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: 516 | Ratings: 727
Photo of Rijtjeshuis
4.65/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in oversized wine glass.

LOOK (4.5/5) This one pours a rich mahogany brown. Clarity is a bit poorer than I would have thought - it is between hazy and opaque. Head is a real treat! It comes up huge and billowing out of the bottle; it is light beige and mousy in texture. It took a while to fall to a cap, but lacing was a bit disappointing.

SMELL (4.5/5) The nose is rich and malty with a good helping of fruit and a touch of pepper. The malt is largely vienna/munich with it's characteristic melanoidin flavor (plums/prunes/dates) it has a hint of caramel, but no roasty/toasty notes. I get a hint of orange peel and other light fruits. The finish is sweet, but has a touch of pepper.

TASTE (4.5/5) The flavor is very similar to the nose, but the relative strengths differ a bit. The malt is still full of those mailard flavors (dark, dried fruits). I get the impression that the yeast adds a lot of lighter notes to the dark fruit flavors. A good helping of pepper and a surprisingly tart finish round it out. The balance was still malty.

FEEL (5/5) Moutfeel is ideal for the flavours going on here! Medium-full bosy adds some weight and depth to the flavor - the latter is a great transition to the finish and gets that fluffy feel I like.

DRINK (5/5) For a rich, complex brew drinkability is really good because of the lighter fruitiness and the drier finish. Great, refreshing, and complex. Very, very nice!

I'd have to have this with a desert with some nice sharper or more acidic fruits like oranges or berries.

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

330ml bottle
9.5% ABV (as written on the bottle)
I tried this beer on December 15, 2010 at "Smokeless Joe's" in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The beer poured a translucent reddish-brown (when held to the light) with a huge genrous foamy light brown head that lasted long after the beer did. The aroma was dark caramel malt, candy sugar, plums, and yeast. The mouthfeel was full-bodied with ample carbonation. The flavour was sweet malt, candy sugar, yeast, dark fruit...and a nice bitter finish. An excellent beer.

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Photo of Reaper16
3.54/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle served into a tulip glass

This is my second des Rocs beer of the night, and like the first one the Grand Cru comes hard with the gigantic, gross yeast/protein clumps. They look like genetic mutations. I'm pretty sure there was an entire episode of Fringe based around stopping these things from killing the world's population. These things are so big that the Vancouver Canucks should have been suiting them up at goalkeeper instead of Roberto Luongo. This is the Orbitz of beer. As for the color of the beer, it's a tawny, reddish brown. More red than brown when held to direct light. I poured this beer very, very gently, so as to prevent the man-sized floaties, so I generated next to no head. I won't hold that against the beer, especially considering that my strategy failed.

This actually smells damn good for a brown ale! Brown malt meets breadcrusts as the base, but touches of wild honey, cinnamon, and white flowers round things out. Very cool. My only complaint is that the aroma is too subdued. I like what's here, there just isn't very much of it.

Of course, as I say that about the aroma I want the very opposite thing done about the flavor. It's too spiced, too floral, too herbal. The malt character gets somewhat lost amidst the aggressive spices. But this is nitpicking. This is certainly an above average Belgian take on the Brown Ale. It ventures too close to being potpourri to be considered "good" though.

The mouthfeel here, if you can somehow strain the floaties out, is adequately spritzy with carbonation. Perhaps a little hollow in the body, but nothing too egregious.

Overall, this beer from Brasserie des Rocs is a vast improvement of their "Tripel Imperiale" that I had earlier tonight. This has more unique flavors and doesn't just rely on base sweetness. If you like brown ales then this is something you should go out and try.

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Photo of Auracom
3.67/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Holy crap I have so many reviews to catch up on. This was my first brew on my trip to New York; had this on-tap at the Old Toad in Rochester, served in a pint glass.

Pours a very dark, amber-like brown with a reddish tone to it (depending on lighting). Off white head is extremely thin with no retention or significant lacing. Looks just alright.

