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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
90
outstanding

696 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 696
Reviews: 357
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 10.86%
Wants: 98
Gots: 127 | 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: 696 | Reviews: 357 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jasonjlewis
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%

What a great brew. I saw it on tap at hollingshead's in orange, ca. I tried a sample with my dad and he got it. He doesn't like a lot of beers that I like because they are too hoppy or whatever, but even he appreciated the delicate complexity of this brew. The alcohol presence is there and strong, but it is not overpowering. This is one hell of a brew. Nice chocolate maltiness and belgian funky undertones. I could drink this all day.

jasonjlewis, Mar 13, 2007
Photo of dgfair
3.83/5  rDev -5.4%

25.4 oz. bottle poured aggressively into my Corsendonk tulip.

A - Nice deep amber, red color. Some very small floaty particles even though I was careful to leave the majority of the yeast in the bottle. Very little carbonation. In fact, I was a little worried at first that I had a flat bottle on my hands, but the aggressive pour got a little off-white head to come out.

S- Very sweet, candi sugar upfront. Cherries, figs, and other dark fruits are also noticable. A little bit of a peppery, anise, coriander smell comes through as well. Definitely a nice, sweet complex aroma.

T - Definitely a candi sugar presence, but it's very well balanced by some more complex fruity flavors and a warming alcohol taste. A little bit of a nutty toffee flavor emerges as the liquid begins to warm, making a pleasant balance for the fruit. The alcohol continues to makes its presence known all the way to the swallow. A little too overpowering. I've had this one in the cellar for 9-12 months and I would say it still needs a little more time to develop.

M - Kind of thick...almost syrupy. Still fairly creamy and the light carbonation doesn't seem to affect it here too much.

D - At this point in its life cycle, this beer isn't very drinkable...definitely a slow sipper. I have a feeling that another year or two will make this a much more drinkable and developed ale.

dgfair, Feb 17, 2007
Photo of peabody
3.68/5  rDev -9.1%

Pours out a nice dark reddish brown with very little suds. Lacing appears on the tulip glass.
Smell is root beer and ainse. Sour cherry and raisin with a burning
sensation that must be the yeast. Can't really smell the alcohol.
Taste is licorice(sp) and orange peel with lots of alcohol. Very sweet but it quickly leaves and the alcohol and bitterness take over the palate.
Very oily slick feel in the mouth. Not a lot of carbonation here but with all the alcohol who needs it? The alcohol sits in the back of the throat and simmers keeping you warm on a cold night.
Great winter's sipping dring here! Couldn't drink a lot of it but I can and will finish this bottle.

peabody, Feb 17, 2007
Photo of bradybeer
3.8/5  rDev -6.2%

A=Pours Dark Brown with a light brown head-little carbonation.

Aroma= Malty candy sweet with little hop aroma

Taste=not much hoppiness to get in the way of a malty candy sweet taste

Mouthfeel=medim body than thns out evn more in th finish

Drinakability=I like this beer-although as I have gotten older the less likely I am to seek out Belgium style ales-because I cann't get over the candy sweetness. I could drink this beer from time to time-however, it s a really good beer

bradybeer, Feb 12, 2007
Photo of bennetj17
3.35/5  rDev -17.3%

Purchased last summer, covered with red foil. Nice reddish amber color with a high clarity. The tan foam is about 1/2 inch thick and settles pretty quickly despite a high degree of carbonation present. I like the contrast between the ruby hue of the beer and the almost brown color of the head. The nose is an astringent mix of plum, raisin, caramel, and strong alcohol with a lightly charred character. Much of the same fruity malt and alcoholic burn in the taste. The flavor also seems to have a decent hoppy balance giving it a slight bitter finish. The strength of flavor appears somewhat similar to a Barleywine style. The mouthfeel is pretty unremarkable, medium body, soft carbonation. Overall the drinkablility suffers from the harsh alcohol. It's decent, but I can't really say that I recommend it...

bennetj17, Feb 08, 2007
Photo of Osiris9588
4.28/5  rDev +5.7%

750ml green glass bottle, capped and wrapped in red foil--no date or vintage. Pours a murky amber color with an orage hue, brightening when held to light. Plenty of sediment floats near the bottom. The beige head is big and fluffy, never growing too firm, shows decent retention.

