Grand Cru | North Coast Brewing Co.

153 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 153 | Ratings: 471
Photo of mattboyer182
3.2/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - light golden color with almost no head. Nothing to brag about.

S - smell is fruity. Kind of nectarine and tangerine and citrusy and what not.

T - the taste is interesting. It's very sweet and juicy up front and falls off in the end and gets a little stale but has a major juice consistency to it.

M - mouthfeel is medium to heavy bodied and light carbonation.

O - the weirdest grand cru I've ever had. I don't see why a beer this light and minor could even be considered a grand cru.

 491 characters

Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
2.45/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours out a deep gold, almost apple juice colored. Heavy carbonation, small head, no lace.

The smell is nectar heavy, but with the whisky barrel smell it ends up a bit like fruit punch. Some light malts show up in the background.

Wow, too sweet. Barrel and sweet nectar throw down right away, some malt and yeast, but not much going for it in terms of complexity (at least not at this age). Alcohol burn gets pretty noticeable by the end.

I'd put this in the flavored beer category. Too much like a boozy fruit punch for my taste. Oh well, next time tone it down a bit.

 572 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle - $12.99 at Olde Crabapple Bottle Shoppe in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a clear, deep golden body with an initially high, foaming, near white head.

Smell: Rather sweet-scented aroma evocative of sugared tequila, but with additional notes of twangy pils malt, sliced tropical fruits spilling their precious juices, and buttery oak.

Taste: Tangy pilsner malts hinting of syrup-drenched French bread, with a strong sweetness upfront and throughout of toffee and agave nectar. Fruity touches of sugar-cooked pears, banana juice, and even papaya. Low spiciness. Buttery oakiness trying to emerge from underneath the sweetness. Noted tongue-singing ethanol on the continued sweet, but mercifully crisp finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium-high carbonation cutting through what otherwise you can just sense would be truly cloying. However, it seems the carbonation leaves this one quick which it so desperately needs, so, as much as I hate to say this: drink it fast. Have plenty of water and a DD on hand, though!

Overall: Starts to take on a taste of Prosecco blended with honey and agave syrup for added thickness and sweetness. Notably warm from the ABV, but not painfully hot, though not my best choice to down before going in to work, perhaps. It's not the grandest of crus, so, how about Interesting Cru?

 1,340 characters

Photo of DCon
4.05/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared a 500 ML 1 PT 0.9 FL. OZ. bottle of this brew w/ GeoffTheAleMan from Schnucks in Frontenac, MO for $13.99. Poured from the Golden Bottle that weighs over 5 lbs into a Groupon Pint Glass and does not have a freshness date on the bottle.

Aroma- Has a ton of strength in the aroma. Starts with a huge grape juice and light sour aroma. Not much spice and not much fruit except this fake, Juicy Juice aroma meaning its very sweet and malty.

Appearance- Pours a 3 finger, frothy and dense head that stays for a long time! Has a golden body with good clarity. Leaves good lacing.

Flavor- The tastes going on in this one are very complexed! Can tell there was a strong citrus flavor and then aged in bourbon barrels (slightly). Very fruity and has a nice belgian style finish (Light-Medium). Only a hint of alcohol in here (even though its a close to 13% brew).

Mouthfeel- Medium-Full Bodied, Medium Carbonation, Effervescent, and has a slight alcohol taste on the tongue.

Overall Impression- This was a strong and nicely complexed Grand Cru! I was very excited to buy when it came out but now seeing it in a grocery store, I had to buy. Better than the reviews it got on BeerAdvocate also. I would suggest you getting a 500-750 mL bottle of this but sharing it with a friend. Very intense, strong, and could give you a nice buzz if your first brew of the evening.

 1,373 characters

Photo of scottfrie
2.24/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

500ml caged and corked bottle into Portsmouth snifter.

