Grand Cru
Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery

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Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Ranked #97
Ranked #10,978
4.01 | pDev: 12.72%
Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery
Minnesota, United States
Very Good
Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 54 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Taybeh
3.64/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

At the tap, into a tulip. Pours a clear copper with a small head that subsides quickly. Nose is mainly sweet, though different kinds -- fruity cherry syrup, fresh out of the oven baked bread, caramel. Taste and mouthful go together on this one for me...they're just a little one-note: sweet and syrupy, with a little earthy edge. Somehow simultaneously thin (for the abv) and chewy. Eh...

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This beer provides rich malt, malt sugar, caramel and a variety of fruit flavors and aromas. It is a very good beer but the body is a little full and the fruity esters and carbonation a little low. Some candi sugar to reduce the body and rise the carbonation along with higher fermentation temperatures would help.

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Photo of deebo
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip at the brewery
A-clear copper brew with an amber hue with a ringing of white bubbles
S-dark fruit and some spice. Belgiany.
T-same as aroma. Lots of spicy phenols and malty goodness
M-moderate body with a nice dry finish. Vapory but not boozy
O-nice Belgian grand cru. Nothing earth shattering but well executed easy drinking malty brew with a decent amount of rich fruity malt and peppery spice.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.21/5  rDev -20%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

8.9% ABV per the menu as of November 2012. Served on-draught at the brewery. Reviewed from notes taken around Thanksgiving.

A: Pours no head whatsoever; retention didn't last from pour to table. Body colour is a rich copper-amber. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Fruit, caramel, biscuit malt, pale malt, rich cherry and raspberry, and rich malty sweetness.

T: Rich cherry, overdone sugary malty sweetness, caramel, and biscuit malt. Jesus, that's sweet. No alcohol or yeast comes through. Too simple for the style.

Mf: Quite sticky. Chewy, smooth, and wet. Good carbonation and thickness.

Dr: Drinkable but unremarkable for the style. I expected far better, but it seems all this brewery does is disappoint me. I wouldn't have this again. Hides its ABV well. One of this brewery's better beers, but that isn't saying much. Underwhelming.


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Photo of FightingEntropy
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Grand Cru is a perennial favorite at Town Hall and GABF medal winning brew. It is also one of our favorites, especially my wife's. I've had this in every form, including the briefly used Stone growlers for those Town Hall patrons who remember that experiment. Over the years, we've loved and liked this beer, mostly loving it in earlier years and liking it now. We are unsure if our tastes have changed over the years or if the beer has changed. One possible explanation for the difference in perception is that is we tended to drink Grand Cru on the opening night that it was tapped when we first fell in love with the beer, and now we get it when we see it: too many variables and not enough background information to make a conclusion. At any rate, I'm still a fan boy and like or love this beer a lot, depending on the particular version of it that is in front of me at the moment.

Took home a growler of this 9.4% Belgian ale. Dirty white head is a tough pour and almost evaporates. Draft on Saturday fell less quickly, but dissipated just the same. Fusel alcohols apparent in the nose with a spicy hotness along with strong caramel, toffee and burnt malt. Swirl the beer and full legs appear along the edge of the glass and betray the high alcohol. Sticky sweet, full mouthfeel with caramel malt and a yeast and alcohol spiciness. This beer warms up nicely and really opens up, so take some time and enjoy. Otherwise, the flavors are muted and the full potential will be missed.

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Photo of tewaris
3.45/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer has changed over years as I have been told. Back in 2006 it was a golden colored beer... my sample is not golden by a long shot. It's a bright looking dark copper hued beer with some depth to its looks. It drinks like a Belgian Dark Ale and I think it's an attempt at a Quadrupel, and not an entirely shabby one. Prominent notes include fruit, toast and baked dessert. Light body in spite of high ABV (sugars I assume), and high carbonation. A full, bursting mouthfeel and an overall alcoholic character present both in the aroma and the taste.

While not bad, it doesn't do too well against its competition :-/

3.5, 3.5, 3.5, 4, 3

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Photo of MattyG85
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Don't know if this is still "retired" as I just had this at the brewpub. Poured into a 10 oz. goblet glass.

Appearance: Deep brown with some amber and a tint of ruby red. Moderate amount of bubbles and a decent two fingers of off white head that slowly fades into a thin layer. Moderate amount of lacing.

Smell: A bright and fruity aroma. Belgian yeast and clove with some big hints of grapes, plums and other dark fruits. Hints of citrus orange and apple. Sweet bready caramel malts. Light hints of brown sugar and honey. Light presence of earthy hops in the background.