The aroma is dominated by sweet malt and yeast, accented by notes of fig and cherry. The flavor blends the elements of the aroma along with strong candi sugar and licorice. The alcohol is unmistakenly there but not intrusive.

The mouth is light, but it is very complex on the palate. It's sweet, yet never cloying as different notes strike on all points of the palate. Very drinkable, though I think one 750ml bottle would be plenty for nearly anyone. Well balanced and very good overall.

Osiris9588, Feb 04, 2007
Photo of rajendra82
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%

The beer arrived in a handsome bomber, courtesy of BA dogfoodog. After removing the gold foil, I was expecting to use the corkscrew, but the plain old crown cap made liberating the beer a much easier proposition. I was also surprised by the green glass, which seems to be more of an exception for and American craft brewery use. The Duvel tulip I had appointed for imbibing awaited, so without further looking, I poured the beer. The body was Burgundy in color and quite clear. There was very little head to start with, and it faded right away. Despite the D etched at the bottom of the glass, there were no streamers, and the beer sat very still.

The smell was richly layered with dark malt goodness. I could smell raisins, figs, red beets, and grapes. The taste was pretty much the same, except some hop bitterness and oak wood like dryness became apparent at the end of each sip. This and a hint of sourness kept the taste from being too sweet. I was expecting a little more complexity from this beer, but overall this ended up being a little bit bland. It was slippery and smooth on the tongue, and not as thick as I initially suspected. By the end of the drinking session, the 10% ABV started to wear me down a little. A good pick up however for a Saturday night like this, where I can stay in bed late tomorrow.

rajendra82, Feb 04, 2007
Photo of xymyl
4.58/5  rDev +13.1%

Color: Vibrant dark copper/mahogany, 2 tone tan/cream colored head (like shore and surf). Very small bubbles, long lasting carbonation, some lacing.

Aroma: Scotchlike peaty malt and sherry (think lagavulin with less peat), light smoke, toast, yeasty dough, caramel, various herbs and spices (crazy stuff like dill), old stale coriander, anise, cloves, cinamon, candi sugar, plums, cherries, rasins and much more (but I haven't got all day to write this).

Taste: starts off soft, lightly acidic and mouthwatering, then gets huge and lactic with a dense rush of flavors, everything I mentioned as being on the nose and many others as well, you have to wade through the richness and complexity, as well as the sweetness, then there is a light floral/citric/herbal note that creates a line between middle and end. The end is a dry/sweet/dry interplay that lasts a good while.

Body is medium-full to full.

Note: This has been aged a couple of years, but seems to be at its peak. The sweetness might put some off, but I don't think you can make something this complex and large without this level of sweetness. It is a perfect beer to substitute for both a vintage port and a island single malt scotch (esp. Lagavulin 16 year old), if you need a beer to stand in temporarily for a higher ranking (in age and alcohol) dead soldier.

xymyl, Jan 07, 2007
Photo of BEERchitect
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%

Tremendously flavorful with a balance of candied malt, estery fruits, and yeasty spice- all deliver the strength of taste, alcohol, and skill deserving of the "Grand Cru" tag.

Pouring with a slightly oily appearance of tawny ruby and rust, the beer lightens considerably toward the edges. A creamy off-white cap of foam rides for most of the session before succumbing to the weight of the beer. Lacing early and legging late, the beer is somewhat of ale and brandy at once.

Candied fruits of cherries, figs, raisins, and grapes fill the nose with a somewhat sugary scent of caramel and confection. Spicy with mild wine acidity, peppercorn, dried orange peel, and coriander complement the sweet estery mix, and do so with an added pop of cinnamon, nutmeg, and rum.

