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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Ratings: 728 |  Reviews: 516
Photo of instrumentality
3.95/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I originally put this review in the wrong place, not realizing that there were two "Grand Crus." The bad news is that I picked the wrong beer. The good news is that this could mean that the arm and leg I paid to have more shipped from Belgium might actually be worth it if they turn out to be the other Grand Cru.

Moving on...

I swear I didn't shake it up before opening it, but as soon as the cap was off, a fountain of foam launched from the mouth of the bottle. Fortunately, I was able to save every drop and I just had to wait patiently for the enormous, bubbly, tan head to settle. The body was a cloudy amber.

The odor was primarily fruity and, oddly, slightly like cola with a hint of malt and red wine. It was very refreshing.

The taste was definitely unique...pretty smooth, a bit like plum but more tart, a bit like apple cider, and slightly carmelly in aftertaste.

Mouthfeel was characterized by a bit of carbonation, but it was very easy on the palate and left only the mildest tart fruity aftertaste.

It's easy to drink in that there are no really intense flavors, but I'd say it's more drinkable than it is good. There are a lot of interesting flavors, but they're all very subtle. It's almost like I'm drinking a really complex beer that's been watered down. I allowed it to warm a bit to see if anything new surfaced, and while it did improve a little, I still wasn't that impressed.

In the scheme of things, it's better than most beers, but it needs more kick. Hopefully one day I'll get my hands on the Grand Cru that actually gets some BA love and really learn what this brewery is capable of.

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

33cl bottle, the 9.5% version of the grand cru, apparently the 10% is a thing of the past. The bottle immediately startes foaming when i pop the cap. Pours into a chalice with 25% head. best before date illeg.

Nose is dark candy sweetness, with a hint of bitterness along.

Bitter taste up front, typical de rocs notes of dark fruity sensations with powerful bittersweet undertone that carries and dominates the finish. The taste is not as nice as the nose in this bottle. Seems a bit drier than some of their other dark/amber beers.

It has been years since I had the 10% version and cannot offer comparison.

Excellent beer and one to try, though I prefer their triple imperial, amber/montagnarde, and noel beers better.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.03/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle into a Westveleteren chalice. Murky brown color with thick foamy tan head. The smell reminds me of Gouden Carolus Carolus D'Or a little. Also Nostrodamus.

The taste is syrupy sweet and a little cloying. I can't tell if any hops at all were used. The alcohol shows up in the after-taste but isn't too offensive.

Good stuff but not an everyday beer. Also 11.2oz is just enough. I bought this at Beverage Warehouse in LA for about $4. I wish the small bottles were available here in OH...

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Photo of Lnedrive14
4.09/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cellared for about a year (although I think it was about a year old when I bought it).

Pours BEAUTIFULLY - big, thick head, dark, hazy brown. An absolutely gorgeous beer. Nose was fairly faint - malts, honey, dried fruits are there, but not strong enough. The taste I found similar - bit of sweetness which was nicely rounded with the thick malts, however I just found that it wasn't as flavorful as I had hoped. Still a great tasting beer, but not one where I was pulling out all kinds of sensations from. Drinkability is amazing - goes down silky smooth with only the faintest alcohol presence.

Would like to try a newer bottle.

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Photo of czechsaaz
4.72/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750ml cellared for about a year.

Very spicey aroma with lots of yeast esters. Some citrus-like yeast character and licorice. Malt aromas are complex cofee and honey and maybe a little biscuit. There's also a dessert wine effect with a little acidity in the smell but mostly sweeter aromas.

Light brown colored, pretty hazy but with a solid 1/2 inch layer of lasting tan head.

Flavor is first off malty sweet a caramel. Then lots of fruit flavors, cherry and baked apples and other things that whatever yeast they're using probably produced. None of the fruit is strong enough to indicate it was brewed with fruit. Very spicey too. Not sure how much of that is the yeast again and what was added. I taste cinamon and coriander and licorice again. All very subtle and hard to pick out for sure. Complexity here is pretty outstanding. All the flavors balance out really nicely. On the back end there's acidity and a light hop bite so it isn't overly sweet but on malty-to-hoppy scale this is definitely far on the malty side.

Very full bodied but not heavy. Carbonation level is pretty light and creamy. Just a hint of alcohol there so you can tell it's a big beer.

Very enjoyable complex sipper. Delicious beer but not for everyday drinking.

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Photo of doppelmeup
4.22/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured this from a small bottle with best before date of sometime in 2008.

This is one of the chunkiest beers I've seen. In spite of a careful pour into my tulip glass, this beer is chock full of chunks. Medium auburn colored, with a half inch head that dissipates to leave an eighth inch thich covering which remains throughout. The lacing tends to be chunky as well.

