AleSmith Grand Cru Ale - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale

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BA SCORE
91
outstanding

363 Reviews
THE BROS
95
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 363
Hads: 796
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 10.1%
Wants: 97
Gots: 159 | 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
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Reviews: 363 | Hads: 796
Photo of beersarang
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 vintage sampled in July 2005.

Pours a ruby brown with a small head that is not hugely impressive. The lacing and syrupiness of this brew is apparant, and the color is beautiful.

Nice fruit alcohol aroma, simple and sweet.

Malt character is complex and hard to describe. A lot of flavor comes from the fruits in the brew. Raisins are big, as well as some plums perhaps. Hops show there face only in bitterness, but the alcohol is slick and warming.

Medium bodied with a slick oily feeling. Very velvety smooth. Light carbonation.

Buy this one and shelve it. It will mellow out with age. In 3 years I can tell this will be incredible. (652 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Strawberry caramel with bright orange edges. The cap is pale orangish ecru in color and is airily expansive thanks to a near Belgianesque amount of carbonation. It's too bad that it doesn't share the firm, sticky texture of the best Belgian heads though. The foam is much too soft to last or to result in much glass coverage. The beer itself looks great though.

On a good note, the nose is classic BSDA. On a not so good note, it could be both more powerful and more complex. It's wonderfully mushy apple fruity with a warm spiciness that is more appealing the more I smell it. I detect cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, spices that remind me of autumn for some reason. Warming improves things to a considerable extent and makes a bump in score an easy call.

I needn't have worried. This brewery rarely disappoints and they definitely haven't done so here. One sweet, spicy, explosive sip is all it takes to tell me that Grand Cru is yet another fantastic AleSmith ale. For some reason, it looks as though the brewery decided to stop putting the vintage on the bottle. My best guess is that I'm drinking the 2005 edition.

This truly is a world-class BSDA that can easily hold its head high in the company of the best that Belgium has to offer. Grand Cru isn't all that dark in terms of roasted malt (see Stone Vertical Epic 05.05.05), but is more darkly fruit along the lines of heavily spiced dates and figs. Delicious, delicious, delicious.

I'm a little surprised at how sweet it is. That isn't a complaint though, I love sweet as long as it's in the context of an outstanding, multi-faceted flavor profile, as it is here. It looks like a perfect amount of dark candi sugar is Grand Cru's secret weapon. That and a wonderfully spicy Trappist yeast strain that provides authenticity and complexity galore.

I'm feeling the double-digit ABV much more than I'm tasting it. Well-integrated alcohol is a valued part of the flavor, as it is in almost all big beer. The fact that it whispers rathers than shouts is a very dangerous thing indeed. The body/mouthfeel is the best of both worlds. It's full, borderline syrupy and sticky, yet is as energetically carbonated as all but the most hyperactive Belgians.

Grand Cru is truly wonderful beer. It pays homage to its Continental counterparts while at the same time delivering a distinctly American, big beer twist. It isn't often that I spend $13 on one bottle, but it's hard to argue with the quality that this brewery puts into each and every one of their 750s. I love AleSmith beer! (2,543 characters)

Photo of MisterClean
4.48/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared with concours. Way to get this one man!

A - Pours mahogany with 3 fingers of mocha head and dissipates slow. Leaves beautiful lacing, good head retention.

S - Rich, dark chocolate, light roast coffee, toffee, and bittering hops.

T - Light roast coffee, toffee, dark chocolate, grapefruity and bittering hops. There may have been a slight presence of rye tossed in for shits and giggles.

M - Full bodied and well balanced with a slight lean toward malt domination.

D - Great,too expensive though. I think I saw bottles at $15 or so. Really easy to drink beer, little to no odor of alcohol, and just a great american take on a strong dark belgian. (657 characters)

Photo of jellikit
4.49/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Crystal clear. Deep copper. Thin foamy head.

S: Cream Soda. Vanilla. Prune.

T: Raisin, prune, fig, vanilla, slight chocolate. Well balanced with the flavors and the booze.

