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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

365 Reviews

(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
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Reviews: 365 | Hads: 805
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 Thanby
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep garnet color with lots of foamy lacing. Fairly clear with visible carbonation.

Nose is a dark malt with a lot of dark fruit tartness. Fig, plum, black cherry, a little spiciness.

First taste is the dark sweet malt, well-rounded, the dark fruit follows leaving the tartness behind.

Full body and wonderfully delicious, a little spicy from the carbonation, very easy to drink with a nice citrusy aftertaste, overall a great beer. (443 characters)

Photo of TheLiterati
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Popped the top and this ale sparing into action like fine champagne. The froth and foam was all over the place, along with the raisny, plumy aroma. I could barely pour a glass fast enough to contain the aggressive head on this thing.

The color was a burgundy-hued beauty, with that ever-present foamy white head. The aroma was of the before-mentioned raisins and plums, along with dates and spice.

Mouthfeel was so smooth it was nearly creamy. The malty, candi-sweetness is balanced with a nice bite of hops and spice. This is a mature tasting ale right out of the bottle…I can only imagine what an aged offering would taste like.

We served this ale with our main course of a braised and roasted pork loin seasoned with a dry steakhouse rub…it was the perfect complement, and one we will regularly add to our holiday menu for years to come. (852 characters)

Photo of nomomentwasted
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Porter's Pub at UCSD in an 8oz Tuilp glass, and was shocked to see it in there. Just replaced the Old Numbskull on tap in there, received fresh from the brewery just days before I was told.

Appearance: I've read a lot of reviews calling this beer brown, and I was more thinking darker orange, like coppery-amber. Little head in the tulip glass the filed itself away pretty quickly.

Smell: Sweet, sweet, and more sweet. I smelled a sugary, apple, and grape notes which I have little experience with, but having had a few Belgian style I can say is much stronger than say the Stone Cali-Belgique style. Total Belgian sweetness though, with a hint of maybe a plum?

Taste: Whew, like the nose and then some. The sweet reminded me of apple/grape juice, except if it was a beer with Belgian yeast. The flavor keeps coming in waves, with the sugary characteristic on full display, running the gamut of fruits. Not a ton of citrus here, but more like plum, apple, and grape.

Mouthfeel: Sticky and slightly resin-y, and not too bubbly. Again, left me with the impression I'd just had a sip of apple juice with that texture remaining.

Drinkability: For a ten, it's almost perfection on the drinkability front. Catches up with you on the back end but not at all when it's being consumed. Only thing I'd say against it is the sweetness does eventually slow you down, but not in the first glass. Tasty, sweet, and a beer relatively unlike most of everything else I've had. Definitely worth a run. (1,508 characters)

Photo of srhoadsy
3.87/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured slightly chilled into a fluted tulip.

Pours a deep chestnut brown with about half an inch of light brown head that quickly recedes with moderate lacing.

Aromas of carmelized sugars, dried cherries and other stone fruits.

Taste follows through the aromas with a light sourness and I got a slight hint of smoke in the background. Almost like a slightly sour scottish ale.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Alcohol present but not overwhelming.

All in all a good beer, with what seem to me to be a bit of an identity crisis. (542 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 ElSid
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The Beers of California


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 erica
4.7/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Yep, this one was a good 'un. It was a dark reddish brown color, I dont remember the head to be honest because I was doing some work while it was poured for me and when I got to it there wasnt much head at all. just a thin layer of bubbles. It smelled sweet, carmel-ish kind of. I knew it would be good. It tasted amazing- a nutty flavor with a butter-toffee taste in there as well. Definitely made me smile, and though I couldn't taste the 10%abv, I could definitely feel it going down all warm. Mouthfeel- just right, soft, and so very drinkable. I hope I get an opportunity to try this again sometime! (604 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 leftmindedrighty
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle, 2007 vintage. Wax sealed upon purchase (fresh). Opened and reviewed 12-3-11

Aroma- Burnt caramel, toast, raison, with some hints of cedar. Touch of oxidation.

Taste- Huge raison flavors, some bready yeast carrying through, with a touch of wet paper from it's age. Touch of cranberry, with some dark (burnt) sugar coming through on the finish.

