Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special Brown
Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs s.a.

Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special BrownAbbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special Brown
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Style:
Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Ranked #8
ABV:
9%
Score:
93
Ranked #1,532
Avg:
4.22 | pDev: 10.43%
Reviews:
526
Ratings:
771
From:
Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs s.a.
 
Belgium
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  68
Gots
  50
SCORE
93
Outstanding
Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special BrownAbbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special Brown
Notes:
Reviews: 526 | Ratings: 771 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of JonnoWillsteed
JonnoWillsteed from England

4.12/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Lable has changed, it's now more text + subtle pared back indigo blue graphics on white than that pictured in the headers. ABV is marked as 9.5% instead of the 9.0% in the headers.
Front lable reads: 'Brasserie Des Rocs, Grand Cru, Belgian Special Brown Ale'.
L- Pours very rich intense chestnut brown, clear, though I see now some minor sediment was left in the bottle. 3mm pale tan head.
S- Pungent deep roasted fruits. Reminds me of British Xmas pudding. This is a good sign IME touch wood.
T- The Smell follows into the Taste, plus a little more somewhat dry and toasty edge on top. Perhaps that's what differentiates this from a Belgian tripel, which at this ABV% I'd expect to be much richer.
F- Pungent, quite a hefty feel. Somewhat dry for a 9.5% though, I notice in the subtle little lick of hoppy zing I get on my tongue/palate as I swallow. I think it's cleverly balanced.
O- Nice. It has a power and one that is quite reined in for 9.5% Nothing leaps out and beats you over the head. Nothing at all strikes me as at all out of balance. Very drinkable and I'd happily drink it again. This style would work best for me in colder months.... visions of kicking back and slow-sipping a couple of these in front of a log fire that maybe one day I'll own :)
Bought from BelgianInABox (Antwerp/BE) for delivery to me in London/UK.
330ml bottle: BB: 25/02/2022,

Apr 23, 2020
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aleigator from Germany

3.56/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazelnut brown color with a huge, stable eggshell colored head.

Smells of milk chocolate, green peppers, allspice and anise. Quite forward on the spices, this manages to establish a balancing herbal hop presence on the nose, providing an intriguing depth.

Has a soft, medium bodied mouthfeel with a fitting, lighter effervescence during its finish.

Has a soft, almost aqueous beginning, followed up by bakers chocolate, cardamom and glazed toffee, together with a light note of dried leaves. Those produce a pleasant dryness, feathering the overall malt sweetness in this a bit, allowing for spicy licorice and a whiff of milk chocolate to cut through. Finishes with even more spicy, chewy licorice and sweeter turning chocolate among rock sugar and very light noble hops.

Quite pleasant with a great mouthfeel to it, this provides a classic belgian sweetness with a satisfying depth to it.

Dec 15, 2019
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stevoj from Idaho

3.54/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Listed as 9.5% on label, and as Brasserie des Rocs. Normal quad dried fruit aromas and flavors, abrupt finish, cloying sweetness. I had hoped for better based on the overall score.

Nov 05, 2019
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TooManyGlasses from Canada

4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Best before Feb 18, 2020 - this version is 9.5% ABV - enjoyed (Canadian) Thanksgiving 2019.
Pours a coppery deep caramel brown with abundant cream coloured head with orangey highlights - clear but significant debris from a ? poorly poured bottle.
Sweet caramel, toffee, yeasty Belgian spices, raisin, brown sugar, and a bit of booziness on the nose.
Taste follows - delicious caramel, Belgian spice, toffee, dark fruits, a touch of booze on a backbone of malty sweetness.
Medium bodied but briskly carbonated leading to a creamy deliciously sweet finish,
The floating debris was a bit unnerving but else this was fantastic.

Oct 14, 2019
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OlaB from Norway

4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a murky brown color with a medium top off beige head that dissolves quickly.
Aroma is of caramel, toffee,cocoa, bread, dark and dried fruits, anis, vanilla and spices. Getting a christmas cake feel off the aroma.
The flavour follows the nose. Sweet with dark and dried fruit notes and strong malt notes innen the back with nice notes off caramel, dark bread and cocoa . It then gets more hints off spices in the flavour before finishing with some slight bitter notes balanced nicely with the malt background. Nice strenght and lenght in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth with a full body and a soft carbonation.
With two words: really delicious.

May 31, 2019
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taxandbeerguy from Canada

4.17/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle served fairly cold into a chalice. LCBO purchase for only $6.45 CDN. Best before October 8, 2020. Listed at 10% ABV. Review from notes.