Aroma is strongly of estery fruit and yeast qualities, including caramel and a little breadiness. Flavor is similar - lots more yeast with malty sweetness, some fruit in the vein of tart apple, a little spice, a slight note of some dark fruit. There's an overlying bite to the drink that's kind of surprising.

Mouthfeel exhibits good carbonation, medium body, a longer finish that isn't all that dry, and a bready aftertaste.

All in all, it's just alright for drinkability. The taste is respectable but it's not all that inviting from the get-go and probably not worth a revisit from me. One positive note - had no clue this was 9.5% until just now. Very little abv presence in this drink.

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Photo of jbonapar
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a wonderful amber with lots and lots and lots of yeasty sediment. A nice head that quickly dissipated.

Smell: Candy surgars, toffee, Butter. a Slight pine.

Taste: Wow....amazingly smooth for a 9.5% beer. Unbelievable. Rich Toffee, Butter Toffee rather...with a hint of raisins and prunes.

This is one of the nicest Belgian Brown's I've ever had.

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Photo of Rassputtin
3.61/5  rDev -14%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Best by 16/10/2012

Pours deep brown. Inch of off white head moderate cling. Lots of suspended globlets.

Smells of tarty fruits but not quite sour. Carmal, malty.

Taste is fruity a little but ends carmally and malty. Strong aftertaste.

Mouthfeels is good, kind of dry
Decent beer not quite my style.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.97/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up at City-Wide in South Bend, Indiana. "Best buy" date of 2010. Served in a Hill Farmstead wine glass.

Pours a moderate caramel-red color with loads and loads of floaties. Bit of a light tan head that goes away fairly quickly and doesn't leave behind much lacing. The nose has some dark fruits and a bit of sweet malt. Some dark sugar there and a bit of yeast. The flavor is along the same lines. It's nice and smooth, but there isn't much complexity to it, especially considering its age. Feel is medium with low carbonation. Somewhat chewy, adding a breadiness to the flavor. Pretty good, but not earth shattering.

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Photo of BretSikkink
4.05/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was one of my early, fortunate forays into great beer (four years ago...) I was surprised but happy that I hadn't reviewed it - a great reason to revisit a classic.

Somewhat clear but fairly opaque brown color with a sticky tan head. This one got shaken before opening and therefore poured with extreme height and stick. Good bubbling and head retention. Nice look, but the lacing is a little disappointing.

The aroma is dark fruity, overripe but not quite to sour territory. Caramel malts with phenolic overtones and an earthy hoppiness. Good power, decent overall.

Malty. Very malty. Raisin bread with butter up front, with brown sugar and fermenting apples on the side. Fairly spicy, which is kind of lost in the whole production. With warming, the flavors grow intense and the body quite full.

Pretty excellent. Get after this one for an authentic Strong Dark experience.

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

I was incredibly impressed with this one. The head was ridiculous. I thought it was a bad sign but no it was fantastic. The complexity of this beer was amazing, so many sweets too name so I'm not going to bother.
A bit on the expensive side, but for a special occasion, this will be a go to beer for me to have in my cellar.

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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 danbar
4.04/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle; label says best buy 14/03/11. Phew...just in the nick of the time.

A: A nice, dark brown color with a thin head and...massive chunks of yeast. Was this beer supposed to be strained?

S: Sweet, malty, caramely goodness with a hint of dried fruit.

T: Taste is good, follows the nose with a sweet, tad smokey flavor and that Belgian yeast. No sign of hops. Finished very smooth.

M: The yeast is actually not bothersome when drinking. I didn't really notice it. Decent level of carbonation.

D: Alcohol is very well hidden - do not taste a sign of it (until I stand up). Finished half of the 750 very easily and could've had more.

Overall, a very good beer but does not really stick out as a top-notch Belgian dark ale compared to others at the top of the style.

