Grand Cru | North Coast Brewing Co.

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Grand CruGrand Cru

Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.90%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by nbree00 on 07-22-2011

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Reviews: 149 | Ratings: 448
Photo of BMMillsy
3.25/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Bottle from Gator Bev. Pours cloudy gold with a one finger white head. Aroma of honey, Belgian yeastyness, I assume agave nectar, hint of vanilla. Not much bourbon here. Flavor is big sweet honey up front (agave nectar?), some yeasty esters, banana, pear, light spice, vanilla, and finishing with a big burn of bourbon booze. Very sweet. Medium plus bodied with medium carbonation. Not what I was expecting here. It’s no terrible, but don’t think I can get through the whole bottle alone. Like an insanely boozy saison.

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Photo of cbutova
3.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Poured from the 500ml to three pint glasses with a super hazy, yeast clogged golden apricot appearance. Head forms to about a finger but does not stick around for very long as it fizzes out. Small ring leaves a few spots of lace but not much at all.

S- Fruit mostly comes to mind with some barrel influence and definitely the Belgian yeast as well. Notes of apple, pear, agave, oak, vanilla, Bourbon, yeast spice and raisin. Not much Bourbon for me but it just compliments the fruity and yeast feel.

T- Tons of fruits again with a super heavy yeast influence and some barrel feel. A whole myriad of fruits come to mind like pears, apples, lemons, agave nectar, raisins, cherries and figs, kind of insane actually. The barrel adds a hint of whiskey and vanilla but doesn't overpower the beer for me. Nice Belgian yeast brings an almost Blonde Trappist feel. A slight tartness.

MF- The body itself is fairly dried out and somewhere around moderately thick compared to other Belgian styles. Carbonation at a higher end level with a somewhat fizzy feel which feels kind of strange with the flavors present. Finishes with a bit of warmth.

I would have never guessed this being 12.5%. The mix of intense fruitiness with the barrel (on the subtle side) is nice but the overall finish is just a bit strange to me. The flavors clash just a bit but for me it is a pretty nice brew. Unlike anything other beer I can think of, after 1500+ that isn't something I say much.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.23/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Hazy copper with solid stream of carbonation. Off white head fades quickly, no lacing.

S: Sweet-ish malt resembling raisins, mild oak, some notes of caramel and whiskey, a touch of tropical fruit... very rich, rounded, warm.

T: Strong on the whiskey notes (spice, nuts, wood), toffee malt and sweeter caramel, raisins still there too. Sweetness is made matured with fruit notes (the agave nectar surely). Oak on the finish. Equally as rich as the nose, balanced, nuanced, lasting, and rewarding. No telling the ABV is so high- almost a shame, a burn would compliment the whiskey flavors.

M: Smooth, almost like a whiskey with mild carbonation. Full bodied for sure, almost thick.

O: This is a great beer. The flavors are unabashed and full-forced, without running over each other. Special compliments on not overdoing the barreling- it picked up the bourbon and wood, but wasn't overwhelming, a fine display of mature woodwork. I'm left smelling my glass in wonder of its character. I'll be buying more, if I can find it.

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Photo of chinchill
3.87/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark bottle with cork and wire served in a Belgian snifter.

Both the aroma and the flavor are quite fruity.
The lightly sweet flavor suggests golden raisins and ripe apricots but has a good bit of tartness too. There's an unusual component in the taste that may be the agave.
Pronounced BBL influence on the aroma, with more moderate BBL effects on he flavor.

Feel: Medium-full body and carbonation. Notable warming

O: a fine, refreshing sipper. A suitable anniversary beer, albeit not as wonderful as their Old Rasputin.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle into tulip glass, no bottle dating. Pours lightly hazy golden orange color with a 2 finger fairly dense white head with decent retention, that reduces to a lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of big peach, pear, apricot, apple, orange peel, agave, clove, oak, pepper, light bourbon, light toffee, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, malt, and light-moderate barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of big apricot, peach, pear, apple, orange peel, agave, caramel, vanilla, toffee, clove, oak, bourbon, herbal, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of apricot, peach, pear, apple, orange peel, agave, caramel, vanilla, toffee, oak, clove, bourbon, light pepper, herbal, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity of fruity/spicy yeast, malt/agave, and bourbon barrel flavors; with an awesome barrel flavor balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth and slightly syrupy mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome barrel aged Belgian strong ale! All around great complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, malt/agave, and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of GregorywBrown13
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Shocked this beer is rated so low.

