AleSmith Grand Cru Ale - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale

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BA SCORE
91
outstanding

364 Reviews
THE BROS
95
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 364
Hads: 797
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: 364 | Hads: 797
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 seand
4.37/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a translucent reddish brown with a fair amount of tan head. This dissipates to a ring around the edge of the glass, which leaves mild lacing.

S: Candied honey sweetness, with a touch of booze.

T: Full candied raisin-y sweetness leading into some mild but noticeable booze towards the finish. Extremely well balanced, deep, complex, and sweet, but well short of the cloying line. The finish is a touch sticky.

M: Full body, medium carbonation, and perfectly matches the flavor profile.

Overall, this is truly an excellently constructed beer. Everything is very well balanced, and the end result is complex, rich, and very enjoyable. (644 characters)

Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.82/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I completed an IRONMAN 70.3 in Haines City on April 13 and popped this beer open that afternoon to celebrate my accomplishment. I wish I would have opened something else :(

I received this in a trade about 7 or 8 years ago. Popped the cork and there wasn't a lot of fizzy sounds coming from the bottle, which usually portends a lack of carbonation. The beer emerges hazy and muddy and ruddy brown in color with not much head on the beer or carbonation. Looks very dull and rather unappealing.

Aroma was sweet and caramelly and oxidized. This bottle has not held up well. I have kept this one is a cellar since I received it. No real spark or anything to the aroma.

Flavor was dull and muted as well. Sweet and alcoholic, mostly flat with very little carbonation. Perhaps a fresh bottle of this is delicious, but one aged in perfect conditions for 7 years doesn't hold up well. Not sure what to say about this one except it was a huge disappointment. Belgian styles are supposed to stand the test of time; not this one. (1,023 characters)

Photo of msquared36
3.02/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

Very dark with a deep red tint.

Aroma is roasted malt with a hint of smoke.

Malty and fruity - dark fruit like plum and cherry. Very sweet finish.

Very smooth and substantial.

A little too sweet for me. Seems to get sweeter as it warms. Lacks complexity, maybe it would be better aged. Tough to get through the whole bottle because it gets syrupy. First Alesmith I've tried that isn't great. (397 characters)

Photo of TheDoctor
4.06/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A:
Pours a ruddy copper that is fairly clear with a creamy three fingers of beige head that rapidly settles to a film that beefs back up with a quick swirl . Decent retention; little to no lacing.

S:
Spicy, yeasty, phenols. Raisins, bitter orange, nutmeg, with roast nuts underneath it all.

T:
Spicy and complex with some very prominent fruity notes. Orange, coriander, caramel, dark fruits, earth and a subtle rind-like medicinal hop flavor underlying it all. Pretty over-arching lacquer-like alcohol flavor present.

M:
Warm, medium- to full-bodied and coating. The alcohol has a nice, even warming feeling and the relatively strong carbonation counterbalances the creamy, warm coatingness of the rest of it.

O:
Good take on a big Belgian beer.
If I described this beer with one word it would be spicy. Everything about it is phenol-laced, yeasty, and warm as could be. Not the best-looking beer (but pretty good for how stiff it is). Everything else is a tingly counterpoint to the brandy-like coating warmth of it. Spicy, boozy, darkly fruit-tinged.
Would have again; worth having if you can get it. (1,108 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.06/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

a real beauty of a beer here, an elegant and well refined glass of ale. the color is dark, a belgian strong dark by nature, but more than that. grand cru has no meaning really, but in this case refers to a special beer released just once a year. a caramel colored brew with a dried fruit nose of raisins and molasses, and a classic fruity ester yeast strain. flavors of liquid cereal and brown sugar, like a real good granola. yeast and grain driven flavor, in equal parts, but sweetness lingers and prevails. a toffee or butterscotch dessert vibe, fancy from the get go, but i like the way it slides from soil minerals to sunny harvest grains to sugars melting and about to burn. the yeast makes it though, high gravity belgain stuff that cleans up all the heaviness. not overcarbonated, but its not too filling. more sugar than i need, and one bottle is way too much to take down solo. extremely well hidden alcohol is the most impressive feature. a beer for once in a while, but a special one. (996 characters)

Photo of BierJager89
4.24/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Brown with a touch of orange and a light brown head.

S: Orange, mango and a general fruitiness in the nose.

T: Lots of orange, banana and maybe some pineapple.

M: Medium-full bodied, decent amount of carbonation.

O: Typical of the style? No. Alesmith's best beer? Definitely not. A great beer in and of itself? Definitely. Try it. (337 characters)

Photo of blindtiger24
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

A: Starts with a thick, frothy two finger head that thins out. Active carbonation that pokes up through the head. A bright ruby / garnet color.

S: Huge yeast ester and phenol aromas with hints of granny smith apples, plums, and clove.

