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

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Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special BrownAbbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special Brown

Brewed by:
Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs s.a.

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by rosebud on 07-30-2002

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Reviews: 515 | Ratings: 724
Photo of superspak
4.42/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into chalice, best before 4/5/2013. Pours very cloudy deep ruby red color with a 1-2 finger foamy cream colored head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with plenty of carbonation streaming up retaining the head. Aromas of big raisin, fig, apple, pear, prune, fig, caramel, molasses, toast, toffee, dark bread, light chocolate, clove, pepper, and earthy yeast esters Fantastic aromas with great balance and complexity of fruity/spicy esters and malty notes. Taste of raisin, apple, pear, prune, fig, caramel, toast, molasses, toffee, pepper, dark bread, light chocolate, clove, and earthy yeast esters. Lingering notes of light and dark fruits, caramel, pepper, molasses, toast, toffee, dark bread, floral, light chocolate, clove, and earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Fantastic balance and complexity of fruity, peppery, and dark malt flavors; with zero cloying sweetness present on the finish. Medium-high carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a creamy, fairly slick, and lightly prickly mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Very smooth to sip on for 9.5%. Overall this is an absolutely incredible Belgian strong dark ale! Big complexity and balance and fruity, malty, and spicy flavors; and extremely smooth to sip on the for the strength. An extremely delicious offering.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.85/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Carefully poured from a long-standing bottle its body is a brilliant dark ruby/chestnut beneath a creamy cap of off-white (almost tan) foam. The head retention is quite good, and it leaves splashes of lace about the glass. The nose combines a sweetish, caramel-dripped and subtly buttery biscuit-like maltiness with some fairly bold fruitiness (flashes of orange, raspberries, cherry, and a waft of lime). It's airy in the mouth with a combination of dextrinous mouthfeel and CO2 breakout that billows up softly and then fades away with just a light zest on the palate. A richer maltiness and some exceptionally nice, delicately spicy alcohol appear in the flavor; as well as some floral hop notes and wider range of fruitiness (papaya, cocoanut and pineapple perhaps?, and some green apple). It's much more balanced (less sweet) than the standard Abbaye Des Rocs; and it offers exceptional drinkability with a certain level of richness and complexity that does not overwhelm the tastebuds but certainly keeps you coming back for more. It finishes dry with some lingering alcohol spice (although the alcohol never hinders!) and maltiness that reminds you of the beautiful flavors you've just savored. This is an exceptional beer that probably deserves more notoriety, and should not be missed. Brilliant!

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Photo of chinchill
4.07/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark orange/weathered bronze with more than a dash of candy apple red when backlit. It took quick action on my part to pour the beer before foam exited the top of the bottle. As I type, multiple streams of bubbles are leaping off the bottom of the glass and are creating a softly rocky crown of pale caramel foam. Unfortunately, it isn't tacky enough to leave more than an afterthought of lace.

The nose is classic BSDA with an emphasis on sour dark fruit that I hope is countered by a sufficient amount of candi sugar on the palate. It's also brown malty with an earthy, musky hoppiness that adds some amount of complexity. It doesn't quite equal the best of the style though, despite the fact that I like it more each time I put my nose over the glass.

ADRGCBSB is very good beer and explodes on the palate with flavors that were only hinted at in the nose. The center is occupied by heavily toasted, brown bready malt and has all sorts of interesting things zinging around in its orbit. The beer is impressive dark fruity with dried figs and cidery, fermented apples contributing the most. It's also musky and yeasty and earthy and spicy and... well, it's just chock full of flavor.

I'm sure that other combinations would have been just as enjoyable, but it just so happens that sweet, bitter and tart are nearly equal in intensity. Each one of those flavor sensations are able to be appreciated in turn if one simply focuses the taste buds for a second or two. Warming brings about the expected increase in amount of and depth of flavor. This is not a subtle BSDA by any means (that's a good thing).

