Abbaye Des Rocs Spéciale Noël
Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs s.a.

Abbaye Des Rocs Spéciale NoëlAbbaye Des Rocs Spéciale Noël
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Style:
Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
Ranked #74
ABV:
9%
Score:
88
Ranked #9,303
Avg:
4.03 | pDev: 9.93%
Reviews:
45
Ratings:
69
From:
Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs s.a.
 
Belgium
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  8
Gots
  7
SCORE
88
Very Good
Abbaye Des Rocs Spéciale NoëlAbbaye Des Rocs Spéciale Noël
Notes:
Reviews: 45 | Ratings: 69 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by francisweizen:
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francisweizen from Alaska

4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 750ml bottle. Dark rusty red/brownish colour with a nice head of tanny froth that lasted and left some excellent lacing. Aromas are spicy and doughy with definitive peppery hints, and some exquisite fruitiness as well. Taste is fruity and spicy with peppery hops in the mix with doughy malts. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and lush with carbonation. Drinkability is very good, especially condiering the 9% abv and the complexity of the flavor here. Quite wonderful, unique, and hard to describe, I hope to visit it again...

Jul 19, 2005
More User Reviews:
Photo of rastaman
rastaman from England

4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very christmasy, raisiny, orangy, spicy, caramelly. Nice soft yeast character.Long spicy, slight bitter finish, with some acidity, yeah, i dig it. Pretty much what i'd expect in a Christmas beer. Quite complex and manages to cover every inch of your tongue, beautifully soft texture, ver tasty.

Sep 22, 2003
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Sigmund from Norway

3.76/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(330 ml capped bottle, bought at Borough Market, London.) Pours with a collossal head, beer is clear reddish brown but with an enormous amount of lumpy yeast floaties which are not dissolved in the beer when pouring, thus making the beer in the glass look rather unappetizing - you may actually feel the lumps when drinking. I normally prefer to pour the yeast in with most bottle conditioned beers (enhances the flavour IMO), even when the brewers tell me not to - but in this case it is definitely not to be recommended! Aroma is initially surprisingly mild and one-dimensional malty sweet, improves as the beer warms up - vinous notes with some toffee and oak appear. Flavour is caramelly, oaky and spicy, with a nice alcoholic warmth. Decent enough, if disregarding the lumps.

Jan 05, 2005
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TheLongBeachBum from California

4.75/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled during a visit to the Taverne Du Château on Monday 12th April. Situated in Montignies-sur-Rocs, a lovely small village in Northern Hainaut close to the French Border, and also home to the Brasserie de l’Abbaye des Rocs. The Taverne Du Château stocks a great range of the AdR beers and is one of the best places to sample them.

The fourth and last of the AdR beers that we sampled here was offered to us, presumably, by the owner of the Taverne Du Château. He realized that he had a Taverne full of beer geeks and knew that we were ordering our last beer of the afternoon before leaving. He had some excellent on-trade and bottle sales from our party of 30 for what was a quiet Easter Monday afternoon. So he offered a limited number of us a few cellared Abbaye des Rocs Spéciale Noëls that were definitely not on the Beer Menu and had been aging for around 8 years!!! A jolly nice chap he was, of course we just had to take him up on his very kind offer, and we didn't want to offend him after all!

Presentation: Another 750ml capped green glass bottle. Standard AdR presentation which includes a generic design for the main label, a gold edged simple crown shaped formed from 3 tall arched windows topped in the center arch with a red, white & gold coat of arms. This sits against a dark blue background. Sadly one of our party peeled the label off our bottle before I had chance to snap a picture of the bottle, such is the rarity of this one. The neck label has the same dark blue background, but unlike other AdR offerings that have pictures of the coat of arms and the name of the Brewery, this one simply states “Spéciale Noël” in gold lettering.

Appearance: Dark orange-amber body that was thick in character but which may have faded over the years. The bottle had a large track of yeast down it length indicating that this had been kept on its side for many years. As such, relatively little sediment emerged with the contents, the sediment appeared welded to the side of the bottle. The head formed easily, the inherent conditioning was still lively and assisted in forming a nice 3” deep off-white collared head that slowly collapsed to a rocky mass that laced well. Even after all these years this one looked bloody good.

Nose: Powerful fruity aroma. Tripel like, it had a strong bitterness set amidst some gorgeous fruity aromas. Apples and Pears, cooking spices, some ginger, toasted malts and lots of alcohol soaked plums. Wow, quite the nose on this mature Xmas beer.

Taste: Chewy at first, the bitterness has matured to become very smooth and it balances the large toasted malts about the fruity fulcrum with perfection. Big & bold but never brash, this is more like a Brandy than a beer. Incredible tastes that are almost beyond comprehension and description.

