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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.

685 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 685
Reviews: 355
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 10.86%
Wants: 99
Gots: 125 | 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: 685 | Reviews: 355 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kels


4.35/5  rDev +7.4%

I was quite excited to see the gold foil of the top of this bottle peeking out from behind the other Alesmith offerings in the back of the cooler at the Root Cellar. I've been searching for this for bamadog for months since we tried a bit at a Cincy BA event a while back. Review is on the bottle poured into tulips.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful rosy brown, rusted-ruby, brandy color. A small white head fizzles out super-quickly to a skim and light lacing hangs around. Somewhat opaque, glowing, with the lightest hints of carbonation.

Smell: Smell is very sweet, full and robust. Defined caramel comes through in a syrupy sweetness. Juicy, sticky prunes and apricots join toasted sugars and a slight spiciness like ginger or sassafras.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The sweetness is out of control in a very good way! The taste is full of crystalized sugar and candy, crispy, toasty malt, caramel syrup, brown sugar, prunes, light graininess and hints of yeast. Feel is very viscous yet brightly carbonated with tons of stickiness. It is surprisingly drying in the aftertaste which I would guess is a result of the alcohol vapors hanging around.

Drinkability: Amazingly high for the style and the size. I really enjoy this beer a lot, and I wish it wasn't so hard to find around here.

06-23-2009 20:34:10 | More by kels
Photo of bamadog


4.33/5  rDev +6.9%

Finally, after nearly a month of searching, Kels came across a bottle and shared. Poured from the bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a light/medium coffee brown with some hints of peach and ruby in the middle; started with a one finger light tan head that faded to nothing quite quickly; I can see a very mild carbonation at the top on the sides, but the body is pretty cloudy and murky and tough to see into, so there may be more in there, but I'm going to guess there isn't.

Smell: Sweet sweet malts; a bit of a burnt sugar and brown sugar in the scent; some sweet dark fruitiness and a definite presence of alcohol in the nose. As it warms, the yeast presence finally starts to come through.

Taste: Sweet malts as mentioned in the smell, but there is also a slight toasty aspect as well to them; the familiar taste of burnt and brown sugar; sweet dark candied fruits (prune, raisin); alcohol is also present but blended pretty well and masked per usual; much like in the nose, the yeastiness starts to come out much more as it warms and it has a slight breardy presence to it as well, adding some weight to the body.

Mouthfeel: Mild carbonation allows for a very smooth drink; warm in the mouth and chest; leaves a slight coating throughout the mouth.

Drinkability: High. Yeah, I don't care that it's heavier or that the ABV is 10%. I would have sat through the entire bottle myself. Had a sample of this at a BA event that was aged for a couple of years, so I'm even more excited for the second bottle that Kels picked up to pick up some age... This is an amazing tasting ale.

06-21-2009 17:05:30 | More by bamadog
Photo of jwc215


4.1/5  rDev +1.2%

Thanks to PhxHorn for this!

750 ml bottle - gold-foiled poured into tulip glass:

Pours dark amber with a thin off-white head that eventually dissipates to leave a ring and some trailing lace.

The smell is of toffee, spiced bread, plums, stewed/dried apricot and peach. Complex. Malty, with a touch of smoke.

The taste is of rich toffee - towards chocolate at times - caramelish with spicy, slightly roasted fruitiness - stewed apricot/peach/prune - slightly grapey. Fruity and malty, but with an herbal bitterness that lingers. Rum-like booze is there, but not sharp. Abv high for a beer, but not sharp.

Rich, especially in aroma. There is a bitter touch to it, and alcohol there, but not overwhelming. A rich, delightful "sipper".

05-27-2009 02:13:41 | More by jwc215
Photo of ffejherb


3.98/5  rDev -1.7%

750ml bottle into snifter on 5/18/09. Thanks to FooFaa for sharing!

A - Copper-colored body with reddish orange highlights and a slim beige head that settled into a patcy ring around the glass and left no noticeable lacing.

