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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

696 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 696
Reviews: 357
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 10.86%
Wants: 98
Gots: 128 | 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: 696 | Reviews: 357 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Black95tt: Poured an hazy dark amber color ale with a medium foamy head with good retention. Aroma of candi sugar, sweet malt and alcohol is pretty intense and reminiscent of Gouden Carolus Keizer. Taste is quite hot at first, which does not really suit my taste. The presence of candi sugar is quite evident as well as some dry figs characteristics. Yeast is totally overshadowed by the malt and the alcohol. Body is just above average but could be fuller and carbonation was appropriate. Overall, I really don’t see the big fuss over this beer and would prefer to taste a Gouden Carolus Keizer, which is similar, but more balance overall.

Phyl21ca, Aug 25, 2006
Photo of BEERchitect
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tremendously flavorful with a balance of candied malt, estery fruits, and yeasty spice- all deliver the strength of taste, alcohol, and skill deserving of the "Grand Cru" tag.

Pouring with a slightly oily appearance of tawny ruby and rust, the beer lightens considerably toward the edges. A creamy off-white cap of foam rides for most of the session before succumbing to the weight of the beer. Lacing early and legging late, the beer is somewhat of ale and brandy at once.

Candied fruits of cherries, figs, raisins, and grapes fill the nose with a somewhat sugary scent of caramel and confection. Spicy with mild wine acidity, peppercorn, dried orange peel, and coriander complement the sweet estery mix, and do so with an added pop of cinnamon, nutmeg, and rum.

Sweetness settles in at first with impressions of powdered sugar and brown sugar that melds and coats fruit flavor of figs most prominantly, but also with secondary flavors of grapes, raisins, dates, and cherries. Spices balance the sweetness with a taste of Christmas that includes cinnamon, nutmeg, citrus zest, and white pepper. Additional complexities of mild vinous wines, rummy sweet alcohol and fruitcake finish the flavor profile and substitutes dessert to conclude any meal.

Richly textured as the sugary malt provides a mild oily texture to the mouth, but then the pepper and carbonation delivers a pang of sharpness and a lift of evaporation that allows for just enough lightness for easy of drinking. Alcohol warmth, peppery spice, and a semi-dry finish lingers well into the next sip like a fine port or cognac.

BEERchitect, Jan 04, 2007
Photo of Texasfan549
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%

Texasfan549, Jul 25, 2013
Photo of mikesgroove
4.33/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very nice vintage 2006 bottle that I picked up tow years ago and aged in my cellar. I decided to open it up last night to see how it had held up. Gold foil wrapped, I popped the cap on this 750ml bottle and served it at cellar temperature in an oversized wine glass. Consumed on 09/16/2008.

The pour was nice with a very hazy, and very rich looking hazelnut brown color being presented in front of me. A smallish head, maybe an inch and a half came up over the top and settled down gently, forming a very nice pillow of tan across the top. Some nice carbonation could be seen streaming up as well.

The aroma was rich, lots of caramel and brown sugar mixed in with a fig and prune like fruit. Dark, with a touch of alcohol, though I have to admit, very well hidden indeed. The flavor was more of the same, rich and decadent with a large dose of sugar balancing it out quite well. All hotness had faded from this one now, as it was mellow and smooth as hell. Rich caramel and sugar notes, light fig and almost a tart or sour apple taste on the finish. Some vinous hops bouncing around, but nothing too terribly strong. Easily a sipper, I was enjoying this one thoroughly throughout the evening. Chewy, medium to full bodied ale was just what I needed.

Overall thought this was excellent, as most everything from Alesmith is. Very mellow and sweet for the style, I was surprised by how well the alcohol was hidden and how nicely put together this actually was. I would have no issue with having this one anytime!

mikesgroove, Sep 18, 2008
Photo of kjkinsey
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%

kjkinsey, Jul 25, 2013
Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The pour is a slightly cloudy amber color with a very thin off-white head, sort of khaki color.

S: Plenty of sweet caramel and brown sugar and perhaps even more sweet, dark fruits. Some plums, figs, dates, and cherries, but a fair amount of alcohol as well.

T: A great toffee and brown sugar component along with some caramel. This provides a nice sweet, malty base and the dark fruit flavors just sort of sit on top. Somehow, the alcohol is a bit more pronounced than on the nose.

M: The body is medium with a really quite smooth carbonation.