Taste: A sweet and fruity taste. Moderately spicy Belgian yeast and cloves up front. Big dark fruits that have a jam like taste. Notes of grape juice, plums, raisins, and figs. Also some orange and apple. Decent backing of caramel malts and toffee. Some hints of sugar and a little honey. Subtle earthy hops towards the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a light to medium level of carbonation. Creamy, juicy, and chewy. Very smooth for the ABV. Alcohol heat is hidden well.

Overall: A pretty solid take on a Belgian dark ale. Good fruit presence and sweetness is kept in check.

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Photo of Gobzilla
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured an orangish brown with a half finger of head and left a little lacing sticking to the glass. The aroma was pretty big on the belgian yeast with dark fruits like plums and had a some malty notes as well. There was a bit of alcohol presence in the nose. The taste was also big on the belgian yeast but apple pear flavors came through on the palate with dark fruit and malt accents but some heat from the booze to round out the taste. The brew was medium in body with a pretty good amount of carbonation which had a sweet, slight fruity, but boozy finish. It drank alright considering the ABV and to me was a good interpretation of a grand cru. I honestly hope I get the chance to try some more of their IPA style offerings.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.01/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Bobby for sharing this growler.

A: The pour is a hazy dark amber color with an initially fluffy cream colored head that settles down to a thin layer.

S: A very citrus forward nose, mostly of oranges, along with some notes of stale hops and sugar. A bit of a cardboard aroma, which seems strange, and some fruitiness, I guess plums. Definitely a fair amount of alcohol along with a Windex type smell.

T: Overall, the flavor is pretty "meh". Sweet fruits, mostly plums and apples, and plenty of alcohol (again). Also, some of the same stale/cardboard type character that was present on the nose.

M: The body is medium to full with a fairly high carbonation. This is actually one of the best things about this beer.

D: I just couldn't get into this on. Too boozy and seemingly stale/oxidized.

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Photo of joepais
3.87/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First off thanks to Justin for this treat. I poured the growler into a challis and it produced a short lived white head. The body of the brew was dark orange in color I got some fine aromas of dark fruit and Belgian yeasts with a slight alcohol note towards the end.

The flavor was sweet dark fruits like raisin and plums. I also got some spice bitters and alcohol warmth to keep it from being to coy. It had a medium feel to it in my mouth with almost no carbonation after the initial pour.

It was a good American stab at a Belgian grand cru, one of the better ones in my book. Drinkability suffered only in the fact that it had a big ABV. It was a fantastic desert beer and would not turn it down again

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Photo of kbutler1
3.94/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft. Belgian style ale. Deep slightly hazy orange color with a slight white thin head. Fruity aroma and flavor. Strong taste of the belgian yeast. Slightly sweet with a touch of bitter in the end. Medium mouthfeel. 9.5% abv well hidden, not a strong alcohol taste. Pretty tasty!

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Photo of drabmuh
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

First off, this beer isn't retired. I'll report an update. This is one of the Town Hall seasonals, offered as a ten ounce pour on draft at the brew pub.

Beer is amber and has a thin white head of small bubbles that doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. Carbonation is moderate and steady. Beer is mostly clear. Looks good.

Aroma is odd. There is a kind of Belgian yeasty / breadiness to this beer but its overall kind of weak. There is some mild maltiness as well.

The flavor is that of a Belgian strong amber ale or something similar but there is something off about this beer. Its odd in a sense that there is something BIG missing. I can taste a tinge of alcohol but not a lot of malt. Its too thin or something. I'm not having problems drinking it but its probably my least favorite out of the beers of theirs I've sampled.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
2.85/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

On tap at the brewpub.

A: light brown with red hues
S: yeast, malt, alcohol presence, (off-nose? that I can't place)
T: perfumey, decent, cloying, doesn't taste like a 9.5% ABV
M & D: good but very "thick" in the mouth and a bit cloying and overly sweet

