Grand Cru
AleSmith Brewing Company

Grand CruGrand Cru
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Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
Ranked #31
Ranked #4,335
4.08 | pDev: 10.29%
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States
Grand CruGrand Cru
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 402 | Ratings: 968 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Mdog
Mdog from Minnesota

4.06/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark amber, good head.

Smell: Earthy sweetness, raisin, dates, prune.

Taste: Continues with what the nose brought, earthiness, sweetness, raisins, figs. Solid body and feel.

Overall: Picked this up since it was 50% off and to get something different other than IPAs to drink. This is a nice beer, even though it leans towards a dubbel which is not my favorite style I still enjoyed the fruity earthiness of it. Worth a try.

May 24, 2020
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iguanodon from Utah

4.14/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours hazy brown with a thick tan head. Aroma: sweet malt, caramel, a little raisin / date, chocolate. Taste is caramel, Belgian yeast, slight chocolate and fruit.

Jan 01, 2020
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MikeWard from Pennsylvania

3.97/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into a tulip. Complicated bottled date of J6-07 2552.

Looks superb in the glass. Deep, deep amber body with a few reddish notes. Small off white head replenished by slow carbonation. Pours a bit on the syrupy side.

There is only a faint aroma of boiled candy.

I find it difficult to describe the flavors of this beer. There is some sweetness, some abv burn, and a touch of bitterness at times.

Mouth is close to full. Finish is warm, thick & Sweet with slight bitterness.

Overall, not a style I buy to often, but this was a nice sipper on a cold November night.

Nov 17, 2018
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Brutaltruth from Ohio

4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From the 750 ml bottle in a snifter. This mighty fine ale pours a
murky deep brown red tinged mahogany with a nice head of off white
foam that settles to a thick ring and thin layer with nice sudsy lacing.
Nose of dates, brown sugar candy malts, subtle Belgian spice, moderate
yeast laden breaded notes, and dark fruit notes. Flavors follow the nose
with a lightly tart cherry and cranberry note intertwined in a dark candy
sugar that is awash in toffee and caramel with subtle clove and yeasty
bread notes. Warmth brings about a nice boozy warmth and
expanding sweetness around biscuit notes over fig and date
bread. Nice mouth feel; medium body, medium light carbonation
that is lightly fluffy, warming---boozy----and lightly dry and did
I mention boozy???

Overall---excellence from an excellent brewery!
Belgian done right in America!


Oct 27, 2018
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Jboadway from California

4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Grand Cru 2016 on tap at Alesmith. Chestnut color, vanishing head, smells toasted malt and fruit, well balanced with the malt and fruit and spice, didn’t really get the chocolate in the finish... very smooth and easy to sip.

Oct 01, 2018
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SHODriver from North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled in April 2014
A: Poured into a snifter to a deep mahogany topped by a finger and a half of dense off white head which retains well and fades slowly to a collar around the edge of the glass with minimal lacing
S: Smells of dark fruits and toffee with some spicy yeast. Really intense stewed dark fruit aroma.
T: Taste is dark fruits and cherries with some toffee and dark caramel. Nice spice and clove notes from the yeast as well to help balance out the fruits and the sweetness. Swallow is more cherry and dark fruits with lingering clove and spice.
M: This beer has a moderate amount of body with a slightly syrupy mouthfeel. Carbonation is effervescent and slightly prickly while the beer has a very dry finish.
O: Overall this beer is fantastic. Great flavors and complexity on this one make it a real treat to drink. Fairly run of the mill when it comes to the flavors you want in a Belgian Strong Dark but executed to near perfection. Definitely worth a try if you can find it and like the style.

Sep 21, 2018
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Buck89 from Tennessee

4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 12/2015. Poured into a snifter. A clear copper-brown color with a modest tan head. Nice retention. Somewhat fruity aroma with cherries and raisins. A malt-forward taste up front with caramel and dark bread. The Belgian esters brought nice fruity notes as in the aroma. Full bodied but smooth with a fairly dry finish for the size. Very nice.