T: Graham cracker flavor from the malt and the esters provide tart apple and caramelized banana that sweetens the finish.

M: Medium body with a lingering sticky sweetness.

O: A loyal and accurate take on the classic Belgian ale. Perfect for fall / winter and pairing with the holiday meals. (580 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 raznug
4.31/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: This grand cru pours a hazy brown color and is topped with barely any head at all.
Smell: It smells of a blend of malt and an alcohol aroma that after 4 solid years of aging I was not expecting, I think I smell an aroma of maybe oak, not sure.
Taste: The taste is spot on where I was expecting a blend of malt, alcohol, and oak from aging very delicious beer.
Mouthfeel: It maybe a bit on the thin side but it makes for a rather easy drinking beer that with at least 4 yrs under it, maybe more, has me wanting more. (530 characters)

Photo of dar482
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is a review of the 2010 Vintage.

The beer comes in a reddish brown copper with lots of head.

The aroma has a bit of spice of pepper and clove, still some alcohol, though that could be the phenolic character. Then with lots of candied sugar and dark fruits.

The flavor follows with that candied sugar sweetness with dark fruit of raisins and plums and dates. There's a lingering bready malt character on the end.

A well made Belgian beer, though I have had better. (472 characters)

Photo of JParlow
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a tulip glass. Bottling date is slightly rubbed off but I can make out the 13th day of a month in 2013.

Appearance: Pours a very deep brownish/ruby. Moderate amount of bubbles and about two fingers of light tan head that fade into a thin patchy layer. Leaves little lace.

Smell: A light yeasty, dark, caramel malt with hint of banana. The aroma was not as prominent as I thought it might.

Taste: Like the nose gives off, a yeasty, dark, and bready caramel malt taste with lots of dark fruits. Big presence of dark fruit with notes of raisin, plum, dates, fig, dark cherry, and prune.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a medium level of carbonation. Juicy, spicy, silky, and pretty smooth. Alcohol presence is detectable but very smooth.

Overall: I'd by again. (794 characters)

Photo of ADZA
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I got to sample this and then immediately I knew u had to purchase one and wanted to age it but I just couldn't wait and it pours a deep red copper hue with a long lasting creamy off white two finger head and a tight rim of lacing,the smell is spicy plum jam,dried apricots,old banannas,brown sugar and booze,the mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation and the tastes are quite sessionable for a big dark Belgian but all the same very traditional with spicy plum jam,candied figs,candi sugar,sweet malts and finished with an apricot booziness that leaves you dry and wanting more and at would age nicely cheers. (624 characters)

Photo of ElSid
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
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. (805 characters)

Photo of dgilks
3.69/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Hazy dark amber colour with a small, light tan head. Fair head retention.

Aroma is pretty classic. Caramelised sugars and dark fruits. A moderate yeast ester note which raises some almost tropical notes. Touches of clove.

A little sweet but not too much. Nice fruitiness but it is pretty indistinct. Light spicing.

Medium body with moderately-high carbonation. Fine.

A solid beer but nothing special in my book. Good aromas and an approachable flavour. It just doesn't reach any highs. (489 characters)

Photo of MattyG85
4.37/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Duvel tulip glass. Bottling date is slightly rubbed off but I can make out the 13th day of a month in 2013.

Appearance: Pours a very deep brownish amber orange with some ruby. Moderate amount of bubbles and about two fingers of light tan head that fade into a thin patchy layer. Leaves a decent amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: A yeasty, dark, caramel malt forward aroma with lots of fruit esters. Belgian yeast upfront with some clove, funk, and pepper spicing. Burnt Belgian candied sugars. Toasted malts with hints of sweet caramel, toffee, biscuit, cracker, and slight tea. Fruit hints of banana, pear, and apple. Big hints of dark fruits with some raisin, plums, fig, dates, prune, grape, and black cherry. Subtle earthy hop hints in the background. Some alcohol is also scented. A very nice dark Belgian style aroma.

Taste: Like the nose gives off, a yeasty, dark, and bready caramel malt taste with lots of dark fruits. Belgian yeast along with some funk and a mix of pepper and clove spicing. Sweet burnt Belgian candied sugars. Bready toasted malts with sweet notes of caramel, toffee, biscuit, toast, tea, and cracker. Big notes of banana along with some pear, apple, and grape fruits. Big presence of dark fruit with notes of raisin, plum, dates, fig, dark cherry, and prune. Slight note of earthy hops and some alcohol taste in the background. A very solid dark toasty Belgian style taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a medium to high level of carbonation. Juicy, spicy, silky, and pretty smooth. Alcohol presence is detectable but very smooth.

