Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

AleSmith Grand Cru Ale - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

365 Reviews
THE BROS
95
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 365
Hads: 805
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 10.1%
Wants: 102
Gots: 164 | FT: 11
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:
Beer added by: Jason on 04-27-2002

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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of AleSmith Grand Cru Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 365 | Hads: 805
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.06/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle, aged ~1 year. Pours a deep brown with a small white head. Aroma of raisin and sweet malt. Flavor is vegetal, quite malty and heavy in the palate. A little better as it warms, but it's super sweet. This is supposed to age well, but I didn't like how it turned out. Meh, not a fan.
6/4/7/3/13 (3.3/5 (305 characters)

Photo of beerwolf77
3.08/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to sweemzander for another bottle to sample.

A: Cinnamon brown with red edges. Small amount of dirty white head. Soapy lace.

S: Caramel malt and sort of faded hops. Bready with a mix of dark fruit. There's a bit of spice in there but the nose is rather subdued.

T: Mild caramel malt and faded hops. A bit of dark fruit and wet leather. Strange spices float around in there as well.

M: Medium body with modest carbonation.

O: Overall very average at best. (468 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
3.12/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750mL bottle poured into a tulip. Got this awhile ago from a generous trader, but I cannot remember who, but thank you!

(A)- Pours a reddish amber color. Produced a decent off-white head that dissipated down to bubbles.

(S)- A rich earthy clay with some dark fruits and subtle raisin.

(T)- Lots of raisin-like dark fruits. Mildly earthy.

(M)- A good carbonation level. Dry and earthy with some bitterness in there too.

(D)- Its a decent belgian strong dark. A tad thin, yet rich in a sweetness sense. Rather straightforward for the style. (543 characters)

Photo of hannydawg
3.15/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750ml bottle into Duvel tulip.

A- Rich mahogany color with reddish hues. 2 finger off white head sticks around for a while with minimal lacing left behind.

S- Dark fruits dominate with figs, plums and raisins present. A peppery smell is also present, as well as caramel malts.

T- Sweet caramel malts, plums, raisins, and a bit of alcohol present that was hidden on the nose.

M- Medium bodied, with ample carbonation, but the alcohol comes through too much, something the Belgians seem to hide much better.

O-Not a bad BSDA, a but too sweet, and the alcohol is more present than I care for. (594 characters)

Photo of BARFLYB
3.21/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle purchased at Whole Foods for a nice price. Split with Oglmcdgl, into some Duvel snifters. Been two years since I had a aged bottle and I think this is fresh(er).

Dead red plum juice drizzle with light brown bark rounding out the hue. A stealthy healthy pour yielded a whole hand of vanilla white foam that stuck together quite well, but not on the glass. Just some small sqiggly streaks and a ring around the glass.

For a BSDA this does not have the moxy or the dark fruit and sweet presence for the style. This smells more like an American Strong with all that booze in there, it's not hiding, it's not scurred. There is some dark fruit with light plum and apple but it comes off some what rotted or decayed. Some melted banana and strange yeast.

A big bite of banana in the morning that's whooomp, up there. Some applesauce with sprinkled cinnamon, rotted plums and bready yeast that leaves a strange taste in my mouth. Along with all of that is the booze which is kinda killing this for me, or the beer for that matter. Some sweet toasty malt but it needs more and more fruit for that matter.

Grand Cru is nice on the higher side of medium that is boozy and some heat comes from that, especially warmed. The warmer it got the drinkability went down, although the fruit comes out more, but so does that booze. A semi dry finish where I would expect a smoother ride. It does kinda fit the strong ale category in feel along with other areas. A sharp bitey carb on the tip of the tounge.

I remember liking this more when I picked it up an aged bottle in NY a few years ago, a bit more complex then. I don't think my palate changed, I just think this beer may need to grow up a bit and mature. Split these 750's or sit on em, this could be good in at least two years, not my bag now. Will update in the future. (1,826 characters)

Photo of odeed
3.23/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

after drikning a 2000 bottle a few weeks ago i must say this was a bit different.(good thing i bought 2 as im going to cellar the other one)
first thing i noticed is this one did not have a cork in it as the 2000 bottle did.
i dropped this one in a pint glass and it gave no head at all.
had a nice drak amber color.
overall taste?it was still smooth but the alcohol was a bit overwhelming twards the end.i could see the same taste as the 2000 bottle trying to come out but hey...what do ya expect ya know? (510 characters)

Photo of tigg924
3.25/5  rDev -20%
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. (514 characters)

Photo of claspada
3.25/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a reddish caramel color with bright orange edges with a nice pale knahki/pale orangish cap. The foam is much too soft to last or to result in much lacing.

