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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale - AleSmith Brewing Company

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AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale

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769 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 769
Reviews: 362
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 10.37%
Wants: 99
Gots: 151 | 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:
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: 769 | Reviews: 362 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Oxymoron
4.37/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

Photo of illidurit
4.44/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.06/5  rDev -24.4%
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

Photo of number1bum
4.34/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

Photo of abfraser
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Photo of Beerenauslese
3.97/5  rDev -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.

Photo of brdc
3.64/5  rDev -10.1%
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.

Photo of hoegaardenhero
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
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?

Photo of BrewMonkey
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

Photo of Flyer
3.35/5  rDev -17.3%
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.

Photo of ggoss3
3.83/5  rDev -5.4%
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

Photo of magictrokini
3.88/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

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.

Photo of OWSLEY069
4.42/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

Photo of Goliath
3.94/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

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.

Photo of PatronWizard
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
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

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

750ml bottle. 2003 Vintage.

Poured a dark reddish-brown color with a very small sized off white head. Aromas of caramel, toffee, bread, and dark fruits. Tastes for toffee, caramel, dark fruitiness, and doughy. Malty and on the sweet side.

Notes from 2/28/05

Photo of Reagan1984
4.32/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A thanks and shout out to ThreeWiseMen for providing this beer in a recent trade. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to try this one.

A special beer and one that is meant to be savored. The more you think about this one, the more complex it becomes.

There was a thin off white head that appeared then vanished almost immediately. The beer itself was a fairly dark brownish amber color. No visible carbonation and translucent.

Aroma was Apple, like green apple Jolly ranchers. I mean that in a good way since I love those. The slightest bit of a boozy sense..

Deep caramel flavors, freshly pressed apple cider, toffee, toasted almost burnt malt towards the end. Lots of dark fruits. Figs, cherries and a bunch of other stuff going on. Certainly sweet, but it still balanced nicely with the complexity of other flavors on the scene.

Mouth feel was medium bodied and you certainly get a warming effect from the alcohol. Slightly sticky..

Very, very drinkable. I am happy to report one of my buddies didn't really appreciate it and I was able to steal his share.
I really enjoyed this one.

Photo of jujubeast6000
2.7/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Reviewed 1/31/2008 (bottle):

Pours a brownish red color body. Cloudy. Small head, off-white, quickly diminishing. Floral, dark fruit, sweet, some alcohol fumes when inhaling. Not too strong. Watery, woody, alcoholy. Warming up...Dark fruit, still some alcohol. Flattish. Might be another bad bottle from AZ.

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

this shit is pretty good, but it's really strong which means you're not gonna be able to drink many more than one bottle if you value your motor functions. it tastes basically like maple syrup and alcohol. phenols are very present just like any beer of this type. this is absolutely a sipping beer and not something you're going to want to have multiples of.

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

6-9 months old. Little to no head quickly dissipates to a minor lace. Aroma is of sweet overripe fruits. Flavor is sweet malty, raisin, ripe fruit, with a residual sweetness and caramel. Mouthfeel is sticky. Poured at about 50 degrees F, got much better as it approached 60 degrees.

Photo of waltonc
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared a 2006 bottle compliments of abfraser.

Pretty dark, hazy, cider-like in appearance. Not much head. Smells like spice and sweet fruit. Taste has the same properties, along with a lot of sweetness. Overall very good. I wouldn't mind a little bit more carbonation, but this has enough that I didn't feel like I was drinking beer juice. Highly gulpable, I give this good drinkability marks in spite of the ABV.

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

Vintage 2005

Pours dark amber with a ruby hue.
No head developed, even with a stretch pour.
A thin ring of white lace ran around the edges of the glass with a few dots of lacework remaining.

Sweet malt, candied fruit, and caramel start the nose. Cherries, tangerines, grape jam, cloves, and rum follow through.

Medium bodied, slick, and slightly syrupy.
Low carbonation lends a light chew to the mouthfeel.

Ripe fruit, sweet malt, and rummy alcohol lead off the palate. Hints of Grand Marnier, red grapes, cherries, raisins, and ripe berries add plenty of depth.

Finishes with warming alcohol, a light peppery note on the throat, and plenty of lingering ripe fruit.

Three years on it's side has really rounded this beer out. The spiciness when young has stepped back and allowed plenty of complex fruit to come forward.
Approaching the realm of a very fruity Quad.
Further time in the cellar will really put this one over the top.

Photo of ballewblake
3.82/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Gold foil wrapped cap 750 bottle into my Duvel glass.

On pour I wasn't getting a head so I notched it up and still didn't get much of one. One finger on a semi aggressive pour, that dropped down to a ring of foam around the glass. Dark brown in appearance, off white head when it was there. Smell is yummy, lite malts, grapes, and ethanol. Smooth brew with some warm alcohol on the finish. Carbonation is low but there. Lacing practically washes off with each swig. Some Belgian yeast notes further in, really lightly roasted malts in the finish. Alcohol is a bit noticeable, but not a killer for the brew.

AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 769 ratings.