D: I would have enjoyed this quite a bit more were it not for the obvious alcohol presence. This might be a good one to age and allow to mellow.

womencantsail, Sep 15, 2010
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -13.6%

ygtbsm94, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of GRG1313
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%

GRG1313, May 17, 2013
Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -1.2%

spycow, Mar 11, 2013
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.08/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a cloudy, medium brown body with a full, foamy, off-white head.

Smell: Aroma of dark caramel malts, dark candi sugar, vanilla, plums, and earthy dried herbs with a spicy yeast character.

Taste: Sweet, rich caramel maltiness with a juicy, tangy dark fruit flavor. Pinch of cherry-infused pipe tobacco. A drizzle of sweet syrup and two drops of vanilla extract. Lightly alcoholic throughout. Mild hop bitterness. Spicy yeastiness. Fruity, semi-dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Moderate carbonation. Slightly syrupy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: One of my favorite American-made Belgian Strongs.

ChainGangGuy, Feb 15, 2008
Photo of Knapp85
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Alesmith's Grand Cru poured out as a really nice reddish brown color, the head was white and pretty thick looking. There was a bit of lacing on the glass after each sip. I let this one sit for just a few moments before i dove into it. I wanted to let it warm up a little before my first time. The aroma of the beer had just a slight funk or tartness to it otherwise it was pretty hoppy and had some nice earth tones to it. The taste was much better than I expected. I was thinking it was going to be a sour ale of some kind, but it turned out to be a really nice blend of something like a brown ale with an IPA and then a touch of sour in the faint distance. The mouthfeel was smooth and very easy to drink, even though I tried making mine last a while by sipping it. Overall I found this beer to be quite impressive and enjoyed it a lot. Will be looking forward to have it again one day.

Knapp85, Jun 15, 2011
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.25/5  rDev -19.8%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of largadeer
3.5/5  rDev -13.6%

largadeer, May 17, 2013
Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%

JAHMUR, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.47/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A long-standing bottle delivers a very clear first glass of ruby-mahogany topped by a short head of of ivory foam. (Subsequent glasses naturally pick up a bit of yeast). The head retention is limited by the alcohol, and it slowly drops to an average collar but leaves some nice splashes of lace about the glass. The nose is caramelish, peppered with a light splash of red and dark fruit, some mild candy (sugar, licorice, honey), and yeasty fruitiness. Very nice! It's smooth and slick across the palate with a very, very fine natural carbonation that's surprisingly moderate for the style; and a body that's medium-full. The flavor is more intense than the nose suggests, yet it remains restrained. Dark fruits, baked brown-sugar, yeasty spice, vanilla-suger glazed donuts, slightly burnt bread-crusts, and a masculine push of bitterness round it out. And the alcohol never appears in either the flavor or the aroma; even after more than one serving! It's very nice... not overly rich or syrupy, and exceptionally well-balanced. There are certainly more complex examples of a "Grand Cru" (which is not a style, but a designation), but this one delivers an exceptionally rounded and enjoyable, "drinkable" beer. It's well recommended, as are almost all of the other Alesmith beers!

NeroFiddled, Sep 21, 2004
Photo of SocalKicks
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%

SocalKicks, Aug 03, 2012
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.

Jason, Apr 27, 2002
Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly fogged brown with a very thin creme head. Nose is touched with caramel with some yeast and sugar. Flavor is robust and mildly sweet with an earthy tone. Nice, but perhaps a bit too rustic and earthy. It's still nice though; make no mistake. Feel has a fairly full but not obtrusive carbonation. Overall this is pretty easy to drink. Definitely well made, but lacks a certain edge that would take it to a higher level of appreciation for me. (I mean, it is a Grand Cru and all)

RblWthACoz, Mar 11, 2008
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Ruby brown thin cream colored head lacing is thin and spread unevenly across my tasting glass. Aroma: Deep fruit infused notes cary across my schnose, all blended with upfront alcohol tones and candi sugar sweetness with a blend of spices that just work. Taste: Very big in flavor this brew sits on the palate, touch of upfront alcohol to let you know who's boss. Then she creeps in with a blend of barleywine like caramel rich malt backbone blended with a dubbel raisin and tart fruit notes somewhat of a curveball. The hop profile stands out quite well for a Belgian style with this much alcohol, not too hoppy but definitely has some balls. Mouthfeel: Medium body a bit syrupy on the palate, decent big beer from the Alesmith brewing company. Drinkability: I feel that this beer is meant to be drank in smaller portions after about seven or so ounces I would get tired of the flavor and the texture just sits on the palate need a cleanser with this one.