Mouthfeel: The extremely powerful Noël has a massive mouthfeel, incredibly large, all-consuming with a huge alcohol base that warms yet spices the mouth with vanilla soaked ginger and sponge cake. The infinitesimally small carbonation is like a lifeboat that keeps this powerful monster afloat at all times.

Drinkability: Powerful as it was, it was a very drinkable sipper that increased in quaffability as you got used to dissecting its complex character. Shared amongst several of our group, this was a warming ale that nevertheless has appeal and is far from overpowering.

Overall: It seems that later versions of the Abbaye des Rocs Spéciale Noël has gotten darker over the years and more heavily spiced. It was a real treat to have this older version that was most certainly more Tripel-based in character at one time it seems.

I cannot praise the welcome and service that we received at the Taverne Du Château in Montignies-sur-Rocs highly enough. And to have this special cellared treat before we left. Just Incredible! This was a fucking great beer to finish the afternoon with!! Most Impressive. The first time that I ever seen this offering from AdR, let alone tried it, and at 8 years old I can tell you that it was awesome. To think that I may never try this again.

If you see any aged versions of the Abbaye des Rocs Spéciale Noël do not hesitate to snap them up!

Seriously Recommended.

May 16, 2004
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Popsinc from Canada

4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A dark brown pour with a mall off white head.

Smell: The nose was of both spicey cinnamon and dark, ripe fruuit cake.

Taste: Farily complex with fruity sweetness and subtle spice along the way. I found the taste to be much more mile than the nose might have suggested. A very warm and semi-sweet finish due to the high alc %

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and medium bodied. Warm and comforting...if that makes sense.

Drinkablilty: I really enjoyed this beer. Very good but i wouldn't want this one all too often. It has a time and a place.

Nov 03, 2003
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Naerhu from Japan

4.32/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I am neither a great fan of Belgian, nor am I fan of winter/spiced ales, but I was definately a fan of this fine beer.

A - Prodigious amount of floaties in a nice red/amber body.
S - Rich, spicy, cinnamon, spruce, hops and nutmeg.
T - Complex maltness hiding behind all of the nicely integrated spices.
M - I couldnt tell that this beer was a percent over 4. Amazing. Smooth, yet lively.
D - The brewer of this beer should be arrested for contributing to my delinquincy. Smooth, lively and complex, what more could you want?

Mar 24, 2006
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crookedhalo from Pennsylvania

3.65/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pretty much blew the bottlecap off. Pours an opaque chestnut brown with a light brown head. Chalky, malty nose with suggestions of dark berries and leafiness. Very malty and thick bodied, chalky and yeasty. Some suggestions of spice, but I don't think they really use any. Pretty enjoyable, but not my favorite Christmas-style offering.

Aug 28, 2004
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canucklehead from Canada

4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this for my Birthday as it near Xmas. The beer overflowed like a geyser but the pour itself was no problem. The nose is spice and dark corners with the promise of friutcake. I liked the complexity married with a smoothness inherent in the finish. I also suggest cellaring a few bottles for the following Xmas.

Dec 22, 2004
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SeanChouffe from New Mexico

4.26/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A very lively beer. Jumped out of the bottle as soon as I cracked it. A deep red/brown color with some haze. Head is a light tan and diminishes relatively quickly. Aroma is slightly astringent and spicy. Flavor is a nice mix of spices, malt and hops ? a well balanced taste with character, but not overdone. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, creamy and lively.

Damn good. These Rocs all seem to have a similar sharp aroma, but the taste is world class.

Aug 17, 2004
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IronDjinn from Canada

4.07/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Whoa, Caution, Contents Under Pressure!!! Granted that this spent the trip from the West Coast to the Eastern border of the Rockies in my trunk, but has been sitting in my fridge ever since. The moment I popped the cap off cinnamon speckled tan foam came shooting out like champagne, getting all over the keyboard and floor and myself. My first reaction? I put my mouth over the lip of the bottle to prevent it from spilling anywhere's else. The pressure was immense, the stuff started coming out of my nose! Still, from that bizarro sample alone I could tell this was good stuff.

Okay, so when I finally do get it in a glass, it's a deep burnt almond tone, cloudy with suspended particles, with a tall sticky tan head, which eventually lowers to a thick cap and leaves many traces of sticky lacing. On the aroma is rich caramel malt, toffee, orange zest, licorice, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisin, faint ginger, and then a deep brandy alcohol presence. Yet in the flavour it starts with an unmistakable butter/rum character, followed by orange peel, licorice and nutmeg, with even a bit of sweet chocolate nearing the finish. The mouthfeel is very light for a 9% abv, but has such an enticing creamy texture, very smooth, with the smallest of alcohol kicks on the aftertaste, like trying to strike a wet match. A very fine seasonal, I could definitely not drink this every day, but would love it on a regular basis when the weather is freezing outside near the Yule holidays.