I felt pretty good about the mouthfeel early on, even with all the bubbles. As I enter the bottom third of the bottle though, I have a full appreciation for its wonderousness. It's medium-full, voluminous, creamy, lightly silky and lightly slick... all at the same time. I don't care what it took to get there, I just like where it ended up.

My first two bottles of Belgian Special Brown ('best by' dates of 2007) were drainpours due to an overwhelming amount of chunky, proteinaceous garbage. This bottle ('best by' date of 2008) is nothing but sweet, sweet beer. If you can find a fresh one, this is a BSDA to be reckoned with.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

hazelnut brown color being presented in front of me. A smallish head, maybe an inch and a half came up over the top and settled down gently, forming a very nice pillow of tan across the top. Some nice carbonation could be seen streaming up as well.

The aroma was rich, lots of caramel and brown sugar mixed in with a fig and prune like fruit. Dark, with a touch of alcohol, though I have to admit, very well hidden indeed. The flavor was more of the same, rich and decadent with a large dose of sugar balancing it out quite well. All hotness had faded from this one now, as it was mellow and smooth as hell.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.09/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

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Photo of russpowell
4.1/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Been sitting on this bottle for a while, BBD of 2011, decanted into an Orval chalice

Pours chestnut with a finger of cream colored head. Good head retention & above average lacing

S: Oaky & sour notes, that fade a bit as this warms

T: Dark fruit, dryness, tartness & tannins up front. Leafy hops, a touch of figs, dryness, more oakyness. Finishes with dark fruiityness, some tartness, some leafy hops & a touch of sourness

MF: Soft carbonation, medium bodied, warming, wet, & very tart

Drinks a touch slow from the complexity, but the ABV is well hidden. Not the best Belgian Dark out there, but worthy of respect & adulation

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

We’ve got a gusher here.

Pours a very murky amber with some head. Nose is extremely sweet. Cherry seems to be on the nose. Flavor is strong with caramel, but doesn’t stay constant. It moves and shifts and takes you on a bit of a ride. Starts off extremely sweet and smooth and then gets calmer, though not for lack of character. Feel is nice. Smooth with a touch of bubble. For a 10% you don’t really feel it...extremely drinkable.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
1.69/5  rDev -59.8%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

330 mL bottle poured into a McChouffe chalice... and then a CCB snifter to catch the overflow. This bottle gushed on me big time. The bottle date has been smudged off.

Appearance - So after the bottle erupted all over my hands and the counter, I could watch the stream of murky brown liquid pour into my glass. Chunks of sediment flowed with it. The huge head has specks of floaties all over it. I suppose the head retention is good, though...

Smell - Sour apples and some dry vinous malt aromas. It's be transformed horribly. Sour smelling, but not awful.

Taste - And it's awful. Astringent and the tartness is piercing in the most unpleasant way. Dry and bitter in the finish. Just not good.

Mouthfeel - Dry and leaves the flavors on the palate for far too long. The aftetaste is far worse than the flavor.

Overall - Drainpour and two dirty glasses. Great. Clearly an infected bottle and not a nice infection, either.

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Photo of jwc215
3.87/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into tulip glass:

After an explosion of foam, it pours dark bark with a thin, creamy head that leaves some trailing lace on glass. Would look a lot nicer if there weren't chunks of yeast on the bottom of the glass.

The smell is of brown sugar, caramel candy, a vague spiciness (probably from the alcohol) and a touch of vinegar.

The taste is of brown sugar and caramel candy. Peppery alcohol is warming. Sweetness is balanced, to a degree, by vinegary sourness. Finishes candy sweet.

Medium bodied and creamy.

Well - those chunks of floaties do detract. After awhile I strained it through a paper towel, and that helped. Floaties aside, it makes for a nice sipping treat.

Thanks to jcwattsrugger for sharing!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
5/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The cork is off, there's no turning back, in we go...

