AleSmith Grand Cru Ale | AleSmith Brewing Company

385 Reviews
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale

Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by Jason on 04-27-2002

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Reviews: 385 | Ratings: 911
Photo of Qbdoo
3.77/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Reddish brown color with a nice head that quickly vanishes. Aroma is caramel, brown sugar, and dark fruit. Taste is similar though there's an interesting but somewhat odd clove taste as it finishes. The texture is on the thin and crisp side. A solid take on the style.

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Photo of Jim_Benz
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Wow. Sweeter than I expected, but in the glass it's one of the most beautiful beers I've ever poured. Head fades pretty fast, with almost no lacing. Smells like plums and raisins with distinct fruity esters from the yeast. I don't know how to describe the malt flavors when I sip it--quite a bit of complexity, but taste mainly follows the nose. The sweetness really dominates for me, and that's not a plus. I prefer something drier, but still. A little bitterness toward the end helps. Alcohol is well hidden, except that I can FEEL it half way through. Carbonation is a little lower than I expected--more would have been good. To cut the sweetness. Mouthfeel derives mostly from that almost syrupy excess, but is otherwise thinner than anticipated. Overall? I like it but am surprised that I'd rate the taste lower than all its other attributes. Too sweet.

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Photo of beergoot
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruddy, brownish-red body; very thick, fluffy, lasting head. Fruity aroma with touches of caramel; raisins and dates; dark grain fresh bread. Upfront, toasted grain flavor; bread crust; mild toffee character; dried cherries; low-key booziness. Heavy body; smooth and luscious on the palate; warm with residual sugars; creamy texture.

A fine tasting, exceptionally warm and easy drinking strong ale. It presents lots of depth and complexity within its flavors and does an excellent job of keeping the alcohol presence within bounds. Malt-forward with a chewy caramel note. A very nice find...

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Photo of AndrewMichael
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 mL capped bottle, wrapped in foil, poured into a stemmed, tulip style glass.
Very dark brown color, and nice head. Enjoyed this beer fresh, instead of aging.
Complex, Belgian Strong Dark Ale, that was very smooth at over 10% abv. The Belgian spices are subtle, which I prefer, and then you get the plums and dark cherries. Another outstanding beer from AleSmith, and excited we get more of their beers in Virginia Beach now.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.09/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at When Pigs Fly.
The beer poured a medium brown color with no head.
Aroma of caramel, dark fruit.
The taste expanded on the aroma. Caramel and toffee, coffee, some dark fruit, some banana.
Smooth and easy drinking for 10% ABV

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Photo of corby112
3.79/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark golden brown color with tangerine edges and a two finger off-white head that slowly settles into a thick, lasting ring. Streaks of soapy lacing left behind.

Sweet, slightly spicy aroma with prominent dark fruit esters and dark malt sweetness. Slightly herbal and medicinal with a touch of cough syrup, pepper and clove. Vinous fruit sweetness with grape, fig and raisin. Some Belgian candi sugar in there with caramel malt sweetness, toffee and toast.

Fuller end of medium body with a more complex flavor profile than the nose hinted at. Soft carbonation with a nice balance of peppery spice, herbal/syrupy flavor, vinous fruit and dark malt sweetness. Peppery with some clove and faint piney hops. Very sweet and vinous with prominent fruity esters, notably grape, fig, raisin and other dark berries. Also, there's some dark malt sweetness with hints of chocolate, caramel and toffee. Nicely balanced and the high ABV is excellently masked making beer a bit too easy to drink. Would never have guessed it was 10%.

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Photo of teromous
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: The body is a dark mahogany red-brown with a very good clarity. The head is a short foamy white cap that fades shortly to a ring. Some lacing.

Aroma: Banana and clove that smell nice but have a mellow presence that doesn't extend past the rim of the glass.