Not as yeasty as other Belgians I've had. Very fruity. Hints of clemintine oranges, cloves, honey, sugar cane, and yeast. Definitely on the sweet side. As it warms, the alcohol starts to come through.

Tasted delicious, and very similar to the aroma. Honey, oranges, yeast, some malt and a very slight alcoholicy bitterness to the finish.

You could feel the alcohol as you drank it, even though it was well hidden in the taste. Moderately thick and very warming.. Bitter, alcoholicy finish. My brain kept telling me I could feel the chunks, but I don't think I really could.

This was an excellent beer. I was a bit put off by the chunkiness at first, but then quickly got over it as I tasted this beer. The high ABV means drink with caution. Nice beer, especially for a treat as it is a bit on the expensive side compared to other beer.

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Photo of JulieRFoster
3.7/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

I received this beer as a gift from a friend in Belgium, and force of circumstance (he gave it to me at 7am) meant that I brought it back to Paris, let it sit in poor conditions in my apartment for two months and then lovingly carried it back with me to the States. Therefore much of my perception of this beer is tainted by my horrible treatment of the bottle, but I enjoyed it all the same.
A friend who I shared this with characterized it as "Kind of like your standard good beer." Despite its sweetness, it had a good drinkability. The flavor was a little unbalanced with a little too much sugar, and a mouthfeel that was a little too light. The carbonation was good, and it would have been perfect if the texture was slightly more viscous. Of course, that's most likely a product of transport.
The nose was very pleasant, although not too complex: some strawberry and other red fruits (merteuille), a little oaky, lots of yeast and some alcohol (which detracted from its overall appeal).
I would describe the taste similar to how I described the appearance (if that makes any sense). It comes off kind of like a Flemish red ale; a cloudy burgundy yeasty color. However, this beer had a nice little bite, with a pinch of something peppery (which was delightfully augmented by the carbonation) and some strong malts that were subtly blended to be incredibly smooth (adding to its drinkability). This beer makes me think of Ghent - it's in Belgium, and it has lots of French Belgium characteristics, but everyone only speaks Flemish.

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Photo of Pingotas
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had this several times and my perception curiously changes each time I drink it. Color is a hearty chestnut-auburn hue with a fairly respectable head and lacing to go with it. There is a pungency to the aroma, which is rather pleasant and, like the taste, distinctly citroen-ish. Winter holiday flavors - especially spiciness - are unmistakable, and extrememly tasty. The fizz starts fine, then quickly aggregates, creating a pleasant airiness if you hold it for a while before swallowing. You are physically vetoed from drinking more than a pint or so - a regrettable fact. I get a wallbanger headache from all the de Rocs, which tempers my entry of even higher scores possibly due them. In short, a masterful brew.

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Photo of sevineyes
4.43/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a brown bottle featuring arches on the label.

A: Started with about an inch of dense off-white head. Cloudy pecan in color.

S: Rasins. Sweet berries. Very clean smell. White grapes. Yeast tones. Crabapples. Something like a weak rum in there over time. Overall, not a very strong aroma.

T: Starts somewhat vinous. Leads to dark fruit flavors. Prunes. Tart like sour cherries and taffy. Caramel and toffee. Dark sugars. Sugared rasins. Finishes with dark cherry. Still pick up some berry flavors. Something like dried blueberries. Plum. Aftertaste is a lingering fruit sweet. Something in there like sweet tomato skins.

M: Nice body, not too heavy. Full and wet. Good balance of carbonation. Very smooth. Silky. Get a feel off my tongue like mint leaves would leave.

Overall: This is a dangerous beer. They just slip away so fast, but are just so enjoyable to drink. I really don't pick up on the alcohol hardly at any point. Very powerful flavor that just continues to evolve. Even now I'm finding more complexities to the flavor that I just can't describe. This is definitely not one to miss if you enjoy the style.

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Photo of sabrills70
3.15/5  rDev -25%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750ml bottle capped green bottle with a best before end of date of 2008. Upon opening foam rolled freely out the top of the bottle. Pours a medium dark mahogony with a big head, longevity OK and just OK lace. Fair amount of sediment in the bottle, but not chunky sediment as I found in the standard brown ale. Lots of old malt smells. Dried dark fruits, brown sugar, yeasty and earthy. Big malt flavors up front again with dried dark fruits. A bit of an "off" flavor but I am not quite sure what it is. It's kind of an weird tartness/sourness, similar to what I had in a batch of homebrew once. Still drinkable but just an off flavor. Alcohol lingers in the finish. Overall an average brew and nothing to write home about. IMHO the standard brown ale is better.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.6/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a foggy dark brown sugar with a quarter inch of creamy light tan head.

Smells of maple syrup, watermelon, strawberries, rye crisps and a pinch of salt.