Sweetness settles in at first with impressions of powdered sugar and brown sugar that melds and coats fruit flavor of figs most prominantly, but also with secondary flavors of grapes, raisins, dates, and cherries. Spices balance the sweetness with a taste of Christmas that includes cinnamon, nutmeg, citrus zest, and white pepper. Additional complexities of mild vinous wines, rummy sweet alcohol and fruitcake finish the flavor profile and substitutes dessert to conclude any meal.

Richly textured as the sugary malt provides a mild oily texture to the mouth, but then the pepper and carbonation delivers a pang of sharpness and a lift of evaporation that allows for just enough lightness for easy of drinking. Alcohol warmth, peppery spice, and a semi-dry finish lingers well into the next sip like a fine port or cognac.

BEERchitect, Jan 04, 2007
Photo of Morris729
4.38/5  rDev +8.1%

Pours a deep garnet amber color with a tall and foamy light tan head that soon settles into a nice lace. Nose is dark fruit, toasted bread, and spicy alcohol. Taste begins with candied sugar and a sweet fruitiness followed by a syrupy note. A bit of plum and notes of brandy come across towards the finish along with a touch of chocolate covered cherries. A very complex and thoroughly enjoyable brew.

Morris729, Dec 30, 2006
Photo of weeare138
4.55/5  rDev +12.3%

This is an aged, 2004 vintage bottle that I've been sitting on for a while...
Appears a faintly transparent dark amber with a small light tan head that fades to a small cap. Scattered lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of spicey Belgian yeast, vanilla, doughy, light orange, sugary candy, and coriander.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a warming syup, brown sugar, along with cocoa, and vanilla.
Mouthfeel is chewy, syrupy, with brown sugar, mildly spiced, and full bodied. Delicious.

weeare138, Dec 28, 2006
Photo of Lnedrive14
2.03/5  rDev -49.9%

Disclaimer: this beer was part of the shipment that came to Boston in the fall of 2005. I had heard that something had happened to these, and from my experience, that is true. So i am not entirely sure how accurate my review is of the beer, aside from my idiosyncratic experience was.

It was flat out undrinkable. Pours a reddish brown with a medium sized head. Very thin, almost watery appearance. The beer started off well on the palate - lots of citrus balanced with a touch of hops and some crystallized sugar sweetness. Then the back of that was just horrible. It was like drinking really gross medicine. It wasn't sweet, it was just stinging; piercing. I had to spill a portion of it out - i just couldn't get it down.

I hope that i just didnt have a good bottle and that if i get another chance to try this beer i will be able to change my review.

Lnedrive14, Dec 19, 2006
Photo of TheLiterati
4.28/5  rDev +5.7%

Popped the top and this ale sparing into action like fine champagne. The froth and foam was all over the place, along with the raisny, plumy aroma. I could barely pour a glass fast enough to contain the aggressive head on this thing.

The color was a burgundy-hued beauty, with that ever-present foamy white head. The aroma was of the before-mentioned raisins and plums, along with dates and spice.

Mouthfeel was so smooth it was nearly creamy. The malty, candi-sweetness is balanced with a nice bite of hops and spice. This is a mature tasting ale right out of the bottle…I can only imagine what an aged offering would taste like.

We served this ale with our main course of a braised and roasted pork loin seasoned with a dry steakhouse rub…it was the perfect complement, and one we will regularly add to our holiday menu for years to come.

TheLiterati, Nov 26, 2006
Photo of neonbrown82
4.1/5  rDev +1.2%

This beer seems all over the place. Not that that's a bad thing. It's just so incredibly complex. It pours to a dark plum color, very hazy. No head even with a vigourous pour. Carbonation is very minimal as well, and of course, no lacing.

The smell is very interesting. A whole bunch of tropical fruits, such as pineapple, but also some more dark and earthy berry-like tones, such as raisins and dates. A little brown sugar with an alcohol burn as well.

The taste is very good. Almost has a Oude Bruin tartness, though it is not sour. It would be interesting to see how this recipe would turn out with a touch of brettanomyces. Other than that, it tastes much on par with the nose. Quite sweet with some very nice fruity esters. Lots of residuals leave a coating brown sugar flavor in the mouth.