A: Pours a dark golden with a couple fingers of foamy white head that quickly faded into a thin film leaving a couple streaks of lacing down the glass.
S: Light smelling. All I really get is some barrel-esque wood and a touch of stone fruits. There is something faintly sour as well. The nose isn’t bad, but it’s barely there.
T: Big syrupy flavor of sweet fruits, toffee and candied sugar. This is one syrupy sweet beer. I’ve never really described a beer as “cloying” before, but I think that fits nicely. I guess it's the agave. The finish has a pretty good dose of warm alcohol that doesn’t go well with all the syrupy toffee sweetness. I get some bready yeast and pepper in the aftertaste.
M: Bubbly, tingly carbonation that froths up on my palate. The body is full and the mouthfeel is definitely thick, heavy and syrupy. The high alcohol adds to the high viscosity and creates a very slick mouthfeel as well.
O: Another miss *coughtwentiethanniversarycough* from a brewery that I really do love. Even the great breweries make mistakes. I’m just glad I found this bottle for only $12 as even this is asking too much.

 1,195 characters

Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: hazy golden. Head is big off white and billowy (to type).
Smell: some sour, some spice, some candy.
Taste: this is better than the nose suggests. I thought from the reviews it would be a pale imitation of Duvel, but IMO it's a damn good amped up version of the style.
Nice and full bubbly carbonation. Amazingly smooth for the 12.9%. Thanks to my best pal for surprising me with this yesterday.

 407 characters

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.57/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

North Coast Grand Cru, bottle bought for $14.99 at Malloy's Finest in Naperville, Illinois.

Appearance: Classic Belgian looks- pale and transparent like apple juice, with a whitey one-finger head that dies almost right away. No lacing whatsoever and low carbonation. Nothing exciting here.

Smell: Yeasty, spicy, dry and puckering. Sour apple. Distant honey.

Taste: Follows nose, with more Belgian yeast and spice. Tart and crisp. A tad of sweetness at the end, but barely a hint, considering this is brewed with straight-up agave. No bourbon, wood or barrel either. Nothing too complex here.

Mouthfeel: Flavor is full but disappointing (where's the sweetness and the barrel?), body is medium-to-full, carbonation is adequate. Finishes dry and persistent.

Overall: Super drinkable, there's no doubt about that! Not a hint of 12.90% here. But not worth $14.99. If you told me this is a $6 bottle of Duvel, I'm fine. But really, agave? bourbon barrels? 15 bucks? No way. I love North Coast but this just doesn't fly.

 1,022 characters

Photo of snaotheus
3/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pair of pint glasses. I'm at my in-laws' place, and they don't have that much glassware. I'll survive.

Pours straw yellow, very clear, small pale head. Smells musty and sweet, straw and wet wood, wet leather.

Taste is jarringly sweet. A little bit of lemony tang. Maybe some slight honeysuckle flavor...but it's soooo sweet everything is just drowning in syrupy-ness. It actually made me shiver.

Mouthfeel is sticky, but surprisingly light. Overall, not such a fan. Way too sweet.

 497 characters

Photo of DSchulers
3.31/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Sampled on 9/2/2011, poured into glasses and shared by fellow beer enthusiasts. The following is our collective review:

Appearance – North Coast’s Grand Cru pours a rich golden color, with a large head which dissipated quickly. The clarity of the beer was also remarkable, and the heavy carbonation was noticeable from the glass; all good signs from the appearance.

Smell – Aromas of honey, flowers, Belgian yeasts, apples and pears greet the nose, with citric notes and a distinct champagne-like smell to it as well. The aroma of this beer is very pleasing.

Mouthfeel – The mouthfeel was rich, sticky, and full. The agave shows its presence in this; the rich stickiness hinting toward dark fruit or raisins. The carbonation manifests in the finish, developing a creamy foaminess that seems to conflict with the sticky agave.

Taste – The first thing that was immediately apparent was the lack of bourbon. For being bourbon aged, this had absolutely none of the bourbon characteristics that most of us appreciate. The notable tastes included pears, raisins, and hints of caramel. The agave dominated the palate with its cloying, sticky sweetness which clung to the palate throughout.

Overall – The sweet, stickiness of the agave does not blend well with how carbonated this beer is. Cloying is definitely the word of the day for this beer. It seems like it is having an identity crisis between trying to be rich, sweet, and malty and light and champagne-like. Grand Cru is by no means a bad beer, but North Coast is capable of far better beer.