A lovely, hazy tumult of deep auburn colored brew pours into my glass, joined by a Brobdignagian layer of fizzy, creamy, off-orange foam. Looks good so far, I'm tingling so far.

Aroma: lemon...biscuits...orange...must...sour...but sweet...cinnamon...a spiced lemon cookie, to wrap it succinctly. Nice. Lively, luscious, in an utterly other realm than any other beer I've ever sniffed.

Taste...Good Idea, let's!
Oh, it's happening again! A shockwave of pleasure engulfs and enwraps my body and all the senses. Certainly very winey in flavor, but uniquely beery, too! Softly peppery, deep in dark fruit (besides grape, we wander among fields of cherries, berries, melons), it's a grand melange, a masterful marriage of flavors. There's something uplifting here, something that sets my soul free, something that happens in few brews, and you know it when you feel it, and it's happening now! Something ancient exists in this, a collection of metaphysical passages through the centuries. It feels light at times, deep at others, citric for a stage, then a touch woody, even oaky, showing some malt, as if peeking through peepholes in a glimpse through time itself.

If my remarks seem grandiose, forgive this foolish ale imbiber, for there's simply no better way to transmit the feelings this glorious brew delivers than to let imagination soar, and transplant the sensations into corresponding comments that may seem at times beyond the ordinary. So be it, for this beer is...I'm still drinking, it's still changing, tasting sweeter now, with a sharp candyish feel, still an underlying layer of tart. The tongue dances and darts, utterly delighted by the play it encounters from this frisky brew.

Sweet, deep, dark, toffee-ish, completely original, a meal in a bottle, a dream trapped under a cork, ...

Oh, so very, very, very wonderful!
I wish it would never end.

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Photo of smakawhat
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass at Smoke & Barrel DC, for the DC bottle share. Thanks to 1up for bringing the bottle. From notes.

Pours a faint red amber, there's a little bit of floaties sometimes, but a good and creamy tan head forms and leaves a nice collar.

Classic Belgian yeast with just a nice amount of candi sugar. Very mild presence and hints of caramel like toffee mix nicely. Pretty solid.

Palate is straightforward from the nose, but has a simple caramel coating action that isn't overpowering with a little bit of brown spice kick. Malt backbone continues to let the palate explore the sweetness, with some degree of fruit. Good feel without getting out of control or overly sticky or sweet.

A solid straightforward Belgian Dark that I could get into which is a rarity for me.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.09/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up in Missouri I think - there was a random shortage of Abbaye des Rocs in Chicago for a while. Best before 2009. Served in a Darkness snifter.

A - Pours with a half-finger of tan foam that quickly sizzles to a thin ring, partial cap, and minimal lace. Tons of bubbles adhere to the sides of the glass, and the body is a hazy raisin brown with lots of suspended sediment if you're not careful.

S - Caramel, fruity, estery Belgian yeast, toasted grains, milk chocolate, apples, grapes, brown sugar, and some hints of spice.

T - Taste has lots of rum-soaked fruits, caramel, some light papery oxidation, brown sugar, candi sugar, and a little bit of toastiness in the finish.

M - Slightly zesty carbonation, medium body, dry finish, but with some syrupy residuals. Only a small amount of alcohol warmth at this stage.

D - It's a pretty solid Belgian brown ale. I'd have it again, but there's nothing mind-blowing or totally unique here. I also don't see how this is different from the Brune (or if it is at all).

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Photo of Billolick
4.47/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Large bottle, with cap and cork, no freshness dating. Pours dark garnet,brown. Poured with a gassy release, lifted a large and rocky tan head, which slowly morphed to a blotchy film. Leaves some thick, stringy lacing. Yeasty chunks abound. Nose is rum raisins, murky funk and sweat malts. multilayered, complex flavors and sensations on the tongue. Obvious and unrelenting waves of interest and intrigue. World class sipper. Dangerously drinkable. Seek out this nectar and enjoy.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.02/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. Beer is brown and hazy and forms a tan dusty head of small bubbles that leaves a little lacing on the glass. Carbonation moderate.