Aug 01, 2004
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Phyl21ca from Canada

4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a muddy dark brown color ale with a huge off-white bubbly head with better then average retention. Aroma of big sweet malt with a distinctive yeast presence. Taste is semi-sweet caramel malt with some faint presence of prunes with a slightly funky yeast presence toward the end. Body is quite full and alcohol is very well hidden. I still feel that it lack a little something to make it truly spectacular but very good beer nonetheless.

Mar 20, 2006
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uturn from Florida

4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

Jan 16, 2013
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Crosling from Colorado

3.38/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled at Stillen Genieter in Mechelen, Belgium.

Brown.

Unusual aroma. The nose mainly consisted of old hop pellets, seriously it did. Strong spices as well, pumpkin and coriander. Vanilla, chocolate, caramel and molasses were present as well.

Small for it's size. Mainly malt notes (caramel and toffee) with some notes of plum and raisins. Unbalanced. This just didn't please me. I'd like to try another bottle sometime soon and rereview.

Jul 27, 2004
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Rastacouere from Canada

3.52/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I got this bottle from frink. Thanks! Almond skin brown pour with a surprisingly fully diminishing light brown head. It looks fairly still with the tons of small floaties not moving at all. Aroma is mostly big malt and spices, very chocolatey straightforward with mint, dark bread, and ripened dark fruits undertones (raisin, dates). Thick body could use a bit more carbonation. Palate is very sweet and not as balanced as others. I like the grassy hops from the grand cru and the regular seems far less candyish and spicy chocolate syrup like. Slightly cloying finish with a long spicy aftertaste (cloves, mint, pepper). I expected more frankly.

Jul 10, 2004
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cypressbob from Northern Ireland

4.37/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

330ml bottle

Pours with a murky light brown body, tawny head forming at about an inch or so thick, decent retention

Smell, strong esters, dried fruit and a strong whiff of alcohol

Taste , fruity and dry, nice warming alcohol and a thick malty body

A very good belgian ale, another fine example of a great style

Jun 18, 2004
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Sammy from Canada

3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A strong nutmeg beer, and cinammon and ginger and licorice and orange peel. Some malts and candy sugar to tone down Belgium spice. White foam. Basically syrupy. Some brandy alcohol. Three years of aging would add to the experience. Thanks Irondjinn for the sample.

Aug 22, 2004
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WOLFGANG from South Carolina

4.75/5  rDev +17.9%

Jul 05, 2013
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silenius from Illinois

4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brought back from Belgium to enjoy at home.

Poured from the bottle with a best before the end of 2007 date.

It is a dark and cloudy ruddy orange with a moderate sized head that manages a cap throughout the session. No lacing.

Smell is sweet mandarin oranges and lime with slight dusting of spices and some molasses in the background.

Taste is on the sweet side with oranges and limes dominating the flavor with some light spices and smoke in the background. Leaves with a nice bitter dryness.

Mouthfeel is lively without being prickly.

A very drinkable beer.

May 26, 2005
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GClarkage from California

4.17/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12-26-05- Purchased at a B.C. Provincial liquor store in Kewlowna, B.C.

Presentation- 11.2 oz bottle with a dating strip on the side of the label. Best by 2007. Poured into my St. Bernardus chalice.

Appearance- Dark brown colored pour, full inch head after I barely got the bottle to the glass before it overflowed. Decent to lighter lacing.

Scent- Sweeter caramel malt, definite dark fruits as well. Plums and dates mostly.

Taste- Plums come into play big time in this tasty brew. As well as a nice caramel malt base and a pinch or two of powdered sugar. Spicy as well, but not overplayed.

Mouthfeel- Lightly creamy with moderate to a lower tight carbonation level.

Drinkability- Have another one of these aging and may pick up another one or two when I go back to Canada in February for skiing. Tasty as is, but may turn into a true gem in a few years.

Dec 27, 2005
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paterlodie from Belgium

3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is OK but seen better from beers from brewery Rocs specialy in foaming but all in all good. Pours out with a yellow head up on a clear dark brown beer. Smell is candysweet full malted, hoppy and litle koreander. Taste is warming by alcohol, full malted( partly roast), candy-sugar and hops. Drinkability is great, nothing to stop you enjoying and every sip ends sweetbitter; isn't that nice for a christmas brew? Humm.

