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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.

371 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 371
Hads: 832
Avg: 4.06
pDev: 15.27%
Wants: 107
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: 371 | Hads: 832
Photo of brewcrew76
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Murky brown with a thin beige head that disipates quickly with no lacing.

S - Apple cinamon spiciness with plums, dates and figs mixed in. This one is good but I would have prefered a little more complexity.

T - Sweet but not cloying. Dark fruits, raisins, dates, figs. You can feel the alcohol but the sweetness hides the taste. I was hoping this one would be a little more complex.

M - Medium but with low carbonation that leaves the beer a little syrupy.

D - A very good BSDA but I was expecting just a little more from Alesmith. I would drink this one again though.

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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

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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!

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Photo of BeerManDan
4.67/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

When poured, it was a dark reddish brown with absolutley no foam what so ever and no trace of lace what so ever also. Now, the smell was something else. There was a sweet candied smell with the aroma's of fruits and roasted malts. The taste was outstanding, with the sweet caramel/toffee/figs along with the roasted malts is just overpowering. I'll give it a five, but, it may be just a little to sweet for someone else!

Overall, toasty toffee/caramel/fruity nose, with layers of soft malt and hops. Extremely well balanced. Another winner from Alesmith!

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -26.1%
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.

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Photo of cheers2beers
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: This beer pours a dark rusty brown with absolutely no head,not even a thin ring. It has a little cloudiness floating towards the bottom,dregs perhaps.

Smell: The aromas have some candied sugars, ripe dark fruits, sweet molassas, white grapes possibably with a little alcohol.

Taste: The flavor seems like spicey fruits with a semi high alcohol punch. This has some white wine characteristics. A slight green apple tartness is present, alongside some bready malts.

Mouthfeel: Almost slick and oily,yet on the wet side too. Seems like the carbonation is medium to high , yet I couldnt draw a head on this at all. Thick to medium bodium bodied.

Drinkability: This is another beer I can honestly say it was a pleasure to drink and can't wait to try it again. if you have not had this i would definitely recommend to you and as always ....


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Photo of lackenhauser
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very nice, chestnut hued color. Very low carbonation-almost flat. Good aroma-great raiseny and sweetly slick malt aroma-slight spiciness to it-reminds me of a whole cinnnamon stick. Great malty flavor-phenolic bite that is well balanced against the malty backbone. Sort of a caramel/toffeeish flavor. Very nicely balanced-no alcohol trace for 10%. Good mouthfeel-very full bodied-nice lingering residual sweetness. Very enjoyable beer. My first try of the much raved about Alesmith. Just bumped it up in drinkability-damn fine effort.

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Photo of Estarrio
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a semi-translucent brown with hints of amber and copper. Surprisingly, the head was nearly non-existent. The only evidence of carbonation came from a frothy white ring around the glass.

The aroma was nearly pure malt and brewers yeast followed by sweet hints of fruit.

The light carbonation lends to a light syrup-like consistency. I was somewhat unimpressed until I took my first sip but the complexities of tastes become apparent through the taste. The flavor is well balanced with smoke, malt, yeast, nutty caramel and fruity tastes. Light hop tastes produces just enough bitter taste to counteract the sweetness. The high alcohol percentage is masked nicely.

An overall enjoyable beer despite its deceptive appearance.

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Photo of trep
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle.

Pours a murky brown with appropriate head that lasts for a while. Some carbonation but not much. Some sediment.

Smells like hazelnut and a bit of alcohol. Some raisin and some toffee.

Very nice. Begins with a bittersweet fade into the some nuttiness. Very smooth and the alcohol is not present whatsoever. Nutty, raisin-y and much dark fruit. Finishes kind of dry.

Medium mouthfeel. Perfect carbonation and good thickness for the style. Pretty easy drinking for the 10% and I would definitely get this again.

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Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - this grand cru pours a sark reddish/brown thatn wells up a thin tan head but is too dark to see any carbonation

S - the aroma is nice, but rather nondescript, and unusual iced tea aroma with associated undecipherable spices, very enticing

T - a ver nice sweet taste, with a great hoppy/malty balanced aftertaste, with a great roasted malt background

M - smooth, very smooth, this grand cru is nice and easy on the palate

D - high, the smoothness and balanced flavor lead to a above average drinkability

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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.

