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

733 Ratings
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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: 733 |  Reviews: 516
Photo of Suds
3.92/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I’d wanted to try this one for a while.
When removing the cap, this one burst forth with explosive carbonation, making a hell of a mess. After a things calmed down and were cleaned up, the brew revealed itself as a murky, muddy, reddish-brown color with a bulbous, towering light-tan head. Brown sugar, plum, sour apples, alcohol, yeast, and spice all mingle in the aroma. It’s a funky, spicy, musty, earthy, resoundingly intense aroma…intriguing to say the least. The taste is only a little sweet, with a serious meaty yeastiness. Stingingly high carbonation. For a such a high ABV, this one hides it’s alcohol well…there’s a little in the aroma, and just a slight warming, but it doesn’t overwhelm the taste. Full and complex…no question about it.

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Photo of IceAce
3.62/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 ml green bottle with a 'Best before end: 2007'

Pours a ruddy / hazy brown with moderate coagulation settling to the bottom of the glass. Light tan foam collar dissapates quickly leaving 20% lace on a beer-clean tulip.

Nose is rich with sweetly spiced apples and plums along with alcohol esters. Entry is an adventure with tiny-bubbled carbonation providing a wake-up call for the palate. Midtaste shows candi sugar, plums and alcohol soaked raisins.

The finish features a nicely funked earthy Belgian yeast fade with just a little warming of the throat from the 9.5% abv.

Many thanks to Brewfan for trading this to the Left Coast!

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Photo of ChampionJaguar
2.81/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bias alert - I'm not into hoppy beer.

I should avoid reading reviews before writing them because I had such high expectations and I'm severely disapointed. I poured the 750ml bottle into a St. Bernadus goblet and it's a looker - a nice head and pretty dark redish brown color looks just like you would expect from a great Belgian brown. That's where the joy ended for me.

Smells like hops and hops and a touch of caramel malt. Nothing special to be found here.

The taste - well I don't like hoppy beer and I'm noticing that on this site many people do like hoppy beers - even when they are hopped beyond what the style normaly calls for. All I taste is the friggin' hops and a touch of sweetness with just a faint sour in the finish. I guess this is fairly complex if you can get past the hops but after about 6 ounces - I still can barely taste past the hops. It's a shame really because I think there's a good malt backbone here - if only it wasn't so buried. After about 15 minutes in the glass and at room temperature - I still taste hops over anything else. There is a slight plum-like yeast finish that's kind of nice but hardly what I'd rate a perfect 5.

The mouthfeel is nice as the relatively high carbonation work well with the high alcohol content. This almost feels like a Delerium T in that it's bright but warm.

This has low drinkability for me and I honestly wanted to just pour it down the sink after the first 10 or so ounces. This is just too bitter and I'd swear someone snuck a hoppy microbrew in this bottle if I didn't know better. If it had an American lable on it - I'd be impressed - but knowing this is a Belgian ale - I'm disapointed and knowing that this is rated among the top Belgians on this site concerns me. This is in no way better than any trappist, any 't Smisje, any De Dolle etc etc. Taste is relative and if you're a hop-head looking to get into Belgians - maybe this is your gateway.

Upon reading more reviews I'm noticing that few others have called this hoppy - my bottle says best by 2008. Did I get a different year than what other people are reviewing? I'm aware I've presented the lowest rating so far and I'll stand by it.

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Photo of NiceGuyMike
3.63/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark redish brown with a bit of a head, not much lacing. Smells of sweet plums. Tastes of sweet plumbs and hints of brown sugar. Warming alcohol that hits hard and fades quick, you get use to it.

Overall and interesting brew, but not overly impressive.

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Photo of DrJay
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep ruby/brown, fairly clear from the initial pour, but with lots of tiny, suspended yeast particles. Fine, light tan head with decent lacing and good retention. Mild aroma with some bread, apple, and chocolate. Malty, but subdued. Moderate malt character with chocolate and orange, and slight raisin. There's a nice breadiness and apple flavour that runs throughout, and it finishes with lingering fruit and mild chocolate. Fine carbonation and a silky texture. An excellent beer, complex without being overpowering, and the alcohol is completely hidden.

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Photo of stof0048
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep hazy brown with hints of red and a slightly tan head that sits between 1/4 - 3/4". Heavy lacing coats the glass as I drink it down.

S: Dark malts, slightly sweet smell, complex.

T: Dark malts, slightly candied flavor (plums, brown sugar...), hint of alcohol but it is well balanced with the other flavors.

M: Very smooth, medium to full bodied, has an almost creamy texture, quite nice!

D: A little on the sweet side to drink a lot of this stuff, but still a winner. This is perhaps one of the best brown ales I've experienced... and I mean experienced, not consumed. Very good to curl up with, especially on a cold winter night and enjoy with the closest of friends!