A- stunning crystal clear coopper. Head dies a little quicker than you would hope
s- tropical funk, nice malt sweetness, booze is there, but not as juch as you woukd think at 12.9%. Very faint bourbon notes.
t- same tropical funk as the nose. Delicious. I love sweet malty beers, and the way this beer pairs the sweet malt with the tangy funk character is superb. Again, the booze is there, but not as much as I expected. This beer is big, expect to taste the alcohol. Where this beer might lose points with some is the barrel aging. It has a subtle oak characteristic that really plays well with the malt/funk. It tastes nothing like a bourbon barrel aged beer. If that is what you are looking for, look elsewhere.
m- given the belgian influence, could be carbonated a bit more.
o- I loved this beer. I havent reviewed a beer in years, but I was shocked how low this beer was ranked. If you like boozy funky belgian style ales with a strong malt profile, try this. If you like the subtle use of oak on such beers, try this. If bourbon aged means bourbon flavored beer, or sweet and funky isn't your style, try something else.

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Photo of jopezu
4.25/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

pours a bright, murky, uneven honey that darkens to a ruddy copper with depth; almost no head and seemingly flat. nose; tart golden raisin, boozy fruit, & mild hops. taste; extremely vinous - tart malt, mellow ethanol, oak, fermented drupe, lemon rind, and easy citrus hops. low carbonation, but stirs with agitation - medium mouthfeel. a very interesting beer-wine!

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Photo of BierJager89
4.4/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Very opaque golden with small white head.

S/T: Oaky, buttery Chardonnay, lemon, funky belgian yeast, fresh orange, vanilla, bourbon, oak, caramel, lemon, an odd combination but very tasty.

M: Medium bodied and bubbly, though not harsh. More foamy than harsh with carbonation.

O: This is an excellent beer, I disagree with the rating given to it.

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Photo of BeerDocT
4.08/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

It's that time of year, when beer fans over-indulge and sample beers we might normally skip because of price or...well, price. That's the backstory.

Poured into a chilled La Trappe goblet.

Appearance 4.0: Poured a beautiful deep, coppery golden color. Little head, but lots of obvious carbonation; thinking it is bottle conditioned. Very little lacing.

Smell 4.0: Very nice -if subdued-- bouquet on this brew. First scents are sharp and somewhat spicy. Different layers of light yellow fruits: pineapple, mango...I also detect a delicate but definite hint of alcohol, which is no surprise given the mighty 12%+ ABV on this monster.

Taste 4.25: Front is somewhat tart and has a touch of low-level sweetness. Middle is where the most interesting taste of tropical fruit seeps in: pineapple, mango, kiwi. Unexpected and delicious. This is accompanied by a nice hit of sweet barley and a tangy tartness. Finish is where the previous taste level clears out and everything revolves around a subtle graininess and clean malt. Aftertaste is where the taste levels from the middle jump back up and re-assert themselves for a fabulous ending. Remarkable. BTW, no hint of the massive ABV in the taste.

Mouthfeel 3.75: Nice and complementary, but somewhat biting and shallow in the mouth.

Overall 4.0: Certainly exceeded my expectations. Not just a typical "hey, let's brew a monster beer, dude!" offering from a micro-brew, this beer is well-balanced, masterly crafted and a pleasure to imbibe. However, enjoy at your own risk, as this baby packs a Asgardian-type wallop.