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Photo of TheBungyo
4.06/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is tough to review. I poured into my Orval glass and was shocked to get NO head whatsoever. I know it was clean as I had washed it whilst being careful NOT to use too much soap, and rinsed it generously. In another review, Skyhand used the word lifeless in regards to the appearance, and because I'm unimaginative I'm going to steal it and agree. Very little carbonation and no lacing or head. Body is exactly the right color. Brown and amber mingled. Nose is tart apples, red wine, butter ... just what the doctor ordered for a good Grand Cru. Taste put me off initially ... it was much like the smell, maybe with the tart apples playing the dominant role. I paired this with some Jarlsberg and made sure I had several sips before eating any cheese so as not to blemish my initial taste. It was only when I tried the cheese when the flavor really became amazing ... the cheese really balanced out the flavor and made this beer extremely enjoyable. Mouth is ok, but maybe just a little too thin for my taste. Drinkability suffers when you know there are better and CHEAPER beers of the same style sitting on the shelf. I surely would give this another go though, because this is an enjoyable beer ... if I could get it without having to trade for it.
Thanks to Clickpush for providing this!

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Photo of deuschbag
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

sharred this with a childhood friend of mine.

750 ml. capped bottle pored into a snifter. this pores a beautiful leathery red color with no head.

the smell has a very strong floral hop scent with a big kick of spices and fruits. big alcohol tone in the background.

the taste is about the same as the aroma. very fruity and spicey. has a nice malt and hop balance in the end. wonderful cherry like after taste.

thick syrupy mouthfeel. very chewy.

for being 10% alc. this is a dangerously drinkable brew. i highly recommend this.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004. 750. red foil. mwah!

murky swampwater reddish brown color, healthy heaps of aerated lace and foam atop the beer. amazingly authentic belgian nose, the yeast is old and spicy, the fruit selection is overripe, rich in sweetness and very- very- dark. slight notes of candy apple crispy tart aroma as well.

very carbonated, which helps with the alcohol warmth in the finish here. initially introduced by a brown sugar reduction, a dark brand of sugary smack. caramel evolves with raisins and figs present. taste continues with some more natural outdoor flavors.. treated leather and edible flowers. something woody sneaks in at the end, probably due to some well-rounded aging, and imparts a smooth vanilla bean shell bitterness. slight sherry twang also closes this beaut out.

a delicious selection and one that picked up some interesting quirks with its years in the cellar. recommended...alesmith- purveyors of quite consistent quality.

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Photo of OStrungT
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a clear redish brown color with a light brown head. The head fades fast, leaving a thin lacing.

This beer has a spicy, clovey aroma. It smells slightly of alcohol. It has a citrusy hop aroma. It has a sweet caramel malt aroma also.

This beer tastes sweeter than I expected. It has a spicy slightly clovey flavor. also, it has a pleasent citrus hop flavor to it. This beer has a slight dark fruit flavor to it also. Raisins, and prunes.

This beer warms the throat as it goes down. It is surprisingly smooth, leaving a slightly spict aftertaste.

This beer might be a good session beer but the alcohol is a little high. It tastes great, but I wouldnt drink tok many. It is a very good beer though.

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Photo of DrJay
4.67/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 batch (gold foil): I had been saving this one for quite some time and I wasn't disappointed. It poured a rich caramel/toffee colour with a thin ring of fine bubbles. Very mellow, well-integrated aroma, with notes of caramel, apple, toffee, and brown sugar. The flavour has a fine balance - moderate bitterness with plenty of bready malt. Apple, chocolate, and toffee all make contributions as well. The finish has a tootsie roll character and fruit lingers beyond that. No alcohol was apparent. Full bodied with low carbonation and an extremely smooth texture. Truly awesome. The balance in the flavour and aroma was superb. I wish I had more of these beauties in storage. I miss this beer already...

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Photo of bruachan
4.21/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

great ruby red color with vivacious carbonation that helps sustain a very nice merengue head

this is a belgian? i would have picked barleywine in a blind tasting. no joke...it tastes like a slightly subdued old guardian (which i loved). same butterscotch/toffee character in the aroma and flavor and the same chewy feel. it's even hoppy enough to fit the style. this beer makes me wonder if i have a grasp on barleywines like i think i do

do i punish this beer for tasting like a beer that i loved from a different style?

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.64/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am splitting a 750 with Stopper and pouring it at room temp into a snifter.

The beer pours a clear mahogany with some deep ruby highlights. A small beige head foams up and fades rapidly.
Aroma is caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit, plums, raisins, and a little bit of rum booziness.
First sip reveals a syrupy texture with very mild carbonation. Pretty hefty body. The flavor is similar to the nose and almost as complex. Brown sugar and caramel mix with dark fruit, plums and raisins, some tart raspberry, and even red grape. I also get the warming booze on the finish. A sipper but a damn tasty one at that. Definitely worth a buy!