Overall- This one has held up and then some. I see this beer lasting at least another couple of years. My 2006 bottle would be lucky the get opened in 2014. Lay this one down. Much better aged than fresh. (564 characters)

Photo of COBeerBuff
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 batch received in a trade from ShadesofGray. Poured into my Sinners tulip from Lost Abbey.

Appearance: Pours a deep ruby garnet with a solid two fingers of light tan head. Very billowy, the head shows decent retention, and the lacing is pretty solid as well. The brew itself is slightly cloudy, but this is expected as the label advises a gentle pour leaving the brewers' yeast in the bottle.

Smell: Sweet caramel, toffee, and some fruity notes highlight the nose. The breadiness is indicative of the higher grain bill is BSDA, but I was very surprised by the amount of sweets present. Also present is a bit of alcohol burn, and I'm expecting this to provide a lot of warmth as I finish this glass.

Taste: The first few sips yield a variety of fruit flavors, notably figs, cherries, and dates. There is definitely some spiciness as well (cinnamon and nutmeg), and the back end yields the caramel/toffee flavors I noticed in the nose. All in all, the flavors meld very well to create a very strong beer for the style.

Mouthfeel: Syrupy goodness is the best way to describe this hearty brew. This beer coats the palate with its lush goodness. The fruit provides a refreshingly crisp start, but the sweet bready and caramel malts create an interesting effect on the back side of the tongue. This one goes down super smooth, which is exactly what I expect from a BSDA.

Drinkability: The 10% ABV is definitely present in the nose, and while hidden somewhat, it still remarkably present in the brew. I could see this one aging well over the next few years, and I wish I had ready access to Alesmith to do just that. Overall, a very solid Strong Dark Ale, and one I will definitely seek out again. (1,700 characters)

Photo of dgfair
3.82/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

25.4 oz. bottle poured aggressively into my Corsendonk tulip.

A - Nice deep amber, red color. Some very small floaty particles even though I was careful to leave the majority of the yeast in the bottle. Very little carbonation. In fact, I was a little worried at first that I had a flat bottle on my hands, but the aggressive pour got a little off-white head to come out.

S- Very sweet, candi sugar upfront. Cherries, figs, and other dark fruits are also noticable. A little bit of a peppery, anise, coriander smell comes through as well. Definitely a nice, sweet complex aroma.

T - Definitely a candi sugar presence, but it's very well balanced by some more complex fruity flavors and a warming alcohol taste. A little bit of a nutty toffee flavor emerges as the liquid begins to warm, making a pleasant balance for the fruit. The alcohol continues to makes its presence known all the way to the swallow. A little too overpowering. I've had this one in the cellar for 9-12 months and I would say it still needs a little more time to develop.

M - Kind of thick...almost syrupy. Still fairly creamy and the light carbonation doesn't seem to affect it here too much.

D - At this point in its life cycle, this beer isn't very drinkable...definitely a slow sipper. I have a feeling that another year or two will make this a much more drinkable and developed ale. (1,373 characters)

Photo of schroederm
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

In a tulip, '06 vintage:

Pours with almost no head or lacing, even though it wasn't too cold. I'm guessing the is because its aged. Purply-brown hazy body. Cherry and raisin aromas and a very clear sweetness that really draws you in. It's a bit sour, with some candy flavoring. Dark fruit and raisin. Taste has a substantial amount of green apple and a strong maltiness with an exceptional bitter for the style. Decent thickness, but low carbonation for a Belgian. Not overwhelming in flavor, making it fairly drinkable. (521 characters)

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

Deep amber color with a short, white head.
Very aromatic, strong scents of fruits and raisins.
Very strong raisin/fig taste. That fig-like quality was a bit much in my view.
Smoothing and lingering in the mouth.
I enjoyed one glass but had no desire for a second.
I think they tried very hard to create a particular flavor and they nailed it. I just wasn't totally on board with that flavor. If one was partial to that fig-like flavor they would proabably love this. (471 characters)

Photo of srroos
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a snifter. Slightly dark amber in color with one finger of tan head that quickly fades to a thin cap. Smells super sweet and malty like a nice Old Ale. Taste is consistent with the aroma, ultra sweet, malty, and fruity with a sightly bitter finish. Medium bodied and well carbonated, with no detectable trace of alcohol.

