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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

371 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 371
Hads: 830
Avg: 4.06
pDev: 15.27%
Wants: 107
Gots: 165 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of AleSmith Grand Cru Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 371 | Hads: 830
Photo of Flyer
3.35/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I found this beer to be disappointing. Totally by coincidence, I had this after Ale Asylum Grand Cru, and given my respect for AleSmith, I was shocked that it "lost" that comparison. Both are malty versions of a belgian ale/dubbel, but the difference is that this is out of balance -- a cerealy malt dominates the subtler notes associated with a dubbel and candi sugar. Some nice toasty, minty, vanilla notes almost get lost.

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Photo of theopholis
3.35/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance- Pours a dark, fairly clear ruby.Head is a uniform, foamy, tan head with some staying power. No lacing at all.

Smell- Lots of breadiness up front. Hints of molasses, roasted toffee, caramel, and figs. Some light fruits in there to. Yellow apple maybe.

Taste- Very well blended malt profile. No specific flavor jumps out at you. Slightly earthy with hints of caramel; brown sugar; toffee, with a very subtle mix of dark fruits (raisin, plum, black cherry, etc.) with light fruits (yellow apple). Hints of a very melange of spiciness in there to. Maybe some pepper and nutmeg right at the edge of detectability.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Good carbonation. Nothing to write home about.

Drinkability: Decent. Not great, but worth trying.

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Photo of charlzm
3.42/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Consumed at Encinitas Ale House in Encinitas, CA on December 29th, 2010.

Beer is a clear, deep shade of brown with ruby red highlights. The head is composed of very fine, uniform bubbles that provide nice sheeting on the glass.

Aroma is unfortunately all metallic.

Mouthfeel is a bit chewy. Flavor is juicy and fruity: plum, pear, dark chocolate, caramel malts and a hint of nutmeg. Moderately sweet. Finish is dry, clean save for that metallic note. Slight warmth at end.

Flavor is assertive and unusual but not terribly complex; I'm glad I didn't have a big glass of this!

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Photo of tectactoe
3.44/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Huge thanks to Kevin R for opening this one, along with many other AleSmith goodies. The Grand Cru pours a light-ish, slimy brown color with some mild copper clarity at the top of the brew. The creamy, beige head makes plenty of noise and it sizzles away quickly from almost a half-inch to nothing but a thick skin and collar.

Sweet, sweet grapes and plums and dates in the nose; plenty of dark fruits, like you'd expect from a Belgian dark ale, possibly a little softer and more sweet than usual. Sticky toffee and buttery toasted malts make up the background while also adding more sweetness to the already sweet aroma. Earthy phenols and sweet esters, with a slight medicinal undertone that's kind of throwing me off.

The taste is complex in that it has may elements in it; figs, light clove spice, sweet plums, brown sugar, toasted malts, Candi sugar, spicy yeast, burning phenol alcohol... see? The problem is that, for whatever reason, the flavors don't meld together in Utopian harmony like they typically do for Belgian strong ales.

It seems more like a pot where you just throw in any and all ingredients you can find in the cupboards, paying no attention to the amounts, the schedule, or anything like that. I can't quite put my finger on why this might happen, but the beer definitely suffers in drinkability and overall enjoyability due to this. All the flavors are there, sure, but not in proper capacities.

The mouth feel is typically for this type of ale; carbonated quite heavily giving a light and effervescent (almost) feeling on the palate; medium bodied and lightly creamy. I was expecting to enjoy this beer more than I did, especially given the scores. It was far from bad, but I've had so many other Belgian strong ales that I'd choose over this (and they're cheaper and easier to find, too!)

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.44/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I have had this beer for a good bit over a year at least, and it is high time that I reviewed it. I picked this one up just outside LA. Anyway, here we go...

Appearance: There was very little off-gas when I opened the cap, and the head poured reflecting the same lack of carbonation. The beer itself is a murky reddish brown with a few bubbles seeking the top.

Aroma: My initial impression was that of raisins mixed with sherry, but as it sits for a few minutes the alcohol isn't as much in your face and it is taking on a sweet brown sugar nose.

Taste: The flavor is pretty much inline with the aroma in that there is a lot of brown sugar sweetness and spice from the alcohol that stays with you all the way into the finish as an evident warming on the back of the throat. The fruitiness is also a big player, and I get mostly dark fruits like raisins, figs, black cherries...and oh, boy does this beer warm up the throat! Though the lack of carbonation hurts the mouthfeel, but this beer is big enough to go down like an Old Ale or some such that doesn't need any major carbonation. The sherry notes are in the flavor as well.

Opinion: This is a pretty good beer for being as flat as it is. I must have had it for too long or something, but it is rather murky as well. Anyway, I would like to try this beer again fresh, but I will still drink the whole thing this evening.