Overall: A very solid take on the Belgian Grand Cru style. Good mix of yeast with toasty caramel malt and fruit esters. (1,728 characters)

Photo of KellyScottMad
4.89/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

WoW! This beer is the closest thing to a real Belgian Dark Ale coming from the States that I have ever had. The look and the feel of this beautiful beverage was that of a Rochefort. This beer is a thing of beauty. I wasn't expecting this from and American Brewery, but I like it very much. I will be buying this again. (318 characters)

Photo of cvm4
3.71/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours a deep amber with brown hues to it. Has a creamy beige head to it that dissipates to just a ring around the glass.

S - Has great dark fruit qualities of prunes & figs. Some candied sugars are present.

T - Sweet from start to finish. Figs, brown sugar, candy qualities, bready malts and toffee.

M - Light to medium bodied with a good amount if carbonation. Has a dry finish and the sweetness can seem cloying.

O - It's not something I'd normally reach for as this style typically bores me. But, it's not a bad one to try. (538 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 jmdrpi
4.02/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750 mL capped bottle, no date.

popped the cap, and it fizzed over. pours a clear chestnut brown. the bubbly head fades fast. the smell is a nice mix of slightly earthy Belgian yeast and bready malt. taste is bold yet smooth and easy drinking. good balance, starts biscuity and slightly sweet then finishes dry and a bit boozy. thin to medium body, higher carbonation. could be a little less fizzy.
overall - quite good, only the over carbonation is an issue. (461 characters)

Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into chalice, no bottle dating. Pours crystal clear reddish brown color with a 1 finger fairly dense cream colored head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with some moderate streaming carbonation. Aromas of raisin, prune, banana, grape, clove, caramel, dark candi sugar, toast, bubblegum, and earthy yeast esters. Very nice aromas with good balance of fruity/spicy yeast esters with candi sugar maltiness. Taste of raisin, prune, banana, grape, clove, caramel, dark candi sugar, bubblegum, toast, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of dark and light fruits, clove, caramel, dark candi sugar, bubblegum, toast, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of fruity/lightly spicy esters with malt sweetness; and almost zero cloying sweetness present after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a slick, lightly syrupy, and lightly prickly mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice Belgian strong dark ale. Very nice complexity of fruity/spicy yeast esters with candi sugar sweetness; and quite smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering. (1,273 characters)

Photo of SLeffler27
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Clear, dark ruby with a short-lived, off-white creamy head. Leaves a viscous film on the Brigand oversized wine glass.

Part cherry and candy sugar comes out front with raspberry and crisp apple presenting with warmth. All are rather subtle.

Opens with light, tart cherries and sweeter than expected. Light earthiness, banana, plum and faint oak in the middle. Lots of faint flavors oscillate between spicy and fruity character. The finish is almost absent. Warmth adds little.

Soft, fine carbonation and silky texture compliment this medium-bodied beer. The alcohol is well below expectations.

This is an easy sipping beer and, while quite tasty, lacks the pop expected of this style. I enjoyed it as part of the pre-Super Bowl festivities. (745 characters)

Photo of Vixie
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice ruby red color with a decent sized tan head. Fair amount of carbonation.

Smell has quite a bit of brown sugar to it. Can also detect a hint of chocolate and toffee.

This is a fairly sweet beer, I am describing it mentally as liquid candy. There is a lot of brown sugar and toffee to it, if a Heath Bar was in liquid form, it would taste a lot like this. I can also detect some Belgian candy sugar, and there is just a hint of a hop bite at the finish. The alcohol is very well hidden in this one, just a touch of warming at the back of my throat.

Feel is just ok, I think should be a little more solid for the style.

Overall a pretty good beer. It is lacking a bit in complexity, but has a nice flavor and is easy to drink for such a strong beer. This one is deceptive, it doesn't taste like a 10% ABV beer, handle with care, but worth a try. (859 characters)

Photo of ksimons
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A-a clear amber with ruby highlights and two fingers worth of white head that sticks to the edge of the glass

S-dark fruits, rum soaked raisins, caramel, Belgian yeast, and a bit of alcohol

T-very similar to the smell. Caramel malt, apples, raisins, plums, lightly spiced, with well hidden alcohol

M-thin to medium body, carbonation seems a bit on the lighter side as well, very smooth sweet finish

Overall very malty with good yeast character, but not as good as other BSDA's I've had, especially for the high price. (522 characters)

Photo of mmapes
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bought in September, opened in March. Bottle suggests cellaring for 6 to 24 months.

Pours a big head of medium-sized bubbles. Amber/peach colored, very clear. Smells of dried fruit -- apricots?

Tastes very much like it smells. It's nice but a little one-noted. Sweet finish after a tangy start. There are some sweet malts but not much in the way of hops. The apricot smell/taste is prevalent -- is that from the Belgian yeast?

Nice, but not very complex.

Would buy again if it weren't too expensive. We have one more bottle in the cellar. Will see how it ages. (565 characters)

AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 364 ratings.