 1,560 characters

Photo of Brez07
2.55/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

500ml bottle split into 2 glasses

A: Looks like... apple juice. Just a little bit of head left after an initial 1 finger amount. No lace, just some brief oily presence with each swirl

S: When I first opened this, I commented on how it smelled somewhat like champagne. Some sweet fruit notes, similar to pears. I struggled to find any vanilla here. Touch of alcohol

T: Pale, crisp malts. Pepper like spice. Overly sweet, probably from the agave, with some belgian yeast characteristics. What is this? Are we sure this is barrel aged? I'm confused

M: Light, bubbly. Slightly dry finish

M: Definitely disappointed with this one. Not a drain pour, but I was close at first. There are basically no signs this was in a barrel and the sweetness from agave is a bit much. Spend your money elsewhere

 795 characters

Photo of sweemzander
1.8/5  rDev -49.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

500mL corked and caged bottle poured into a snifter.

(A)- Pours a golden apricot color. Produced a giant 4+ finger fluffy head with surprisingly good retention and lace despite it being 12.9%.

(S)- A little strange. Lots of pear and that sweet agave nectar fruit profile. Bits of a sweaty gym sock yeast. On the background finish is an oaky bourbon character. All together, it almost smells like marinara sauce somehow as it warms up.

(T)- Just like the smell. A sickly sweet fruit note in front of some kind of marinara sauce meets an oaky muddy yeast. This is borderline gross; drain pour.

(M)- A good carbonation level, though thats the only good thing I can see. Very sweet and has lots of vegetable notes and a bizarre yeast. Finishes boozy.

(D)- This looked great, though quickly turned to an abomination in my opinion. It tastes like vegetables and a very strange muddled yeast. This needs to go back to the drawing board unless my bottle is completely off or an infection of some kind.

 998 characters

Photo of JoeySchlitz
3.45/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light golden, effervescent color with a half inch of head. Looks decent and smells a bit funky with some light lemon notes, bourbon barrels and some Belgian yeast. There are some additional fruit notes - grapefruit and mellon - at the tail end. Taste is quite different though, with a very sweet, bourbon and agave mixture that is highly carbonated. The beer is very heavy with alcohol, to the point of seeming more like a strong mixed drink than beer. Overall, its a decent beer and worth trying, but doubtful that I'll look for any additional bottles.

 561 characters

Photo of thagr81us
3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks goes out to beermeX2 for sharing this one during the ORF '11 release! Served from bottle into a sampler snifter. Poured golden yellow with a two finger off-white head that subsided to none very slowly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, banana, and alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, banana, sweet alcohol, and wood. It had a light feel on the palate with high carbonation. Overall this was a decent brew. This one really feel short on what I was hoping for/expecting. This brew just seemed a little one-dimensional to me and lacked complexity that I typically get from other brewery's Grand Crus. Not horrible, but not great either.

 697 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.24/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Bier Academy in Canyon Country, CA.

Pours a murky honey orange with a 1/2 inch off-white head that fades to nothing. Absolutely zero lacing on this one. Smell is of spices, yeast, citrus, and a slight sour funk. Taste is of spices, minor Belgian yeast, citrus, cane sugar, and some slight funky flavors. There is a noticeable alcohol burn in the throat with each sip as well. A high level of carbonation with a crisp, bubbly, and slightly sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer that is very tasty. I really liked the complex flavors, especially with the subdued Belgian yeast that let other tastes come out.

 631 characters

Photo of kzoobrew
3.11/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bourbon barrel aged beer brewed with Agave nectar, worth a shot.

The pour is nothing like what I expected. Super carbonated and effervescent. Clear golden yellow body capped by a towering fizzy bone white head. The head recedes is relative short order, spotty lacing left clinging to the glass.

This beer continues to.... well confuse me? I simply have not had anything like it. The agave nectar is prominent. The Belgian yeast strain comes into play just behind. Very sugary sweet aroma. The barrel contributions are relatively low. Does it smell like a BSPA should? Maybe, I just am thrown off by this beer all together.