M: medium carbonation, medium body. Velvety goodness.

O: great beer. Well balanced. Easy drinking for a big beer. Will buy again. (322 characters)

Photo of Greywulfken
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: ruby brown beer with big head of tniy bubbles that'll settle into a nice lid with some ropy lace

S: orange, coriander, spices, toffee, dark fruit

T: spices and fruit with booze infusion, raisins, figs, toffee, caramel, apples, clove, ginger

M: fuzzy and rich, medium body, fairly clean-finishing, wonderfully drinkable

O: AleSmith hasn't had a miss yet in my book - I'll venture to say that any big bottle of AleSmith beer is worth a buy, their Grand Cru being no exception - I'm gonna say these guys are in league with Founders, 'cept Founders produces some of the best 4-packs of 12 oz beers and Alesmith produces some of the best 22 oz bombers of beer (661 characters)

Photo of bignick
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ TPH. Served in an oversized wine glass.

Wow, this is a very good beer. It smells fruity, of apples, oranges, and apricots. The taste is wonderful. I love the fruitiness of it, with a subdued yeastiness that doesn't interfere. Overall, this is a very good beer. (272 characters)

Photo of Westsidethreat
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2003 Vintage

A: Chocolate brown with mahagoney tints...sort of looks like sludge. Very low head and lazy bubbles in the interior of the glass. Filthy and intriguing.

S: Molasses, brown sugar, raspberry, cherry, slight coffee and dried figs.

T: Begins with tangy toffee, perhaps marscipone on the back of the tongue and licorice in the front. Sultry cherry cordial blends in and takes control of the palate leaving in its wake rich and afluent mocha flavors. As it moves towards the finish line, the moment turns to bitter coffee then coasts with vanilla latte. These flavors linger long after the swallow.

M: Full and thick. Could use a touch more carbonation.

D: Age has done some amazing things to this beer. I think its probably about 8 months past its prime though. Very sweet and rich but not so much where its cloying...although its close. (860 characters)

Photo of sweetbrew82
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

750 ML bottle into a tulip/ no freshness date

P: Gold from the bottle, cranberry-tinted plum in the glass. Light tan head is bubbly & rather loosely-compacted. Decent retention was shown, and settled to a halo on top.

A: Toasted malts, caramel, dark fruits, candied sugar, spicy yeast.

T: Sweet, toasted caramel malt lays a sturdy base. Dark fruits like raisins, figs, and mostly plums swim in a pool of candied sugar and taste great! Hops provide a little floral touch with a spice that collaborates with white pepper and spicy yeast to lend a magnificent spicy kick.

M & D: The mouthfeel of Grand Cru is great! Full-bodied, creamy, and nicely carbonated. Drinkability is very good, but alcohol hits hard.

Notes: It's more sweet than bitter with malts and high levels of dark fruits coming forth. This beer is dark, rich, magnificently spicy, complex, and more than satisfying. Very much enjoyed my time with this one. One of the best BSDA's I've had! Highly recommended (977 characters)

Photo of REDAMI
4.51/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750ml bottle into Chimay goblet.

A - Medium to deep golden brown. Off white head dissipated quickly.

S - Dried fruits, dates, raisins, buttery yeast, spice, sweet malt.

T - Spice warmth, Belgian yeast, with a nutty finish.

M - Some alcohol bite, but not overpowering. Fine, stinging carbonation.

A great American interpretation of a Belgian beer. Very enjoyable for a Christmas Eve beer. (405 characters)

Photo of jdhilt
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a one finger, cream head that quickly fades leaving no lace. Nose is raisins and alcohol. Cloudy amber color. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Flavor is caramel, raisins and some alcohol. Pricey - $12.70 for a 750ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma. (265 characters)

Photo of dnichols
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had two six ounce samples from the caged and corked 750 ml bottle whose cap was wrapped in gold foil.

A: It poured a cooper hue body with a slight off-white head that was gone before it could leave any lacing.

S: It had the aroma of dark fruits (plums and fresh plum black raisins) and a hint of bananas.

