AleSmith Grand Cru Ale | AleSmith Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
91
outstanding
378 Reviews
BEER STATS
Reviews:
378
Ratings:
863
Avg:
4.06
pDev:
15.27%
 
 
Wants:
106
Gots:
177
For Trade:
7
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

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.

Added by Jason on 04-27-2002

User Reviews
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Reviews: 378 | Ratings: 863
Photo of CuriousMonk
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 750ml bottle into tulip glass. Pours toast-brown color with massive foamy head leaving spotty lacing throughout - typical for a big Belgian like this one. Sarts with the tangy flavor of Belgian yeast, then fades to a medium-light flavor of vanilla, caramel and chocolate. Finishes dry and well-balanced with a slightly toasty flavor. Vanilla and chocolate aromas predominate, along with the Belgian yeast/candi characteristics. Clean and crisp mouthfeel, medium-bodied. Warmth from the high alcohol content makes it feel like a Belgian champange. Quite decent brew.

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

750ml. Assuming this is 2010 since I just picked it up during our Christmas trip. Fairly clear dark amber pour. Nice fluffy off white head, retained very well.

Aroma, Malt, yeast, but the largest scent is dark fruit, plum, black cherry.

Taste, pretty varied and changing. Starts with the plum, grape. Malty caramel, earthy yeast. Last more molasses, chocolate covered candied fruit.

Medium bodied, smoother and lighter on carb than the appearance would lead one to believe. Warming, but alcohol is not overly present. If not for the carbonation I'd say this tasted more like a port. 8 oz. is probably about enough though, due to the lower carb.

Not bad and the price wasn't outrageous. The rating number is probably a little higher than my feeling of the beer.

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Photo of AwYeh
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage; 750 ml poured into nonic pint glass.

A: Pours a hazy brown, dark copper color. Foamy off white head with light lacing; good retention.

S: This is quite a fancy smell; reminds me of what wines smelled like when I was younger and first exposed to them. Lots of dark fruits going on, particularly plum and raisin, along with a light tartness.

T: Following smell, dark fruits are what really show up here, complemented by another light tartness– mostly plum and apple flavors here, but a bit of sour pear shows up too.

M: Heavily carbonated, I feel like this could be easily introduced to a non-beer drinker as a kind of unique wine. Medium bodied, with a decent amount of alcohol on the finish– though it does add a certain spiciness rather than detract from the overall experience. Quite dry on the finish as well.

O: It's an interesting, and quite good beer, even if I prefer some of Alesmith's other offerings and some other beer's within the style over this one. Nonetheless, I recommend checking it out; you could easily enjoy this one more than me, and given its qualities, I would hate to discourage anyone from picking it up.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
2.65/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a snifter. 2010 vintage. I reviewed a fresh bottle (which was lost in one of BA's "lost review" moments) and didn't care for it much. We'll see if this is any better with some time on it.

3.0 A: Opaque medium brown color. Two fingers of fizzy beige head. Retention is below average and no lacing is left.

3.0 S: Brown sugar, caramel, and a rum soaked raisin type booziness. Fig and prune fruitiness. Some toastiness in there as well. Peppery spiciness. Light bready maltiness. The flavor profile looks better on paper than how it actually smells. The aromas don't balance each other out that well. Still, not bad.

2.5 T: This has mellowed to the point of being boring. Brown sugar and caramel are the strongest flavors. Almost tart fruitiness featuring dates, figs, and raisins. Light peppery spiciness. Booze is in check though.

2.5 M: Medium body. Carbonation level is right, but it's a "passive" carbonation as opposed to the spritzy Belgain yeast carbonation that I like. Seems almost oily. Smooth though.

2.5 D: Didn't care for it fresh and I care for it even less with some age. It's not undrinkable, but it's boring with a subpar mouthfeel.

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Photo of Neffbeer
3.51/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

bottle from 2010

A: Pours a deep amber with ruby hues. Decent size two finger head that fades really fast with zero lacing. Average clarity.

S: Very spicy with cinnamon, vanilla, and cloves on the first whiff. Brown sugar, caramel, toasted biscuits, figs, raisins, cherries and apples round out the mix.

T: The spice rolls out front with cloves and apples bringing a little bready goodness. As it gets to room temp some notes of berries emerge with cherries in front. The stone fruits from the nose are not really evident the more I drink and any hope of toffee/carmel goodness is lost as the finish falls a bit flat.

M: A bit thin with carbonation along the line of "spritzy." I really think the beer is over carbonated and the depth of flavor is lost in the effervescence.

D: Sadly this beer comes up short of being anything truly great. The flavors fall a bit flat for me after a really inviting nose. All in all still a drinkable brew.

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

750ml bottle, 2007 vintage. Wax sealed upon purchase (fresh). Opened and reviewed 12-3-11

Aroma- Burnt caramel, toast, raison, with some hints of cedar. Touch of oxidation.

Taste- Huge raison flavors, some bready yeast carrying through, with a touch of wet paper from it's age. Touch of cranberry, with some dark (burnt) sugar coming through on the finish.

Overall- This one has held up and then some. I see this beer lasting at least another couple of years. My 2006 bottle would be lucky the get opened in 2014. Lay this one down. Much better aged than fresh.

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Photo of ficknish
3.94/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Hazy dark brown. Big off white head.

S - Dark fruits. Orange citrus. Raisins.

T - Toasty malts. Alcohol. Raisins. Stone fruits. Dates. Leather.

M - Big body. Strong alcohol heat.

O - A complex mix of strong flavors and smells. Love how big it is in flavor, smell, body, and alcohol. Very intense beer. A little too intense with the alcohol flavor. Might drink again.