Aug 14, 2018
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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

3.6/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

$ 15.70 (Including shipping)/capped bomber ($ 0.618/oz) from Tavour, Seattle, WA.
Undated bottle. Stored at 42 degrees prior to consumption and served at 53 degrees in a hand-washed and hand-dried Jester King snifter.
Appearance – 4.
Body – Medium amber, hazy.
Head – Large (Maximum 5.4 cm, aggressive center pour), tan, medium density, average retention time, diminishing to a two to three mm ring and a complete thin layer with rocks.
Lacing – None.
First pour – Light brown, clear.
Aroma – 4 – Weak - caramel, malt, candi sugar, a trace of yeast.
Flavor – 3.5 - Begins slightly sweet with candi sugar and toasted malt. “Dark fruit” is vaguely present. Hops, alcohol, diacetyl, and dimethylsulfide are absent. A trace of yeast phenolics is detectable. Ends.
Palate – 3 – Medium, almost creamy, lively carbonation.
Impression and summation – 3.5 – This matches the low end of Belgian Dark Strong Ales. I would recommend serving this at a higher temperature than that listed on the bottle.

Jun 05, 2018
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Viaduck from California

4.31/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Chestnut brown with a nice off white white head that settle down rather quickly. Caramel is the dominant note with plum & raisin. Sweet but not excessively so with alcohol & malt, all nicely balanced. Oh, so good!

Feb 24, 2018
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erk0607 from Colorado

4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 1/8/14 and opened on 2/15/18.

Look: Lighter brown, somewhat opaque with a tan head of tiny bubbles that turns to a sheen and soft foam lacing.
Smell: Slight coffee, toffee notes, caramel, plum, some grain
Taste: Dark stone fruit, caramel, toffee, sugar (Belgian sugar), some very mild yeastiness
Feel: Slick but only medium body, moderate but smooth carbonation, not very foamy
Overall: Very good. Would not hesitate to have more. Definitely let it warm up.

Feb 17, 2018
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hoptheology from South Dakota

3.99/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice burgundy-brown with a tall grey head of 2 fingers.

Strong aroma of chocolate covered raisins, followed by bread pudding and rich caramel, and then some nice base grain aromas.

Flavor starts off with peppery yeast and plum, followed by caramel, raisin, some clove, ash, and a finish of bittersweet chocolate. What's missing is the rich caramel flavor I smelled earlier. Wish it were there.

Feel is sharp and very well carbonated, with a nice peppery dry finish.

Overall a pretty solid Grand Cru ale, though it would probably be better suited as an affordable $11 4 pack rather than a $13 bomber, even though it looks fancy the liquid inside isn't quite up to par.

Feb 11, 2018
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Ciocanelu from Romania

4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Slightly hazy amber color with beige head. Aroma has really nice malts with crème brûlée and burnt sugar notes. Taste is malty and sugary but not really sweet. Really balanced with caramel flavor balanced by a background bitterness. Medium body and carbonation. Complex yet balanced with well integrated flavors.

Nov 07, 2017
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farrago from New Jersey

4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Modest head of deep tan color, struggles to reach one finger and after reaching the surface really barely covers half of it, no lacing to speak of, of course these aspects are not all that pertinent to this category of beer. Amber to brown hued liquid, would certainly have pleasant shine were it not for the vast amount of particulate floating inside which takes up as much space as liquid per se, extremely random fat bubbles laze up towards the surface. While the nose features German chocolate cake, toffee, butterscotch to cola bean elements, it can jab too with both meadow grassiness and a vinous quality which evokes green grapes next to the plum, cherry scents, mild doughiness, more compact when colder, more layered as it warms. Full-bodied although it does shed weight rapidly past the mid-palate. Carbonation is weak so the sugars accrue, albeit here too it displays spine. Not that boozy, no burn nor headiness. Banana, bubblegum, golden raisin, grapes and maraschino cherries abound. The yeastiness like unbaked pie crust. Molasses, brown sugar and a subtle coffee bean roast. Turns things around and finishes surprisingly dry. Tastes classic and unforced.

Oct 31, 2017
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Smakawhat from Maryland

4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass. Vintage can't be determined, date rubbed off.

Deep and rustic garnet body color, but has some nice clarity looking towards the head. Two finger and creamy head, slightly pink with a khaki like colored body, very neat looking brew.

Aroma is a giant unexpected shock. A very acidic and wild ale yeast sensing quality, that flirts with infection, but comes out like a real nice wine barrel, or red wine vinegar. Touches of burnt caramel a little, lots of classic plum and raisin character too. Fascinating.

