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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.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

776 Ratings
THE BROS
95
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 776
Reviews: 362
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 10.37%
Wants: 99
Gots: 152 | FT: 9
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 776 | Reviews: 362
Photo of satowns
3.61/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006 vintage; 750ml bottle. tasted last summer, just now posting my limited notes.

pours a brilliant bright orange with a white layer of dense bubbles.

aroma is all bright candied fruits...

Crisp citrus and spices dominate flavor.

rich and creamy mouthfeel.

Quite delicious!

Photo of Sechavar
4.17/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased at Hi Times, Costa Mesa, CA
pours with a thick head that calms down soon after. Held in front of the light is a red brown with a gold halo. Nose is slightly sour (like a farmhouse/saison). Chilled, the taste is mostly in the brown sugar/fruit territory with spices, as it warms up the taste leans more towards the hops. Overall, mouth smacking good.

Photo of jnn4v
3.94/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle that I had brought back with me from California a couple months ago.

A: Chestnut brown color. Next-to-no head. Minor haze and some yeast sediment.

S: Banana, coconut, pineapple and maraschino cherry are the first four scents. Not at all what I was expecting. Hint of chocolate. Also some rich roasty scents as well. Followed by a slightly nutty scent. Yeast began to be evident after it warmed.

T: Cherry, chocolate, yeast and dark fruits meld together with some malty sweetness to form an interesting first sip. There's something else in here that I can't quite put my finger on. Overall, isn't a similar flavor profile to any other beer I've had.

M: Relatively smooth. Very little carbonation for the style. Abnormally low. Seems to be OK otherwise.

D: Moderately drinkable. Flavor doesn't quite live up to the scent. Alcohol is well masked though.

Photo of Pencible
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured a dark, hazy mahogany with a bit of tan head. It smelled like chocolate covered banana, with coconut and some nutty malt and light yeast. It tasted like banana and chocolate and cherry, with sour yeast and some nutty malt, and a bit of earthy nutmeg and alcohol. It was fairly thick with some carbonation, and had a mild sour aftertaste. Overall this had a nice smell and taste and body, making it an all-around good beer. It hid the alcohol fairly well, so it was easy to drink, but preferable to sip to fully enjoy. Not sure about aging ability. I'm sure it could last, but I'm not sure if it would improve. AleSmith makes some of the most amazing beer, and while this was far from bad, it didn't blow me away. A solid brew, but not the best ever.

Photo of stephens101
4.17/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to jamescrames for the awesome trade which included this bad boy. Into my favorite snifter it pours dark brown in with cherry hues on the edge. A diminutive bubbly tan head exits quickly, leaving a smattering of dots all around the glass. Smell is complex and bold with cherries, phenols, earthy hops, sweet malts and vinegar all working in concert. Some subtle pears and other light fruits exist in the extreme back. Taste isn't quite as complex, but remains intriguing with ripened dark fruits, spice, malts and an ascetic undercurrent. Mouth-feel is smooth, and would almost be silky if not for the ubiquitous hop bite and alcohol heat. Body lies just on the heavy side of medium, and the carbonation is mild. After it warms it becomes a little creamier going down, and I can begin to feel the alcohol warmth in my stomach, which is a really nice feeling. I'm sure a more refined palate than mine could find something noteworthily wrong with this brew, but I sure can't.

Photo of srroos
4.12/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

Photo of MisterClean
4.48/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared with concours. Way to get this one man!

A - Pours mahogany with 3 fingers of mocha head and dissipates slow. Leaves beautiful lacing, good head retention.

S - Rich, dark chocolate, light roast coffee, toffee, and bittering hops.

T - Light roast coffee, toffee, dark chocolate, grapefruity and bittering hops. There may have been a slight presence of rye tossed in for shits and giggles.

M - Full bodied and well balanced with a slight lean toward malt domination.

