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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 ChainGangGuy
4.08/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a cloudy, medium brown body with a full, foamy, off-white head.

Smell: Aroma of dark caramel malts, dark candi sugar, vanilla, plums, and earthy dried herbs with a spicy yeast character.

Taste: Sweet, rich caramel maltiness with a juicy, tangy dark fruit flavor. Pinch of cherry-infused pipe tobacco. A drizzle of sweet syrup and two drops of vanilla extract. Lightly alcoholic throughout. Mild hop bitterness. Spicy yeastiness. Fruity, semi-dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Moderate carbonation. Slightly syrupy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: One of my favorite American-made Belgian Strongs.

Photo of jdhilt
4.52/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a one finger, cream head that quickly fades leaving no lace. Nose is raisins and alcohol. Cloudy amber color. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Flavor is caramel, raisins and some alcohol. Pricey - $12.70 for a 750ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

Photo of sloejams
3.58/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

on tap at Pure Luck, Los Angeles
$5 for a 20oz glass - beat that price!

I'm glad I go to have this again to get around to review it and on draught, no less.

It's a copper color ale with virtually no head from the barkeep's pour. Raisin and currant are the predominant scents. The taste follows with more dried fruit - apricot and pear. Caramel sweetness comes across later and even a hint of fig.

I enjoyed it but I was in a bit of a rush and sadly didn't finish the entire 20oz.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.08/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Beachwood BBQ, in Seal Beach, CA,

A: Pours a dark red-brown, with a full off-white head, with fair lacing in the end, but looks good right off the bat.

S: Medicinal herbal esters, mixed with dark fruit and malt.

T: Malty at first, then the Belgian character kicks in, one of the most medicinal, phenolic beers I have had out there, but not in a Ren and Stimpy, "All Purpose Icky-Tasting Medicine", kind of way, but a complex herbal character that really added to the enjoyment of the beer. Also, I got flavours of orange and tangerine, mint jelly - which was weird, some cherry as well, maybe some Luden's flavour, but it is slight, a sweet flavour of malt and dark fruit end the beer.

M: Smooth and phenolic, easy to drink for 10% for sure, tastes more like 6, though there is some warming solvent character to this brew for sure.

D: Another excellent beer from Alesmith, they just consistently put out good beer that is easy to find in California, one of the better and more interesting American-made BSDA's out there.

Photo of Stoneman78
4.47/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a translucent ruby red to brown hue, head is off-white and completely disappears within a minute, no lacing
S- Nose is surprisingly subtle, mostly dark fruits (raisins) and molasses, slight alcohol and caramel tones
T- Initial taste is a blast of rich, chewy raisins with some slight bitter hops, the sweetness is short-lived, leaving a finish of mostly alcohol warming, delicious
M- Full-bodied ale, thick chewy texture, mild carbonation
D- One of my favorites from the 'Grand Cru'/ strong ale style, the alcohol is there but not overwhelming, the sweetness is present but not cloying, nice balance and drinkable at 10%abv, this holds up very well to similar offerings from the likes of Lost Abbey

Photo of toeknee
2.93/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Purchased this bottle in LA area Summer, 2006. Carried back to Atlanta where it has been in my basement since.

Not much fizz when I popped the cap. Pours a very murky amber with surprisingly weak head.

Big, rich, malty aromas with almost candy-like sweet notes. Smells almost of creamy cotton candy. Big and sweet, but with little complexity.

Very sweet, malty flavor with not much carbonation at all. I find I'm having to search really hard on my palate for flavors and that should not be the case. Perhaps it's too cold. Regardless of temperature, the flavor starts slowly on the tongue, ramps up nicely, but then fades away before any sort of defining climax. All that's left on the tongue is the telltale vinuous coating of oxidation.

I've heard / read this beer can be hit or miss, but I wonder if it is a quality control issue or if people are cellaring improperly or what. I took pretty good care of this bottle and I can't imagine this is what the brewery intended for me to drink.

Photo of flexabull
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark copper color with a decent white head.

Aromas are dusty, with apple like notes, bread, and some complex spices.

Taste is very full, rich, and flavorful. Flavors are of roasted malts, toasted bread, biscuits, spice, tart fruits, and a very dry white wine like finish that hints of the strong alcohol. Very complex and interesting beer to sip.