T: The sweet raisin flavor was dominant. I could also pick up the plums and dates. This is one complex ball of sweetness without being overpoweringly sweet.

M: It was medium bodied. Sweetness rolled across my tung with each sip. The was a sweet drying on the backside that left my mouth coated with a light sweet taste that encouraged the next sip.

D: This is an easy clean brew to drink. It has a enjoyable flavor and pleasant aftertaste. The 10% ABV might limit one to two or three at a setting but what a joyous session that would be.

Comments: I shared this fine ale with a couple of friends but secretly I was wishing I had it all to myself. My guilt now drives me to ordering a few more of these so next time, and the time after, I can enjoy it at my leisure and from the first to the last drop. (1,118 characters)

Photo of Dogbrick
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2003 Bottle: Alesmith continues to impress! Deep amber color with a thick and rocky beige head. Thin and sticky lacing. Big aroma of sweet caramel, malt and maple. Rich body with loads of fruits and spices up front, and more sweet malt, chocolate and other goodies underneath. The finish is chocolatey and sticky. As with the other Alesmith beers, a champagne bottle disappears all too easily. (393 characters)

Photo of kmpitz2
4.53/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer poured a nice dark brown color with a 2 finger thich tan head that wouldn't go away. The nose was a nice brown sugary mixed with some raisiney spice. This beer tasted great, with a wonderful spicey and fruity character going on with the slight raisin flavor mixing with the belgian yeast. The beer was thick and a bit creamy, and fantastic. With the high ABV on this puppy, drinkability couldn't be better. A treat to have tried it. Word to my man clvand0 for sharing this one. (487 characters)

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.54/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This seemed like a fitting beer for my 700th review...750 mL bottle, either 2008 or 09 vintage. Pours a mostly clear, crimson-brown color without much in the way of head retention or lacing.

Smelling this beer one might not know it was brewed somewhere other than Belgium. Caramely, sugared rum lend an almost quad-like nose. Bready yeast, dark fruits and brown sugared figs. Smells damn good.

Taste is rich chocolaty, yeasty goodness. Tastes like something between a BSDA, Dubbel and Quad. So complex, yet so drinkable! Caramely, toasty malts and brown sugar mingle with a nice yeast contribution of light fruits and heavy bread. Hides the ABV very well. Alesmith has really produced a winner here, I like it alot! (717 characters)

Photo of jeddsp
4.54/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow...what a great beer. Being that I live in Atl, I haven't had the opportunity to drink any Alesmith until now...and I was dissapointed.

Poured Ruby Red with mild lacing and a light head.

Smell was exceptional. Dark, fruity, syrupy, caramel.

Taste and drinkability were the same-dark fruits like raisins with a hint of molasses. Very drinkable.

Would like to get another bottle of this, cellar it and see how it ages. Seems like the perfect beer to age for a year or so. (476 characters)

Photo of aerozeppl
4.54/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Nice clear dark amber color with some slightly brownish head that quickly retreated to the edge of my Abbaye Du Val Dieu chalice.

S: Very impressive. It is a nice mix of basement must and nuts. Really have not gotten nuts as a smell that often in beer but this one punched me in the face. Just a great malt profile as well.

T: Very sweet off the bat. The dark fruit is super subtle but it does creep up on you nicely. I want to know what yeast they used in this.

M: A touch on the dry side. Carbonation is very low but it really works.

D: A really nice sipper. I cellared this for about a year and a half and it is drinking fine right now. Still have not had a bad beer from Alesmith. This is one of the better American made Belgian strong dark ales that I have had. (773 characters)

Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.55/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a generic tulip- pours a a sort of rosewood color with a HUGE three finger head that sticks around for a while and has a few streaks of lacing.

Smells very much like a Belgian strong ale- yeasty and malty with a little spice (seems to me like cinnamon and nutmeg).

Tastes excellent- again very much like a Belgian strong ale; yeasty and malty, but not overly yeasty as some can be. It is pretty sweet but not sickeningly sweet. I do taste a hint of nutmeg but it is mostly just perfectly balanced yeast and malt flavors.