D - Great,too expensive though. I think I saw bottles at $15 or so. Really easy to drink beer, little to no odor of alcohol, and just a great american take on a strong dark belgian.

Photo of SirSketch
3.48/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The color was a nice array of reds and oranges, reminiscent of sunset. Very small ring of head on the edge. I got a lot of white wine from the nose, as well as a nice balance of sweet and sour aromas. For some reason though, I got a very distinct smell of rubber cement or crazy glue from this beer, and I really couldn't get passed it. The taste is very vinous, with some malt backing it up, and a little Belgian yeast characteristic mixed in, though not as prominent in most Belgian style beers. Pleasant, but I keep drinking and wishing for more flavor and complexity to come out of this beer. Alright, but not worth seeking out, as I did.

Photo of theopholis
3.35/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance- Pours a dark, fairly clear ruby.Head is a uniform, foamy, tan head with some staying power. No lacing at all.

Smell- Lots of breadiness up front. Hints of molasses, roasted toffee, caramel, and figs. Some light fruits in there to. Yellow apple maybe.

Taste- Very well blended malt profile. No specific flavor jumps out at you. Slightly earthy with hints of caramel; brown sugar; toffee, with a very subtle mix of dark fruits (raisin, plum, black cherry, etc.) with light fruits (yellow apple). Hints of a very melange of spiciness in there to. Maybe some pepper and nutmeg right at the edge of detectability.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Good carbonation. Nothing to write home about.

Drinkability: Decent. Not great, but worth trying.

Photo of TexIndy
3.65/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml capped bottle into a Duvel tulip. No dating info on bottle but got recently from South Bay when it was released so should be this years. Was a deep red color with plenty of carb in the center. Quick sliding lace. It had an average sized tan head that quickly dissipated into a thin collar and film center.

The aroma was candi sugar, dark fruits, some spice and a touch of alcohol. Aroma was a tad too sweet for my liking. The taste followed the aroma but the sweetness was much more pronounced. Needs something to cut the overwhelming sweet. Piles up and becomes cloying after awhile.

Overall, I was disappointed with this one. Found the aroma and taste to be way to sweet to be enjoyable. Wonder what some aging would do to this one. For me, one was enough unless I can easily get an aged one to try. Maybe once on-tap.

Photo of CrellMoset
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Capped and foiled 750 from Southbay Drugs as part of a recent cross-country purchase of mine. Poured in to a Duvel tulip after returning from a loud, boisterous town hall event.

Appearance: Pours a dark ruddy brown, opaque to normal light but a gorgeous translucent mahogany when you hold it up to the light. Similarly not visible except under direct light is a ton of average sized, average speed effervescence, rising towards what is by this point nothing but a thin, uniform dusting and a foamy, thick collar of lace but what was originally a good one-finger-plus of lightly tanned head. You wouldn't expect a dark Belgian at 10% abv to have an impressive head, and you'd be right, so I won't frown too much upon that.

Aroma: Brown sugar, medium-roasted toffee, caramel, bread crusts, molasses, cherries and plums and raisins and figs and ... whew. A handful of other spicy notes, coupled with a faint, spicy, though not nose-curdling ethanol note.

Taste: A remarkably complex and full-flavored brew. There's quite a lot going on here, so it may take me a while to describe it all in sufficient detail. First, the malt profile. Appropriate descriptors would have to be: sweet, not dry; caramel; brown sugar; light toffee; faint coffee; and wholesome, earthy breadcrusts. A very pleasant, robust, varied, and natural profile.

What's most noticeable about this one though are the yeast byproducts. They're pungent, strong, and well-integrated. Fruitiness - strong sweet cherries dominate, though raisins, deep peaches (like, the fleshy part around the pit) - and spiciness - nutmeg, cloves, coriander - meld amazingly well with the aforementioned malt flavors, providing a sweet, spicy, fruity medley that could only be improved by ... a kiss of faintly spicy, warming alcohol in the finish. Very nice.

