This would be interesting to cellar to see if it would mellow out a bit.

Dec 29, 2004
Nieuw Ligt Grand Cru Vintage 2003 from Stadsbrouwerij De Hemel
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 21 ratings