The body is very thick and chewey. Seems almost flat, however. The finish lingers forever. Quite good. Thanks to dogfooddog for the opportunity to try this.

neonbrown82, Nov 02, 2006
Photo of jmz62565
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%

Pours a dark mahogony with a large tan foamy head. An excellant looking beer with good lacing and a long lasting head. The smell is strong with alcohol, roasted malt, brown sugar, and dark fruit. The taste is creamy with roasted malt, brown sugar, alcohol, dark fruit. Pretty much the same as the smell,but the alcohol is hidden by the nice mixture of flavors. The m/f is medium with the flavors mix perfectly. A very drinkable high alcohol beer that is needed on a cold winter night. Cheers.

jmz62565, Oct 31, 2006
Photo of Grundle20
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%

Appearance:
Pours a dark burnt amber into a snifter. There was a substantial 2-3 finger head but it was quick to dissipate and there was no lacing to note.

Smell:
Rich roasted malts and a standard "earthy" Belgian quality dominate this beer. There's slight tart yeasty notes but they are pretty well muddled by the primary scents.

Taste and Mouthfeel:
The beer blankets my mouth with a dry silky layer of chocolate cherries. It's certainly malty but there's big fruit character of cherries, apples, and pears to compliment the sweet maltiness. The alcohol is very well hidden amongst strong flavors. For being a 10% big malty bastard this beer finishes amazingly clean.

Drinkability:
I would usually score such a big beer lower in this area but Alesmith has pulled out an amazingly clean and refreshing beer as far as really malty high ABV beer goes. Drinkable and infinite food potential really boost the score this time around.

Bottom Line:
A surprising beer indeed. One of the better really strong beers I've had. If you're in to Belgian dark you must try this beer.

Grundle20, Oct 30, 2006
Photo of Westsidethreat
4.53/5  rDev +11.9%

2003 Vintage

A: Chocolate brown with mahagoney tints...sort of looks like sludge. Very low head and lazy bubbles in the interior of the glass. Filthy and intriguing.

S: Molasses, brown sugar, raspberry, cherry, slight coffee and dried figs.

T: Begins with tangy toffee, perhaps marscipone on the back of the tongue and licorice in the front. Sultry cherry cordial blends in and takes control of the palate leaving in its wake rich and afluent mocha flavors. As it moves towards the finish line, the moment turns to bitter coffee then coasts with vanilla latte. These flavors linger long after the swallow.

M: Full and thick. Could use a touch more carbonation.

D: Age has done some amazing things to this beer. I think its probably about 8 months past its prime though. Very sweet and rich but not so much where its cloying...although its close.

Westsidethreat, Oct 29, 2006
Photo of Wasatch
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%

Poured this one into Unibroue tulip. Nice dark amber color, some carbonation, quick white head, some lacing around the edges. Scents of sweet malts, grapes, raisins, caramel, and figs. Taste is sweet and caramel like. A nice warm feeling in the throat on the way down. Medium body. Very drinkable, Another excellent brew from AleSmith.

Wasatch, Oct 15, 2006
Photo of BeerRun13
4.47/5  rDev +10.4%

Finaly got around to cracking this one open.
Pours a mostly clear rusty-brown. A bubbly off white head falls to a ring and gives off some lace. I really like the color of this one.
Raisiny-datelie aroma. Niceley sweet with a caramel like quality. Alcohol is evident in the nose.
Flavor is much like the aroma. Caramel/toffee like quality is more evident. A nice bittering quality at the swallow.
Full bodied. Low to moderate carbonation. Syruppy but clean. Warms down the throat.
Glad I finally opened this one. Good beer. This would be a nice one to impress company new to craft beer, without going over the top.

