AleSmith Grand Cru Ale - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale

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BA SCORE
91
outstanding

747 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 747
Reviews: 358
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 10.62%
Wants: 99
Gots: 134 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Bottle conditioned.
AleSmith Grand Cru really needs to be tasted to be truly appreciated. Toasty, caramelly flavors, as well as flavors imparted by the Belgian yeast strain, predominate over a tapestry of subtle nuances. Winner of the blue ribbon at the 1999 California State Fair, it is a thing of beauty. It is available in 750 ml. champagne bottles.

(Beer added by: RedDiamond on 12-16-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 747 | Reviews: 358 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by gshak:
Photo of gshak
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%

More User Reviews:
Photo of BuckeyeSlim
4.6/5  rDev +13.6%

Notes of yeast and gentle spicing. Nutmeg, white pepper, cardamom. Foundation of moderately toasted malts, caramels and toffee with some ABV floating above. Plums, moist raisins, dried dark red fruit. Nose is soft and needs coaxing, but well worth it. After it warms in the glass, the ABV includes sugared orange rind and takes on a brandy personna.

Rich caramel malts and dark fruit jam open. Spices from the nose follow after the ABV moves over the tongue. Finish offers traces of anise, pepper, and raisins / dried black cherries with caramel and toffee.

Smooth and rich without being thick. Good carbonation with a solid body. Components are extremely well-integrated, offering a complex and nuanced melange of flavors.

Want to make a great impression at a small dinner party? Take a bottle or two and some small tulip glasses and serve this with dessert. Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch would be an outstanding match. This is a libation that's meant to be shared, enjoyed, and appreciated. Great stuff.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.81/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a tulip glass. I couldn’t find any date on it, but I know for a fact I’ve had it stored for at least 6 years.

A: The beer is a dark brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains strong notes of candy sugar, dark fruit, caramelized malts, Belgian yeast and a very faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with strong candy-like sweetness from flavors of brown sugar, caramel, dark fruit and licorice. Then some breadiness comes in from Belgian yeast and a hearty malt character. There’s also a significant alcohol sting that follows. The hops presence is very mild but considering the age it’s a wonder that there’s any left at all. The balance comes together some as you continue to drink the beer.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation (another shocking attribute for a beer of this age), finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easily, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, it’s a solid beer to sip on for a while but there are better beers in to age for a long period of time.

Photo of RoyalT
4.6/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance – Not much of a head to this 10.0 ABV monster, but that’s to be expected I guess. The body is a luscious, hazy, dirty brown.

Smell – There’s no shortage of sweets to this Alesmith offering. The strong, dark fruits jump out at you from across the room. The bananas, which I often find absent in this particular style, mix wonderfully with the darker raisins and dates.

The milder presence of figs and doughy malts smells almost like a Fig Newton. The refined sugars are in abundance as well, making this one a very complex BSDA.

Taste – More of the same at the taste. The refined table sugars take things up a notch, making this even sweeter than the nose indicated. The yeasty malt kicks into high gear as well, especially as it warms, making this a real sipper.

Mouthfeel – Full-bodied and very juicy sweet (like the forbidden pool?). The year’s first knat just did a kamikaze “belly flop of death” right in the glass. This one will activate your salivary glands big-time. I was drooling at the nose.

Drinkability – This was a “reward beer” after tasting two horrid bottles (St Pauli Girl & Mission St). I felt like a king sipping on this one. Terrific!

Comments – I’ve only had a handful of ales that can measure up to this one. The BigDog (xlperro) sent me this along with a few other beers and some kick ass homebrews. A big “BA Thanx” for this awesome offering.

Photo of cam477
4/5  rDev -1.2%

Photo of tectactoe
3.43/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Huge thanks to Kevin R for opening this one, along with many other AleSmith goodies. The Grand Cru pours a light-ish, slimy brown color with some mild copper clarity at the top of the brew. The creamy, beige head makes plenty of noise and it sizzles away quickly from almost a half-inch to nothing but a thick skin and collar.

Sweet, sweet grapes and plums and dates in the nose; plenty of dark fruits, like you'd expect from a Belgian dark ale, possibly a little softer and more sweet than usual. Sticky toffee and buttery toasted malts make up the background while also adding more sweetness to the already sweet aroma. Earthy phenols and sweet esters, with a slight medicinal undertone that's kind of throwing me off.

The taste is complex in that it has may elements in it; figs, light clove spice, sweet plums, brown sugar, toasted malts, Candi sugar, spicy yeast, burning phenol alcohol... see? The problem is that, for whatever reason, the flavors don't meld together in Utopian harmony like they typically do for Belgian strong ales.