Mouthfeel is very nice. Kind of prickly up front, but the feel and finish is long, thick and smooth. The prickliness actually helps balance it all out.

Drinkability is good. Very nice and complex Grand Cru style that is well worth a try.

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.16/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into corsendonk tulip. Thanks tayner for the opportunity to try this great brew.

Pours a hazy brown with red tones. Smell is of malts and dark fruits with a bit of alcohol. The first taste is very malty but quickly changes to raisins, dates or figs and sweet sugars. the slightest bit of appley fructose flavor. there is a touch of alcohol on the finish to remind you that this is a grand cru. The texture is quite good, but just slightly too thin. Drinkability is dangerously high. sugar resides on the lips after each sip. A wonderful offering from alesmith and certainly one of the better belgian styles brewed in america. A great shot. Very admirable.

Photo of jjayjaye
4.05/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy dark tea amber color with a shallow wispy eggshell head that fades quickly to spotted lacing. The smell is rich and malty sweet, dark fruit, caramel, Belgian yeast and alcohol. Full bodied and lightly carbonated, a significant piece of the mouth feel is the tang from the 10% ABV. This particular sample isn't exhibiting the effervescence from the secondary fermentation that is described on the bottle. I like the flavor and I fully intend on stocking up on these on my next trip to Table & Vine, but i can't say that its true to style or not. My first impression was that the taste came across like a barleywine. The nose has off setting figginess. The flavor will change as you get closer to the suspended yeast. Highly recommended. Yes...i intend on doing "the yeast shot".

Photo of malcontent
3.28/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Ruby to brown body with a slight haze about it. Head is short-lived but lacing is generous.

Dried fruit, especially prunes and apricots, rush forward initially. Then, however, strong boozy aromas and faint spice (cardamom) flit back and forth. There's a lot good going on here but the fruit esters grow a touch strong.

Big fruit right off the bat (it's squarely apricot now) turns quickly to borderline cloying because of the alcohol. If it were more viscous this could pass as a dessert wine. Hints of toffee creep up before a mild sourness meets it, thereby creating an almost lactic (if not downright cheese-like) finish. A real mish-mash of flavors without much cohesion. The beer certainly has its strengths but seems to fail on the larger level.

Mouthfeel is a strength with a thick start that never descends in to syrupy territory. In fact, it's almost shockingly thin given the ABV. Still, the sheer inconsistency of the beer makes it fall short of my expectations. The real culprit actually seems to be a yeast strain that may have gotten away from the brewers. I'd be curious to see how this ages.

Big thanks to kryptic for the trade.

Photo of GClarkage
4.09/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11/13/07- Received in trade with RKHaze.

Presentation- 750ml bottle. Nice silk screen logo bottle. Doesn't have the year of the release, but I know it was version 2003 per the trader. Poured into my Alesmith tulip as suggested by the bottle label.

Appearance- Mahogoney-brown in color pour. Really light lace patchwork with a 1.4 inch if that head upon pour. Very light rim after it settles.

Smell- Raisins, sugar plums, a really sweet caramel and light alcohol. Very pungent and sweet boquet.

Taste- Another caramello bar beer. Very sweet, but also has a tiny hint of sourness (think it was a bit past it's prime). Decent amount of alcohol noted as well as some raisins and dates. Maybe even a touch of coffee as noted in the first few sips. Mild hops noticed.

Mouthfeel- Very minor and light carbonation. Slight bitterness in the aftertaste and headed towards being a tad watery. Still silky and smooth though.

Drinkability- I wish badly I had tried this beer last year. I think 4 years old was pushing it a bit. I have no doubt in my mind this beer would have been fantastic or even world class if I had consumed it earlier. As is, it's still a very good beer, just a bit past it's prime.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.44/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aged in my cellar for at least a year and a half. Pours a murky brown with a head that fades prettty quickly. The smell has aromas of spicy coriander, is slightly sour, and has quite a bit of brambly fruit. The taste really improves as it warms up and open to a spicy, brambly fruitiness, especially blackberry; candi sugar sweetness, and more coriander as well as some typical Belgian yeast notes. Very interesting flavors, and definitely a bit sweet. Very little noticeable alcohol. The mouthfell is very balanced, creamy, and sweet. Very well integrated and smooth, and despite the high abv is qquite drinkable- probably partly from the ageing.