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Photo of DrJay
3.64/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2013. Hazy orange with a thick collar of eggshell foam. Good head retention. Woody aroma from the barrel aging, light malt and hops character, slight bourbon and cheese. The flavour was much the same, but with more alcohol presence and a light caramel sweetness. Notes of fruit, wood, bourbon, booze. Moderate astringency from the wood, medium bodied, high carbonation that lent it a fluffy/airy texture, and plenty of alcohol warmth. As it warmed, the astringency continued to grow. Pretty good, but it didn't blow me away, mainly due to the balance of wood/astringency in the overall character of the beer.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
2.46/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

North Coast Grand Cru has an extremely thin, off-white head, an opaque, brilliant orange appearance, few bubble streams, and no lacing left behind. The aroma is of an intense mix of bourbon, sweetness, coconut, alcohol, and fruit juice. Taste is harsh- shaved coconut, alcohol, juice, sweet, lightly-roasted malt, and a vanilla background. Mouthfeel is heavy, chewy, and cloying, and North Coast Grand Cru finishes rich and overly sweet and alcohilic. After sipping on it for about an hour, I did notice that the coconut faded and more of a caramel aspect presented itself. The beer is complex, but not particularly enjoyable. Just too harsh.


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Photo of hardy008
3.57/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours clear amber with a less than one finger off white head, which has very nice retention and lacing for a 12.90 % abv beer. Has a nice aroma with pears, apples, sugar, pale malt, spices and alcohol.

Has a sweet flavor with pears, apples, pale malts, sugar, and alcohol. I can taste and smell alcohol, but it does not remind of other beers aged in Bourbon barrels. If I didn't read on the label that this beer is aged in Bourbon barrels, I never would have guessed. I just would have guessed that the alcohol was not well hidden. No Bourbon, oak, or vanilla detected.

Medium to full bodied.Syrupy at times. Has average carbonation. A decent beer, but I wish I could have detected the Bourbon barrel characteristics.

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Photo of RenoZymurgist
2.51/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

Clear amber with a thin head that subsided quickly.
Aroma is spicy and belgian but no bourbon to note.
Taste is boozy, sweet, spicy and again no bourbon.
Fizzy mouthfeel with medium carbonation.
Wouldn't try again,boozy expensive and a letdown for the price. Expected more complexity and barrel character.

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Photo of StaveHooks
3.11/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

16.9 floz corked and caged bottle to a Duvel Tulip
No date, purchased early 2013

A - Dirty/cloudy burnt orange, milky off-white head, not extremely pretty but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

S - Fruit puree, bananas, oranges, apricots, pears, apple cider, creamy smelling when cold but becomes more vinous as it warms. Oak is faintly in the background throwing apple and woody aromas. Some acidity aromas become more pronounced as it warms.

T - Fruit overloads the senses, sweet and tangy, more cidery than the nose describes. Spiced apples, lemons, oranges, tangy pears, grapes, peaches. A peppery bitterness runs on the edges and is hard to tell if it's coming from hops or alcohol. There's actually a handful of random spices that I can't even pick out. Oak and vanilla undertones are buried pretty deep beneath the powerful fruit esters. Alcohol bears down pretty hard creating a cloyingly sweet and boozy finish that has some spicy harshness to it.

M - Low effervescent carbonation that stings and prickles when you hold it in your mouth. Full bodied but light weight. The body changes from thick to thinner as it sets.

Smells great but the rest is a different story. Cloying gets thrown around on beer reviews quite a bit, but this...this is cloying. I don't mind alcohol presence but it, mixed with the cloyingly sweet fruit barrage, overpowered the dainty barrel notes I was hoping for. I appreciate trying to make a big beer like this but this just doesn't work for me.

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Photo of Givemebeer
4.41/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a snifter

A: there's no head on this and no lacing. In my glass it looks like I'm sipping a brandy

S: bourbon in the forefront. Smells sweet and light fruit

T: bourbon and molasses dominate. Some apple and pear in the background

M: thick full bodied and sweet

O: I'm really digging this one. A perfect night cap as a sipper die to its 12.9% and sweetness. Kudos to north coast brewing on this monster

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Photo of KYGunner
3.97/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The color is absolutely glowing in its pear or golden Apple hue. The head was bubbly and thin but collared and retained for the duration.

The scent has bourbonesque qualities with hints of Apple, pear, vanilla honey and honeysuckle.

After fighting the initial brashness of the alcohol and/or bourbon, I was able to settle in towards the final 2/3rds. I was completely unfamiliar with this and figured there had to be barrel aging from the taste alone. There's a creamy bourbon flavor with a touch of oak. As the beer airs it begins to mellow and a fruitiness comes alive. Apple's, pears, honey, earthy honeysuckle, and raisin swirl about a vanilla cream and toasty malt.