Aroma is sweet and bready with notes of citrus in there. Smells really nice!

Beer is medium in body and heavily carbonated on the palate. Its bright up front with a mixture of citrus and sweetness, good malt backbone. The finish has a slight roast to it but overall its a really nice beer. Well balanced. I think the brightness of the citrus gives this one some character the others were lacking. It's a very good beer.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.93/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

03/22/07- Purchased at Draegers in San Mateo, CA.

Presentation- 11.2oz bottle. Code imprinted on the label. Poured into my St. Bernardus goblet.

Appearance- Cognac-like color in appearance. So, I guess that makes it a kind of a dark amber, mahagoney color. Huge and I mean frickin huge ass overflowing head (see notation in drinkability). Decent lace streaks and spots left behind.

Smell- Not a huge outgoing nose, but definitely could detect some caramel, a few dark fruits and a bit of fusel alcohol.

Taste- Emense caramel flavor...caramel, then caramel and oh, then some more caramel. Tasted like I shoved my piehole into a bowl of melted kraft caramels. Raisins and maybe some dates and possibly some figs round out the taste.

Mouthfeel- Cask-like smooth and creamy. Lovely coating on the mouth. Little if not any carbonation. I did, however, let this sit for about an hour after the pour to let the gigantonormous head die down.

Drinkability- This was my 3rd of 6 bottles purchased from this store. The reason I purchased so many without trying is because they were not marked and I got them for $1.50 a pop. Once they figured out their error, they were marked up to $14.99 for a 4pk. Anyway, each bottle I have has been infected. I'm assuming so since the huge foaming head occurs each time. The taste seems ok, but I'm not sure about the no carbonation mouthfeel. Something is fishy here. I will have to revisit this beer for sure to get an accurate reading. As is, it has good texture and pretty good flavor. I think the fresh unspolied version should be a bit better though.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured in to tulip. Best before 13/12/2014.

A - Deep brown; almost completely opaque. One finger of light brown head.

S - Yeast esters, spice, brown sugar, clove and raisin.

T - Dark fruit, raisin, dates, spice, brown sugar, Belgian yeast and a slight chocolate flavour. very complex.

M - Medium body; creamy. Moderate carbonation.

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Photo of tempest
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle at Abe's Cold Beer for $8.50. Like every Des Rocs beer I've had, no pour is complete without floaties. Otherwise, the appearance is a hazy ruby-brown with a short tan head. The aroma and flavor are heavy with sweet grape, maple syrup, and dates with mild dark chocolate in the background. The body is a touch thick, normal for the ABV, and dries out toward the finish, making it deliciously drinkable. Still, because of the sweet lean of this beer, I'd save it for an after-dinner beer. Definitely worth a try, especially if you like the dark Unibroues.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.12/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A smooth brown/amber pour, big off white head. Not sure if I poured this wrong to get a big head or what. Big.
Head produces an aroma, strong in rich yeast, a citrus splash and sweet malt. A touch of toast and honey as well.
Taste isn't as rich as the aroma. Same flavors; yeast, citrus and honey, but not as rich. This helps the drinkability, though. It's a smooth beer, touch of sourness at the right moment to wake you up.

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Photo of WesWes
4.12/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a translucent brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a fantastic balance of roasted and crystal malts along with a wonderful fruity yeast aroma. The taste is good as well. It has a smooth, malty flavor that is sweet and fruity with esters in the finish. There is a subtle roasted character that balances out the sweet caramel malts. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is an excellent beer. It's quite flavorful and a fine slow drinker that would compliment a good dinnner.

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Photo of Gavage
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: pours a cloudy brownish copper color with a one finger head.

Smell: tons of yeast, with some spicy crushed pepper and some hop bitterness.