Infection is nowhere to be found, but a delicious angle none the less. Caramel and soft taffy with Belgian brown sugar like qyalities. Large amounts of milky chocolate, with spicy clove like phenolic character as well. Slightly tannic, no sourness to taste that is hinted from the nose at all. Even a chewy black candy licorice quality comes with some warmth.

This is a really neat and delicious animal, I have shelved this for so long. No more, great memorable beer.

Sep 23, 2017
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hophugger from Virginia

3.16/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Copper-gold in color with minimal head but great foamy lacing that forms wavy patterns down the side of the glass. Aromas of yeast and overripe citrus. Taste is on the sweet side and it takes precedent over the yeast and other flavors. Cool mouthfeel and a sweet sticky finish

Aug 15, 2017
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Bitterbill from Wyoming

4.48/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

No date on the 750ml bottle. It pours a clear reddish brown with an impressive head of foam. Slow to shrink and a good lacing brew. Smells of caramel malt, Belgian yeast and spices, dark fruits, bit of butterscotch. Light presence of booze. Belgian flavours all the way. Yeasty, bananas, raisins, dark pitted fruit that add a wee bit of tart twang. Caramel malt is there but only as a supporting player. A bit of booze in the taste. Sipper? You betcha. I can dig that. Close to, if not, full bodied. Serve it to me at a blind tasting and I’d swear that it was Belgian.

Aug 01, 2017
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CraftBeerRunner from California

4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not very familiar with the style, but what I liked was the clean after taste lingering sweetness (lack of metallic after taste I associate with similar styles). Minimal head which I also thought odd, pretty good lacing. Overall quite sweet, good flavor, but nothing to drink again. Oak, CA, Mar 2017

Mar 18, 2017
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mwilbur from Minnesota

4.29/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter.
A: Pours a beautiful deep red garnet hue with 1-2 inch light tan head that quickly settles to a thin skim.
S: Banana, clove, fruity esters, fresh cinnamon raisin bread, and sweet caramel malt. Can smell the Belgian yeast attributes from a foot or two away immediately after pouring.
T: Sweet banana, raisin, and caramel malt hit first followed by clove, cinnamon, and a hint of chocolate.
M: Extraordinarily soft and velvety smooth. Sweet fruit notes with some spice. The high ABV is imperceptible. Lingers and matures nicely on the palate too.
D: A nice sipper that has some depth, but is easily approachable. Wish it was a bit more complex with the aroma and on the palate. Still a very solid brew.

Feb 24, 2017
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BucannonXC5 from California

4.16/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Type: 32-oz. growler
Glass: Karl Strauss 26th anniversary tulip glass
From: AleSmith in San Diego, Calif.
Price: $12.00
Purchased: Dec. 31, 2016
Consumed: Dec. 31, 2016
Reviewed as: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Misc.: N/A

Apparently hadn’t had this before purchasing on a trip to AleSmith for Emily’s birthday. Grabbed a 32-oz. growler for the festivities later, hoping I would get to review it. Liked it at first sip, giving it a 4.00 on Untappd. Reviewed it roughly six hours later.

Poured a copper amber clear color with two fingers of khaki white frothy head, which thinned out quickly. Decent amount of bubble streams coming up from the bottom of the glass. Decent watery lacing. Decent retention. (Sight - 3.75)

Smelled dark cherry candy, cloves, banana, purple grape, herbal, cherry cough medicine, raspberry and hints of wintry spices. (Smell - 4.00)

Lots of fruits on the tongue. Got cherry candy, followed by a splash of booze, feeling the warmth. Also cloves, plum and purple grape, ending with an abrupt finish. More prodding got me cherry jelly, a touch of banana, dark raisins, wintry spices (nutmeg, touch of cinnamon), Red Vine candy and peppery spices. (Taste - 4.25)

Medium body. Oily texture. Lively carbonation. Long, fruity finish (Feel - 4.25)

This was a good beer for any style. I highly recommend it. (Overall - 4.25)

4.16 | 93 | A-

Jan 03, 2017
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hman43 from North Carolina

4.43/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look: It pours brown with a light tan head. The overall clarity is rather hazy.