Mouthfeel: Marvelously smooth, even, and full-bodied, with more than adequate but soft carbonation in a reasonably thick body that approaches that perfect Belgian "sublimation" feel where it just melts right off your tongue and evaporates. Great feel.

Drinkability: What a spectacular beer. Complex, drinkable, and authentic, well-crafted in all of its facets. The 10.0% abv adds nothing but a pleasant and even expected warming. This one was quite a treat, another wonderful Alesmith creation, and ... hey, maybe they should barrel age it? Anyone?

Photo of tyanow
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

To me AleSmith can be hit and miss. I want to love everyone of their beers and I cannot say that I do.

The Grand Cru lifts the bar and holds it high. I was a tad disappointed when I took the foil off and found a cap and not a cork, but from there on it was a pure delight.

This is a big beer from start to finish. A dark yellowish amber slightly cloudy look with a thick and pale head leaves light lacing after every sip.

Vanilla and caramel aromas abound and the alcohol content is evident before it touches the lips. Spicy yeast is the first flavor impression and it gives way to a slightly fruity and sweet caramel finish. This is a medium body malty and low hop beer that at 10+% is a pure delight by any measure. Cheers

Ps. I had this in a beer tasting with a 2 other guys. We made the mistake of trying it first. Everything else was a big let down especially as this one warmed up. it got better and better and we all kept going back to it.

Photo of sholland119
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a hazy copper brown with very little head or lacing.

S-Dark fruits, mainly raisin along with brown sugar and a sweet booziness.

T-Sweet sugary fruitiness, brown sugar and more than a little bit of alcohol.

M-Medium to heavy bodied and a bit sticky.

D-Nice. A little heavy, boozy and sweet to have more than occasionally.

HV

Photo of gford217
3.79/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750mL bottle, 2006 vintage, courtesy of throwitallaway, poured into a snifter.

Pours with low carbonation out of the bottle - an aggressive pour producing a few big bubbles that recede immediately leaving the tiniest of rings around the glass. It's a slightly hazy caramel brown with no lacing though the beer leaves some legs on the way down.

The aroma is sweet, with lots of brown sugar and caramel malts. There is plenty of rum-soaked dark fruit, and possibly a bit of oxidation in the nose.

The taste has a sweet fruity kick up front with booze-soaked apricots and pears dominating. The backbone is big on caramel malts and the finish is slightly oxidized and very dry with some cardboard in the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is light to medium bodied and super slick with very little carbonation.

This is a decent beer, though I think the oxidation and complete lack of carbonation has hurt it a bit. The aroma and taste are still fairly good, but this particular bottle has seen better days.

Photo of BeerBelcher
3.52/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was the last beer of an evening of several pretty big beers (American Independence Day), and I have to say that I probably would've enjoyed it more had it been the first beer of the evening rather than the last. It was certainly not bad, but not what I was expecting (a problem I would not have had if I read the bottle), but not a great night-cap for a hot evening spent outdoors. Still, pretty good, and something I'd be willing try again.

The body was a sort of muddy red-brown with very little head. The description says it is "crystal clear (when served properly)" - I'm dying to know what those conditions are! I thought for some reason that flavor would be fruitier and lighter than it was; in actually it was a pretty heavy sweet cerealness with lots of biscuity character above it with some very sweet alcohol tang to it. Mouthfeel was dry and warming, owing largely to the high ABV.

I wasn't a huge fan of this one, but given the circumstances, I'd be willing to give it another try.

I bought this bottle a few months back at the Winerak in Zanesville, OH.

Photo of nomomentwasted
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

Photo of kels
4.33/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of bamadog
4.32/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of jwc215
4.12/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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".

Photo of ffejherb
3.97/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of belgbeerdrinker
3.95/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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

Photo of fbinla
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of aerozeppl
4.54/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of Mauerhan
3.79/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of rayjay
3.82/5  rDev -5.7%
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!

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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 776 ratings.