Do I even need to say it? The flavor continues the weirdness of this beer. Strong sweetness up from. There is a little bit of a tart citrus flavor up front. The agave is there once again, blends well with the initial sweetness. Belgian yeast picks up mid palate, though is a bit subdued. Soft phenols lay on the tongue. The barrel presence is seemingly missing again. To be honest, it kinda tastes like a Red Bull.

The body checks in somewhere between light and medium. Carbonation is a bit high, does not really do the beer many favors. The finish is surprisingly dry despite the sweetness.

Just a down right strange beer. I applaud North Coast for experimenting and trying something new, I just have no idea what to think of this beer. NC Grand Cru does not fit a style, I think I would prefer it if I did not think of it as a beer. Worth a try, I do not think I will be picking it up again.

 1,522 characters

Photo of emerge077
3.6/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Into a footed tulip glass, it pours a bright straw gold, with a thin layer of white foam on top. Spotty arcs of lacing remain, sticking to the walls of the glass.

If you've ever had pulque, or pure agave blanco tequila, maybe you know what agave tastes like. Tart and fruity, a little bit green, some vanilla from the barrel, and a lick of residual sweetness.

Flavors are similarly fruity and vinous with tart white grapes, somewhat vegetal agave nectar, and a smooth, buttery feel. Some barrel nuance as well, vanilla sweetness and mild oak woodiness. Body is light and somewhat thin, detracting slightly from the overall character. Sippable, not something to take lightly, and best shared. Thanks Jay for sharing!

 719 characters

Photo of ehammond1
2.58/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

On Tap

Blue Palms 3rd Anniversary Party
Blue Palms BrewHouse
Los Angeles, CA

Clear gold and yellow with a thin white head. Spotted, messy lacing down the glass.

Exceptionally sweet aroma: apple juice, pears, lemon, and alcohol.

Flavor follows the aroma, and it's not particularly pleasant. The beer is exceptionally sweet: lots of candied, sugary apples, pears, some lemon, some Belgian yeast tartness, perhaps some vanilla--and then more alcohol. Fairly unpleasant. Though those flavors don't sound terrible when listed, as a beer it just becomes a syrupy, sweet, boozy error.

Medium mouthfeel with relatively low carbonation.

A sweet, boozy, syrupy mess.

 664 characters

Photo of charlzm
4.08/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed at Blue Palms 3rd Anniversary event in Hollywood, CA.

Exceptionally clear (almost like a pilsener!) with a white head a finger thick.

Delicious smell: mild pepper, sweet pears, melonoidins.

Flavor is complex and unexpected: again pears, juicy white grapes, a dash of wood-style bitterness, a fleeting dash of powdery Belgian yeast. Interesting that I got no bubblegum aroma or flavor, as others who had the same beer from the same keg have noted it.

Mouthfeel is unremarkable: medium bodied with low carbonation.

Absolutely delicious and there is NO TRACE of the nearly 13% alcohol. A real winner.

 611 characters

Photo of womencantsail
3.26/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Blue Palms

A: The beer pours a lightly hazed golden amber color with a white head.

S: Nose opens up with sweet toffee and candi sugar. There are some sweet fruits such as pears, oranges, and apples. A ton of bubblegum and cotton candy.

T: The beer tastes primarily of cotton candy with a fair amount of bubblegum. Heavy on the sugar, plus brown sugar and toffee. There might be a bit of bread. Really, though, just very sweet.

M: Almost syrupy with a medium carbonation.

O: Cloying, sugary, and not something I'd care to have again.

 547 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood I,

A: Pours a medium gold with a firm white head leaving some good lace.

S: Loads of pears and booze, some honey and banana.

T: Banana and pear, quite estery with a lot of booze and sweet malt. A substantial big beer.

M: Full-bodied, with some solvent character, fizzy carbonation at times.

O: This is a beer that needs to be put into a hole in the ground and not touched for at least 4 years. It's awkward in its infancy and needs to coalesce. Something that could be really interesting come 2015, but right now it's all over the place.