S - Caramel and sugary sweetness up front with moderate alcohol notes. Hints of spices, licorice and hard candy sweep into the mix. Nose is very barleywine-esque.

T - Maple syrup, caramel and licorice notes up front with a subtle spicy character and a slight burnt sugar aspect. Very little hop presence overall.

M - Medium body with soft carbonation and a slick, oily texture with slight syrupy feel. Finish is warm and sweet on the palate.

D - This Grand Cru is sweet and spicy with plenty of alcohol warmth... and definitely reminiscent of a Barleywine.

05-22-2009 02:52:50 | More by ffejherb
Photo of belgbeerdrinker


3.95/5  rDev -2.5%

a: looks dark brown until held to light where it has a grape juice color, thick head slowly disappears, thick lacing
s: dark fruity, belgian yeast, coriander
t: consistent with smell as dark fruits throughout mingle with belgian yeast and coriander, also some woodiness present and moderate alcohol finish; not overly sweet, actually maybe not sweet enough for my taste
m: starts out almost creamy but almost seems to turn light halfway through, nice carbonation
d: 1st time i tried this beer i was disappointed, but 2nd time i enjoyed it. a hint sweeter and more full-bodied would make this phenomenal

05-20-2009 19:06:45 | More by belgbeerdrinker
Photo of fbinla


4.18/5  rDev +3.2%

Pours Dark amber, with a off white head, the pulls back fairly quickly.

Great smells, baked brown sugar, figs, fruit cake spice.

Mild sweetness of molasses, figs, sweet caramel, great body good carbonation breaks up the sweetness on the tongue leaving it ready for more.

05-17-2009 06:54:37 | More by fbinla
Photo of aerozeppl

New York

4.53/5  rDev +11.9%

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.

05-14-2009 23:17:21 | More by aerozeppl
Photo of Mauerhan


3.75/5  rDev -7.4%

06 vintage enjoyed with my good friends olieipa and patronwizard. this beers for you bitches.

opened the bottle with a faint hiss. sounded more like a whisper than anything else. poured into my tulip with a heavy hand that produces no carbonation. dark caramel color.

smell is sweet. candy apples. caramel. sugars.

taste is alright. good not great. very sweet. slight boozy burn.

this beer is flat. but alas its also three years old. i prefer the fresh batch to this. but worth a try.

04-29-2009 02:50:39 | More by Mauerhan
Photo of rayjay


3.85/5  rDev -4.9%

2006. Got this from a BIF but I cannot remember who from (sorry I have no system!)

Upon first impression this beer delivers a less than enthusiastic pop from the crown and a dull head of the same proportion. I suspect a failed crown. Otherwise fairly dark and rich looking, like a golden ale with some roasted barley and 200L carmel malt.

Strong notes of oxidation. Not necessarily a bad thing, so I'll give this beer a shot. Other notes of fruit esters and black pepper. A bit like a strong fruity vodka drink.

I gave this beer a while to adjust my palate before I made my final judgement call. There is obvious oxidation present along with a thick undercarbed body. But I'm glad I did because i went from drainpour to admiration in about an hour and I'm halfway through the bottle.

The thick malty body and strong esters show it's strength, yet the alcohol is cleverly hidden. It's a bit dehydrating but hits the spot if you're in the mood for a strong beer. This is the third Belgian style strong ale I've had that reminded me of a very traditional very strong English barleywine. I feel like I'm drinking a beer by my fire 100 years ago.

By now the mild carbonation has all but gone away, yet I keep growing more and more fond of this obviously aged beer. Honestly I just drank this tonight to get it out of the way, but I'm glad I did. Thank you for the opportunity to whom credit is due and cheers!

04-23-2009 06:00:45 | More by rayjay
Photo of schroederm


4/5  rDev -1.2%

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.

04-05-2009 19:18:58 | More by schroederm
Photo of SShelly


4.08/5  rDev +0.7%

On tap at the brewery.

Off the tap a dark brownish amber color with big pillow of foam.

Smell has great malt character, with a little yeasty, banana thing going on.