Aromas begin not too powerful or complex. I get a lot of over-ripe apple and a great deal of warm yeast spiciness. As it warms the above become more forward with the clove and more complex Beligan yeast smells coming into the forefront. I am surprised by the lack of dark fruits which I typically find in this style.

The tastes begin with light sweet bready, biscuity, pale maltiness. Soon you are overwhelmed with the typical Belgian yeast dominant flavors which I have admitedly become tired on. Spicy clove esters are dominant and really all I get with the exception of a light cidery apple flavors you get mid-palate. I would prefer a lot more dark malts or dark fruity malt flavors here, but sadly they are lacking.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation. Very good for the style.

Overall this is just a miss for me because of the lack-luster complexity and overwhelmingly dominant Belgian yeast flavors. I prefer the yeast to play an equal part with the malts and hops in my Belgian dark ales, but here it didn't quite work. Definitely my least favorite AleSmith offering I have had to date. (1,277 characters)

Photo of DoubleJ
3.25/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On-tap at 38 Degrees, another beer that nearly got away. On to the beer:

Looks dark amber with a translucent look. Small amounts of lace are dotted around the glass as the beer is consumed. The nose says GRAPE! More specifically, dark grape. Somewhat medicinal too.

Isn't it funny how I think of medicinal and dark grape in the nose, yet in the taste, it reminds me a lot of children's chewable grape pills. I remember liking the flavor of those pills, and while I'll admit to still liking that taste somewhat, it isn't the most optimal note to taste in a Belgian-style ale. Cocoa notes are a distant second. The alcohol shows only a fraction of itself. The medium heavy, chalky mouthfeel is the best characteristic of the beer.

AleSmith does a lot of things that I like, but the Grand Cru isn't one of them. A beer with this kind of monotonicity needs a really good flavor to carry the weight, but in here, while tolerable, isn't enough. (943 characters)

Photo of KFBR392
3.26/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Very similar look to a barley wine style ale, dark amber color. Clean look with a much smaller head then I expected. Had to aggressively pour this one to get a more traditional belgian head, which subsided quickly.

Smell: A very bright yeast aroma, not what I expected out of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. The booze is hidden well behind the again very strong belgian aroma.

Taste: A smooth clean taste, again, not what I expected from this beer. There are some slight exotic fruit flavors at the front of this beer but subside quickly to a traditional yeast taste. A very thin body to this beer, certainly didn't make me remember or favor this beer.

Mouthfeel: Thin. Drank like a regular belgian beer. No flavors stood out on the tongue.

Overall: I had higher hopes for this one. Alesmith brings it with most of their brews but I won't recommend this one. Maybe it is unfair I had Unibroue Maudite a couple days before so it had some high standards to meet. Solid beer but did not live up to my expectations or the price tag. (1,041 characters)

Photo of malcontent
3.28/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Ruby to brown body with a slight haze about it. Head is short-lived but lacing is generous.

Dried fruit, especially prunes and apricots, rush forward initially. Then, however, strong boozy aromas and faint spice (cardamom) flit back and forth. There's a lot good going on here but the fruit esters grow a touch strong.

Big fruit right off the bat (it's squarely apricot now) turns quickly to borderline cloying because of the alcohol. If it were more viscous this could pass as a dessert wine. Hints of toffee creep up before a mild sourness meets it, thereby creating an almost lactic (if not downright cheese-like) finish. A real mish-mash of flavors without much cohesion. The beer certainly has its strengths but seems to fail on the larger level.

Mouthfeel is a strength with a thick start that never descends in to syrupy territory. In fact, it's almost shockingly thin given the ABV. Still, the sheer inconsistency of the beer makes it fall short of my expectations. The real culprit actually seems to be a yeast strain that may have gotten away from the brewers. I'd be curious to see how this ages.

Big thanks to kryptic for the trade. (1,148 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750 ml bottle split and poured into a Duvel tulip.
10% ABV, "Improves with age, Store in a cool, dark place for 6 to 24 months or longer. Do no refrigerate until ready to drink. Serve at 50-55 F for best flavor. Pour gently into an Alesmith tulip glass leaving brewer's yeast in the bottle."