Tasted of crisp rhubarb and dark brown sugar/molasses with an extremely dry tangy yeast. A tangy strawberry pops in and out of the flavor along with some strange exotic chocolate-like presence. Finishes a bit like ginger cookies.

The mouth feel is light and frothy with a little too much carbonation that doesn’t do too much for the flavor.

The flavor of this one just shines with quality and intricacy. My review can’t even to begin to describe what’s going on. I’ve read other’s reviews, and I nod and smile and say, “yeah, that’s another way to say it.” It’s one of those flavors that just isn’t in our language. There’s only one way to figure this one out. Try it yourself!!!

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

330 mL crowned bottle, 9.5% abv. After uncapping, a slow, steady stream of foam snaked its way out of the bottle. A murky, reddish mahogany colored beer with a thin sandy ring inhabits the oversized wine goblet into which it was poured. I tried to avoid pouring the thick protein globules I could see floating in the bottom of the bottle, but they all started glugging out the mouth of the bottle, even with a slow pour, so I just said, "fuck it," and emptied the thing into my glass. Long story short: there's a ton of floating protein-yeast chunks in the glass. "Good," I guess? Anyway, aromas of cherry soda and prune juice predominate; a slight yeast scent and a scant vapor of alcohol show themselves as well. Cherry-prune juice blend with caramelized sugar added as an additional sweetener! Aftertaste of Bing cherry skins. Alcohol is mildly detectable in the taste, but the flavor profile is so big that it's most noticeable as a buzzy numbness on the tongue afterwards. Near the end, a characteristically "Belgian" yeasted flavor comes in as well. Mouthfeel is thick: syrupy with expansive carbonation that lightens it up a bit. Still pretty full-bodied, though, and not because of any slimy floaters! Although sweet beers are usually less drinkable on my scale, this one has enough funky Belgian yeast character to keep it extremely interesting. "Best Before End of 2008." A couple more years in a cool, dark place would probably meld the alcohol a bit more, making this one truly sublime. World class, and then some.

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ruby and brown with thick head.

There are subtle notes in this beer, but primarily it contains that boozy taste you'll find in beers with higher alcohol levels. I usually associate that with quads, but it is here in full force.

Smooth mouthfeel. Good as it warms as well.

Maybe I'm picky but this doesn't have a great drinkability level. Good for the alcohol percentage though.

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Photo of Budlum
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From notes:

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle in to a goblet. Immediately a tough beer to pour properly. Maybe my glass was inappriopriate for what I expected. I felt like a novice. Produces a thick, amber-colored head with a lot of staying power. Immediate scents of dried fruits and maltiness with only a slight hint of alcohol. Initial tastes resemble the scents; dried prunes and figs with a slightly alcoholic finish. The flavors remained consistent from start to finish. Surprisingly, the finish is tart almost like that of Rodenbach. The yeast flakes are certainly a unique character which I could not decide to embrace or loathe. This brew is certainly a wonderful effort and one that every BA should sample for its originality and depth of flavor.

My low rating of mouthfeel only applies to the presence of the yeast flakes, most certainly not the effervesence or flavors of the beer.

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Photo of SethB2
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into a chalice. Thanks to GClarkage for the sample.

Pourse a medium to dark brown, non transparent with a 1/2" head that disipates withing a minute or two. Smells of overripe fruit, beries and melons. Not a lot of spice on the nose in my opinion. Taste is great. The fruits that were picked up by the nose are accompanied by a nuttiness and clove. What was once hidden by the fruit becomes apparent after a few sips. Nice, complex ale. Mouthfeel is full and smooth. Just the right amount of carbonation. Drinkability is excellent as well. I would have no problem popping another one of these.

Very nice Belgian ale.

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Photo of artusory
4.32/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best Before 2008. Pours a ruby tinted brown with a big, creamy, off-white head. Mostly lasting, nice lacing. The aroma is ripe, sweet apples, raisins, cookie dough, corriander and lavender. The flavor is very fruity - apples, golden raisins, peaches, with lots of caramel and toffee. Delicate spicing with a touch of oakiness. Mouthfeel is very soft, smooth and creamy. Finish is long, with a touch of bitterness.

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Photo of soulgrowl
3.36/5  rDev -20%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: An unstoppable spray of foam emerges from the bottle upon opening, spilling more than half the beer on the floor. Great. Freshness date indicates that this is not a bad bottle, and it was not shaken. Pours a reddish chestnut color with a mockingly pathetic head.

Smell: Sour yeast, citric and estery hops, nice nutty malts.

Taste: Earthy, tart, leafy, kind of fruity. Not as complex as I would have hoped, but not bad. Something about this makes me want to pair it with Indian food. Overall, sweet and sour dominate, but the finish is quite yeasty and dry.

Mouthfeel: Flat, thin, powdery from the yeast.

Drinkability: I'd like to try this again, because I have a feeling this bottle was something of an aberration in all departments. Still, it is not a bad beer, and it hides its alcohol well.

