AleSmith Grand Cru Ale - AleSmith Brewing Company

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AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale

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364 Reviews

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Reviews: 364
Hads: 797
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 10.1%
Wants: 97
Gots: 161 | FT: 11
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 364 | Hads: 797
Photo of HopHead84
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


On tap at Alesmith

A: Dark amber with a creamy beige head.

S: Plum and grape with a dash of raisin and orange. Aromatic and perfumy, with sugar and subtle spices. Malt is of bread and a little caramel. I get some vanilla as well.

T: Sweet baked bread with Belgian candi sugar. Very fruity, reminiscent of plum, grape, and raisin. Lower moderate level of earthy bitterness. Lightly spicy with alcohol warming in the sweet, bready finish.

M: Upper medium body with moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is smooth and sticky.

Overall: An enjoyable fruity Belgian Strong Dark. (581 characters)

Photo of BobZ
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

25.4 oz. bottle poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Deep rusty orange almost red, decent head of about a 1/2" which quickly recedes to a ring, with nice lacing.

Smell: Sweet malt, caramel, and a hint of spice.

Taste: I seem to be hitting a few of these lately, but this is beer trending more toward the style of a British Barleywine more than a traditional Belgian strong dark ale. Heavy on the malt and sweetness but at least this one includes a nice balance with a touch of spice and hoppy flavor. This provides for decent balance and complexity. Good carbonation and a pleasant level of alcoholic warmth cleans the palate and prevents this beer from ever becoming cloying.

Mouth feel: Very good level of carbonation and alcohol cleans the palate, relatively smooth.

Overall: Very different version of a Belgian SDA, not a bad beer, but not a beer that merits its’ cost. I would prefer any other Belgian SDA/Quad to this (plus a few from Unibroue) and that even includes Urthel Samaranth. (1,003 characters)

Photo of soulgrowl
3.86/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very hazy walnut brown, with cinnamon, sepia, and orange in the spectrum. The head is pathetic, ivory-beige, fizzy, and frail - for a Belgian style, pretty unacceptable. The aroma, however, is very attractive - vanilla, toffee, raisin, apricot, hazelnut, maple, armagnac, and banana bread notes make this a joy to sniff. Deeply fruity and complex. The flavor disappoints after such a good nose, full and subtle yet somehow shallow. Crab apple and hawthorn, brandy, honey, trappist yeast, pears, and leafy hops make this a respectable pastiche of a classic Belgian quadrupel, but it falls short in terms of complexity and mellow drinkability. Soft, rolling carbonation makes this a nice, sippable full-bodied ale, but it is nothing outstanding. (743 characters)

Photo of steelerguy
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a cherry wood like color, not as dark as your typical Belgian Dark Strong. Slight head that fades quickly to a wispy covering. Lots are carbonation in there.

S - What aroma is there is quite nice, a little malt, come candy like sweetness, some floral notes, along with a Belgian spiciness. The problem is that is it is faint! I had to swirl this and let it warm a bit to get anything from it.

T - The beers makes up for the good but faint aroma with a nice maltiness, dark fruit, caramel malts, good complexity. There is also some nice spice and phenols in there. Again, could have used some more intensity, and that shouldn't be said about a DARK Strong. Almost a bit too delicate, more like a Golden Strong dressed as a Dark. Still good!

M - Surprisingly light, hides the alcohol well, smooth feel.

O - This is a good beer, but I honestly expected a bit more from Alesmith. This seems almost like a combination between Strong Ales...too much dark malt to be a Golden but not enough robust malt flavors, color, and aroma to be a Dark. This may be their "Grand Cru" but I'd take Horny Devil anyday over this. (1,122 characters)

Photo of mrkun
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the brewery.

A: Very dark amber/brown with nice head and good lacing.

S: Very fruity and sweet with noticeable Belgian yeast presence.

T: The taste follows the nose. Lots of fruit is present, especially bananas, Belgian yeast, spices, brown sugar.