It seems more like a pot where you just throw in any and all ingredients you can find in the cupboards, paying no attention to the amounts, the schedule, or anything like that. I can't quite put my finger on why this might happen, but the beer definitely suffers in drinkability and overall enjoyability due to this. All the flavors are there, sure, but not in proper capacities.

The mouth feel is typically for this type of ale; carbonated quite heavily giving a light and effervescent (almost) feeling on the palate; medium bodied and lightly creamy. I was expecting to enjoy this beer more than I did, especially given the scores. It was far from bad, but I've had so many other Belgian strong ales that I'd choose over this (and they're cheaper and easier to find, too!)

Photo of MadScientist
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: A medium copper with excellent clarity and a ruby hue. The creamy off-white head leave lacing on the glass and falls slowly but is easily roused.

S: Fruit, spice with a malty sweetness is my first impression. There is a moderate plum and raisin fruit aroma with a moderately-low peppery spice that seems part yeast part hops aroma. A nice rich malt with a little caramel mixes well with the perfumey alcohol and dark fruit.

T: The fruit, malt sweetness and alcohol the dominate flavors here with a moderate flavor of plum and dried cherries. The moderately-high hops bitterness more than balance the malt sweetness bringing the balances moderately bitter despite the initial sweetness. There is a quick bitterness and fruit in the after taste and an off-dry finish. The alcohol brings a floral sweetness towards the finish.

A: This is a medium-full bodied beer with a high level of carbonation and substantial warmth. There is a satisfying moderate creaminess as well

O: Like candy coated plums with a healthy balance of hops. A rich beer like this would be complement to a rich holiday dinner with ham.

Photo of weatherdog
4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A big thanks to Eric for bring this to a recent tasting. He was unsure of the age but he has had it since Jan of 2009 so the bottle has some age on it.

It poured a murky deep garnet with a bone colored head that lasted for a decent amount of time before dying which is kind of impressive considering the ABV.

Dark ripe fruits and port/sherry aromas were the main contributers to the smell. The nose had a warming alcohol aspect to it but it was actually very pleasant and not harsh which I suspect aging helped that tremendously. I can also see some parallels to a big bold red wine.

The taste is just brimming with a ton of plum and cherry flavors. Once again this beer has an absolute ton of port/ oxidized sherry flavors as well, more than I've ever tasted in a beer. The alcohol is present but very smooth. It's on the verge of having the alcohol too present for my liking but age has smoothed it out. i have a feeling that if I had this beer with 6 months less age or so I wouldn't be as much of a fan.

The body is on the thin side and carbonation is quite low which plays up the similarities to a sherry like beverage. On the same vein the thin body brings out the alcohol which dings the drinkability a notch. In this case I don't mind drinking it slower as it's a beer meant to be sipped over the course of an hour or so.

Photo of steelerguy
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a cherry wood like color, not as dark as your typical Belgian Dark Strong. Slight head that fades quickly to a wispy covering. Lots are carbonation in there.

S - What aroma is there is quite nice, a little malt, come candy like sweetness, some floral notes, along with a Belgian spiciness. The problem is that is it is faint! I had to swirl this and let it warm a bit to get anything from it.

T - The beers makes up for the good but faint aroma with a nice maltiness, dark fruit, caramel malts, good complexity. There is also some nice spice and phenols in there. Again, could have used some more intensity, and that shouldn't be said about a DARK Strong. Almost a bit too delicate, more like a Golden Strong dressed as a Dark. Still good!

M - Surprisingly light, hides the alcohol well, smooth feel.

O - This is a good beer, but I honestly expected a bit more from Alesmith. This seems almost like a combination between Strong Ales...too much dark malt to be a Golden but not enough robust malt flavors, color, and aroma to be a Dark. This may be their "Grand Cru" but I'd take Horny Devil anyday over this.

Photo of RandallWesley
4.16/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of Alodnar
4.52/5  rDev +11.6%

Photo of equinox1
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%

Photo of 3HovsepiansBrews
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A nice orangish brown with a cream colored head.

S- Alcohol, toffee, leather, and dried fruits.

T- The sweet taste of brown sugar/molasses is what hits you first. But as the taste matures in your mouth it turns into mostly dried dark fruits like raisins and plums with a hint of apricot. There is also a nice warmth from the alcohol.

M- Syrupy with a subtle carbonation.

D- Be careful. At first you think you could drink a bit, but at the end of the glass, you realize your eyes were bigger than your stomach because the alcohol catches up with you.

Photo of Doomcifer
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%

Photo of Jason
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 1 pint 9 oz champagne magnum that is corked, capped and foiled. Light amount of sediment is on the bottom and stay compact while pouring. 2000 vintage.