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Photo of boss302
4.33/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A ruby red big fluffy head. Lots of chunkies, might intimidate some, so be careful with the pour if you don't like them, otherwise a fine looking brew 4.5

S sweet, malty, chocolaty, Belgian dark ale typical. 4

T clean dried fruit, plums raisins. Good balance. I served it at 54F, which is in the middle of recommendations, but there was a significant cookoff from the CO2 that hides some of the flavor. Caramely finish. Very smooth and balanced. 4.5

M thick on the tongue, typical of other Belgian Browns. A little high on carbonation, but OK. 4

D a very good beer. Would have another. 4.5

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Photo of Damian
3.9/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Drank from an 11.2 fl. oz. bottle purchased at New Beer Distributors, New York, NY
Best before end 2009
Served in a goblet

Upon cracking the cap, a stream of bubbly, light tan froth began spewing from the bottle. As I began pouring the foam (and the liquid) into my chalice, large brown blobs began coming out as well. After settling, the liquid itself was a murky, rusty-mahogany color. The beer was topped by a small, creamy head of khaki colored froth, which quickly faded to a thin, lasting cap.

The aroma was amazingly smooth and fragrant. Yeasty and phenolic. Slightly musty. Sweet toffee and dark Belgian candi sugar notes came through strong. Dried fruits including plums, prunes, figs and raisins were also apparent. Slightly boozy. Some vanilla notes were also detectible.

The flavor profile was very similar to the nose. Lots of rich, sweet malts, caramel and Belgian candi sugar notes appeared up front. Dark fruits and strong spice notes came through in the center. Somewhat nutty. There was an interesting, slightly sour, vinous character as well. The finish was a bit boozy, yet surprisingly crisp and off-dry. A touch of bittering hops were detectible as well.

Had it not been for the large sticky blobs of yeast sediment, the mouthfeel would have been quite impressive. The liquid itself was creamy and silky smooth with a fine, frothy effervescence. Toward the drink's end however, I was getting big chunks of yeast with every sip.

I appreciated many aspects of this beer but the yeast chunks greatly detracted from my overall experience. Perhaps I will seek out a fresher bottle next time.

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Photo of lionchow
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep brown red with many chunks of sediment. Has a finely laced tan head.

Aroma is big, full of grapes, prunes, candi sugar and vanilla. Really beautiful.

Flavor is slightly sour, malty, caramel, sugar, a bit of prune. Flavor is a bit more mellow than the aroma.

Mouthfeel is thin with a little alcohol burn on the back end.

Overall a good taste, but a great aroma.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.07/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have had this beer for quite some time. In fact, I may have had it since about 2006 as I got some from one of the brewers at a beer wholesalers convention I was fortunate enough to attend once. Anyway, I imagine that it has settled as I remember this beer having a lot of floaters. Let's see what it is like:

Appearance: I barely got half of the beer out of the bottle before some serious floaters started heading for the opening, so I stopped them and only got a couple in the beer. The beer itself is a clear amber brown color with a solid vortex of bubbles rising to maintain the 1" head for a good while before it starts to fade slowly back into the beer. I have to say that I am pretty turned off by the huge floaters. Not like I am a wuss, but...

Aroma: I initially got some sweet malt with toffee notes and some raisins and other dark fruit. There is a reserved spiciness that is blending well with the beer, and I think that it is as much real spice additions as it is contribution from the alcohol. Some toasty Munich notes and the spice is giving a clear Lavender as the beer warms up a bit.

Taste: The flavor is also complex and fragrant with spice and floral notes complimenting the alcoholic spiciness and sweet toffee malts giving the beer an almost dessert-like impression. Overall the beer is medium bodied with plenty of carbonation, so it comes across quite drinkable despite its high alcohol percent. There really isn't any hops to speak of, but they may be hiding behind the spice. The finish is balanced firmly toward the sweetness with the alcohol staying reserved the whole time.

Opinion: Well, this is a well blended beer, especially at this point. I remember when I got this beer that it was really balanced toward the spice, and it was all so fresh and new that I knew that this beer had to cellar for a while to soften up. Well, I didn't intend on letting it sit for over 5 years, but it has definitely done this beer well. If there weren't so many floaters, this would be pushed up a lot higher for me...but I am not a big fan of chewing my beer unless it is an imperial stout, you know what I mean?