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Photo of TheDM
3.45/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This brew pours a small head of finely sized mostly diminishing bubbles that leave a fair lacing and it has a transparent dark amber body. It also had a strong alcohol aroma. Initially, the alcohol flavor comes through, but later softens in the finish.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.47/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

OK, I wasn't sure if it was part of this beer, but it seemed really flat. It's the 06 and it was stored properly. No head, almost no carb in tasting. I am just not into really flat beers and I am having trouble rating it as such, but here goes.

A - Pretty, dark dense looking caramel. No head.

S - Dark fruits, mostly, with some sweet and roasty malt floating about in there.

T - Rich candied and cooked fruits. Some hops in there to bitter, but not completely balanced. An almost oxidized, stale finish.

M - FLAT. Medium bodied, not completely balanced.

D - In it's current state, I would never try it again. The carb thing just really disappoints for me.

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Photo of SirSketch
3.48/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The color was a nice array of reds and oranges, reminiscent of sunset. Very small ring of head on the edge. I got a lot of white wine from the nose, as well as a nice balance of sweet and sour aromas. For some reason though, I got a very distinct smell of rubber cement or crazy glue from this beer, and I really couldn't get passed it. The taste is very vinous, with some malt backing it up, and a little Belgian yeast characteristic mixed in, though not as prominent in most Belgian style beers. Pleasant, but I keep drinking and wishing for more flavor and complexity to come out of this beer. Alright, but not worth seeking out, as I did.

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Photo of OldSock
3.49/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance – Green 750 ml bottle from Bev Mo and hauled back from San Diego. The beer pours a dark brown-ruby with a small bit of carbonation rising through it. The head is tan and composed mostly of large bubbles that only rises one finger even with a vigorous pour. Retention is poor and lacing is patchy.

Smell – Good malty yeasty aroma. Hints of caramel and alcohol play back up roles as well. In the background there is a faint hint of chocolate.

Taste – Eh, alcohol and a faint toasted malt comprise most of the flavor. Pretty well balanced, sweet , but not cloying. It isn’t an unpleasant flavor, just not particularly interesting.

Mouthfeel – Full mouthfeel with low carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – The mouthfeel and big alcohol flavor, not to mention the alcohol itself, make this a slow drinker. This is an alright beer, no glaring problem, but nothing really sets this apart from its peers. A bit of a disappointment from such a great brewery.

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Photo of aracauna
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The body is a very dark red there's not a lot of head, but there's enough. There are lots of fruity esters and a warmth to the malt. It's a bit alcoholic, but not overpowering, although it does give it a bit of a bourbon undertone. I was a bit underwhelmed by the beer, though.

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Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beauty was given to biegaman by a friend and shared with me tonight. It was of uncertain vintage but likely 2006, possibly older I'd guess as it seemed, unfortunately, a bit over the hill. Cloudy prune juice on the pour, a murky mid-brown with no head whatsoever. Thin ring and no lace but for some small "polka dots" that were left after a healthy swirl in my tall tulip shape glass. After a short while, however, there wasn't even a trace of a thin ring and even a swirl produced nothing, it went perfectly flat and featureless.

The smell of pear predominated, also some semillion or sauvignon grape white wine aromas. With air and warming, a sweeter smell appeared, feint toffee. Taste had some very light caramel undertones but pear and carrot juice came to mind most, a bit of spice, possibly coriander, nothing too sweet and not much if any caramel that I expected. Body was thin, a bit spritzy to begin with, cleansing.

I look forward to trying this beer again once I locate a fresher bottle. Thanks Jan for splitting it, next one is on me.

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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 meathookjones
3.52/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes taken on 1/09/05 with a 750ml bottle. Even with an aggressive pour this beer seemed hard pressed to get even a full covering of tan bubbles. The body was a ruddy brown. Aroma was very sweet with various fruits, caramel and sugars. There was a bit of spiciness to it as well and another scent that reminded me of English style barley wines. Sweetness was dominant in the flavor as well with various fruits coming through and a good dose of caramel/toffee. Sugar and spice were prevalent as well. Something in the flavor reminds me of barley wines as well. A bit of lingering spice was on the finish. Fairly thick and slick was the body and it had quite a warming feel to it as well. Pretty good stuff but the sweetness became cloying towards the middle and really made the last glass drag on. On e I would like to try fresher if I ever get the chance.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3.52/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was the last beer of an evening of several pretty big beers (American Independence Day), and I have to say that I probably would've enjoyed it more had it been the first beer of the evening rather than the last. It was certainly not bad, but not what I was expecting (a problem I would not have had if I read the bottle), but not a great night-cap for a hot evening spent outdoors. Still, pretty good, and something I'd be willing try again.

The body was a sort of muddy red-brown with very little head. The description says it is "crystal clear (when served properly)" - I'm dying to know what those conditions are! I thought for some reason that flavor would be fruitier and lighter than it was; in actually it was a pretty heavy sweet cerealness with lots of biscuity character above it with some very sweet alcohol tang to it. Mouthfeel was dry and warming, owing largely to the high ABV.

I wasn't a huge fan of this one, but given the circumstances, I'd be willing to give it another try.

I bought this bottle a few months back at the Winerak in Zanesville, OH.