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Photo of blitheringidiot
4.63/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally, I get to review this gem!

Pours out from a magnum with the punt in the bottom as a hazy russet hue with a half 'n half of beer vs. head cap pour. Loads of scrod chunkerz contained in the pour. Mega foamy spumescent headcap with drippy lace left in the glass. Yes, this gets the 5!

If marriage between man and beer were possible, this would get an engagement ring from me. Pecan and vanilla ice cream notes. Sweet maple syrup and waffles. Dark ale is a misnomer. Mysterious ale is more like it. Root beer and spices. An aroma bomb!

First swigs: Drippy vanilla ice cream. How I waited to taste this? Dunno. Caramel and root beer. Dr. Pepper even. Some pecan extract. Unfathomable sweetness and rich creamy texture. What beer dreams are made of. Soft sweet confetioners sugar and pastry chef delicate perfection.

Feel is a touch of crisp heaven. Soft silky carbonation and a smooth character. Totally smooth incredible offering. I could easily drink this one all night long.

Last swigs: Liquid dessert pastry root beer float. Quite close to Westy 12. Can't wait to see how my friend will receive this as his early Christmas present. Thanks to me for sharing the bottle.

Beer is good. Happy beering. 197/4.35

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

Pours a chunky ruby red/brown, medium off white head, lots of sticky lace. Smell is sweet, molasses/caramel, orange, spice, alcohol, chocolate/coffee, yeast, and cherries. Taste is molasses/brown sugar, apple/pear, cherry, yeast, chocolate, caramel and orange. Mouthfeel is smooth, medium to high bodied, medium carbonation, lives up to reputation. Thanks DrJay!

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Photo of budsboy
3.67/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Best before 2008.

A creeping, slow eruption of white-tan foam on opening, champagne bubbles in there. Milky brown, tan head quickly shrinks back to a sticky residue on top.

Sugary, bready smell, plum, raisen, hint of citrus.

Phenols are apparent but not overwhelming. Spicy, fruity and sharp bitterness on the finish. I expected more, frankly.

Full-bodied and fluffy. Very gratifying.

A brew I couldn't wait to open, and it left me somewhat disappointed. Gets better as it warms. I just don't like phenolic beers, period. Even though this is only slightly so, it steals a bit from me. Still a fine beer, but not the kind to knock me for a loop.

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Photo of Blakaeris
4.33/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours medium brown about the color of ice tea with a substantial amount of yeast floating around. The yeast gives the beer the appearance of being very thick. The head is a thin ring with slight lacing.

Smell is sweet with dark fruits and malt. Honey and caramel. Very nice.

Taste is amazing. First is plum and apricot flavors. Then the spices make their presence known. Underscored with a wonderful carmel maltiness. The finish is slightly dry.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth.

I thought this beer was amazing. The high Abv is dangerously hidden in the interesting array of flavors. I would highly recommend this brew.

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

Tight head, redbrown copper brown. An old penny, before it turns green. Head dies away but lacing remains.

Strong alcohol in the nose. Very strong and warm with lines floating on top of it, it's so potent. Melts glass like candy, brown sugar, white pepper, green banana.

Wonderfully smooth flavor is mix of sweet fruit and sugar, sour alcohol, and warm spices. Distinct stages of flavor flowing seamlessly like a jazz band or high-end vinyl siding.

Nearly perfect synergy makes it exceptionally drinkable and smooth in spite of its high alcohol content. Great beer.

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Photo of jakester
4.8/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I got this as a single at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. I drank it in a goblet. Expiry date of 2008(!) stamped on the label. Label also tells me to drink it @52-56degrees, and to drink it in a tulip glass (which I don't have).

Pours a cloudy brownish red with big chunks of yeast floaters. Looks like the real McCoy! A huge four finger head of beige colored foam forms on top. The head eventually falls to a nice coating and a ring, with excellent lacing all the way down.

Aroma is a very complex combination of chocolate, coffee, molasses, burnt brown sugar, apples, cherries, cinnamon, nutmeg, yeast, and Belgian funk all rolled into one. Can't wait to taste it! Yeasty/funkyness increases as it warms.

First flavor is (WOW) sweet, dark, burnt malt, then the dark fruits like cherries, plums and dates, followed by a slight phenolic, way in the back. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and allspice bring up the rear. Aftertaste is fruity, spicy, sweet, and a little warm. Fantastic! Flavors improve as it warms, even though I started to drink it @ 55 degrees.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, smooth and creamy, with a pretty good zing in your mouth from carbonation. Lips stick together from sweetness. Fantastic burps!. Finish is sweet, sticky, and warm.

I can't wait to get to UJ's for another one of these. This is a truly awesome beer, well worth the price of admission. I hope I can get it in a 750.