This bottle was a couple years old and seems like it was a very good time to drink. Any more age and the hops would have been totally gone and I think this beer would loose a lot of appeal. Very nice aged, but it has been a while since I have had this fresh. An extra hoppy bite would probably be good with this, so I'll be revisiting a fresh bottle and adding to my review soon. (734 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)

Photo of BrewMonkey
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to flexabull for the bottle!

Pours fairly deep brown with a slight haze. Very little in the way of head which recedes quickly.

Aroma of brown sugar, sweet caramel malt, dates, raisons and sweet bread.

Big malty flavor with loads of caramel sweetness, brown sugar, candied fruit. Slightly creamy with low carbonation levels. Very very faint bitterness in the background, finishes soft and sweet. (412 characters)

Photo of jhoban19
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml poured into my personalized chalice. Shared with a buddy while watching the IU-Kentucky basketball game.

A: Deep brown with copper and ruby hues when held to the light. Thin yet creamy foam retreats quickly into a thinner ring with cloud-like surface coverage. Lacing is minimal.

S: Aromas of port soaked raisins, sweet chocolate and caramel malt. A fantastic balance of fruits, chocolate, caramel and alcohol.

T: Flavors follow lock stock and barrel with the aromas- raisins, alcohol, chocolate and caramel mingle nicely while fighting for top billing with each sip.

M: Medium-to-full bodied. Smooth, silky, syrupy and creamy all at once, with just the right amount of carbonation. Long finish and lingering flavors throughout the entire glass and into the second pour.

D: Alesmith Grand Cru has drinkability of the highest order, particularly for a brew with double-digit ABV. It helped to share the bottle. Inviting as it pours, Grand Cru draws you in further with the aroma and locks you down with a wonderful mix of complex flavors and a silky smooth finish. I have another bottle I intend to cellar, but we'll see if I have the will power to wait a year. Maybe I'll just have to buy a couple more bottles! (1,222 characters)

Photo of atremains
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sharing this bottle to celebrate the occurance of a Sunday night. The beer is not much to look at; pours with a small head with no life and no lacing. Smell is heavily fruity. Apples strike me the most. A small bit of alcohol In the nose as well. Begian yeast, apples, cherries, caramel, and a little toasty in the flavors. Mouthfeel is a bit thin medium light body. Good drink, relaxing and interestng. (403 characters)

Photo of xraided81
4.72/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: poured from a 750ml bottles, pours a clear amber, with dark ruby highlights. The head quickly dissipates, and only leaves a moderated carbonation.
S- Vinous, dark fruit, dried cherries, sherry like aromas are present, and acidic smell, which is great.
T- bready yeasty flavors are present, with a subtly tartness is present in the back of the palate, the taste is all malt and yeast and very little hop presence.
M- a medium mouthfeel is present, surprising fro the maltiness of this beer. the high alcohol content of this brew is present in the mouthfeel, i feel the heat as i swish in my mouth.
D- Is great i would definetly pick this up if i came across again, i have never had an alesmith beer i did not enjoy, awesome interpreatation of a belgian beer, by an awesome brewery. (787 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 3HovsepiansBrews
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
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. (556 characters)

Photo of smarcoly
4.7/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought the Alesmith Grand Cru as a celebration ale for my sister-in-laws wedding to share with my new brother-in-law. It was the perfect selection.

Poured beautifully into a "Bruery" tulip glass with a small head and mild lacing. Nice dark golden color worthy of any strong belgian ale. Aroma is extremely enticing and tempting to just dive in and drink up. The flavors did not disappoint. Just the right balance of sweetness initially, followed by enjoyable caramel/malty notes, and slightly hoppy in the finish. Just the right level of carbonation as it was not too bubbly, but just enough to let your tongue know it was there.

I cant wait to pick up another bottle. Alesmith hits it out of the park with this one! (720 characters)

Photo of throwitallaway
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750ml. bottle into a goblet. Nice brown color, with a small head that sticks around for awhile. Smells of spice, dark fruits, and brown sugar. Tastes of spice, slightly bitter hops, brown sugar, apples, and a slight alcohol warmth at the end. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and creamy. Complex and tasty, but suffers in the drinkability department. I'll probably have to struggle a little to get through the bottle. (425 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)

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