BeerRun13, Oct 11, 2006
Photo of bgraney
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%

Deep amber color with a short, white head.
Very aromatic, strong scents of fruits and raisins.
Very strong raisin/fig taste. That fig-like quality was a bit much in my view.
Smoothing and lingering in the mouth.
I enjoyed one glass but had no desire for a second.
I think they tried very hard to create a particular flavor and they nailed it. I just wasn't totally on board with that flavor. If one was partial to that fig-like flavor they would proabably love this.

bgraney, Sep 26, 2006
Photo of brewcrew76
4/5  rDev -1.2%

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

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

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

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

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

brewcrew76, Sep 23, 2006
Photo of Billolick
4.63/5  rDev +14.3%

Large champagne bottle, gold foil, capped, no vintage or best before indication. Poured dark murky plum brown, very minimal carbonation, no head, no lacing. Bold nose of rum, smoke, vanilla, nice.

Deep, bold, intense and complex brew. Notes of rum soaked raisins, oak, smoke, figs, vanilla. Port like. World class brew, fine night capper, or with some tasty rich foods, roasts, bbq, stinky cheese etc.

BSDA lovers go get some to wrap yourself around

Billolick, Sep 16, 2006
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.47/5  rDev +10.4%

Strawberry caramel with bright orange edges. The cap is pale orangish ecru in color and is airily expansive thanks to a near Belgianesque amount of carbonation. It's too bad that it doesn't share the firm, sticky texture of the best Belgian heads though. The foam is much too soft to last or to result in much glass coverage. The beer itself looks great though.

On a good note, the nose is classic BSDA. On a not so good note, it could be both more powerful and more complex. It's wonderfully mushy apple fruity with a warm spiciness that is more appealing the more I smell it. I detect cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, spices that remind me of autumn for some reason. Warming improves things to a considerable extent and makes a bump in score an easy call.

I needn't have worried. This brewery rarely disappoints and they definitely haven't done so here. One sweet, spicy, explosive sip is all it takes to tell me that Grand Cru is yet another fantastic AleSmith ale. For some reason, it looks as though the brewery decided to stop putting the vintage on the bottle. My best guess is that I'm drinking the 2005 edition.

This truly is a world-class BSDA that can easily hold its head high in the company of the best that Belgium has to offer. Grand Cru isn't all that dark in terms of roasted malt (see Stone Vertical Epic 05.05.05), but is more darkly fruit along the lines of heavily spiced dates and figs. Delicious, delicious, delicious.

I'm a little surprised at how sweet it is. That isn't a complaint though, I love sweet as long as it's in the context of an outstanding, multi-faceted flavor profile, as it is here. It looks like a perfect amount of dark candi sugar is Grand Cru's secret weapon. That and a wonderfully spicy Trappist yeast strain that provides authenticity and complexity galore.

I'm feeling the double-digit ABV much more than I'm tasting it. Well-integrated alcohol is a valued part of the flavor, as it is in almost all big beer. The fact that it whispers rathers than shouts is a very dangerous thing indeed. The body/mouthfeel is the best of both worlds. It's full, borderline syrupy and sticky, yet is as energetically carbonated as all but the most hyperactive Belgians.

Grand Cru is truly wonderful beer. It pays homage to its Continental counterparts while at the same time delivering a distinctly American, big beer twist. It isn't often that I spend $13 on one bottle, but it's hard to argue with the quality that this brewery puts into each and every one of their 750s. I love AleSmith beer!

BuckeyeNation, Sep 14, 2006
Photo of BeerManDan
4.7/5  rDev +16%

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

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

BeerManDan, Sep 12, 2006
Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -25.9%

Bottle courtesy of Black95tt: Poured an hazy dark amber color ale with a medium foamy head with good retention. Aroma of candi sugar, sweet malt and alcohol is pretty intense and reminiscent of Gouden Carolus Keizer. Taste is quite hot at first, which does not really suit my taste. The presence of candi sugar is quite evident as well as some dry figs characteristics. Yeast is totally overshadowed by the malt and the alcohol. Body is just above average but could be fuller and carbonation was appropriate. Overall, I really don’t see the big fuss over this beer and would prefer to taste a Gouden Carolus Keizer, which is similar, but more balance overall.

Phyl21ca, Aug 25, 2006
AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 696 ratings.