 562 characters

Photo of bld81
3.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Corked bottle poured into a Duvel tulip:
A: straw golden pour yields a one-head that disappears immediately, no lacing, no ring, nothing remains
S: fresh fruits, with apples and pears, some sweetness, muted otherwise
T: spicy, clean with apple, banana, and bready malt, but tart
M: highly, highly carbonated, don't notice much alcohol, but only small sips possible due to the bubbly, tingly burn on the tongue
O: Very interesting, this is a very heavy bottle when empty. I thought there were a few ounces left. Probably a deterrent to some due to the price. I liked this though and would seek it out again.

 606 characters

Photo of homebrewhawk
4.2/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml corked and caged bottle served in a Blvd. Tank 7 tulip. Poured a pale gold with a couple of fingers of white head. Interesting aroma, the bourbon is subtle also some fruit. Lots of carbonation. Medium bodied. A little hot. More fruit, some Belgian spice. Oak and bourbon come through a little more in the finish. I really liked this, the barrel was not overpowering and very integrated. Very easy drinking for the abv. There's a lot going on here.

 453 characters

Photo of UnknownKoger
3.85/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Congregation Alehouse in Long Beach. Was I drinking a different beer? Glad I didn't read the reviews before getting it.

Color is a pale golden. No head at all. Some light lacing/foam action is left on the glass. Nothing exciting here. The smell I couldn't quite detect because my allergies were bugging me, but it did smell sweet.

I thought it tasted fantastic. Other reviewers have mentioned an apple or cidery taste, but I didn't get that at all. I tasted vanilla. The bourbon notes were very slight. I could detect some booziness but it definitely wasn't hot like a bourbon barrel stout. It was sweet but not cloyingly sweet.

Mouthfeel was pretty decent for such a big beer. Almost 13%? Felt lighter than that.

Overall, this beer seems to be a pretty mixed bag of tricks depending on where/how you get it and what your own personal tastes are. Grab a drink and you be the judge.

 905 characters

Photo of flannelman808
2.23/5  rDev -37.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: Straw colored and extremely bright though its head is very fleeting wait, wait. Now its gone. It used to be white and didn't leave much of a trace behind it.

S: Agave honey is there for sure as is the oak. I'm not sure that I like my tequila in my bourbon ... Also I'm getting honey and buttered popcorn.

T: Diacetyl has splooged all over the freaking place. Buttered mothafukin popcorn son. I'm talking buttered popcorn flavored jelly bellys. Sickening. This is like drinking a concentrated tin of Christmas popcorn after the cheddar cheese has been eaten (leaving only buttered and caramel popcorn and were talking mostly buttered). Agave honey notes find their way in as an afterthought as well as some orchard fruit. If this was aged for any length of time in bourbon barrels the barrels must have been used for something other than bourbon before this beer was aged in them because it is devoid of a bourbon barrels memory.

M: butter baby

O: This was less expensive then I thought it was going to be and with good reason. It is still too much money. They should bottle this in clear bottles and stock it next to Mickeys fine malt liquor. A horrible follow up to bourbon barrel aged old stock. This is a massive fail.

 1,229 characters

Photo of Philousa
3.43/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a deep golden color with one finger head that diminishes but never goes away completely.

S: Strong Belgian yeast aroma with hints of grape/raisin. I really didn't get any bourbon barrel aroma.

T: I couldn't have guessed this is nearly 13%. They really balanced the malt and alcohol taste well. I can only imagine the amount of malt they had to put in it! The taste fades from light malt to green apples. Finishes with an alcohol kick which disappears quickly.

M: Much lighter mouthfeel than I was expecting, which I attribute to the carbonation. Alcohol content also keeps this potentially heavy beer feeling light on your tongue

O: This is a solid beer, I'd definitely try again if not for the price. I could hardly tell this was barrel aged, which is a big disappointment considering that's one of its selling points. It was a fun try with some friends sharing the cost, but I'd just reach for a Duvel next time.

 928 characters

Grand Cru from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.58 out of 5 based on 471 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.