Appearance - Dark red, minimal haze and two big fingers of off white head that sits on top and fizzles out pretty quick.

Smell - Intense brown sugar and caramel blend with marshmallow, hints of dark fruit and some spices. Plums and figs show up here too. Wonderfully aromatic and many transitions in between these aromas as it warms and adding liquorice as it goes.

Taste - Only mildly sweet despite the bouquet. Caramel and restrained dark fruits prevail with some dank wood and yeasty flavors. Wood and booze show up to close.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, light on carbonation and a slightly spicy finish from spices and the ABV.

Overall - A pretty damn good BSDA that stands up to par with even the best of them. Well worth a visit and a very good value buy here too.

Jan 08, 2019
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quadmad from Canada

4.14/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle; $6.45 from the LCBO. Poured into my Duvel tulip at 11 C. Lots of head that quickly settles. Second glass had floaties that I was able to leave in the bottle. Nice amber colour; Not too sweet. A solid BSDA

Dec 25, 2018
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REVZEB from Illinois

4.44/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap. Fantastic belgian strong dark ale. A little more creamy than expected, but hey, I don't hate it. Just bursting with all the standard flavors, dark fruits, raisin, cocoa, malts, hops, and lovely dark belgian spices. Feels like a belgian with brown ale and stout characteristics on certain sips. Lovely ale!

Jun 09, 2018
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Ciocanelu from Romania

3.6/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Hazy brown color with frothy beige head. Aroma has toasted malt, earthy notes, some cacao and light molasses. Taste is quite balanced. Some toasted malt, fruity yeast notes, light metallic notes on the finish. Medium body with high effervescence. Not bad but not as good as expected.

Dec 16, 2017
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Davedrinkinbeer from Indiana

4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I'm gonna do a non-traditional review of this beer. The most interesting aspects about this beer are 1) This is a very complex Belgium Brown Ale, and I have recently drank a few different varieties of this type of beer, 2) Residue (yes, actual small pieces) of some dark burgandy substance-- I think it is raisins with brown sugar that crusted up in the bottle, around the top of the beer level, and a layer in the bottom of the empty bottle. 3) This is a sweet beer, it mixes a few types of fruit with caramel, brown sugar, and chocolate. and 4) this beer tastes great considering the high ABV. If you are ready for, and not put off by the 'crusted ingredients' , this is an excellent beer.

Mar 20, 2017
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biboergosum from Canada

3.71/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle @ 9.5% ABV, with a totally different label, and the 'l'Abbaye' dropped from the name. Happy bloody Canadian Thanksgiving, y'all!

This beer pours a murky, medium orange-brick amber colour, with two chubby fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and fizzy tan head, which leaves some emaciated limestone grotto lace around the glass as it quickly dissipates.

It smells of gritty and grainy pale malt, a lesser caramel/toffee sweetness, edgy earthy yeast, muddled dark orchard fruit (maybe some plum, prune, and bruised red apple), a touch of that musty under the basement stairs thing, and a slightly testy metallic booziness. The taste is bready and doughy pale malt, still understated caramel wafers, some toasted apple pie and pear compote fruitiness, a hint of cocoa-laced black coffee, subtle musty yeast, faint earthy spice notes, and a hint of muzzled alcohol astringency.

The bubbles are fairly active in their pleasingly plump frothiness, the body a decent middleweight, and mostly smooth, maybe the yeast and burbling booziness taking things down a notch or two here. It finishes off-dry, but not by much, as the malt seems to bottom out, and the acrid fruitiness and musty yeast take full advantage, as such.

Overall, this is not a bad version of the style, but I found myself questioning its provenance on a few too many occasions - what gives? It's not an old bottle (not that that would really matter), yet the musty essences overcome the fruit and malt character just a little too readily, IMHO. Can't say I'm all that dissatisfied, however - this bad boy cost barely more than 10 Canuck bucks, so who am I to complain, eh?

Oct 11, 2016
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MacMalt from New Jersey

4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is a beer I've long wanted to try and wasn't disappointed. It was poured into a tulip glass. It pours a deep brown with ruby hues and a thick, creamy, khaki-colored head and lacing. It smells of candied fruit, brown sugar, molasses, plum, cherry, and spice. The first tastes encountered are the fruit: plum, raisin, and cherry, followed by caramel, molasses, and honey. It finishes with a touch of spice. The tastes blend beautifully. This ale is well-carbonated and while it isn't overtly boozy, you can feel the 9% ABV. Overall, it is a truly a well-crafted and enjoyable Belgian Strong Dark Ale. It makes an excellent dessert beer and would pair especially well with a nice tray of cheeses.