Taste: Very nice flavors here. It's a wonderful bouquet of flavors consisting of clove, light toasted bread, brown sugar, a bit of earthiness at the end. No strong alcohol character here.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is great. It's fairly full bodied with a nice smoothness to it. No alcohol burn.

Overall: It is an outstanding beer that I would recommend. It is a pleasant beer to drink that delivers the Belgian yeast character that drinkers of this style have come to expect. I would buy it again.

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Photo of bnes09
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Iced tea appearing ale. Light tan head goes flat very quickly.

Chocolate, dark fruit, pepper and funky yeast aroma.

Nice, complex, dark fruit, subtle caramel, mild chocolate and yeast flavor. Minimal hop flavor.

Full body. Not sticky. Minimal malt texture. Clean. Descent carbonation.

A solid Belgian style ale. Quite enjoyable.

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Photo of cjgiant
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle, no apparent date:
Initial thoughts were on a cold beer (below suggested temps on bottle of 50-55°), changes noted as the beer warmed.

Nice ruby-brown with a billowing head of light reddish tan. Significant condensation with the cold beer, but fighting through the lasting head, the beer seems to have a fair amount of clarity of substance (color being the blocker of light).

Nose seems strong on banana Belgian yeast notes. I think I got some spiciness early, but really not as much as the beer warmed, oddly. Warming beer and deep sniffs added a little alcohol and definitely some tart cherry to the party. A more normal sniff yielded some apple and strawberry.

Beer starts with toffee and fruity taste. Mildly sweet pop backed by some strawberry-banana notes. Some amber ale characteristics come to play mid taste before a dull woody unsweetened cocoa nib note comes forth. This taste is somewhat unique, and as the flavor fades I almost get a real coconut impression (meaning not very sweet at all). A very interesting ending that I see as bland apple in some dips, and raw coffee-bean notes in others (or what I would assume this tastes like).

Carbonation is a bit higher than I'd like for this beer, and there's a light sting of alcohol.

Very interesting beer, and pretty different than most beers out there. Strangeness has me perplexed as to how much I really like this beer.

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Photo of argock
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml brown bottle into a glass snifter. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville,VA).

A: dark brown-Amber with minimal off-white head with minimal retention and no lacing.

S: boozy fig and raisin with woody herbal tones on huge yeast esters of peach, pear, and apricot layered with caramel. Big delicious aroma.

T: pretty boozy and alcoholic but hugely estery with the same slightly phenolic peach and pear esters dripping with fig, toffee and caramel. Woody leather bitterness. Big bad sweet BSDA. Could use a little roastiness to offset the sweetness.

M: very smooth but slightly tacky with low-medium carbonation and full body.

O: good beer and a great display of yeast esters. A little too sweet and alcoholic but I could see this improving with 2-3 years of cellaring.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.21/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours a nice cream colored head that dissipates quickly. The beer itself is a nice and clear amber-brown color. The beer has a beautiful hue and is fairly pleasing to look at.

The smell is pretty good. The smell has a subtle lightly toasted malt note and some spice that blends into the more heavier malt notes. The heavier malt notes come off as fairly fruity and closer resembles dark fruits such as dates. The hop note is fairly light and mixes in with the dark fruit notes but the bitterness is there and keeps the beer from being too sweet. Also, there is a very light and hidden alcohol note.

The taste has the same notes as the smell but is the better of the two. The lightly toasted malt note is still there but is a bit stronger and less subtle. The malt has the same dark fruit notes and the light hop bitterness. However, the spice notes are also a bit stronger. The alcohol is also still there.

The feel is heavy bodied but very smooth. The carbonation gives it a bit of bite and texture, which makes it even better.

Overall, a pretty good beer and worth getting at least once.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a mostly brown body with minimal head and a little bit of lace. The aroma is light with notes of yeast and dark fruits like figs, possible raisins or plums. Medium bodied, a little bit sticky and sweet as the yeast helps it smoothly pass and not boozy at all but mostly a sweet body of caramel, toffee, figs and raisins. Not the most complex Belgian style ale that you'll find but the sweet notes are not overpowering and everything seems to balance itself and beer is quite enjoyable.