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Photo of TheBungyo
4.58/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured gently from the bottle, it looks like a nice mixture of caramel and honey. Creamy looking head sits about an inch tall. In the nose I get a strong tart apple smell mixed with rose petals and pepper. The taste reminds me of a good English Pale Ale, but far more buttery caramel and a sweet aftertaste that I'm tempted to describe as vanilla. Very pleasing. No complaints when it comes to the mouthfeel, not too thin and certainly not too thick. I could have a couple bottles of this and not get tired of it. Too bad the ABV would decide for me!

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Photo of EStreet20
4.7/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bouttle poured into a St Bernardus goblet.

A - Pours a deep, deep brown with a little reddish tint in there and what must be a metric TON of yeast floating around. I'm pretty sure I poured it well, guess it's just the way it comes out of the bottle. Huge off white head that stays like crazy. Big chucks of lacing all over the glass. A very nice look overall

S - I smell a lot of yeast. A nice big smell for a Belgian dark. A little more of a fruity appearance than most Belgian darks in the smell but not overdone. A nice alcohol kick in there and some spiciness.

T - A taste that's extremely subdued, especially after that extreme smell, but delicious. A bit of a dark bready taste with some sweetness. A tiny bit of hops kicks around toward the end. Overall a great taste that's perfectly balanced.

M - Amazing. Goes down exremely smooth, no bite whatsoever. Medium bodied and a great "clean" feeling going down.

D - You drink a sip, you want another one. I'm sure when I drink this bottle I'l want another one. I'm almost glad I can't get beer at this time on Sunday since I have work tommorrow. That's how drinkable this beer is.

Notes: Try it, regardles of the price. Definitely one of the best beers I've ever had, in all aspects.

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

750 ml, best before 2007. Deep chestnut-colored liquid, with auburn highlights, supports a column-like head of dense, finely interwoven biege bubbles. Lacing is fair to middlin'. No carbonation is visible, though there are a few globs of sediment floating around. Smells fruity and alcoholic, with rum raisin and a vague spiciness that eventually comes closest to cinnamon. Nosefeel is clean, penetrating, and liqueurish. After an initial flavor of brown sugar, the taste becomes like drinking a fruitcake... dank, rum-soaked fruitcake laden with candied fruit and pecans. Apple butter rounds out the finish and burps of dried pineapple soon follow. Alcohol is very notably warm without being at all harsh in the mouthfeel, leading to a smooth, dry finish. Everything just adds up to give this beer fantastic drinkability. Very satisfying.

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Photo of frazbri
3.96/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Brasserie des Rocs Grand Cru poured cloudy brown with a large white head. Aroma of apples and vanilla. Chocolate, dates and a little banana flavor. Medium body, fairly high carbonation with lots of yeast.

I'm not sure I've ever had a beer with more yeast in the glass. The yeast almost coagulated in the glass. The alcohol was barely evident for a beer of such strength. There was plenty of flavor.

So this wasn't the prettiest beer ever, but this was tasty.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a single at Riley's here in Madison.

Pours a murky dark brown with big fluffy chunks of yeast suspended beneath a creamy cloud of speckled khaki head. Nose is flush with spicey and yeasty notes with a cidery backbone. Taste is dominated by a bitter spiceyness over baked apple, pear, and dark fruits, caramel/toffee malts and a hint of chocolate. Champagne mouthfeel, crisp with a dry finish. Alcohol is present but fairly well-hidden for 10%, nevertheless, I felt it a few minutes after the final sip. A pretty tasty BSDA, though I think I'd prefer a Trois Pistoles any day.

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Photo of walleye
4.41/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

from the bottle. poured brown with lots of bubbles and with a big and I mean big fluffy light tan head. aroma lots of fruits going on here, cherries, peaches, and a trail mixture of dried fruits, malt. flavor, malts all those fruits, honey . caramel, chocolate covered cherries and brown sugar as it warmed. like this one nice and smooth very drinkable

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Photo of whartontallboy
4.41/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reddish-brown pour from a 750 with a huge beige head of creamy meringue; looks downright delicious and leaves ridiculous sheets of lace in my St. Bernardus goblet. Really one of the 4-5 best-looking beers I've ever seen.

Smell is quite malty and sweet, with a nice fruitiness that speaks of peach, plum, and other dark fruits.

Flavor is incredibly complex, with a nice mix of malty sweetness that's permeated with a certain candy-sugariness, a nice punch of fruit (again, I'd say it's plum, raisin, orange, and grape), a slight minty flavor, and, as it warms, a little bit of roasted smoke flavor in the finish. Very nice. The only hint of the massive ABV is a slight note in the finish; it's really, really well-masked.