Aug 21, 2016
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manfromanotherplace from New York

4.39/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A classic belgian dark ale,candied sugar, christmas pudding dark fruits and caramel sweetness blended perfectly, carbonated just enough to create a great mouthfeel, this was a genuinely great belgian.

Apr 28, 2016
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Beginner2 from Illinois

3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

As someone with an affinity for Belgian Strong Darks, I want to like this.
And I do.
But not as much as I want.
I prefer Darks that are simpler: whose fruit and sugar dominate, but then they get balanced by spices.
This Grand Cru is balanced more by the carbonation that cuts through the sweet. That works. But is only OK. I prefer brewmasters who meld the flavors smoothly.

MJ reviewed it in his "Great Beers of Belgium" and said "the cake-like palate reminded me of dates."

Mar 08, 2016
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Brutaltruth from Ohio

4.31/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Finally I got my hands on some fresh des Rocs on tap at EightBall Brewing at the Party Source.
This most excellent BSA pours a deep reddish mahogany with a thick ring of foam and spotty lacing once it settles. Nose is complex mix of candied apples, Belgian candy sugars, cola, plums, cherries, and subtle herbal notes. Flavors exceed the nose with apple cider and dark cherries on the front and sides, currants and cola on the middle of the taste, and a pleasant plum brandy note on the rear touched with a subtle Belgian yeast note. Excellent mouth feel with moderate carbonation that cuts the sweetness and lets the flavors shine with a subtle cola and dark fruit finish that is subtly dry.

Of note, I have had this many times in the past but was leery from a couple of lightly soured purchases. This is as good as the first time I tried it, yet better without the suspended chunky yeast that can be rather unpleasing on the eyes. At 28 or so a growler I am tickled to have tried it. A phenomenal brew that has been at the top of my Belgian list for years.

THANKS EightBall!!!!!!

Cheers

Feb 20, 2016
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josanguapo from Spain

3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From cervezasespeciales. In Teku glass. Watching Sons of Anarchy 6x10. Good, but maybe a bit more dry and harsh that I’d like. Ive read from others that its like an oud bruin but without the acid, and I agree

Feb 12, 2016
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TheManiacalOne from Rhode Island

4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On-tap 1/3/2016 at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub in Pawtucket, RI, served in a snifter glass.

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

S: The aroma contains Belgian yeast, brown sugar, some fruit, maple and caramelized malts.

T: The taste starts out bready with flavors of Belgian yeast and a hearty malt character. Then some sweet flavors of caramel, maple and brown sugar quickly follow along with some background dark fruit flavor. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings a very good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

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

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, this is a good beer to drink for a while if you’re in the mood for the style.

Jan 04, 2016
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Meganomiidae from Louisiana

4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Dark brown, the color of liquid milk chocolate. Small tan head that dissipates swiftly, leaving not a trace. Mine was quite sediment ridden - probably a product of my fridge deciding to act as a freezer today.

S: Candied apple and cherry duet, with a hint of plum background vocals. As others have said, slight cola notes which for me are quite distinct to this beer. I hope it tastes as good as it smells!

T: Yes, it does. Seemlessly mending cherry and cola notes together with that slight Belgian sweetness. Other dark fruits are there, again, providing a supporting structure to a beautiful medley. Slight hints of darker chocolate and espresso creep in as the main flavors recede, making one think twice about taking a second sip. Finished with a red wine yeast, maybe? Quite tasty, and well blended with just the right levels of all of the flavors.

M: Quite silky, rolls over the tongue like Dutch hot chocolate.

O: Fantastic beer. Will be buying again.

Jun 02, 2015
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Dave1999 from North Carolina

4.26/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours very dark brown, with a red hue. The bottle was really foamy when opened. There are a lot of chunks at the bottom of the glass which was a bit off putting when i got to last ounce or two.

The smell is ark fruits, plum, cherrys,cola. As the beer warms up I get some apple and lemon as well.

The taste is much like the smell, dark fruits and a sour candy cola bottle flavor. There's some pepper,yeast, citrus lemon and apple.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation.

Overall a very good complex belgian dark ale. The dark fruits are delicious and the 9% abv is barely detectable.

Apr 04, 2015
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Slatetank from Pennsylvania

4.09/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this during my Mother's 70th birthday celebration meal -shared with my brother tenderbranson69 from the 750 in a tulip.

a murky brown color with translucent clarity and thin light head with fine bead. The smell is very good with slight dried fruit and light vinous aroma with a mild spice. The feel is moderately high carbonation and mix of malt with a slight fruity yeast element with mostly dry finish and mild alcohol.