M: Light/medium carbonation and very smooth.

O: There was barely any alcohol detectable at all in this stuff making it dangerously drinkable. Very nicely done. (431 characters)

Photo of DoubleJ
3.25/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On-tap at 38 Degrees, another beer that nearly got away. On to the beer:

Looks dark amber with a translucent look. Small amounts of lace are dotted around the glass as the beer is consumed. The nose says GRAPE! More specifically, dark grape. Somewhat medicinal too.

Isn't it funny how I think of medicinal and dark grape in the nose, yet in the taste, it reminds me a lot of children's chewable grape pills. I remember liking the flavor of those pills, and while I'll admit to still liking that taste somewhat, it isn't the most optimal note to taste in a Belgian-style ale. Cocoa notes are a distant second. The alcohol shows only a fraction of itself. The medium heavy, chalky mouthfeel is the best characteristic of the beer.

AleSmith does a lot of things that I like, but the Grand Cru isn't one of them. A beer with this kind of monotonicity needs a really good flavor to carry the weight, but in here, while tolerable, isn't enough. (943 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Alesmith's Grand Cru poured out as a really nice reddish brown color, the head was white and pretty thick looking. There was a bit of lacing on the glass after each sip. I let this one sit for just a few moments before i dove into it. I wanted to let it warm up a little before my first time. The aroma of the beer had just a slight funk or tartness to it otherwise it was pretty hoppy and had some nice earth tones to it. The taste was much better than I expected. I was thinking it was going to be a sour ale of some kind, but it turned out to be a really nice blend of something like a brown ale with an IPA and then a touch of sour in the faint distance. The mouthfeel was smooth and very easy to drink, even though I tried making mine last a while by sipping it. Overall I found this beer to be quite impressive and enjoyed it a lot. Will be looking forward to have it again one day. (888 characters)

Photo of Chaney
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was given to me in a trade by my now good tasting buddy and all around great guy, Dreadnaught33. I barely even knew the guy when he gave it to me. Thanks Jonathan.... and I hope we will have many more tastings together in the near future!

Aged for a year and poured into a tulip.

A: After gunning this sucker as hard as I could, I summoned up an 1/8 finger (at best), anemic head that died down seconds later. However, the murky, almond/black cherry colored brew was a force to be reckoned with.

S: Not earth-shatteringly potent, yet still pleasant. Mild sour cherries, grapes, and a good bit of yeast. The Belgian funk was definitely there, but not as "Belgiany" as many I've tried. After all, this was done by an American brewery... not to mention one that normally does hop bombs by the truckload.

T: Smooth as hell actually - Holy shit! Fruity... and to my palate, almost into lambic territory. A little bit of almond-like nuttiness thrown into the mix, just to let me know that this wasn't a fruit beer, but that's about it.

M: The sweetness was a bit cloying, but in an "I want a package of Gummy Bears daddy!" kind of way. This was pretty well carbonated for something "Grand," and the booze was absolutely non-existent.

O: I honestly thought this was going to be a hophead/hyper sweet/Funk fest. However, what I got was a fairly understated brown sugar infused, fruit beer with a mild Belgian character. There was nothing wrong with that... and dammit, I liked it for that! (1,497 characters)

Photo of avaldivia
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bottle from Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa and poured into a Pint Glass

Appearance: Thick white head which laces the glass. auburn brown in color and when held to the light, is a bit red in color.

Smell: A bit malty and get a whiff of grapes or raisins. Caramel is also present.

Taste: Sweet with a bit of spice. Light caramel and maltyness. Alcohol is present which is should be expected for a 10%.

Mouthfeel: Rich. Smooth. Not overly carbonated. The body on this beer was absolutely fantastic. The mouthfeel on this one elevated the rest of the beer for me.

Overall: Great flavor. Well balanced beer that is a must try. (633 characters)

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750mL bottle into 2 tulip glasses.