Thanks to Sweemzander for breaking out yet another bottle for our tasting!

A - Cinnamon brown with orange highlights and a fluffy tan head. Low lace and retention but good clarity with this brew.

S - Strong Belgian yeast nose brings the authenticity right away. Dry, dark fruit esters consist of dark cherries, fig, and spice. Deep maltiness and candied sugar through the finish.

T - Dry and dirty, there isn't much going on with this one aside from the dusty, dirty flavor quite honestly.

M - Dry but smooth, Grand Cru doesn't have much flavor but it does finish with an alcohol kick.

O - The nice aroma sets this one up for a big let down. Bland flavor, this Belgian brew is pretty weak, especially for an Alesmith. (1,015 characters)

Photo of walshclimb
3.31/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is a strange beer. I expected more, coming from Alesmith, but overall I was not very impressed. The bottle states that it is brewed once per year, but there is no indication on the bottle of brew date or year. I think it may be better aged, but how long? Who knows because we have no date. I don't know if this was a 2006 or 2007 bottle.

The appearance is the highlight. It is dark honey to red amber in color with a thin bubbly head that dissipates quickly to almost nothing. It smells malty up front with molasses and a hint of spice with maybe a hint of cough syrup. The initial flavor is hot and strongly malty with some carmel and slight perfume. Overall pretty sweet with maybe a hint of wet blanket. The aftertaste is sweet molasses and a little tart and is medium lived. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with an alcholic finish, and It is a little light on carbonation.

This is an interesting beer with complex flavor, but I would probably not buy it again. One small glass was enough. I would like to taste an aged bottle to see how the flavor changes. (1,079 characters)

Photo of lou91
3.32/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

No cork and no fizz on the open. Oh, what a great nose of sweetness, plums and rum. Good looking beer. A dark amber color with a creamy rich head. I hate to say this but the taste falls way short of reputation for the style and the brewer. The taste is like a tug-o-war between malt, alcohol and sugar with taste being the obvious loser. The imbalance makes for a dry malty strong ale with a maple butter chaser. I can't imagine time helping but I could be wrong. (463 characters)

Photo of bennetj17
3.34/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Purchased last summer, covered with red foil. Nice reddish amber color with a high clarity. The tan foam is about 1/2 inch thick and settles pretty quickly despite a high degree of carbonation present. I like the contrast between the ruby hue of the beer and the almost brown color of the head. The nose is an astringent mix of plum, raisin, caramel, and strong alcohol with a lightly charred character. Much of the same fruity malt and alcoholic burn in the taste. The flavor also seems to have a decent hoppy balance giving it a slight bitter finish. The strength of flavor appears somewhat similar to a Barleywine style. The mouthfeel is pretty unremarkable, medium body, soft carbonation. Overall the drinkablility suffers from the harsh alcohol. It's decent, but I can't really say that I recommend it... (809 characters)

Photo of Flyer
3.35/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I found this beer to be disappointing. Totally by coincidence, I had this after Ale Asylum Grand Cru, and given my respect for AleSmith, I was shocked that it "lost" that comparison. Both are malty versions of a belgian ale/dubbel, but the difference is that this is out of balance -- a cerealy malt dominates the subtler notes associated with a dubbel and candi sugar. Some nice toasty, minty, vanilla notes almost get lost. (425 characters)

Photo of theopholis
3.35/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance- Pours a dark, fairly clear ruby.Head is a uniform, foamy, tan head with some staying power. No lacing at all.

Smell- Lots of breadiness up front. Hints of molasses, roasted toffee, caramel, and figs. Some light fruits in there to. Yellow apple maybe.

Taste- Very well blended malt profile. No specific flavor jumps out at you. Slightly earthy with hints of caramel; brown sugar; toffee, with a very subtle mix of dark fruits (raisin, plum, black cherry, etc.) with light fruits (yellow apple). Hints of a very melange of spiciness in there to. Maybe some pepper and nutmeg right at the edge of detectability.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Good carbonation. Nothing to write home about.

Drinkability: Decent. Not great, but worth trying. (749 characters)

Photo of charlzm
3.42/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Consumed at Encinitas Ale House in Encinitas, CA on December 29th, 2010.

Beer is a clear, deep shade of brown with ruby red highlights. The head is composed of very fine, uniform bubbles that provide nice sheeting on the glass.