Photo of far333
3.82/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2000 vintage. Served at cellar temperature in a crystal snifter.

Picked up in a trade several years ago, and patiently waiting in my cellar ever since.

A murky brownish orange color, with a thin soapy head that rises up slowly and settles back down quickly with minimal lace.

Aroma of caramel, tart cherry, oak, sherry, roasted malt, and some brown sugar. A hint of the alcohol strength rises up.

This is strange and wonderful all at once. Mildly carbonated, yet a fine tingle dances on the tongue. Flavors of toasted malt, cocoa, and grainy brown sugar, but also hints of sherry and brandy, and fermented plum. The alcohol sits beneath and doesn't mess with the flavors.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin, fairly drinkable, but definitely a sipper.

Photo of WesWes
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a warm, malty scent that boasts of pale, crystal, and roasted malts along with a fruity Belgian yeast aroma. The esters smell of raisins and figs; very nice. The taste is great. It has a smooth, roasted malt flavor with a bit of crystal malt sweetness. It goes down easy and finishes warm and fruity. It's creamy and delicious. The yeast works well to compliment the array of malt flavors. The mouthfeel is excellent. It's a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn good beer. It has kick ass malt character and yeast esters. It's smooth and creamy; a slow drinker, but an enjoyable one.

Photo of dnichols
4.52/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had two six ounce samples from the caged and corked 750 ml bottle whose cap was wrapped in gold foil.

A: It poured a cooper hue body with a slight off-white head that was gone before it could leave any lacing.

S: It had the aroma of dark fruits (plums and fresh plum black raisins) and a hint of bananas.

T: The sweet raisin flavor was dominant. I could also pick up the plums and dates. This is one complex ball of sweetness without being overpoweringly sweet.

M: It was medium bodied. Sweetness rolled across my tung with each sip. The was a sweet drying on the backside that left my mouth coated with a light sweet taste that encouraged the next sip.

D: This is an easy clean brew to drink. It has a enjoyable flavor and pleasant aftertaste. The 10% ABV might limit one to two or three at a setting but what a joyous session that would be.

Comments: I shared this fine ale with a couple of friends but secretly I was wishing I had it all to myself. My guilt now drives me to ordering a few more of these so next time, and the time after, I can enjoy it at my leisure and from the first to the last drop.

Photo of Sixpoint
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted this one at the annual FUNKY TASTING held at Barcade. Cheers to Warren and Bill, and to Glenn for procuring this beer.

This beer enters with the usual fanfare and aggression of a high-gravity Alesmith offering, yet there is one distinguishing feature that cannot escape my mind:


For some reason, this sample I enjoyed had an unmistakable roasted marshmallow flavor. The more I drank it, the more it reminded me of eating Count Chocula cereal as a kid.

Strange flashback!

Not one of my favorite offerings from Alesmith, but I still have not had a bad beer from them, nor do I ever expect to.

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.81/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I picked this up for $14.20 at Downtown Wines in Boston.

It pours from the classy champagne bottle with thick gold foil around the neck a copper mahogany color. The head is diminutive for a Belgian Strong Ale but it lasts forever leaving a good smattering of lace. The aroma is very sweet with some sourness and a hint of wet cardboard. The taste is vinous with sherry, cherry cordial and maple syrup present. There is a whisper of wet cardboard in the background but it doesnt detract from the taste. Hop bitterness is more noticeable than typical for the style. Booze is prominent. The mouthfeel is coating and medium-thick. Carbonation is light. The finish is sweet with a peppery alcohol heat.

This is a decent BSDA but its not as good as I was expecting. More complexity and less sweetness and booze would make this another Rochefort 8.

Photo of ccrida
2.77/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into my large Gulden Draak tulip glass, The Grand Cru is a light muddy garnet with a big khaki head with large bubbles that quickly dissapates to a slight collar, leaving no lace. The label makes a few mentions of yearly vintages and aging potential, but there is no date that I can find, and only a blank crown cap and foil wrapper, no dated cork.