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Photo of boudreaux
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz; Best before: 02/18/2013; classified as a Belgian Special Brown Ale

A: a lot of head in the glass, although it did foam over after popping the top; extremely murky, brownish color with a hint of red

S: sweet & spicy aroma, a little funk to it; typical Belgian yeast, with a touch of candied sugar and yeast

T: pretty solid, like a spicy strong Belgian version of a milder brown ale

M: rough sediment, due to the yeasty, in-bottle fermentation; definitely worth the tongue coating

D: a little yeasty for my tastes; however, a pleasantly refreshing and positive Belgian Strong Dark Ale

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Photo of gumushie
4.31/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

From a 330mL bottle. Drink by date listed as 16/10/2012. Served into a Hoegaarden Grand Cru glass at 55°.

Before I even opened the bottle I noticed a lot of sediments floating around, so I left it to settle for a few more days. I gave up waiting 3 days later. Looking through the bottle, even with no disturbance, there are tons of little flakes of sediment floating around. It looked like a piece of amber.

The Pour: As soon as the cap was cracked the beer gave an impressive 1/2 in. head in the neck. The sediment sort of takes over. It come rushing out no matter how carefully and slowly the bottle was tipped. Formed a very voluminous head, color was cream tinted pink. Despite the lees a gorgeous it had a deep ruby red/brown. However, beer that 'glops' from chunks of stuff is a little disconcerting.

The Aroma: Mouthwatering. It hits you as soon as you start pouring. Like any good beer, you get notes of general types of smells but it's seamlessly and wholly it's own thing. Sweet, caramel, dried raisins/cherries, spiced wine and malt. Delicious and no heat.

The Taste: Though the sediment is potentially a drawback, it certainly wasn't what I was looking to have a mouthfull of, this is a damn good beer. Incredibly smooth (once you get past the lees). It tastes as good as it smells with the addition of dark buckwheat honey and walnuts on the tongue. Like the daytime version of the Rochefort 8. Does not drink like a 9.5% abv!

Overall: I've complained about the lees enough. This is an exceptionally tasting beer. Perfect for cold nights and desserts.

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Photo of Urbancaver
3.95/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours reddish brown with lots of white head that sticks around forever. Sweet tart on the nose. Some citrusy smells coming through with lots of sour. bitter tart on the tongue. a lot of fruit coming through with a very dry feel. Great mouthfeel... nice carbonation. A sipper for sure. Too sweet to be drinkable

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Photo of Frosty80
4.1/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Popped the cap and, just as it did with a slightly expired bottle, the carbonation goes nuts for a long period of time, carrying a lot of chunky sediment up to the top before it drops it. need to seek a professional opinion on this

Color: pours a slightly milky, light brown. sits slightly cloudy, light brown with orange hue. head is explosive and massive with tight bubbles with about a 5 min half life.

Smell: like a conservative young lady: really takes some work to get it to open up. concentrated blast of sweet, bready malt, dark fruit notes and light caramel. has a very light toasted character along with some spicy highlights. alcohol is pretty subdued as well as the noble hop presence

Taste: light, peppery spiciness is consistent throughout, from the alcohol and light hops i imagine. caramel and dark fruit notes are in quantities enough to balance and not take over the palate. sweet bread and light toasted notes are found a little deeper. finish is somewhat dry, as is most of the palate, with a tinge of spiciness and bitterness along with a hint of toasted nut and dark fruit

Mouthfeel: medium body with, surprisingly enough, medium carbonation

Notes: very complex. gotta keep swirling and smelling to get this brew to reveal all its secrets. more on the Trappist side of BSD's

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

11.2oz brown bottle
9.5% abv

Brasserie des Rocs Grand Cru was dark brown in color with lots of yeast floating around. It had a huge beige head with good retention and left a little lacing behind. The smell was brown sugar, dried fruit, and spices with a touch of alcohol. The taste was very good and complex with toasty malt, fruit, yeast flavors and spices, and a hint of alcohol. It had a long dry finish. It was medium-full bodied with medium carbonation. Drinkability was outstanding. This is a very good beer and worth seeking out.