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

Vintage 2003. 750ml. green glass, capped champagne bottle, with gold foil and a silk-screened label. It pours a slightly cloudy, dark copper-brown ale
with a quarter inch of tan colored head, that disappears quickly. No lacing so to speak.

Sweet, earthy malt nose with hints of roasted nuts, tobacco and brandy soaked fruit, very mellow with whiffs of alcohol seeping through.

The taste is of sweet roasty malt, with fruit and nut flavors blending with alcohol, then dropping to a slightly bitter, yet clean, mellow warm finish. Very tasty, but the carbonation has dropped which seems to let the full flavors of this fine ale to blossom in your mouth and yield the complexity that the Grand Cru fresh on tap has to offer. Perhaps if the bottle I'm reviewing here, had been properly cellared for the last three years, it would be better than what I had fresh at the brewery, several days ago.

None the less, still a very tasty, complex ale that's worth it's weight in gold...very tasty stuff, bar none!

Medium heft in body, silk-smooth mouthfeel, this stuff goes down like water, then kicks your a$$ in a good way! Another gem from AleSmith, a no-brainer...try it numbskull's, or miss out!!!

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Photo of Viggo
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy brown/orange, tiny white head, some spots of lace,. Smell is sweet, with caramel, brown sugar and apple. Taste is huge, caramel and apple, some vanilla toffee, tootsie roll finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation, very smooth. 2004 edition, nicely aged. Thanks DrJay!

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

Translucent burnt umber, 1 inch head, falls to a ring with islands of bubbles. Smell is alcohol, rum soaked raisins, and cinnamon bread dough. The taste is caramel and alcohol, though less than I expected after the strong nose. This has a fine mouthfeel, with the alcohol thinning things out a bit. Very drinkable, but after a 750ml bottle you shouldn't be having much else.

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

750 ml bottle similar to the Grand Cru 2003 bottle shown under that beer entry. This beer has no dating information. Purchased at Hi Time Wine Cellar about a year ago (early 2005?), no price or date info recorded. Cellared by me for about a year.

Pours a pretty brown/amber with auburn red highlights. Medium head dies very quickly to a thin cover; no lacing remains.

Aroma is that of a very nice Belgian Strong Dark ale- moderately sweet, burnt sugar and chocolate-covered candy bars. Slight roastiness and a few spices to boot- orange peel is the obvious one, but others are around too. Quite nice to sit and enjoy smelling.

Flavor is complex, malts with roasty, almost charcoal softened by semi-sweet chocolate, and fruits. Dark fruits. Dried fruits. Candied fruits. I'm talking fruitcake cherries, black cherries, dried plums, dates. And then at the end, almost hidden by a huge alcohol kick in the ass, is a gritty, yeasty, flour-like flavor. Like mixing the bread ingredients (without the water), and putting some in my mouth.

The alcohol reduces the overall score for me. I know some people like it, and that's good for them, but I don't care for it. To be fair, it does diminish as the beer warms to room temperature. I'm glad I let it age, I would have hated to fight this one fresh! That bit kept me from scoring this one higher.

Overall, this is a really good beer- I waited a long time to try it.

My 400th review. Wow.

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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.

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

Murky, rusty amber pour with a massive, billowy head of oatmeal colored froth that retains exceptionally, leaving scores of delicate lace.

A convincingly Belgian nose exhibits big malt notes, candi sugar, figs, sour apple, raisins, yeasty must, (the yeast smells very Unibrou), and traces of crushed rock minerality.

Flavor certainly stands up as well, with complex malt, dried fruits, green apple, pinapple, cherries, lots of yeasty spice, and a dry, mineral laden finish that leaves me wanting another sip. Reminds me of a dryer version of Brasserie de Rocs Grand Cru.

Body is medium to large, with a light and airey mouthfeel and a soft, pillowy texture. A joy to drink and could easily convince one that this was crafted in Belgium.

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

Alesmith tends to be the brewery I love to hate. Most of their beers are obscenely overrated and all that aluminum foil is just pretentious as hell. Also, their IPA sucks.

But a good beer is a good beer and I won’t deny it when I find it. Speedway was awesome and so is this Grand Cru. It begins with a nice bready aroma with a bit of cognac and brown sugar. The taste is gracefully defined by dried fruits and runs smooth from start to finish. The body is carnelian with no lace, minimal head, and concise carbonation that strikes a perfect balance between mellowness and vigor. The 10% alcohol makes no unwarranted intrusions.

Unlike most Alesmith beers, this one resonates with genuine character. A true pleasure.

Note: green bottle with gold foil. As of mid- '05 this is not a retired beer.

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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 371 ratings.