The color is a ruby and garnet combination that looks absolutely awesome sitting in the glass. The head foams up quickly to a very Belgian height, but unfortunately, it disappears quickly, leaving no sticky gobby head to produce any lacing, leading to the slight demerit. However, the color is awesome.

The aroma is full of all sorts of Belgian influences. A supple bready backbone is augmented by cidery apples, clove, cinnamon, and coriander. There is also a nice balance of caramel/toffee goodness. The high alcohol content is masked by the medley of aromas that come through. I just ask that they be a bit more intense, as they are somewhat muted.

The flavor dispels any doubt of the intensity of flavors pretty much immediately...That over-ripened apple comes through with the bready and caramel malts. These linger through the mid-palate before giving way to warm spices -- clove, cinnamon, and coriander, with maybe just a hint of nutmeg. Well balanced throughout, and again, no sign of the alcohol.

Spicy and warm on the palate, medium bodied, and full of ample fizzy carbonation, this definitely can hold its own in a lineup of Belgian Strong Ales. Another top-notch beer from a brewery that has a habit of delivering quality brews. (1,294 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750 ml bottle split and poured into a Duvel tulip.
10% ABV, "Improves with age, Store in a cool, dark place for 6 to 24 months or longer. Do no refrigerate until ready to drink. Serve at 50-55 F for best flavor. Pour gently into an Alesmith tulip glass leaving brewer's yeast in the bottle."

Thanks to Sweemzander for breaking out yet another bottle for our tasting!

A - Cinnamon brown with orange highlights and a fluffy tan head. Low lace and retention but good clarity with this brew.

S - Strong Belgian yeast nose brings the authenticity right away. Dry, dark fruit esters consist of dark cherries, fig, and spice. Deep maltiness and candied sugar through the finish.

T - Dry and dirty, there isn't much going on with this one aside from the dusty, dirty flavor quite honestly.

M - Dry but smooth, Grand Cru doesn't have much flavor but it does finish with an alcohol kick.

O - The nice aroma sets this one up for a big let down. Bland flavor, this Belgian brew is pretty weak, especially for an Alesmith. (1,015 characters)

Photo of bbeane
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Poured into my DFH oversized snifter... Starts with a huge frothy off white head that eventually disappears leaving behind decent amount of lacing sticking to the glass. Beer is dark in color turning crimson when held toward the light... has a fine sediment floating within the steady flow of bubbles rising to the top of the glass

S- First wiff provides a sweet malty aroma... After some swirls of the snifter, the sweet malts and fruits intensify and are accompanied a healthy booziness

T- Has a very sweet spicey taste... malts, candied sugar, dark fruits with a hint of hops presense and lots of alcohol

M- Medium/full body with light carbonation. Like an intense IPA, the malty sweetness clings to your tastebuds

D- My first beer from Alesmith, and it was excellent. I'm very anxious to get my hands on some others

CHEERS!! (836 characters)

Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my Chimay chalice, and man does it look like liquid gold. Even 20 minutes after being poured, it retains a nice velvety tan colored head. Color is a beautiful copper red that is only enhanced when held up to the light, very nice.
Spice and a mild alcohol bite compose the nose up front, with mission fig and a bit of nuttiness in the background.
This brew is just miraculous once you take a sip, or better yet, a mouthful so you can completely experience the mouthfeel. A delicious spiciness again dominates the palate, and the booze creeps just a little closer to being fairly noticable, but not in any way discouraging. This thing is just so creamy and smooth, and i really wouldnt change much about it. This bottle has about a year and a half on it so id be interested in trying it on both opposite ends of the spectrum. Very nice overall, love the spice and creaminess, stellar. (895 characters)

Photo of Patrickbrusil
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Found a 750ml champagne bottle of this at Kappys in Medford.

This is a staggeringly good American brewed Belgian style dark ale.