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Photo of carln26
3.87/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Extremely hazy brown with a chunky off-white head. Mild stream of champagne bubbles streams to the top. Spicy aroma. White pepper, coriander, light orange. There’s also a hint of toffee, and just a touch of bread dough. Spicy flavor too. More of the white pepper, and coriander. Lighter on the citrus than the nose led me to believe. The malt lends a fig character to the beer. Slick mouth feel with just a bit of alcohol warming on the finish. Very drinkable. Good beer, not a great one. I expected a little more complexity, and a little less heat.

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Photo of Beaver13
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, corked and capped. I've had this in the fridge for a little under 2 years. It pours a reddish dark amber with lots of active carbonation. It has a huge and fluffy off white head that retains well and leaves a little lacing. The final pour is a bit on the chunky side.

The aroma is sweet vinous fruits (figs and grapes), wood, and some spicy peppery melon.

The flavor is more of the same (but slightly subdued) - sweet and slightly vinous fruits (pears) with a spicy peppery finish with some sweet candy-like alcohol showing its head. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamy with a decent amount of carbonation.

Overall, an excellent Belgian ale! I was worried that this might be too old, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.43/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle.

Appearance- Poured a nice one finger head swith steady retention and had a solid grip on the inside of the goblet with each sip. Even though this medium brown brew looks like brown shoe leather, you can still see the excellent and neverending lacing.

Smell- What a mix of peppery sweet malts and lilacs of all things. All wrapped around a sweet candied apple with a bubble gum accentuation.

Taste- Starts out with a gebneral apple and licorice sweetness. The lightly cooked malt then starts to make its presence known, but then turns into a sweet black cherry pie. The finish was a crushed black pepper.

Mouthfeel- Very smooth even though teh tongue got a litle grainyness from the yeast sediment.

I always have my doubts about my reaction to the best 100 beers of BA, but the flavor of this beer made things very clear. There is no doubt why this beer is one of the best beers on BA or in the world. This was a very rewarding beer.

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Photo of doubleipa
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Taco Mac. This is one of my favorite brews, but this is the first time I've been able to have it on tap. Served too cold. After I let it warm up, it was great. Could really smell the cherries and dried fruit. Nice creamy head with wonderful lacing. Seems quite different than Chimay Bleu, but outstanding in it's own way. Even though I've never rated the bottled version, I don't remember the bottled version having as strong a dried fruit aroma and taste. I'll have to break open one of the bottles that have been in the cellar for a while.

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Photo of Prufrock
3.32/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

25.6 oz. bottle poured into a goblet.

pours a nice mahogany with half an inch of white head. a touch of sediment.

earthy sweet aroma. caramel, yeast, some raisins and sugar.

malty, sweet and a touch alcoholic. thick and richly smooth. toffee, cherries, yeast, and a sweet alcoholic kick. sweetness and alcohol get to be a little overwhelming after a while.

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Photo of phisig137
3.89/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Large bottle date best before end of 2008. Pours a light hazy ruby brown. Much lighter than I expected. Massive head dies quickly into a blanket of bubbles on top of the glass.

Aroma is faint, coffee, chocolate, spicy yeast esters, and hops.

Flavor Is slightly sweet, but has a bitter finish. Bittersweet chocolate is prevalent, along with coffee, coriander, caramel, and a hoppy finish. Alcohol is warming after only a few sips. Mouthfeel is full and creamy, but does not linger on the palate for much time.

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Photo of ddarden
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle poured into a Chimay glass at cellar temp. Nice off white head that settles to a thin layer fairly quickly. Plenty of chunks floating around....I don't remember that characteristic last time I had this beer. The color is a deep mohagany and clear, besides the "sea monkeys" floating around.

The smell is fruity malt, with candi sugar. The taste is very nice. Sweet malt, dried plum, candi sugar, with a slight hop bitterness at the very end. This is a nice complex beer. A little alcohol warming as well. The mouthfeel is medium. I would say this is one of my favorite belgian beers. It is well balanced and has some complexity. I highly recommend this beer and will continue to seek it out.

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

11.2oz bottle bought as part of a 4-pack while travelling in NoVA.

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed a 3/4" beige head above the deeply reddish amber brew. Note that it's hard to call this brew clear, as even with a careful pour there is so much chunkage spinning around in the glass that it scares me. Effervescence allows the head to last and last, with tons of heavy sticky lacing. Aroma is a tantalizing combination of spicy yeast and malt sweetness. Taste is spicy malts, with notes of dark fruits, and slight alcohol warming on the close. Mouthfeel is nice and smooth, excepting that pinch of whatever that keeps getting caught between my cheek and gum, and drinkability is nice as well. Still, the big bottle is the way to go here.

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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 728 ratings.
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