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

750 ml brown glass bottle with foiled-over standard pressure cap served into an oversized wine glass in me friend's gaff in low altitude Orange, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are extremely high given the brewery.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a three finger head of fluffy white cream, nice thickness, and great retention for the ABV. Incredibly frothy. Quite beautiful and appealing. Colour is an exquisite dark amber. Very impressive and inviting.

Sm: Cherry and raspberry fruit esters. Some cream. Warm clean complex malts. Fresh biscuity yeast. Amber hops. A moderate strength aroma. I'm excited to try this.

T: Clean amber malts form the foundation, with nice cream atop. Some caramelized malt. Some toasted malt. A nice yeast note. Hints of fruit esters - cherry and raspberry. Nicely balanced and built, but not as good as expected given the brewery and current ratings. I like it.

Mf: Smooth and wet, with cream, and enough coarseness to allow the flavours to come through. Just thick enough. Complements the flavours pretty well.

Dr: Highly drinkable - especially considering the high ABV, which is extremely well hidden. It tastes like it's about 5.00%. I'd have it again, preferably on draught.

I don't recommend an oversized wine glass as the proper glassware for this 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 BierReise
3.54/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2003 Vintage. Dark and hazy plum colored with no head at all. Aroma is really malty with some fruit like dried cherries and figs. I don't get the vanilla/chocolate aroma, maybe that was a different vintage. Mouth feel is a bit weak with some dryness and lacks the excitement of a Belgian Grand Cru. Flavor is malty sweet with a hint of caramel and cocoa. Alcohol is very present in aroma and flavor. A bit dissapointing.

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Photo of Vixie
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice ruby red color with a decent sized tan head. Fair amount of carbonation.

Smell has quite a bit of brown sugar to it. Can also detect a hint of chocolate and toffee.

This is a fairly sweet beer, I am describing it mentally as liquid candy. There is a lot of brown sugar and toffee to it, if a Heath Bar was in liquid form, it would taste a lot like this. I can also detect some Belgian candy sugar, and there is just a hint of a hop bite at the finish. The alcohol is very well hidden in this one, just a touch of warming at the back of my throat.

Feel is just ok, I think should be a little more solid for the style.

Overall a pretty good beer. It is lacking a bit in complexity, but has a nice flavor and is easy to drink for such a strong beer. This one is deceptive, it doesn't taste like a 10% ABV beer, handle with care, but worth a try.

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Photo of mmapes
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bought in September, opened in March. Bottle suggests cellaring for 6 to 24 months.

Pours a big head of medium-sized bubbles. Amber/peach colored, very clear. Smells of dried fruit -- apricots?

Tastes very much like it smells. It's nice but a little one-noted. Sweet finish after a tangy start. There are some sweet malts but not much in the way of hops. The apricot smell/taste is prevalent -- is that from the Belgian yeast?

Nice, but not very complex.

Would buy again if it weren't too expensive. We have one more bottle in the cellar. Will see how it ages.

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Photo of sloejams
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

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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 Murchmac
3.6/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Drank on xmas day after dinner. From notes:

Smells nice figs, caramel, yeast,

ruby red highlights, cherry color, some cloudiness to it. Pretty looking beer.

thin body, dark fruits yeasty. This one falls short of the usualy outstanding brews by alesmith. A little too thin. I love alesmith for the backbone of their beers. Good taste, just wanted more of it.

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Photo of bulletrain76
3.6/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

75cl bottle. Beautiful clear deep chestnut brown colored body. The head is pretty weak, but Ill cut it some slack because the color is really perfect. Wonderfully complex aroma of dark candi sugar, toffee, fruity notes of berries, and some cinnamon. The flavor is sweet and is dominated by toffee, with some vanilla dried fruit as well. I was looking for a little more balance and complexity, but it is still pretty nice. Full, almost chewy body is a bit heavy, but the ample amount of silky carbonation lets it move over the tongue well enough to avoid any excessive, cloying stickiness. Pretty nice beer, though missing some yeasty complexities that I look for in the style that would make it stand out. At the premium price it commands, I probably wont be buying this in the future.

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Photo of satowns
3.61/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006 vintage; 750ml bottle. tasted last summer, just now posting my limited notes.

pours a brilliant bright orange with a white layer of dense bubbles.

aroma is all bright candied fruits...

Crisp citrus and spices dominate flavor.

rich and creamy mouthfeel.

Quite delicious!

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Photo of brdc
3.64/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Large capped bottle, aged as suggested in the bottle for one year. Poured into a goblet.

Burgundy red, with some obvious carbonation problems, and a head that shows minimal retention or lacing.
Nice fruity aroma, mostly dark fruits, caramel maltiness, candy like sweetness.
Full bodied, but the lacko of carbonation severely limits the enjoyment. Flavor profile is on the sweeter side, malty, fruity, with minimal alcoholic warmth.
A decent brew, but if I have another chance, will ignore the bottle statement and drink fresh. I believe the lack of carbonation might be an aging problem, although mentioned in other reviews as well.

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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 371 ratings.