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Photo of drpimento
3.03/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Ok, but not great. Poured with a nice light tan, foamy, frothy, head that lasts a long time and a little lace. Color is a cloudy amber brown. Aroma is solvents, malt, caramel, yeast. Flavor's much like nose, with sweetness standing out but a little confusing to me as it matches sweet solvents. Body and carbonation are ok. Finish is like flavor, of average length and no hint of booze.

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Photo of philbe311
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Slightly more than two fingers worth of densely packed moderately creamy light khaki colored froth... Audibly fizzy... Modest retention gives way to a full creamy rich lacing and a moderately thick collar... The color is a warm medium caramel brown with a distinctive moderate reddish hue... Mostly still with just a bit of carbonation as you jostle the glass back and forth...

S - Brown sugar... Toffee... Caramel... Dark fruits... Raisins... Figs... Bing cherries... A bit of bubble gum... A bit of flat cola... A bit of syrupy sweetness... Warm spicy notes... Perhaps even some faint cinnamon notes... Very subtle Belgian yeast tones...

T - The malty goodness is at the forefront... Toffee... Caramel... Fig... Raisins... Light apple notes... Perhaps even some strawberry... Warm bready tones... Notes of tobacco... Loaded with complexity... New flavors arise with varying intensity in each and every sip...

M - Medium to full bodied... Exceedingly smooth... Just the slightest of carbonation... Sleek... Elegant... Warming... Lively... A bit of stickiness...

D - A delightful and easy sipper... Rich and sophisticated with layers upon layers of complexity... Alesmith never ever seems to disappoint... Highly recommended and a brew that I would welcome in my glass anytime...

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

Pours a reddish caramel color with bright orange edges with a nice pale knahki/pale orangish cap. The foam is much too soft to last or to result in much lacing.

Aromas begin not too powerful or complex. I get a lot of over-ripe apple and a great deal of warm yeast spiciness. As it warms the above become more forward with the clove and more complex Beligan yeast smells coming into the forefront. I am surprised by the lack of dark fruits which I typically find in this style.

The tastes begin with light sweet bready, biscuity, pale maltiness. Soon you are overwhelmed with the typical Belgian yeast dominant flavors which I have admitedly become tired on. Spicy clove esters are dominant and really all I get with the exception of a light cidery apple flavors you get mid-palate. I would prefer a lot more dark malts or dark fruity malt flavors here, but sadly they are lacking.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation. Very good for the style.

Overall this is just a miss for me because of the lack-luster complexity and overwhelmingly dominant Belgian yeast flavors. I prefer the yeast to play an equal part with the malts and hops in my Belgian dark ales, but here it didn't quite work. Definitely my least favorite AleSmith offering I have had to date.

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

Not sure if this is '09 or '10 vintage as I have both in the cellar but they are not marked.

Pours a fizzy big bubbled almost 1 finger head that fades at a med pace with some lacing, over slightly hazy cranberry dark reddish mahogany colored beer.

NOse is strong, some booze comes right out with some Belgian yeast and esters, some dark fruits from the yeast as well as nuts, fig, nutmeg, spices, etc, and very slightly phenolic. Some sweet candy and syrupys, dark malts, esters round it all off.

Taste starts with dark malts, it gives a slight dark porter like flavor to start and surprisingly. Comes with light chocolate malts and slightest hint of roast, biscuit, plenty of caramel and dark crystal malts, and plenty of reddish malts, very malty, and even a bit creamy malt flavor. Booze comes through as well, not too strong but def some tingly and warming booze, fairly hot. Belgian yeast, bringing some dark fruits, fig, raisin, apple, pear, other fruits, nuts, spices, nutmeg, hint of cinnamon. The yeast and booze brings some esters as well, but fits in well. Some light raw cherries come through as well. Finishes still a bit hot but mellows a bit, dries slightly but still a bit on the sweet side, some lingering dark creamy malts, light fruits and esters all lingering. Well balanced and tasty, the booze is def present but not too heavy and doesn't interfere too much.

Mouth is a bit heavier bodied, decent carb for the style, and hot boozy.

Overall not bad, nice malts, nice Belgian yeast flavors, fruits, nuts, spices, a bit syrupy, but its pretty hot and boozy and the slight aging didn't mellow it at all, the esters actually fit with the style well, but nice overall. A few more years aging may help.

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

This beer pours a murky reddish brown, with golden edges. A light tan head that fades fast. The nose is strong of sour unripe cherry, belgian yeast, alcohol and spices. The tast is belgian yeast strains, spices, and cherries. A grood mouthfeel and finish with good carbonation. Another good beer from Alesmith.

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Photo of nickd717
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review originally written 12/19/08. Another excellent beer from AleSmith. It is rare these guys produce anything that is less than awesome it seems. Cloudy red appearance with little to no head. Nice aroma with berry notes and sweet caramel. Flavor is big, cherries and raspberries dominate, also caramel malt and spices. No real hop presence unlike most AleSmith offerings. Very satisfying.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to daysinthewake for getting this bottle out my way. Long-time want. Served in a Russian River "TION" goblet.

Pours a dark brown with a nice bright hue in the light. Creamy off-white head with some good lacing on the way down. The nose is complex with plenty of Belgian yeast and a good dosing of dark fruits. The flavor doesn't hit quite as hard and isn't as complex, though I think it would really benefit from a bit of aging. Medium body and quite creamy without any noticeable alcohol. Really well done.

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Photo of HopHead84
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

8/4/2011

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 378 ratings.