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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
91
outstanding

702 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 702
Reviews: 357
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 10.62%
Wants: 97
Gots: 129 | 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: 702 | Reviews: 357 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rayjay
3.85/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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!

rayjay, Apr 23, 2009
Photo of schroederm
4/5  rDev -1.2%
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.

schroederm, Apr 05, 2009
Photo of SShelly
4.08/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

SShelly, Apr 05, 2009
Photo of srandycarter
3.45/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

srandycarter, Mar 11, 2009
Photo of sweetbrew82
4.55/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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

sweetbrew82, Feb 23, 2009
Photo of JohnQVegas
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 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.

JohnQVegas, Feb 11, 2009
Photo of maximum12
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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.

maximum12, Jan 29, 2009
Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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!

PittBeerGirl, Jan 28, 2009
Photo of Oxymoron
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

Oxymoron, Jan 26, 2009
Photo of illidurit
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

illidurit, Jan 26, 2009
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.05/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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

LilBeerDoctor, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of number1bum
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 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.

number1bum, Jan 06, 2009
Photo of abfraser
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

abfraser, Jan 04, 2009
Photo of Beerenauslese
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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.

Beerenauslese, Jan 04, 2009
Photo of brdc
3.65/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

brdc, Jan 02, 2009
Photo of hoegaardenhero
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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?

hoegaardenhero, Dec 26, 2008
Photo of BrewMonkey
4.33/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

BrewMonkey, Dec 16, 2008
Photo of Flyer
3.38/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

Flyer, Dec 10, 2008
Photo of ggoss3
3.85/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a) dark deep brown color in the glass, little to no head

s) i get alcohol on the nose, followed by a caramel sweet flavor

t) brown sugar with a caramel sweetness... a bit of spice on the finish

m) tiny bubbles on the mouthwith a very smooth finish, leaves again, a sweetness to it

d) a bit heavy, and a bit heavy on the alcohol nose/mouth... good to quaff though

ggoss3, Dec 05, 2008
Photo of magictrokini
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish-brown color with a squatty off-white head. A rich, sweet malty aroma. Kind of musty in an old way, not a bretty way. Malty sweet, almost like bread pudding, but a dry finish. Alcoholic warmth is very noticeable. Liquer-like mouthfeel. This borders on a malt bomb, if there is a such thing, but is still very nice.

magictrokini, Dec 04, 2008
Photo of BretSikkink
4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Caramel color with lighter highlights. The head has an orangish hue to it, with lots of carbonation that leaps out to a pretty tall head. Either the ABV or the lack of hops quickly comes into play, however, and de-sticks the cap and glass from any long lasting lacing.

Pleasing notes in the aroma, though you have to go searching a bit. Definitely notes of mulled cider, with the apple and spice components, and a little clove to round out the aroma.

Low on the roast totem pole for sure, this BSDA relies on fruity sweetness, spices, and alcohol to earn its designation. Some date and fig in there, but still leaning towards red apple overall, especially in the aftertaste. The sweetness is more powerful than spiciness; some can be attributed to candi sugar I imagine.

The spice flavors are pretty prominent, and include notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, plus the clove phenols from the yeast strain. The added complexity takes the strain off the sweetness.

Decent heft in the mouth; I wouldn't be disappointed by a Strong Dark with more body and creaminess, but there's a certain American attitude about this variety that allows it to be inspired by Belgium without being enslaved.

I'm impressed by this vintage of the Grand Cru, and I'm really happy that I came upon a bottle for $9 - not exactly a steal, but definitely a deal.

BretSikkink, Dec 03, 2008
Photo of OWSLEY069
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy deep amber color, with some reddish hues and a small light tan head. In the aroma, dark fruits, plum, dry fig, and a hint of alcohol. In the taste, prune, fig, dry dark fruits across the board. A small bitterness and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a semi dry dark fruit and alcohol aftertaste. Big dark fruit and alcohol, but not overbarring, and a nice dry end.

OWSLEY069, Nov 22, 2008
Photo of Goliath
3.95/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, dark amber with red hues in the light. As it warmed, it became rather clear but retained it's dark amber color. A thin slightly yellowed head forms and quickly dissipates leaving nothing but a thin collar behind.

The aroma is pretty nice. A good bit of fruit in the nose, sugar, spice, and yeast. Kind of phenolic and boozy as well.

The taste is decent. Again, some nice fruit presence giving a bit of plum. A decent amount of alcohol shows up, and hides behind some big solvent and phenolic notes. Kind of spicey as well with a nice warmth.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full bodied. Carbonation is very low and fine, but perhaps not appropriate for a Belgian style ale.

Drinkability is moderate. The flavor is decent, but the booziness is a bit much at times. I would say that as of right now this is my least favorite of Alesmiths 750 lineup, and potentially least favorite altogether. I am however still curious if age would smooth it out a bit and make it more palatable for my liking.

Goliath, Nov 21, 2008
Photo of tmoneyba
4.13/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle at tasting at Baskets Gourmet.

Poured brown hue with large off-white head that lasted with excellent lacing. Medium to heavy aroma of molasses and malt. Medium body with long finish. Moderate to heavy malty sweet flavor with a moderate to heavy complex sweet finish and small alcohol bite.

Always god beers from this brewer.

tmoneyba, Nov 21, 2008
Photo of PatronWizard
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked this up at the BA Speedway release. Got thirsty so....

Super thick liquid caramel. Some of the bubbles actually stop while moving up the glass. No head first pour. Not to worry, this 750 looks like it has many more pours in store. Second aggressive pour results in the thinnest of heads that dissipates quickly. I proclaim this a headless beer.

Smells like a sugar daddy with a vodka core. In other word: yum.

Big big taste of caramel. Sweet and malty malt bomb. Candied apples.

Surprisingly smooth. Goes down like water (with a little vodka in it). Carbonation seems non-existent, alcohol is a distant fire on a far off shore. Incredible easy to drink. This 750 of 10% will get in my bellay in very short order I'm afraid.

Big drinkable beer. It seriously has to be melted candied apples and vodka in a bottle.

Overall: grand cru

PatronWizard, Nov 14, 2008
AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 702 ratings.