Aroma is unfortunately all metallic.

Mouthfeel is a bit chewy. Flavor is juicy and fruity: plum, pear, dark chocolate, caramel malts and a hint of nutmeg. Moderately sweet. Finish is dry, clean save for that metallic note. Slight warmth at end.

Flavor is assertive and unusual but not terribly complex; I'm glad I didn't have a big glass of this! (580 characters)

Photo of tectactoe
3.44/5  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!) (1,820 characters)

Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.44/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I have had this beer for a good bit over a year at least, and it is high time that I reviewed it. I picked this one up just outside LA. Anyway, here we go...

Appearance: There was very little off-gas when I opened the cap, and the head poured reflecting the same lack of carbonation. The beer itself is a murky reddish brown with a few bubbles seeking the top.

Aroma: My initial impression was that of raisins mixed with sherry, but as it sits for a few minutes the alcohol isn't as much in your face and it is taking on a sweet brown sugar nose.

Taste: The flavor is pretty much inline with the aroma in that there is a lot of brown sugar sweetness and spice from the alcohol that stays with you all the way into the finish as an evident warming on the back of the throat. The fruitiness is also a big player, and I get mostly dark fruits like raisins, figs, black cherries...and oh, boy does this beer warm up the throat! Though the lack of carbonation hurts the mouthfeel, but this beer is big enough to go down like an Old Ale or some such that doesn't need any major carbonation. The sherry notes are in the flavor as well.

Opinion: This is a pretty good beer for being as flat as it is. I must have had it for too long or something, but it is rather murky as well. Anyway, I would like to try this beer again fresh, but I will still drink the whole thing this evening. (1,379 characters)

Photo of TheDM
3.45/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This brew pours a small head of finely sized mostly diminishing bubbles that leave a fair lacing and it has a transparent dark amber body. It also had a strong alcohol aroma. Initially, the alcohol flavor comes through, but later softens in the finish. (252 characters)

Photo of srandycarter
3.47/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

OK, I wasn't sure if it was part of this beer, but it seemed really flat. It's the 06 and it was stored properly. No head, almost no carb in tasting. I am just not into really flat beers and I am having trouble rating it as such, but here goes.

A - Pretty, dark dense looking caramel. No head.

S - Dark fruits, mostly, with some sweet and roasty malt floating about in there.

T - Rich candied and cooked fruits. Some hops in there to bitter, but not completely balanced. An almost oxidized, stale finish.

M - FLAT. Medium bodied, not completely balanced.

D - In it's current state, I would never try it again. The carb thing just really disappoints for me. (661 characters)

Photo of SirSketch
3.48/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The color was a nice array of reds and oranges, reminiscent of sunset. Very small ring of head on the edge. I got a lot of white wine from the nose, as well as a nice balance of sweet and sour aromas. For some reason though, I got a very distinct smell of rubber cement or crazy glue from this beer, and I really couldn't get passed it. The taste is very vinous, with some malt backing it up, and a little Belgian yeast characteristic mixed in, though not as prominent in most Belgian style beers. Pleasant, but I keep drinking and wishing for more flavor and complexity to come out of this beer. Alright, but not worth seeking out, as I did. (642 characters)

Photo of OldSock
3.49/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance – Green 750 ml bottle from Bev Mo and hauled back from San Diego. The beer pours a dark brown-ruby with a small bit of carbonation rising through it. The head is tan and composed mostly of large bubbles that only rises one finger even with a vigorous pour. Retention is poor and lacing is patchy.

Smell – Good malty yeasty aroma. Hints of caramel and alcohol play back up roles as well. In the background there is a faint hint of chocolate.

Taste – Eh, alcohol and a faint toasted malt comprise most of the flavor. Pretty well balanced, sweet , but not cloying. It isn’t an unpleasant flavor, just not particularly interesting.

Mouthfeel – Full mouthfeel with low carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – The mouthfeel and big alcohol flavor, not to mention the alcohol itself, make this a slow drinker. This is an alright beer, no glaring problem, but nothing really sets this apart from its peers. A bit of a disappointment from such a great brewery. (976 characters)

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

The body is a very dark red there's not a lot of head, but there's enough. There are lots of fruity esters and a warmth to the malt. It's a bit alcoholic, but not overpowering, although it does give it a bit of a bourbon undertone. I was a bit underwhelmed by the beer, though. (277 characters)

AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 365 ratings.