Overall: Wow, this one is killer. One of the better Belgian ales I've tried, and that I got it for seven bucks a bottle makes me even more excited. You could pay a lot more for a brew, but I'm not sure you could find one that tastes much better.

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Photo of Padron4KM
3.7/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle, best before 10/08.
Cloudy, hazy, brown with an orangeish tint. lots of yeast in suspension.
Aroma is dried cherries, chocolate, alcohol, yeast.
Flavor is tart cherries, chocolate, honey. a lttle yeast in there as well.
Alcohol for the most part is hidden well, starts out not noticable but as it warms in the glass it starts to peek out and burn the throat a little.

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Photo of silver0rlead
3.93/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice, clear amber with some ruby hues and a huge, frothy tan head that retains very well. Aroma is intriguing with notes of candied sugar, dark fruits (plum, fig, grape, blackberry), funky barnyard yeast, cocoa, toffee, and some toasted bread as well as alcohol. The flavor begins with some big fruit notes (blackberry, plum, fig, grape) followed by a candied sugar sweetness, horseblanket/hay funkiness, some floral and mineraly hop bitterness and some alcohol notes in the finish. Very complex and intriguing, but the funky horseblanket flavor is slightly overwhelming in my opinion. The mouthfeel is full and rich like a quad and the drinkability is ok. A nice, complex belgian that hides it's strength well.

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

I am sampling a 11.2 bottle chilled in a tulip snifter. THe beer pours a clear chestnut color with a light beige head forming a tight edge layer. Aroma is fruity with raisins and plums some oranges and toffee and chocolate as well. Quite sweet and appealing nose.
It also smells like it is gonna be a big robust boozy beer.
First sip reveals a fine tingly carbonation that dominates mouthfeel. Body is average .
Flavor is similar to nose with sweet and fruity notes throughout.
Some toffee and chocolate but then the oranges and cloves come out. Lingering orange dipped in chocolate after taste. No hint of alcohol anywhere even as beer warms. the beer is smooth and tasty with complexity in nose and flavor. The sweet orange flavor is slightly floral and much more intense when yeast sediment is poured into snifter.
Quite a tasty experience!

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

Pours with a five-fingered cream frothy head that fades slowly and leaves a little lace. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Cloudy brown color with a lot of chunky bits settling to bottom of glass. Nose is a sweet malt. Starts malty and smooth; finishes on the sweet side with a hint of alcohol. 750ml bottle from Vintage Cellar Blackburg, Va.
This is a Belgian Brown but that choice is not listed in styles.

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Photo of jamesdergen
4.01/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a beautiful dark orangey, carmel color with a frothy tan head that dissipates rather quickly. Lots of sediment floating around. Gotta love it.

Smell: Can't really pick up a whole lot here. Some dark fruits and a carmelly smell as well.

Taste: Wow, this is a great-tasting brew. I'm picking up some dark fruits, mostly raisins, and maybe some apricot as well. Awesome carmel maltiness and a buttery smooth finish. As I get closer to the bottom of the bottle, the beer takes on more and more of a brandy-like quality, definitely a sipper.

Mouthfeel: Lightly carbonated with a nice medium-bodied mouthfeel. Leaves a tingly, dry feeling in the mouth.

Drinkability: Goes down easy. Maybe too easy... Doesn't feel too heavy and the alcohol is well-hidden.

This is one of the better dark Belgians I have had. I really like the unique carmelly taste and smell. I would definitely recommend this one.

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Photo of EPseja
4.79/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A big thank you to my friend Yelterdow for bringing this beauty over to kick off a premiere screening of American Beer tonight.

Served at just above fridge temperature in a chalice.

A - Cherrywood red/brown color with visible sediment in suspension. Large, creamy off-white head that starts out big and settles to a thin mat after just a minute or two. No real lacing to speak of.

S - Big, toasty malts - thick and sweet. Candied dark fruits; wild flower honey; flan. Very enticing!

T - The first thing that sprung to mind was the fact that this beer drinks like a quad. At the fore, sweet, candy-like maltiness presents itself like the shell of a caramel apple, but with sugared fig and praline inside. Hints of farmhouse funk pop up here and there in the middle, evoking characteristics of a good saison -- fermenting hay and a hint of pungent hops. Very subtle, but enough to make an impact. Finishes with a wisp of smoked-peatiness; very pleasing! The aftertaste reveals a dry hoppiness and an aftertaste of mild wild honey. At 10% ABV, this is an impressively complex and well rounded beer. Kudos!

M - Stellar! Enters the mouth slick and quick. Becomes dessert-like in its subdued foaminess (think meringue). Disappears down the throat without the slightest bit of discomfort, be it from alcohol or overcarbonationn. Wonderful!

T - I blew through an entire chalice of this beer in just 5 minutes while condicting this tasting... drinkable? You do the math.

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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 733 ratings.
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