Malt dominant with lots of dark fruit, spicy yeast character and some residual sugar.

Feels great in the mouth, very lively with great carb, leaves a little residual sugar in the mouth.

Excellent offering from alesmith, my wife and I left with a growler.

04-05-2009 15:56:44 | More by SShelly
Photo of srandycarter


3.45/5  rDev -14.8%

OK, I wasn't sure if it was part of this beer, but it seemed really flat. It's the 06 and it was stored properly. No head, almost no carb in tasting. I am just not into really flat beers and I am having trouble rating it as such, but here goes.

A - Pretty, dark dense looking caramel. No head.

S - Dark fruits, mostly, with some sweet and roasty malt floating about in there.

T - Rich candied and cooked fruits. Some hops in there to bitter, but not completely balanced. An almost oxidized, stale finish.

M - FLAT. Medium bodied, not completely balanced.

D - In it's current state, I would never try it again. The carb thing just really disappoints for me.

03-11-2009 03:12:43 | More by srandycarter
Photo of sweetbrew82


4.55/5  rDev +12.3%

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

02-23-2009 00:33:20 | More by sweetbrew82
Photo of JohnQVegas


4.43/5  rDev +9.4%

Bottle into chalice. This example is about a year old.

Pours a clear, incredibly effervescent, stunning red-brown, with a tight, fizzy off-white head that recedes quickly. This is a beautiful beer.

Nose is figs, white grapes, bit of yeast and sweet caramel malt then blend into a beautiful breadiness - clean and wonderfully crisp. Picks up some nutty cocoa notes as it warms.

Flavor is equally fantastic - starts with a big hit of yeast, but then a big toasty sweet malt quality is folded into the massive vinous fruity notes - raisins and dates, slightly over-ripe apples, pears - it's all there, along with a bit of spicy brown sugar sweetness. Finish is yeasty, rich with lingering fruit and doughy malt notes, and a vinous exhale.

Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, smooth and a bit syrupy, full. This one is a home run.

02-11-2009 16:19:03 | More by JohnQVegas
Photo of maximum12


4.3/5  rDev +6.2%

Received in a springtime '08 trade & aged since, as suggested on the bottle. Nice bottle, by the way.

No head on this baby, but the smell comes sluicing generously out of the bottle once popped. Even cold from the fridge there's a bunch of nosiness, sweet candi, alcohol, & things we only imagine in the dark.

The old Grand Cru is dead flat in the mouth, no apparent carbonation at all. Nonetheless, it's delicious. The fruit somehow manages to be simultaneously sweeter, more candied, & more tart at the end. The high alcohol content is clearly present, but not wrecking the party or hitting on my wife. There's a touch of bitterness coming from somewhere too that smooths everything out.

Drinkable? Hell, yeah. I've already sucked down a good part of my half of the bottle, & it's getting similar kudos from my better half.

Very, very good brew. Only the second I've tried from Alesmith, & the pair of them warrant further exploration.

01-29-2009 02:58:13 | More by maximum12
Photo of PittBeerGirl


4.03/5  rDev -0.5%

Thanks to raznug for this beer! 750 ml bottle poured into my large Duvel tulip glass.

A- Body is a very hazy translucent medium brown hue. Pours with a very large, foamy light tan colored head that is 3 fingers+. This subsides quickly to approximately 1 finger and has pretty good retention from there-although the 2nd pour produced much less and the head eventually faded completely leaving no lacing behind in the glass. Cloudiness is thick and somewhat dynamic with uniform translucency-but cloudiness whirls about the body. (Not going to dock for this since I have been milking this beer for 3 hours).

S- The nose is rich in dark fruit such as raisin and plum. Dark malt, a slight candi sugar sweetness, and a nice spicy yeast tone are also present along with a hint of phenols.

T-Upfront the flavors are a bit dry and fruity with some raisin coming through with a bit of a peppery spice accent. A hint of candi sugar also comes through as the brew first hits the tongue. A big bready, spicy yeast background is eminent behind this. The finish adds to the complexity with a bit of an alcohol heat and a more intensified spicy yeast presence. What liners is a bready, spicy yeast wrapped in a warm alcohol blanket.