The beer pours just beautifully and it drinks dangerously close to a Rochefort 10. Nice 2 finger white frothy head that dies away rather quickly leaving some lache. Rich dark plum overtones surrounded by a delightful breadiness. This one is over the top smoothness with a SLIGHT initial hop bitterness on the front of the tongue that gives way to a giant, smooth, malty waterfall.

The alcohol is hardly noticeable. Smell lacks the rich yeast and bread notes one would expect from a true belgian dark ale.

Bravo. I'm thrilled to have tried this. Looking forward to my next one. (713 characters)

Photo of seeswo
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy golden-brown with a nice tannish head. A low key nose of bready yeast, some sweet malts and dark fruit. The taste is also a bit reserved, but quality. Bread, caramel, dark fruits, cinnamon, other finish dry. The taste is solid, but doesn't have the depth of flavor that a really good BSDA has. In that it is pretty light, it is exceedingly drinkable. The mouthfeel is very nice, a bit dry, yet some sweetness in the front with active carbonation. Overall, this beer was enjoyed, liked, but not loved. (525 characters)

Photo of beerwolf77
3.08/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to sweemzander for another bottle to sample.

A: Cinnamon brown with red edges. Small amount of dirty white head. Soapy lace.

S: Caramel malt and sort of faded hops. Bready with a mix of dark fruit. There's a bit of spice in there but the nose is rather subdued.

T: Mild caramel malt and faded hops. A bit of dark fruit and wet leather. Strange spices float around in there as well.

M: Medium body with modest carbonation.

O: Overall very average at best. (468 characters)

Photo of perrymarcus
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle served in a snifter.

pours a deep, dark, and translucent amber tone with ruby red hightlights; yields a a big foamy 2" head, light tan in color... patchy lacing.

great nose offers sweet malt, candied sugar, dark fruit, a bit of spice, and a perceptible alcohol character.

taste follows the aroma fairly closely with a good dose of fruits - primarily dark, but i do get a subtle note of apple... very malty; sweet but not overly so... there's a substantial floral/spicy quality to it... very enjoyable. booze could be a little better hidden, but that's my one real complaint.

medium bodied mouthfeel with medium carbonation.

overall, as far as american versions of the style go this one is really well done. the more it warms the more impressed i am. not on the level of a rochefort but then, what is? (818 characters)

Photo of Bendurgin
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Andy and poured into a tulip. This one pours a Dark mahogany and pours with a giant off white head. It settles down to about a finger of creamy foam. Real nice sticky soapy lace.

Really a lot of fruit in the aroma. I would say grapes and raisins with a touch of toffee to round out the aroma. This is a little boozey in the aroma with a bit of cinnamon spiciness it. Pretty nice here, bready malts with a nice dried fruit flavor to it; dates and raisins come to mind with grape skins. This one finishes try with a touch of sweetness.

This one seems a little heavy on the carbonation. I'd prefer to see it toned down a bit but the body is nice a full. Overall, a solid offering from these guys. I think one would be hard pressed to find a better American offering of the style. (795 characters)

Photo of andrewinski1
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one for Christmas from Ben! Thanks! Poured into a tulip. Poured with a lot of carbonation and lots of fizz is heard. The color is very dark red to light brown. The head is solid and tan colored.

The aroma yields biscuit and cinnamon, with a heavier dose of plum and raisin.

The flavor starts with a nice plum fruitiness, followed by a smooth bready flavor. The finish is slightly sweet. The fruitiness of the yeast is a dominating flavor.

The body is medium but feels a little light for a quad (or BSDA if you prefer) for enhanced drinkability.

This is one of the best American made quads I've had. Great balance of sweetness and fruity yeast flavor. (663 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
3.12/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750mL bottle poured into a tulip. Got this awhile ago from a generous trader, but I cannot remember who, but thank you!

(A)- Pours a reddish amber color. Produced a decent off-white head that dissipated down to bubbles.

(S)- A rich earthy clay with some dark fruits and subtle raisin.

(T)- Lots of raisin-like dark fruits. Mildly earthy.