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Photo of Chaz
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Medium firm pour into a Duvel tulip produces one finger of tan head which subsides in a couple of minutes, leaving moderate lacing. Golden-amber and clear, with ample carbonation and a touch of chill haze. Fruity, juicy, slightly yeasty nose begins to intensify as this warms, and possesses notes of orange, persimmons, and clove. Phenolic and yeasty-fruity on the first sip, with tingling/cleansing carbonation and a sharp alcoholic bite. Warming, very . . . I almost forgot that this is one of their bigger rotating beers. Tanginess and bitterness here are very well realized and help to temper this juicy malt-monster - nice balance. The tang seems a bit metallic before I remember the spice element; it's my old friend Coriander! A real buzz-kill in lighter brews, it actually adds a nice dimension (if not outright 'depth') to a rendition that has gone a bit lighter on it in the past (I like it just fine in my Jacobite, but it actually vies for attention a bit much here.) As it warms I'm catching a hint of bubblegum, sweet red Mackintosh, and . . . brandy! Damn I wish I had a cigar . . . a brew fit for food, and heartier fare at that -- right now it's pairing just fine with several of the richer sides and a bit of roast turkey left over from yesterday's Thanksgiving dinner . . . Gobble Gobble! *Edit11/26* At $3 a serving this is a tremendous value!

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Photo of joedon
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on draft in a 10 ounce goblet (on account of the high ABV).
Beautiful dark gold color with an off-white head that dissipated rapidly.
Aroma was mainly malty-fruity with very little hops. Very pleasant, though.
The flavor was very malty with lots of fruit; apples, grapes, plums. Nice warming alcohol that was not too forward. Very much a Belgian flavor with fruity esters and that Belgian yeast after-taste.
Body and mouthfeel were just right. Very tangy-spicy on the palate.
Extremely drinkable beer. You'd have to watch out for the alcohol; a lot of buzz after 2 or 3 of these.

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Photo of Reils
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Quickly dissipating head, lightly carbonated, amber colored, clear, appears flat.

S - Malty, honey

T - Great tasting! Very malty, extremely palatable

M - Initially smooth, slight tingle as it goes down

D - Very drinkable, delicious

Overall - If you live in the Minneapolis area, I would highly recommend trying one

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brassy pumpkin orange with honey colored highlights. Grand Cru looks for all the world like an IPA rather than a BSDA. The cap is orangish ecru in color and is lightly creamy rather than rocky and sticky as the best of this style tend to be. Most U.S. versions have a hard time recreating the look of the Belgian masters though. The head hasn't fallen far enough to know for certain, but it appears as though the glass will be on the lace-deficient side.

After a few deep inhales, I'm guessing that the style changes from year to year and that this 2006 iteration is really a BSPA. The nose is sweet and fruity as well as being a trifle spicy. It's a good one, but lacks the depth and power that I'd expect from a true Cru. Having said that, I'll be happy if the flavor is a reflection of the aroma.

It is, more or less. As hoped for, the beer comes alive on the palate and is easily the equal of all but the best BSPAs and tripels. There's a considerable pale malt structure that provides both sweetness and body. While it may not be as fruity or as spicy as some, those portions of the flavor profile are loud enough to be easily heard above the malty din.

I don't know if a true Belgian yeast strain was used or not (I'm guessing yes), but Grand Cru tastes authentic to me. It's hard to believe that a beer that lives in the shadow of 10% is so non-boozy. The alcohol is beginning to sneak up on me, but there's no way that I'd have guessed the true ABV on flavor alone. Great job guys.

As it warms (and I started it out at barely cool), the flavor becomes a bit more forcefull and defined. Sticky golden delicious apples and buttery pears lead the way, along with a dash of white spices. More white pepper and clove would be welcome since they would provide a little more zing to a flavor profile that is a wee bit shy in that department.

Despite the relative lack of bubbles (compared to bottled Belgians), the body's fullness is never ponderous. Yeah, it's sticky and slick, but this is still a tremendously gulpable beer that is ready to go whenever you are. I like beer that gives me choices.

Grand Cru is a fine achievement for a brewpub that seems to specialize in 'hoppy as hell' styles. It doesn't rock my world like I expected it to, but I'm glad that I have an entire growler to sip and savor over the course of what I'm sure will turn out to be an incredibly mellow evening. Town Hall has done it again.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.61/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer was from a trade with Faro. Thanks for hooking me up Faro! The growler was split with my wife. The beer was served in a wide mouthed wine goblet.

Appearance: The beer is a coppery nearing on bronze coloration. The beer has a small white head that quickly resolves. No lacing remains behind on the glass.

Smell: Smelling this beer is like walking into a bakery. The beer has massive yeasty bready smells. The beer has a very good combination of fruity (apples, grapes, pears, plums) jelly smells. This beer smells definately sweet. Oddly enough the smells of this beer bring back memories of my grandmothers kitchen smell.