The feel seems to never come off the brashness and champagne like bubbliness which I found mildly detracting.

This is a very fascinating beer, one that probably needs a little age and a little air. My initial feeling though is that it's well worth the try and probably a second.

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Photo of LazFTW
4.3/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Excellent and complex Belgian style ale. Its hard to believe that this is almost 13% ABV as most beers nearing 9%. you can clearly taste the flavor. I would highly recommend this to any fans of Belgian beers. It seems the U.S. can give some Belgian brewers a run for their money.

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Photo of thecheapies
4.03/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$15.95 at a bottle shop. Poured into a snifter. Beautiful soft glow of honey amber. Practically no head, but I can't say that I was springing for much with that big 12.9% ABV rocking here.

Smells of Belgian yeast esters and bourbon. Sweet agave note offers that tequila vibe and some of the citrusy and stone fruit elements from the yeast combines not terribly unlike a margarita. Whiffs of honey, apricot, and golden raisin also contribute.

Kind of sweet, but there's a tasty whiskey note that carries some of the barrel without being too woody. Belgian pale malts and ruffling yeast offer more stone fruits. Hints of citrus conjure up flavors of orange and grape and apricot and golden raisin. More of that honey from the nose. Has a strange imbalance, the way mixing bourbon and tequila into a fruity cocktail would clash. Very interesting how it still retains a lot of Belgian flair. Booziness is kind of big, but not 12.9% big, in my opinion. My girlfriend disagrees, but I think this drinks on the easy side. Carbonation is tuned way down, but that doesn't hurt the feel too much. It's a beastly Belgian Strong Pale, not too much can be done about that. The body has a great full-on mouth-coat. A little tacky and quite condensed. I feel pretty good about sipping on this, even though I might be taking it down a little too fast for my own good.

Very unique BSPA. Maybe the first bourbon barrel-aged version that I've had. Would totally have this again and would be intrigued to try this one aged. Buy one at a good price and give me your take on it.

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Photo of SaintBenedict
3.37/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

North Coast Grand Cru pours a spectacular crystal-clear golden honey color with a short-lived spritz-y white head that soon settles to a thin cap of fine bubbles. After some time, a concentrated fountain rises from the center of the glass, directly above the etching at the bottom of the Duvel tulip.

The aroma is sweet and somewhat syrupy with notes of Belgian yeast and a touch of barnyard funkiness, along with damp hay, dried apricot, white grape juice, juicy tart berries, modest oaky wood and a kiss of bourbon.

On the palate, the agave makes itself known presenting a syrupy sweet flavor, as well as rum-macerated cherries, juicy apricot, fleshy peach, alcohol-soaked fruit bread, berry flavors, vinous notes and a super-charged malty sweetness. The ale finishes with hints of oak and bourbon.

The body is medium-full, with a thick viscous, oily texture and minimal carbonation, though a fair degree of effervescence is clearly present.

To be honest, both the nose and palate are a bit unrefined and overdone. I have a suspicion that a little more time would help to tone down the assertiveness of the ale. However, that being said, this bottle is already nearly two years old, so I'm not entirely convinced how it will fare after a few more years.

All in all, I'm torn: North Coast Grand Cru shows a lot of ingenuity and promise, but it comes off as green, immature—a bit too big for its britches, if you will. The "Grand Cru" designator should be reserved for the summum bonum of a brewery, which, by the likes of it, is an appellation that perhaps has been hoisted upon this brew too hastily.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.79/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a half-litre bottle into a brandy snifter.

A: Light head and nice lacing. Clear gold with a mere hint of haze.

S: Smells like chardonnay. Straight up, nothing else.

T: Grapes and whiskey. Lightly carbonated, with a lingering yeastiness. I can taste the floral Belgian influence, but this tastes more like bourbon barrel aged white grape communion wine than anything else. Odd.

M: Pleasant, spicy, carbonated, and smooth.

O: I actually quite liked this beer. Tastes much more like a BPA or bière de champagne (or much more actually, a bière de chardonnay). Would have again.

P.S. The bottle is incredibly hefty. If you ever get in a fancy bar fight, this is the bludgeoning tool I'd recommend.

