Grand Cru (Belgian Xmas) | McKenzie Brew House

Liked This Beer
4.51 w/ 6 ratings

Brewed by:
McKenzie Brew House
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.40%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by NeroFiddled on 11-13-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6 |  Reviews: 6
Reviews by CRJMellor:
Photo of CRJMellor
4.7/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark maroon, almost black in filtering out all light. Minor white head that kicks off some lace and lots of carbonation bubbles.
Aroma is grain, yeast, dark citurs, candi sugar, sweet spices, floral hops with some caramel malt underpinnings.
Flavor is cherry or dark citrus with some sweet dark caramel malt. Very complex with lots fresh bread grain and yeast notes. Very complex beer with lots of subtle nuances.
Mouthfeel is sweet to start, moving to a grainy middle and finishing with a highly spiced and warming and slightly burning alcohol.
Drinkability is very high. Much darker than expected, could almost classify as a Quad in my opinion, especially with the ABV. Great beer.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.55/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Mysteriously dark and tempting, this strong Belgian-style ale pours an almost black body with deep copper and crimson/ruby highlights beneath a tall, creamy head of light tan foam. The head retention is excellent and it leaves small, craggy splashes of lace about the glass. The nose delivers a delicous combination of ripe dark fruit, sugar, and subtle spice. The body is full/medium and it's very fine, natural (bottle-conditioned) carbonation leaves it velvety smooth and creamy across the palate. The flavor delivers all that the nose promises, but with much more verve. The dark-skinned fruits (prune, raisin) are marvelously rich but not overly sugary (although it does have a rock candy side to it); and it's exquisitely balanced by a firm bitterness that performs brilliantly in its supporting role. Subtle spice notes appear here and there, superbly woven amongst the malt; and helping to balance the juicy, dark fruits. The alcohol is never noticeable despite it's size (10.4% abv). It finishes drying with some gently lingering fruitiness (red berries and plum) amidst a dusting of light spice. This is quite a luscious beer that delivers a brilliant mouthfeel and completely satiating flavor profile, as well as offering great drinkability. Brilliant!!! It pairs well with quite a variety of foods, and can even stand up to their black bean soup. Well worth trying!

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Photo of IrishRedRock
4.18/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No label, just a handwritten "GC" on the bottle cap. I like where this is going. Appearance is beautiful, the deepest brown that allows nary a trace of light through. Head retention is excellent. Aroma reminds me of my early days of tasting Belgian ales; this is truly Belgian in character. The nose screams of red wine, yeast, alcohol, plums, and spices.

Rich flavors of dark fruit are present, and though the alcohol flavor is not too strong, it is extremely warming even long before the beer warms up to cellar or room temperature. Mouthfeel is rich and smooth, with considable carbonation in the finish though nowhere near overdone.

I know I bought this at McKenzie's, but if I had tasted this blindly I would swear on my life it was from Belgium. A wonderful creation that makes me want to go back to McK's again and again.

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Photo of UnionMade
4.42/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep mahogany woodstain color, topped with a thin collar of ivory head. A pleasant gleam to the color. Not the most vigorous pour, admittedly, but the head dies out completely upon sitting a few minutes. Decent clarity, with perhaps a slight haziness.
The aroma is redolent with estery prune and raisin fruitiness. It practically leaps out of the glass. Huge amounts of candi sugar coat the fruit with a syrupy sweetness, sitting atop a toffee malt base, drizzled with shavings of dark belgian chocolate. A slight underlying fruity sourness provides some balance, with a touch of mild herbal hops, slightly suggesting an earthy, woody undertone. No noticable alcohol, although I was advised that it's got some weight to it.
The flavor starts with about 5 tons of candi sugar, give or take, heaped atop a toffee and chocolate malt base. A bit of sweetly bready yeast throughout, moving into loads of prune and raisin fruitiness. The fruit takes on a balancing sourness in the finish, with a dollop of floral and herbal hop flavor. The candi sugar really subsides in the finish, allowing the yeast and fruity sourness to come into their own. A slight wash of alcohol provides a bit of a bite in the very end, leaving you with some heat in your throat, well hidden for the beer's strength. A sweet candi sugar flavor lingers in the aftertaste, along with a bit of malt and fruity sourness. Fairly full bodied, with subtle, engaging carbonation that carries the flavor across the palate like Fred Astaire on the dance floor.
Everything I've tried from McKenzie has been absolutely fantastic, and this is no exception. I'm not even really crazy about belgian beers, but I'd drink these no questions asked. My only complaint is that I'd have to drive 5-6 hours to get to the brewpub. Thanks to Venom for sharing the bottle!

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

From Notes: Vintage 750ml bottle. Quite a lovely little treat this one is, really. Dark bloody brown red with a nice head of off-white foam that does not last too long, but does provide the drinking vessel with a bit of nice lacing. The aroma of this brew just bursts out with Belgian yeasty goodness. Dark fruits, like figs, raisins, and even some nuts are all in the aroma as well as lighter fruits like banana and some pineapple essence. I also get some funky spicy peppery notes from the yeast and some sweetness from the Belgian sugar. Nice. The taste is yeasty up front with all of the fruit flavors blending themselves together and forming a nice melange. The spiciness is apparant as well and definately hides the alcoholic heat that this brew had when it was fresh. This makes this beer even more enjoyable than before. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to thick and drinkability is quite wonderful for this high abv brew. I would definately have it again. It's too bad that the McKenzies bottles are as rare as freakin' gold these days, and whenever I make it out to the actual pub all of the seasonal draught offerings are lame....oh well. I await the return of plentiful wonderful McKenzies bottles. That will be the day I become very poor!

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Photo of nomad
4.72/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Grand Cru. Best Brew. Finest Vintage. If ever a name fit a character, this example is of the first order.

From an aerial view this beer appears black with brown edges, but holding it to the light shows a resplendent amber shaded by the surrounding menace. Tendrils occasionally wrap around the glass while a thin head is atop the liquid. Wonderful shading is a surprise from many angles.

At first shooting out notes of honey, rum, nice plums, and a soft bready yeast, further along it coalesces into raisins covered in cinnamon and then drenched in chocolate. Upon settling into this dark lanschape for a spell, this ale slowly opens to ripples of Red Delicious apples and a bouquet of hop florals sweetened a touch by the malt and ester laden background. On the whole, teflon smooth but water well deep and dark, humbly entreating to the nose. Rapture for the style.

Bursts forth with toasted cedar, black rum, touches of sunflower honey, and incredibly attenuated specialty malts honed to a Brancusi-like abstract sleekness. Once it settles after a pour, the ale has a smooth, full mouthfeel with just enough carbonation. Following the symphonic opening, its body of chocolate flavors proceed with slickness and thus maddeningly hard to pin down, gliding by with a teasing presence but then a lingering, maddening aftertaste. Builds to sweet and dark spices like molasses infused with cinnamon. As a good Belgian-inspiration can and should, the yeast presence is spicy, bready, estery, and all. A last reward is a comely finish of butter, toffee, and a glint of alcohol warmth.

Scott Morrison, stunning, again. As good as any fine wine I've evered owned, and well worth the small sum for procurement. Brilliant brewing and bottling.

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Grand Cru (Belgian Xmas) from McKenzie Brew House
Beer rating: 0 out of 100 with 6 ratings
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