Taste: The beer has all the above smells captured in the flavor. This is coupled with corriander pepperyness. The alcohol is present in the flavor; however, the spicyness of the alcohol plays nicely with the beer.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: This beer is medium bodied plus. The beer is very smooth and has a low level of carbonation. This beer is very easy to drink. I was able to easily drink slightly more than 2/3rds of this growler by myself and I wanted more.

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Photo of Crosling
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Growler. Orange/red color. Aroma is moderately vibrant and very fruity, with hints of coriander, yeast and a variety of fruits; orange and tangerine. I find the flavor very sweet and fruity, more of a panty dropper than a typical beer I would usually enjoy. Candy like flavor, with a variety of sweetened fruits, passion, tropical, orange, name it. Light spice and a mildly vinous flavor on the finish. Pretty damn tasty, although it is a bit sweet, and it definately doesn’t taste Belgian to me.

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Photo of ZAP
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I'm not sure if they change up their Grand cru from year to year but this is much different and not nearly as good as last years version....thus the new review to balance things out. I want to leave the old one in because it reflects what that beer was....this is different..

Burnt orange...Meringue like head...nose is big on black licorice...anise...and ground pepper...body is full....taste leans malty but with a very pronounced black licorice element...perhaps some candy sugar notes..

Overall this is OK but not one of my favorite Grand Crus...last years was much better.

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Photo of ADR
3.67/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the brewpub...

Very clear copper apricot color, yellowish head rises to 1/2 an inch and then calms down. Very little in the way of lace. Sweet aromas, candied cherry, peach, unripe pear, slight dusty Mexican chocolate. Almost medium body, lower carbonation. Slightly thick and cloying, elements of Fruit Stripe gum with a definite emphasis on black pepper and slightly clovey closer to the finish. Lacks yeastiness and interesting things going on, kind of sits atop its first impression without a lot of complexity to show for itself, thought there is a ponderous heaviness going on. This sample was middling.

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Photo of cokes
4.57/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clean, freshly-minted copper sprayed with a scattered ecru spume.
Fumes of barrel-aged dark rum, augmented with additional brown sugar, lilac, cedar, toffeed pineapples, dates, and figs.
A literal menagerie in the mouth, as it roars from every corner. Sweet and fruity yelps of caramel, toffee, dates, figs, grilled pineapples, cinnamon apples, bruised pears, fried plantains and toasted coconuts. Poignant shreiks of dark rum, peach schnapps, bourbon, oak, vanilla, black pepper, orange peels, and pound cake. Then a final whimper of dried hay, as everything that came before continues to echo.
Glossy in the mouth and medium full in texture. The carbonation is tiny but steadfast.
This presents as a Belgo-barleywine.
A truly thought-provoking all-night sipper.

Thanks to Bighuge for the hospitality of sharing this growler while I was up.

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Photo of LuckySevens82
4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another growler courtesy of feloniousmonk.
Pours a hazy deep copper color with no head to speak of and just a whisp of lacing around the edges of the liquid. Carbonation is definitely present though as you can see little bubbles stream up the sides of the glass.
Smell is intriguing. Loads of bready yeasty notes, acompanied by big fruit scents (apple, pear, plum, etc), and just a hint of alcohol.
Taste is equally intriguing. Sweet and bready malts start the flavor, followed by huge green apple and grape. All seems to be balanced nicely out by a fair amount of bitter and spicy hops and just a bit of yeastiness and alcohol in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is much better than I thought it would be with the lack of carbonation, but it seems that my eyes are just playing tricks on me as this one seems to be just right for what it's trying to do.
Overall, a very very very enjoyable beer. Rarely have I experianced these flavors in a beer, and rarely has such a great brewery been able to consistantly top each beer I've tried from them.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.6/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This dark bronzed brew is capped by a good sized ivory white head. The creaminess dissipates gradually and forms a nice collar. The aroma is heavenly. Big on the yeasty bread notes and some "green" fruit tones. Toxic candied tones as well. The taste is nice. I pick up some green apple and pear, grape skin, cookie dough and yeasty, bready tones. A little mint leaf. The ethanol that is present blends into the whole context of the beer nicely. The carbonation is appropriately moderate. Body about medium or so. Does the fact that I downed a growler of this no prob make it drinkable?? I think yes! It's one I'd revisit again and again.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours to a copper-orange color with a thick tan head. The aroma is spicy, medicinal and a bit fruity, with a bubble gum smell as well. The flavor is spicy, fruity, malty, and medicinal. This is a full-bodied brew that is very tasty. A beer not to be taken lightly. A very good brew by Hoops.

Sampled 2/14/04

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Grand Cru from Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 54 ratings