Mouthfeel is fantastic- light to medium bodied and very well carbonated. Sparkles on the tongue. This is an excellent beer (as are all of the other Alesmith brews that I've had). Get if you see it! (749 characters)

Photo of watermelonman
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This poured to a nice dark ruby color with a minor head. Lace is minimal.

The smell is a wonderful combination of dark fruits. Most notable are dark cherry, plum, and fig flavors. The taste is an even mix of dark fruits, malt, and just enough hops to balance it out. Alcohol is nowhere to be found. The mouthfeel is full. Drinkability is disturbing for the content. (368 characters)

Photo of weeare138
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is an aged, 2004 vintage bottle that I've been sitting on for a while...
Appears a faintly transparent dark amber with a small light tan head that fades to a small cap. Scattered lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of spicey Belgian yeast, vanilla, doughy, light orange, sugary candy, and coriander.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a warming syup, brown sugar, along with cocoa, and vanilla.
Mouthfeel is chewy, syrupy, with brown sugar, mildly spiced, and full bodied. Delicious. (501 characters)

Photo of clvand0
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Second AleSmith I've tried. Pours a dark brown color with an extremely large head that sticks around for a while and leaves nice lacing on the glass. Aroma of sweet fruits, alcohol, and a slight spice (probably from the yeast). The flavor was very nice. Somewhat fruity - cherries? raisins? I'm not really sure, but I like it. Very easy to drink for the high alcohol. Wish this stuff wasn't so expensive, because I'd have it every day. (435 characters)

Photo of xymyl
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Color: Vibrant dark copper/mahogany, 2 tone tan/cream colored head (like shore and surf). Very small bubbles, long lasting carbonation, some lacing.

Aroma: Scotchlike peaty malt and sherry (think lagavulin with less peat), light smoke, toast, yeasty dough, caramel, various herbs and spices (crazy stuff like dill), old stale coriander, anise, cloves, cinamon, candi sugar, plums, cherries, rasins and much more (but I haven't got all day to write this).

Taste: starts off soft, lightly acidic and mouthwatering, then gets huge and lactic with a dense rush of flavors, everything I mentioned as being on the nose and many others as well, you have to wade through the richness and complexity, as well as the sweetness, then there is a light floral/citric/herbal note that creates a line between middle and end. The end is a dry/sweet/dry interplay that lasts a good while.

Body is medium-full to full.

Note: This has been aged a couple of years, but seems to be at its peak. The sweetness might put some off, but I don't think you can make something this complex and large without this level of sweetness. It is a perfect beer to substitute for both a vintage port and a island single malt scotch (esp. Lagavulin 16 year old), if you need a beer to stand in temporarily for a higher ranking (in age and alcohol) dead soldier. (1,336 characters)

Photo of tanarm
4.58/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured gently to not disturb the yeast, as a result not much head forms, but a ring sticks to the sides of the chalice. It is a wonderful deep mahogany/amber color. Crystal clear.

Smell is very sweet, hints of belgian candi sugar and raisins.

The taste is sweet and caramelized up front. Crisp... notes of biscuit, maybe a pinch of chocolate. There's a little nip from the 10.5 ABV but it is balanced out by the rest of the flavors going on here. Light balanced bitterness in the finish. It has a full body that coats the palate nicely. Not too much carbonation... this is good. As the beer warms, the flavors keep getting more intense.

Very nice! This is one of my favorite beers. This one will age excellently as well, if you can wait that long. I can't...

On a side note this doesn't taste anything like any other Belgian Strong Dark Ale I've ever had, but I don't believe that is at all what they were going for here. I would say it's more like a Belgian Barleywine... if there were such a category. (1,017 characters)

Photo of Billolick
4.59/5  rDev +13.1%
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 (456 characters)

Photo of RoyalT
4.6/5  rDev +13.3%
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. (1,412 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
4.6/5  rDev +13.3%

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. (1,030 characters)

AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 363 ratings.