Taste: very complex and many flavors are present. Overall bready texture with some brown sugar, caramel, green apples, lighty toasted nuts, plums, yeast, pepper, and alcohol.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp at the start and finish. The pepper, plums, yeast, and alcohol linger long into the aftertaste. Medium-heavy in body.

Drinkability: a real slow sippin' beer. The flavors are well balanced but the alcohol levels cut into the overall drinkability here. One bottle is sufficient in a session.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.82/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this at Café Lucca in old town Orange. On to the beer:

Brownish amber color with flashes of orange, fizzy head on top. The aroma was pleasant. Dark fruit, raisin, dates....this seems to be the standard aroma of the style. In the mouth....boozy with a kick on the palate. Dark fruits, raisins, plums, and pear in the taste. So yes, the flavor is good, but it doesn't quite soak on the palate like others of the style do. That being said, I would still recommend this.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.94/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a murky brown color with a cream-colored head. When poured, huge chunks of yeast come out of the bottle. The aroma is a mix of dark fruit, alcohol and candi-sugar. The flavor is a mix of caramel, yeast, brown sugar and alcohol. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.54/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a thick tannish head. A beautiful deep garnet color with a slight chill haze to it. This beer smells fruity (apricot being the most predominant aroma, followed by orange). There is a certain candy sweet aroma as well, maybe a hint of butterscotch. This beer has an outstanding aroma and I could just sniff it for ages. As I sniff it the head has barely lost its 2 inch thickness, it is well carbonated. There is a bit of maltiness in the aroma as well. It is definitely well carbonated tasting as well. It is lightly sweet, with a fruitiness that was promised in the nose. There is both a candied apricot and orange flavor here. There is also a slight sense of the alcohol in this one. The taste doesn't quite live up to the aroma but this beer still need to warm up a bit. I detect a hint of astringency in the finish, there seems to be some nice Belgian yeast fermentation byproducts here as well. The beer has some slight Belgian lacing in evidence as I slowly work my way to the bottom of the glass. As it warms up the beer becomes softer, though the alcohol is still evident. Becomes sweeter and maltier. the beer color clears up a bit as it warms too, it displays some nice orange hues as it is held up to the light.

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Photo of biegaman
4.14/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drinking Brasserie des Rocs it's a good idea to be near a sink. Certainly away from electronics. This may be the first of the many bottles I've had from this brewery that didn't reenact a scene from Yellowtone National Park. Nonetheless, the coagulated yeast that has forever been an unsightly pimple on the face of ADR beers continues to plague them. The little sediment clumps provide a visual texture that makes the glass look as though it's fitted in brown leather.

The bouquet is sweet and spicy, with notes of brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and sticky dark fruits all enveloped by milk chocolate and marshmallow overtones. It's like some kind of gourmet Rocky-Road ice cream in beer form! There's also notes of molasses, licorice and sugar-plum that are boosted by a subtle but perceptible alcohol strength. Wonderful stuff!

The taste threw me for a bit of a loop. Gone are most of the many sweet, spicy flavours of the aroma. There's nowhere near the intricacy or variety that was anticipated. At first I thought it too cold - allowing it to breath and warm is certainly beneficial - but it seems to simply be lacking the flagship rich maltiness of this brewery's other offerings.

The flavour is brief, hurried and reserved, as if I were an old high-school mate it ran into on the street and didn't have the time nor desire to get reacquainted. Notes of dark toffee, dried fruits, rye bread and subtle baking spices fail to make much of a lasting impression. A tad chocolatey. I find it flat, figuratively speaking (literally, the carbonation should actually be toned down).

'Grand Cru' is a wine term borrowed in the beer community to refer generally to an offering the brewery feels is particularly great or special. Despite this offering sporting that moniker, I personally think the Brune, Triple Impériale, and La Montagnarde are all more deserving of special denotation than this. They're also, in my opinion, more deserving of my next ADR purchase.

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Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special Brown from Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs s.a.
4.2 out of 5 based on 724 ratings.
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