(M)- A good carbonation level. Dry and earthy with some bitterness in there too.

(D)- Its a decent belgian strong dark. A tad thin, yet rich in a sweetness sense. Rather straightforward for the style. (543 characters)

Photo of wvsabbath
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark black/brown, 1/2 thick head, lots of lacing.

Smell - Yeast, floral, hops, sugar and spices, some alcohol.

Taste - Cold first drink was very floral and wine-ish. Plenty of yeast. As this warmed up more spices and hops came out. Thick and tastly, right on par with chimay and unibrowe. Sweet and yeasty with tons of sweet fruits like apples, grapes and pear.

Mouthfeel - Plenty of sweetness and some dry bitterness. I loved how floral it was. Easy to drink, pallete was sweetened, tounge was bittered slightly.

Overall - Another great brew from alesmith. A find dark ale, right up with the best ones. The alcohol is high, and the price is steep, so that keeps this from being a weekly beer. A nice treat once in awhile. (763 characters)

Photo of jwinship83
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml capped bottle picked up while out in boston for EBF/NotB. drank from the only glass available: samuel adams perfect pint glass.

A- this one pours out a translucent brown body with a large khaki colored head on top. the head lasts for a while and leaves behind small rings of lacing.

S- the nose starts out with sweet caramel malts and belgian candi sugar. then comes some frutiness. plums, raisins, and cherries. some herbal hops at the end.

T- the taste starts out with the sweet caramel malts and belgian candi sugar that i could smell. after that comes some belgian yeast and some fruitness. lots of raisins and plums with a lesser amount of cherries. some herbal hops at the end. very rich and decadent.

M- medium bodied with the correct level of carbonation. the alcohol remains pretty well hidden.

D- this one went down fast. id love to grab another one of these to sit on for a while. i really wish alesmith was sold in my area. (947 characters)

Photo of brotherloco
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Very nice looking pour, deep reddish amber. Not a huge head, but good looking remains and lacing.

Smell brings in the promised Belgian yeast, but a stronger component is the fruit, specifically grapes. A very wine like aroma, sparkling white wine. Lightly sweet and a promise of good carbonation.

Flavor is more sweet malt than on the nose, middle gets spicy with sweetness remaining on the top of the tongue. Wonderful creamy mouthfeel. Lingering well balanced aftertaste. No trace of the big ABV on this one except the tiniest hint at the very end of the flavor.

This is on the lighter end of Belgian Dark's I've tried, but has a terrific overall balance. (660 characters)

Photo of donManguno
4.62/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed blind. Sent to me by Sitarist, who is the man.

A: Pours a translucent mahogany into my Duvel tulip, 2-finger fluffy cream-colored head that lasts a decent amount of time. Little lacing.

S: Smells like a BSDA, getting some dark fruit and raisins, and a great deal of sourness from the belgian yeast. As it warms the sourness recedes and I get a lot more dark fruit and caramel, as well as some chocolate undertones.

T: This is delicious. Straight from the fridge it's very tart, almost like a Flanders Red. Tart cherry and sweet sourness dominate. I let it sit for about fifteen minutes after my initial sip and now it's really rich. I get plum and cherry, caramel and some cocoa, as well as some winter spice, like cinnamon. I really took my time on this and let it get to room temperature, which brought out a lot more of the chocolate and spice. I am really enamored of this beer.

M: Medium-heavy body, moderate carbonation. Velvety is a good word for this.

D: I want more. (989 characters)

Photo of WJVII
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2/23/11 Review session hosted by Cdkrenz, reviewed from notes

Poured a nice amber color with strong red tints in the light. A modestly thin 1 finger head that left a light trace of a cap. The aroma was of dark fruits, plum, cherry, and some alcohol in the nose. The taste was very sweet with a strong plum and very warm alcohol taste in the finish. This was a thin brew with light to moderate carbonation. A nice brew to start the session. (440 characters)

AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 364 ratings.