The taste is very good with nice complexity from the yeast adding some dark cherry and slight spice flavors iwth gentle malt sweetness with a mostly dry tangy yeast flavor in the finish. Overall I was glad I got to try this - a very tasty strong belgian ale.

Mar 29, 2015
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flagmantho from Washington

4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from 330mL bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: rich, dark, cloudy brown with a finger of creamy tan head. Quite nice.

Smell: sweetish but subtle; there's a good chocolate aroma right at first, with a very light grainy element and some alcoholic fruitiness. There's a little dusty tobacco thrown in to boot; it's very nice indeed.

Taste: interestingly fruity; in addition to subtler dark fruits of date, fig and that ever-present tobacco, there's something oddly bananalike here too, although not in a hefeweizen kind of way. The sweetness and fruitiness are very good, but there's something here that just a little bit off to me.

Mouthfeel: medium-rich body with a silky smooth feel and a great creaminess. Wonderful.

Overall: I can't put my finger on why this beer is so weird to me. I like it a good deal, but I wouldn't say I love it. It's still a beer absolutely worth trying, however, perhaps especially for its weirdness.

Jan 27, 2015
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mmapes from Colorado

3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Allowed bottle to warm out of the fridge for about an hour. Pours cola-brown with a big foamy tan head.

Smells apple-y, grassy, sweet, maybe a little citrus...

First impression: Medium body. Tastes grassy/earthy, woody?, sweet. Dark fruit like figs or prunes. Has a well-worn flavor - earthy/leathery. Reminds me a bit of Westvleteren. Medium acidity leaves a thinner lingering high-note finish.

Jan 07, 2015
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chinchill from South Carolina

4.07/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Large bottle from the back of my beer fridge served with the New Years' Day bowl games. Bottle is dated stamped Oct. 2014. Initially served at about 48-50F but improved with warming.

Body is a deep reddish-brown, more or less clear excepting a large amount of suspended particles, some of which are rather large. The suspended particles really detract from the appearance, but i have previously encountered excellent Belgian beers with this trait. The particles had no detectable effect on mouthfeel.

Aroma: excellent; rich, fruity and complex. Changed with warming.

Flavor: a harmonious blend of a multitude of flavors, including dates, raisins, dark bread, roast nuts, toffee and dried cherries. Some chocolate and darker malts in the finish. Excellent bitter-sweet balance.

Feel: medium-full body with light carbonation.

Jan 01, 2015
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schoolboy from Ohio

4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I thought this wasn't going to be anywhere near this good. What a nice surprise. It's about two years old, a nifty brownish red color and it goes "snap, crackle, pop." Well, it makes sound anyway.

The cool popping foam makes for a great aromatic experience. There is a lot of that foam and it keeps on coming. This was a big, corked bottle. It sounds like some people purchased smaller bottles and they weren't this good. The taste is not too anything (yeasty, sweet, etc., and these aren't hoppy) - just right. The aftertaste similarly won't let you forget what you are drinking yet it won't haunt you like cheap booze.

Overall, this is a great choice for the style, and if I can find them pre-aged like this I will buy more.

Dec 28, 2014
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cjgiant from District of Columbia

3.4/5  rDev -19.4%

Bottle best before January 2016 (old?), listed as 9.5%:
Beer poured a medium brown, and as I was mid pour, I started seeing chunks of sediment (presumably yeast) flying into my glass. The yeast was suspended in the beer, not settled to the bottom (I don't think I shook the bottles any more than usual). Anyhow, this made the beer very cloudy as the yeast remained in suspension. I got a bit of head on the beer with the initial pour before I slowed it with the sediment. The head did not sustain.

The nose is light caramel or toffee, date, maybe hints of cinnamon and raisin. The taste is similar, a bit more sweet, like sugar in the raw, and a bit more like raisin than date. The taste is smooth, but overall the feel is fairly disappointing. The beer feels mostly flat and is a bit watery light, with the flavors coming at the front, and fading fairly quickly.

Disappointing beer overall, and I can only hope this is not a representative bottle. I have a couple more, so I will update my review if the others change my mind.

Follow up beer: had the same ugly presentation:, and the nose was about the same. The feel definitely improved as this bottle had some decent carbonation. Upped review from 3.3 to 3.4, still think I got a less-than ideal 4-pack, though.

Oct 28, 2014
Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special Brown from Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs s.a.
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 771 ratings