WVbeergeek, Apr 12, 2004
Photo of russpowell
3.88/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Been sitting on this bottle since New Years, time to see what have here..

Pours an effervescent auburn with 2 fingers of sand colored head. hazes towards the bottom, some head retention & lacing

S: Plums, other dark fruit, toffee, & a touch of caramel

T: Plums, a bit of booze, a bit of smokeyness & peaches up front. Toffee, dryness, slight herbal hops, appleskins & plums. Finishes with pecans, dryness, & appleskins

MF: Sticky, with moderate carbonation & medium body

Drinks good, but there's not enough Belgian flair here for me. Hides the ABV very well

russpowell, Jul 31, 2008
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The looks of it: rich ruby hue, opaque, slim, beigish sliver of foam.
The smell of it: port wine meets cognac, dark fruits meets a mature, well-mannered alcohol burn, sophisticated and almost sublime, a jammy medley of berries and booze.
The taste of it: surprisingly mellow and light on entering the tongue, satisfactorily full on the palate, merrily leaving it's tracks all over the mouth, tingling the senses from the start. Very snappy, this, brimming over with tasty, cherry brandy flavor, figgy, bready, grapey. Sits prettily on the palate, spilling over with juicy, boozy goodness.
The sum of it:This is a late-night relaxer kind of beer, a swirl-it-in-the snifter during quiet ruminations, and complex contemplation kind of beer...the kind I need right now.
So, thanks Alesmith, and thanks boilermaker88..right beer at the right time...yum...

feloniousmonk, Oct 02, 2004
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.06/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

StonedTrippin, Feb 01, 2014
Photo of drabmuh
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1999 vintage. Thanks Brad. Beer is brown and hazy with no head, appears kind of thin.

Beer has an odd aroma, almost musky but really caramelly, lots of malt character in there, hint of sulfur.

Beer is medium bodied, not quite what I expected. Lots of malt and caramel. Its very butterscotchy, could be a sign of oxidation. I mean this bottle is 11 years old at this point. Its quite alcoholy but not hot or boozy. I can tell that its high but it doesn't dristrat. Overall this beer was OK, the newer version was totally different but they probably weren't even close to the same recipes.

drabmuh, Jun 09, 2010
Photo of jlindros
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not sure if this is '09 or '10 vintage as I have both in the cellar but they are not marked.

Pours a fizzy big bubbled almost 1 finger head that fades at a med pace with some lacing, over slightly hazy cranberry dark reddish mahogany colored beer.

NOse is strong, some booze comes right out with some Belgian yeast and esters, some dark fruits from the yeast as well as nuts, fig, nutmeg, spices, etc, and very slightly phenolic. Some sweet candy and syrupys, dark malts, esters round it all off.

Taste starts with dark malts, it gives a slight dark porter like flavor to start and surprisingly. Comes with light chocolate malts and slightest hint of roast, biscuit, plenty of caramel and dark crystal malts, and plenty of reddish malts, very malty, and even a bit creamy malt flavor. Booze comes through as well, not too strong but def some tingly and warming booze, fairly hot. Belgian yeast, bringing some dark fruits, fig, raisin, apple, pear, other fruits, nuts, spices, nutmeg, hint of cinnamon. The yeast and booze brings some esters as well, but fits in well. Some light raw cherries come through as well. Finishes still a bit hot but mellows a bit, dries slightly but still a bit on the sweet side, some lingering dark creamy malts, light fruits and esters all lingering. Well balanced and tasty, the booze is def present but not too heavy and doesn't interfere too much.

Mouth is a bit heavier bodied, decent carb for the style, and hot boozy.

Overall not bad, nice malts, nice Belgian yeast flavors, fruits, nuts, spices, a bit syrupy, but its pretty hot and boozy and the slight aging didn't mellow it at all, the esters actually fit with the style well, but nice overall. A few more years aging may help.

jlindros, Sep 03, 2011
Photo of Rifugium
4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First had: Philly Beer Scene Tasting panel with Matt Falco at Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA

I was privileged enough to be on the tasting panel for PBS Magazine, along with Bill Covaleski of Victory and Greg Ramirez of Exton Beverage. This was one of 21 beers we sampled during the session.

Poured a slightly hazy mahogany color with a small layer of tannish bubbles for a head; not much to speak of in retention and lacing. Aroma of dark sugars, cider and dark fruits. Alcohol warmth on the tongue, brown sugar, caramel, dark fruits, mulled cider. Medium body, moderate carbonation, pretty nice overall.

Rifugium, May 26, 2012
AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 696 ratings.