Smell: It has deep aromas from the malts and esters. The malt is bready. There is a deep dried cherry aroma as well. It has some spices in the aroma that are perfume like.

Taste: There are flavors of bready and some chocolate. There are flavors of dried cherries, plums, and floral elements. The overall flavor presentation is moderately sweet and moderately bitter.

Body: It has a moderate body with some noticeable alcohol warmth. It also has fairly high carbonation. The finish is also somewhat dry.

Overall, there is a complex combinations of flavors and aromas provided by the malt and esters. The overall presentation starts moderately sweet with moderate bitterness and finishes dry with a slight bit of tartness.

Dec 21, 2016
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avalon07 from South Carolina

4.24/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Poured from a bottle to a goblet. Had a dark amber-red color and a cloudy texture. there was a small amount of foamy head that didn't last very long. OK lacing.

S: A solid aroma of Belgian yeast, caramel, fruit, and malt.

T: Tasted of some caramel notes, light malt notes, Belgian yeast, some light spices (pepper, in particular, with some coriander), apples, malt, and dark fruit. A vibrant and easy to like flavor. It's definitely sweeter and more sugary than other BSDAs, but it seems to work here.

F: A good amount of carbonation with a lively finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This is a well made American version of Belgian-style beer. Easy to drink, and never very overpowering.

Dec 03, 2016
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BeerDawgs from Georgia

4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the Alesmith brew house 8.27.16

L - Amber ruby red. Not much lacing

S - light on the nose, but sugar is you get deep into it

T - Sweet, honey, figs. Well balanced for a 10% bomb. Lingering sweetness in the finish

F - mild body and carbonation

O - A good Belgian strong but too sweet to drink much of

Aug 28, 2016
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Mitchster from Michigan

2.16/5  rDev -47.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

10% ABV, 17 IBU, OG=1.088. No other specs per the website. $10.99 for a 750ml bottle at Woodmans in Kenosha.

Pours out to a clear medium dark amber, forming a nice creamy light tan/yellow head with very good retention and lacing. Carbonation is moderate, ~2.5 carbs or so. The nose is very phenolic, earthy, hints of caramel, a little pepper, suggestions of oxidation. Mouthfeel is syrupy, lightly cloying, quite ruddy. The taste again, is very phenolic, sticky, and unfortunately, quite oxidized with wet cardboard/newspaper. Bitterness is very mild. Very very boozy, some harsh fusels in the aftertaste.

Unfortunately, this is going to be a drain pour. What a mess. Terrible beer. I've heard lots of great things about alesmith and have like the 2 other beers I've had, and am looking forward to the other 5 or so that I picked up.

Aug 07, 2016
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Mitzvahman72 from California

4.73/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

With a bold mahogany color, it has an orange sorbet aroma with a malty sweet dried apricot and orangey caramel taste as well as a great, balanced mouthfeel. It does have some hops, but is balanced out with a malty backbone. It also doesn’t feel alcoholic despite having a high alcohol content. This is a great treat overall! Meanwhile, other beers to try out is the Dark Truth Stout from Boulevard Brewing Company, the Dubbel Vission from Aftershock Brewing Company and, if you’re lucky to find it, the Shegöat from the Bruery.

May 17, 2016
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Beginner2 from Illinois

4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

When this came out at the turn of the century, I can speculate (baed on the old reviews) that this one of the top five best Belgian strongs brewed in the U.S. (Based on my opinion, a lot of surmising from the BA's best BSD ratings, excluding Unibroue and the Belgians from the competition for having too big a headstart.)

Seventeen years later and with lots more competition, Alesmith's Grand Cru certainly is still in the U.S. BSD Top 10. Here is why.

While Looks are good and Smells are mostly malty, the Tastes are three-fold full (by priority): first, full of malt (very full of malt); second, full of fruit (mostly plums and raisins I presume); and third, not quite full of spice. All these tastes seem to be a melange controlled by a very smart yeast that Alesmith has cultivated. Feel is creamy, full and the alcohol finally shows.

Because the spiciness lingers more than I prefer, I am not convinced by Alesmith's claim that this goes well with most foods. I'm enjoying Grand Cru by itself, but not as an appetizer or main course complement. I will, however, try it with a peach dessert.

Apr 23, 2016
Grand Cru from AleSmith Brewing Company
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 968 ratings