Jan 09, 2005
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BDTyre from Canada

4.23/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours nice and cloudy brown with a brownish head that is strong but not excessive. Smells malty and of spices. Taste is similar, with more emphasis on the malts. Detectable spices. Not too bitter. A little too fizzy, but easy to drink. Did not have a problem with the carbonation as others seem to. A high ABV limits drinkability.

Dec 26, 2004
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wl0307 from England

4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

BBE 2007, served lightly chilled in a large Burgundy bulb wine glass.

A: lovely dark copperish hue, relatively clear; a beige-hued foamy beer head comes rather moderate but sustains well, on top of a gently-carbonated body.
S: perfumy fruity, malty and yeasty-spicy--very ripe dark berries and plums, cherry-liquor, brown-sugary as well as candyish malts, sweet fig-jam, a slightly sharp edge of fruit-syrup, a faint tinge of sweetened tangerine/Curacao peel, plus a cinnamon-like spicy hint... The nose is reasonably complex and thick as a 9%abv. Belgian ale should be, but lacks an evolving structure which I'd prefer. Pretty nice still.
T: sweet caramely maltiness and candyish fruity flavour upfront, backed by lots of sticky sour-sweet fruits, like black plums, black cherries, figs, a little bit of citrus peel, plus a soft touch of mixed spices (cinnamon, coriander seeds, white pepper); after the mid-taste it turns slightly drier and the sweet edge also softens, as a welcoming but understated citrus-hoppy flavour develops at the back; a fruit-jammy and slightly licorice palate stays in the short aftertaste, with a subtle flow of warming alc. creeping down the throat. Satisfying and warming finish, albeit a bit sugary-sticky for me.
M&D: the carbonation is executed just beautifully, making a soft and creamy mouthfeel throughout; full-bodied, full-flavoured yet so easy to drink, this X'mas special is IMO a successful beer in its skill of blending all pronounced flavours so well, with a soft touch. A solid, though not heavenly, beer well worth a try.

Apr 29, 2006
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mdagnew from Northern Ireland

4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle bought from BelgianShop.com... aged for about 18 months...

Poured a deep dark burgundy red colour. Creamy head poured quite loose and foamy then faded to just a thin ring around the edge... light carbonation... some sticky lacing...

Aroma - Strong rich dark fruity sweetness (black cherries and black currents mixed together, some red grapes), some light Flemish sour ale notes, the faintest hint of tobacco just noticeable, allspice, charcoal traces, lots of liquorice mixed with some chocolate, molasses, some balsamic vinegar...

Taste - Lots of rich dark fruits (black currents and red grapes) mixed with liquorice and chocolate... reminded me of a Black Forest Gateau. Kirsch alcohol notes, black treacle sweetness, some burnt nuttiness, faint smokiness, Christmas pudding, brandy notes, definite sour ale traces...

Feel - Pretty smooth and creamy... medium / full bodied.. very drinkable for 9%

Overall - A superb and very original Christmas brew... definitely recommended...

Dec 30, 2009
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SFLpunk from Vermont

3.92/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Dany (glouglouburb on RB). 750mL green glass pry-top bottle. 2010 Vintage. My first Abbaye des Rocs.

Pours a deep reddish mahogany with creamy off-white head.

Nose is a little skunky (green glass). Nose is creamy with some black cherry skin, real hand-made caramel, big red wine note (like a Cali Cab), tobacco leaf and some floral notes, like maybe lavender?

Palate is bright and prickly with carbonation and alcohol. Medium bodied. There's big caramel malt right up front but it fades out into some spicy notes and I catch tarragon on the finish. Carbonation turns creamy, but the alcohol is still really prickly on the tongue. Finish is nice and round.

Notes: Not bad at all, my only complaint is that it's too hot. Nicely integrated flavors and finish. Would probably be better served on the dinner table than by itself.

Dec 23, 2010
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haz77 from Australia

3.45/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - BBE 2008. Pours a cloudy chestnut brown with a lot of floaties (despite a careful pour). A finger of fizzy tan head falls to a thin island/ring, but is easily refreshed.

S - Rum, fig, raisin, plum, light whiff of farmyard and some plasticy phenols.

T - First flavour to appear is molasses, although this becomes more toffee-like in the middle. A violet flavour lingers in the background and the finish is dark fruits.

M - Very full, syrupy and coating. Carbonation builds throughout the drink and really cleanses the palate at the finish.

D - Not my favourite dark Belgian as I found it quite one-dimensional. Mouthfeel in particular is good, with the cutting carbonation at the end contrasting the syrupy texture.

Dec 13, 2008
Abbaye Des Rocs Spéciale Noël from Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs s.a.
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 69 ratings