The smell is fairly rich, and is an interesting mix of BSDA dark fruit and barelywine malt, with a hint of booze. It can take you back a bit at first, but the fruit seems to take charge and it is ultimately pretty good, albeit funky.

The taste follows the smell, being an unusual mix of BSDA with a punch of barleywine. However, it's the inverse of the nose, in that the barleywine malt and diactly seem to take precedence over the BSPA fruit and spices. The finish is very vinous and a bit cloying as well, coating your mouth like red wine.

The mouthfeel is pretty thin, with very light carbonation at all. While I like my Belgians to have the light body that lends to the digestibility, this one comes off thin and watery and is not very satisfying.

Ultimately, this was not a very impressive brew. I'm not sure how old it was, but I've seen them at the store for a while, and this was the last bottle, which had been refrigerated. I love AleSmith's IPA, and with all the talk on the label about being the 1st place winner at the California state fair, I was disappointed.

Photo of Overlord
3.78/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Another great Alesmith offering. Pours a dark (surprise surprise) brown. Smells like rich malt and a bit of ... spices?

Nice thick, chewy mouthfeel. Dark fruit, rich malt with more than a hint of complex sweetness. Finishes a bit too sweet ... gets to be a chore after a while.

Pretty good.

Photo of walshclimb
3.31/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is a strange beer. I expected more, coming from Alesmith, but overall I was not very impressed. The bottle states that it is brewed once per year, but there is no indication on the bottle of brew date or year. I think it may be better aged, but how long? Who knows because we have no date. I don't know if this was a 2006 or 2007 bottle.

The appearance is the highlight. It is dark honey to red amber in color with a thin bubbly head that dissipates quickly to almost nothing. It smells malty up front with molasses and a hint of spice with maybe a hint of cough syrup. The initial flavor is hot and strongly malty with some carmel and slight perfume. Overall pretty sweet with maybe a hint of wet blanket. The aftertaste is sweet molasses and a little tart and is medium lived. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with an alcholic finish, and It is a little light on carbonation.

This is an interesting beer with complex flavor, but I would probably not buy it again. One small glass was enough. I would like to taste an aged bottle to see how the flavor changes.

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

This Belgian Strong Dark Ale pours clear but not translucent. Deep cherry brown with gold highlights. A short head and a bit of lace.

The aroma may be the high point of this selection. That is not to say that the flavor is not note worthy, but it seems to be a tiny bit lacking. But as I was saying, the initial aroma is that of light molasses, and toasted honey-top wheat bread. Earthy and sweet.

Flavorwise it is tangy and bitter with fruit notes: citrus and apple, with some alcohol in the finish.

A bit of a tangy bite on the tougnue with a pleasant carbonation and small tight bubbles. Fairly smooth and clean.

Photo of BlindPig
3.78/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Thick dense tan head on a clear dark ruby body with some orange hues in it.
S- Sweet malts, hints of alcohol, big esters, different bread aromas, oranges, lemons, hints of fruit rind, and hints of yeast.
T- Really big alcohol and ester flavors. The tongue gets warm after this one! Not very well hidden at 10%. Some sweet malts and fruits like in the aroma come out too. Esters are one of the main things in this brew though.
M-Full body with low carbonation.
D- It is a sipper! I am not sure I like this one to much. I am not sure if I will buy this again.

Photo of tanarm
4.58/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured gently to not disturb the yeast, as a result not much head forms, but a ring sticks to the sides of the chalice. It is a wonderful deep mahogany/amber color. Crystal clear.

Smell is very sweet, hints of belgian candi sugar and raisins.

The taste is sweet and caramelized up front. Crisp... notes of biscuit, maybe a pinch of chocolate. There's a little nip from the 10.5 ABV but it is balanced out by the rest of the flavors going on here. Light balanced bitterness in the finish. It has a full body that coats the palate nicely. Not too much carbonation... this is good. As the beer warms, the flavors keep getting more intense.

Very nice! This is one of my favorite beers. This one will age excellently as well, if you can wait that long. I can't...

On a side note this doesn't taste anything like any other Belgian Strong Dark Ale I've ever had, but I don't believe that is at all what they were going for here. I would say it's more like a Belgian Barleywine... if there were such a category.

Photo of jasonjlewis
4.44/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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

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.

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