M- Carbonation is tingly and high at first (especially when chilled) but mellows a bit to a nice medium carbonation when it warms a bit. Body is medium weight and very smooth and yeasty upfront but phenols can definitely be detected during the finish.

D- This is a very good beer and Alesmith is still yet to receive under a 4.0 from me. The ABV is present but gives more of a warmign effect than an astringency-and that is very good. Its a solid, wonderful beer all around and very complex. Not my favorite from this brewing co. (but hey it has very rough competition)-but this proves to be a wonderful representation of a BSDA and is solid all around. Alesmith is probably my favorite CA brewery. I need to make another trip to OH in order to pick up a 2nd Speedway to review (awesome but consumed during my reviewing break)...and I need to try other Alesmith Brews. Thanks again to raznug!

01-28-2009 04:22:58 | More by PittBeerGirl
Photo of Oxymoron


4.35/5  rDev +7.4%

Grand who? Pours a mostly hazy light orange color with a more of a straw yellow hue throughout. A rough foamy head when poured but does hide to the edge of the glass through most of the tasting. Next to no lacing throughout.

The nose has some very nice Belgian notes. To start the malt has some lighter Belgian pils malt with some minor caramel aroma that I associate with Special B. Great complexity. There are some nice fruity and spicy notes as well. Some nutmeg, coriander, bananas, pears and peaches. Some minor cinnamon and acetaldehyde as well. As it mores more of a fig and cherry thing comes out. The yeast is pretty light overall, but some alcohol notes are there.

The taste is a bit more muddled compared to the nose. The malt is there and a bit strong but ok for a Dark Strong. The caramel comes out a bit more with hints of astringency but not bad. Some bready notes that help out though. The fruity notes come out more with a nice pear and banana flavor but some fig notes in the finish. The spices are limited but some pepper and coriander notes are there. Some minor hint of cinnamon but light. The yeast is very clean but is more detectable versus the nose.

The body is closer to moderate than full, but still very clean. Some heat from the alcohol but very easy drinkability. Overall some very nice notes but to be nit picky I would like a little bit cleaner notes in the taste.

01-26-2009 22:26:04 | More by Oxymoron
Photo of illidurit


4.45/5  rDev +9.9%

06 vintage signed by Peter Zein! Deep ruddy brown color with a sticky creamy tan head. Aromas of bruised apple flesh, chocolate-covered caramel, and grapes. Extremely appealing. Flavor is sweet bready malts and chocolate accented by red fruits, citrus, and cidery notes. Just delicious. Mouthfeel and body are perfect. Another epic Alesmith beer.

01-26-2009 08:46:35 | More by illidurit
Photo of LilBeerDoctor

New York

3.05/5  rDev -24.7%

Bottle, aged ~1 year. Pours a deep brown with a small white head. Aroma of raisin and sweet malt. Flavor is vegetal, quite malty and heavy in the palate. A little better as it warms, but it's super sweet. This is supposed to age well, but I didn't like how it turned out. Meh, not a fan.
6/4/7/3/13 (3.3/5

01-25-2009 04:57:23 | More by LilBeerDoctor
Photo of number1bum


4.35/5  rDev +7.4%

Pours a reddish brown, mahogany sort of color with a good three plus fingers of creamy beige head. Head fizzles down relatively quickly actually, keeping a pretty good lace and leaving a bit of stick. Not the best of heads, though.

Mmm. Deliciously enticing nose, with a really nice candi sugar, molasses and caramel sweetness. Good amount of fruit is here, too, mostly dark fruits with some apple and raisins also standing out. In fact it smells like a caramel apple at times. As it warms the caramel/candi sugar sweetness grows even more prominent, and it's quite nice. There's a whiff of alcohol now and again, as well, and maybe a hint of spice.