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Photo of weonfire
2.68/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

A - Golden. one finger of white head that fades quickly. As is sits- looks flat. Not inspired to sip this.

S - High amount of alcohol. Agave is also potent. smells like old cheap rum.

T - sweet agave at first. alcohol takes over and is not hidden whats so ever. Makes me cringe at every sip.

M - while it didn't quite 'burn the nostrils', straight booze coats the mouth and throat. not a pleasant taste.

O- I was looking forward to aged nectar in bourbon barrels. Greatly disappointed. $15 for this bottle? I expected far better from North Coast. I would not recommend this to anybody.

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Photo of artdob
4.68/5  rDev +31.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A 16 ounce bottle, topped with a cork kept in place with a wire cage. Surprised that the head was extremely minimal and disappeared entirely almost in a blink of an eye. That said, sure pours a very attractive, unique orange color.

This beer has a nose that hits you from a distance. Nice yeasty notes balanced with apricot esters. Can just about sense the agave that is noted as part of this brew on the bottle notes.

On the palate, oh wow. After seeing the pour, my expectations turned real low. But this is so unique. A very rich, fruity apricot, fruit compote in the glass. Warming and velvety on the mouthfeel.

This was a fairly pricy bottle, I think I paid about $14 bucks. Being a huge fan of North Coast, had to give this a try. Rare that I would do this would beers that are on this end of the price scale (per bottle), but tomorrow am going back to the store where I bought this to buy several more bottles. I could see laying this one down for awhile and popping open when feeling like indulging in something special.

Initial appearance disappointment was mire than made up with everything else that followed. Beer nectar baby. Kudos North Coast!

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Photo of DenverLogan
4.01/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From corked bottle...poured in chalice.
Pours a copper gold with significant head that melts down to little islands within a few minutes.
Aroma of amber malt, honey, white wine and alcohol.
Whoa...big mouthfeel and flavor. Modest carbonation. Flavor of bourbon, odd tropical fruit, sweet malt, light cocoa, lemongrass, white pepper, Chardonay, watermelon rind, candy sugar, oak, honey (agave nectar).
Overall assertively bold, complex and flavorful for the first ten minutes. After 20 minutes it's opened up nicely...less alcohol and punch, more sweetness and refined liquor smoothness...warming. That's the beauty of having this bottle's likely to last long enough so you can taste this beer at it's best. Like a good complex wine, it needs time to open up. I think many reviews would be higher if they let it sit 20 minutes or so.
With it's funky fruit, bourbon and spice notes,and given the alcohol (and price), this fits as a very tasty sipping beer.

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Photo of bobhits
1.68/5  rDev -52.9%
look: 1 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1

A big beer at 12.9% the carbonation hardly lasts long at all. The body is crystal clear orange/yellow color. I'm not sure how a beer this big can be clear nor do I know why one would want it to be. Maybe they wanted this one aged a year or ten?

Sugary sweet, with Belgian style yeast aromas. There is a LOT of sugar aromas in here. Fruit aromas of bananas and pears come out. We went from sugars to fake sugars...I'm not sure why Agave was added...maybe someone was fooled into thinking it was healthy? Either way while crystal clear there is a clear weight and density to this beer.

Where is the bourbon barrel effects? This is ungodly sweet, overly sugary, and just frankly awful. Alcohol heat mixed with maybe some kind of oak, sugar, aspartame, sucralose, maybe molasses, and maybe some other sugars I can't place.

Clean taste but the alcohol heat is overwhelming. No carbonation in the mouth should cause problems, but the clean finish seems ok.

A grand cru should be the best a brewer makes. It should stand for something. Instead this is one of the worst efforts a rather good brewery has made. Bottom line drain pour.

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Photo of SlothB77
4.46/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

poured from 1 pint 9 ounce bottle into a snifter.

This is the champagne of beers. and by that i mean the beer tastes like champagne. Smell: floral aromas. Taste: like champagne. Very sweet. Mouthfeel: very acidic, very carbonated, light-bodied. As close as beer gets to champagne. $36 for a 1 pint 9 ounce bottle in NoVa,

Rave reviews.

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Grand Cru from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.57 out of 5 based on 448 ratings.
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