Appearance: Tarnish copper with brownish hues, thick and creamy light tan lace straps its self to the glass and leaves a trail all the way down to the bottom.

Smell: Spicy and orangey with a sweet alcoholic nose. Fruity and estery with hints of ripe plum. More spiciness than anything else.

Taste: Smooth to the point of being unreal with a luscious creamy back, mellow alcohol character drapes its sweet and spicy flavours over the tongue. Maltiness is sizable with traces of caramel and a mouth feel that is close to syrupy. Spiciness from the alcohol doubles up and with a hint of yeast brings levels of complexity. Hops? Well they are there but not in any way seen with all of the flavours bursting and thus there is no need for even a modest presence. Mild citric peel with a big plum like fruitiness, alcoholic esters make their move but the spiciness stays on top. A heavy hand of residual sweetness is left over for the spice loaded finish to deal with.

Notes: This is a stellar brew with a deceiving alcohol. Complex flavours keep things in balance with a well rounded spiciness and big malt foundation.

Photo of merlin48
4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another fine Alesmith offering enjoyed at a Saturday tasting session with mtnlover. Grand Cru pours an actively carbonated body with a large, ecru toned head that is creamy and longlasting. Sheet and patch lace is immense.
Aroma has notes of banana, mango, cotton candy sugars, and spicy notes of coriander.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied and has effervescent, Belgianesque, carbonation.
Taste has a notable dark fruit component of figs and raisins. Candy sugars and clover honey are also noted. Very little bitterness here, with a bit of spicy white pepper and coriander, and a mild yeast note. Alcohol is well hidden except for some warming sensation.
I wish Alesmith brews were available in Kentucky. This one came from Cincinnati, but is a nicely drinkable and well crafted Belgian style strong dark ale that is definitely one I would sample again. I just wonder what's up with the green bottles?

Photo of Billolick
4.63/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Large champagne bottle, gold foil, capped, no vintage or best before indication. Poured dark murky plum brown, very minimal carbonation, no head, no lacing. Bold nose of rum, smoke, vanilla, nice.

Deep, bold, intense and complex brew. Notes of rum soaked raisins, oak, smoke, figs, vanilla. Port like. World class brew, fine night capper, or with some tasty rich foods, roasts, bbq, stinky cheese etc.

BSDA lovers go get some to wrap yourself around

Photo of ElSid
4.16/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The Beers of California

#94

A: Amber brown with copper hues and a head of tan of foam which quickly abates to a thin layer of bubbly cling.

S: Berries on first pour which gives way to earth, wood and stone with hints of sugar and caramel.

T: Foundation of slightly toasted grain, caramel and candied sugar. Again are syrupy berry sweetness along with raisins and dates. Hints of oak, vanilla and cocoa powder bring interest and complexity to the palate. The finish brings some warming alcohol along with hints of black pepper.

M: Medium full feel which is also syrupy with good linger. The carbonation is moderate to light.

O: Bold and complex without being overpowering. This strong ale has nuances yet manages to maintain its drinkability. My hat goes off to Alesmith for producing this fine ale.

Photo of tigg924
3.25/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: minimal head, low carbonation, clear, caramel in color

Smell: alcohol, toasted malt, and dark fruit

Taste: dark fruit, caramel malt, cinnamon, alcohol, and cardamom

Mouthfeel: light bodied, high carbonation, sweet with a slightly bitter alcohol backbone

Drinkability: Decent for the style but not spectacular. There is a lot of subtle flavor going on here, but nothing that calls me to rush out and get this again..especially given the price. Not bad, just had better--especially from this brewery.

Photo of aquazr1
4/5  rDev -1.2%

Photo of Mora2000
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this beer. This is my 1,700th beer and it didn't disappoint.

The beer pours a hazy brown color with a white head. The aroma is sweet sugar with some vanilla and cherry notes. The flavor is cherry, caramel malt, brown sugar, alcohol, Belgian yeast and Belgian candi-sugar. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A great American-made Belgian-style beer. Glad I got to try this one.

Photo of olradetbalder
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%

Photo of Mugenlude
4/5  rDev -1.2%

Photo of mattster
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Opened impressive 750ml bottle, poured into chalice.

Pours a low creamy head atop a dark amber colored mostly opaque brew. Nice small bubbles present.

Smell is of malts, warm caramel and dark fruits. Taste follows through with a full bodied flavors. I really like how this taste on the palate and finishes really nice. I was expecting something more sweet considering the sugary smells; the 10% ABV of this brew would also leave one to expect something a bit more burning, but this ale is definitely a well balanced beast.

Photo of jisak74
4/5  rDev -1.2%

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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 747 ratings.