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Photo of jrallen34
2.99/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2oz bottle poured into my Narke tulip...Shiney medium copper, much lighter on the sides. Lots of yeast floaties throughout. A tope head rises about two fingers, then falls quickly to a half finger full cap, decent lacing...The aroma is challenging to say the least, tea, yeast, alcohol, and vomit...The taste again is lots of yeast and iced tea, just not feeling this beer at all. Pass.

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Photo of rapidsequence
3.88/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle. $8.99 from Beer Run.

Appearance: Pours light brown with a very large, tight head. It recedes, but never completely goes away, leaving at least a half finger of head all the way to the bottom of the glass. Held up in the light, the beer is perfectly clear, with a dark orange-red color. Lacing is minimal. Lots of crap in the bottom of this bottle. Lots.

Smell: Sweet and sour dark fruit and phenolic spice. Musty yeast. I like it, but the musty/sour notes drown are a little too dominant.

Taste: Very spicy and yeasty. Phenolics tend toward bandaid, which is a bit much. Flavorful maltiness. Dark fruit again is somewhat sweet, but with sour notes. Ethanol bitterness on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is lively without becoming to sharp or tingly. Creamy and soft in the mouth. Dryish finish.

Drinkability: This is a pretty good BSDA. A bit too musty/spicy/sour, but overall its got a lot of complex, interesting flavor. Not the best of the best, not even close, but good.

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

330 ml bottle, BB says 28. August 2012, into 180 ml Chimay chalice designed for tasting aged Chimay blue. Pours deep copper-brown body with coarse yeast particles, topped by thick beige airy head that dies out in a minute or so and exhibits even less duration with the later pours. Aroma is rich sherry-like malty sweetness with honeyish notes and unrefined sugar (although the beer is pure-malt one without sugar added), fruity esters of plum and raisin and peppery phenolics. Some barely noticeable spicy alcohol. Flavor is rich , almost Munich-type like malty sweetness with bready notes, dried dark fruits, peppery phenolics and light bitterness toward the finish which is surprisingly dry for a such sweet, malt inclined brew. Medium to full bodied, viscous and creamy with soft carbonation and alcohol warmth.
Abbaye des Rocs remains one of my favorite breweries although their dark strong ales are are somewhat alike and hardly distinguishable.

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

11.2 oz. bottle poured into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours a dark reddish-brown color; totally solid, though looks a bit hazy. Nice 1-finger off-white, dense foamy head turns into a heavy film.

Smell: There's lots of sweetness in the aroma. Caramel malts, plus some fruits.

Taste: Starts out malty with a bit of caramel. Some plums and other dark fruits come in, followed by a bit of tart cherries. Finishes with citrus flavors, like orange. Malty aftertaste with bittersweet citrus.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and very smooth. Minimal carbonation.

Drinkability: Very drinkable - high ABV but no presence in taste. Good flavor too.

Lots of complexity in the taste, and it isn't too sweet (like I was afraid it would be from the smell). Very enjoyable!

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Photo of keithmurray
3.51/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle poured into a Duvel snifter

Appearance - Redish brown color, aggresive pour yielded no head. Lots of sediment floating around on this one

Smell - This smells sweet and rich, brown sugar, plums, raisins, red wine, grapes

Taste - Feels like I'm drinking red wine instead of a belgian brown. Red wine, grapes, booze is prominent

Mouthfeel - So much Sediment floating around in this one that the first couple of sips felt like a slushie, remove the sediment and the mouthfeel on this one is a bit thin for a Belgian ale, no carbonation to speak of here, which is puzzling me a bit

Drinkability - compared to other BSDA's I've had, this is far down the list in terms of beverage quality. I may have gotten a bottle that wasn't stored in optimal conditions, but with all the nice choices out there for BSDA's and factoring in the price (~$6 for 11.2 oz) I can't see myself re-visiting this one.

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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 727 ratings.
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