Taste starts off with the candi sugar/molasses sort of sweetness that was evident in the smell. Some slightly buttery caramel sweetness, as well. The buttery flavor persists, actually, but it's not a diacetyl sort of buttery flavor. Instead, it's like an apple that's been caramelized in some butter and brown sugar in a frying pan. There is more fruit too, like raisins and plums. And it all mingles with the buttery, caramely, molasses and candi sugar sweetness. There's a bit of spice in the finish, as well. There's even some bitterness in the finish - a bitter orange peel sort of bitterness rather than a hoppy one. Very nice.

Mouthfeel is a smooth, chewy full body, that toes the line and doesn't become syrupy given all the sweetness.

This is some very tasty stuff, complex and very enjoyable. Only my second Alesmith brew but given just two (this and Horny Devil) I know that I need to get more. Lots more.

01-06-2009 23:07:02 | More by number1bum
Photo of abfraser


4.22/5  rDev +4.2%

This one's been aging for a couple of years. They don't stamp batches, unfortunately, so I have no idea how old it really is.

A: Deep nut brown with no head. Looks a little viscous. Almost no carbonation.

S: Spicy, medicinal, orange peel

T/M: Smooth, sweet and malty. The medicinal qualities on the nose are really present here, which is a little bit of a turn off. This was definitely not as present in the non-aged versions. Mouthfeel is close to syrupy. Spice is definitely there. A really complex beer.

D: Being a bit syrupy and medicinal detracts from the drinkability here a little bit. But this hides its alcohol really well.

Overall, I know this is a great beer but I don't think it aged particularly well. The carbonation is almost completely non existent, making it too syrupy. I think I'll drink the others I have sooner rather than later. My ratings are posted as a hybrid...I've had enough non-aged versions that I feel comfortable doing so.

01-04-2009 03:32:02 | More by abfraser
Photo of Beerenauslese


4/5  rDev -1.2%

2006 vintage.

A: Removed the pry-top cap, expecting a cork underneath, but there was none. The bottle opened without a pop, just a little gas escaping. Poured into a tulip glass, little head formation. Tea-brown in color.

S: Prunes, raisins, brown sugar.

T: Prunes, sour cherries, chocolate, grapes, dark toast. Tastes a little sweet, like a port at first, resolving a bit sour, then cocao, with a lingering dry bitterness from the hops. A pleasant series of tastes overall.

M: Just a little carbonation, almost, but not quite, flat. Refreshing taste sensation on the tongue. Rich, but not thick.

D: Definitely will finish the bottle, but disappointed that the carbonation is yesterday. I suspect if you age this any longer, you would end up with a really flat beer.

01-04-2009 00:55:44 | More by Beerenauslese
Photo of brdc


3.65/5  rDev -9.9%

Large capped bottle, aged as suggested in the bottle for one year. Poured into a goblet.

Burgundy red, with some obvious carbonation problems, and a head that shows minimal retention or lacing.
Nice fruity aroma, mostly dark fruits, caramel maltiness, candy like sweetness.
Full bodied, but the lacko of carbonation severely limits the enjoyment. Flavor profile is on the sweeter side, malty, fruity, with minimal alcoholic warmth.
A decent brew, but if I have another chance, will ignore the bottle statement and drink fresh. I believe the lack of carbonation might be an aging problem, although mentioned in other reviews as well.

01-02-2009 00:43:18 | More by brdc
Photo of hoegaardenhero


4.22/5  rDev +4.2%

a: a nice red amber with off-white head and tight bubbles; light columns of bubble movement and decent retention

s: spicy fruity scents; light wine; apples; sweet cider; light vinegar; very fruit forward

t: nice caramel notes; sweet toffee finish; butter; apples and pear; prunes; light wine/abv; a little bit of chocolate and spiciness; very smooth

m: a little over carbed in my opinion but a nice lightly cloying buttery body

d: a great take on the style; who says americans don't do belgian?

12-26-2008 00:40:23 | More by hoegaardenhero
Photo of BrewMonkey


4.33/5  rDev +6.9%

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.

12-16-2008 21:06:42 | More by BrewMonkey
AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 685 ratings.