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Photo of GuitarIPA
4.24/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Lost Nation
Great brown amber color, smelled and tastes include cherries, vanilla, caramel an malt - a bit on the sweet side but smooth and delicious

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Photo of Vylo
4.87/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Dark ale (duh) with very little head and strong pleasant smell. Tasted great, but mouthfeel was a bit off, needs more carbonation. My bottle was a year old so that may be a factor. Worth trying for sure.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.79/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

750 ml bottle, 2013 edition, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, deep, dark, mahogany color with a half of a finger of white-colored head that dissolved away into a lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Wow! Very aromatic! Tons of bready, toasted malt imparting notes of freshly baked bread, as well as tons of aromas of dried stone fruit, such as dates, apricots and prunes. There’s notes of candied sugar, funky Belgian yeast, which imparts notes of saddle leather, chestnuts. Earthy and inviting.

Taste: Wow! Delicious! Lots of bready, toasted malt up front, followed by lots of dried stone fruit, raisins, prunes, dates, currents, apricots, and candied sugar. There’s also quite a bit of Belgian yeast, which imparts some funk and a touch of sourness at the finish. There’s some spice notes too, such as black pepper, all-spice and a touch of ginger.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and very effervescent, as there’s quite a bit of carbonation to tickle the taste buds. With an ABV of 10%, there is quite the pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: Wow! What an excellent beer. Strong, complex flavors wrapped up in an excellent mouthfeel. Alesmith knocked it out of the park with this beer! Highly recommended.

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Photo of SensorySupernova
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Clear brown amber. Low off-white head settled to a faint ring.

Smell: Caramel, Belgian yeast, ethanol.

Taste: Intense spicy yeast up front, very Belgian. Into a sweet, caramel malt; raisins. Ends with a bit of clean ethanol heat and a faint, slightly bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Fairly thick, low carbonation.

Overall: Good special occasion brew. Everything fits together nicely.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Chestnut brown in color with lots of carbonation problems throughout the body. There's no head whatsoever. The aroma is very subdued but I detect dark Belgian candy sugar and sweet dark malt. The flavor much more aggressive than the nose implies. There is a large concentration of dark Belgian candy sugarand sweet,dark malt. Belgian yeast gives it a tart acidic red wine edge. The mouth is warm with alcohol and moderately carbonated.

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Photo of john0721
3.87/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle poured into a goblet.

brown, off white head

brown sugar and dark fruit in the nose.

taste - dark fruit: prune, plum with raisin building as it oxidizes and warms.

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Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 3/5/14

Appearance: Has the authentic Belgian look, with a massive, frothy head perching on top of the burnt caramel colored liquid; excellent retention with multiple strands of lacing left behind

Smell: Date and banana, with yeasty phenols, toasty tones and treacle

Taste: Treacle and toast, up front, with a growing dark fruit (raisin and date) influence; in the mid-palate, the phenolic tones develop as does a spicy character (clove, cardamom and a touch of ginger); a touch boozy, in the finish, but the flavors all meld together

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate to high carbonation

Overall: I recall in the early days of BA the reverence paid to the BSDA style and, with not many US craft brewers working in the genre, it has been a while since I have had one; this beer reminds me how good the style can be; rarely have domestic brewers tackled the style as well as AleSmith has done with this beer; a true Grand Cru

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a tulip glass. I couldn’t find any date on it, but I know for a fact I’ve had it stored for at least 6 years.

A: The beer is a dark brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains strong notes of candy sugar, dark fruit, caramelized malts, Belgian yeast and a very faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with strong candy-like sweetness from flavors of brown sugar, caramel, dark fruit and licorice. Then some breadiness comes in from Belgian yeast and a hearty malt character. There’s also a significant alcohol sting that follows. The hops presence is very mild but considering the age it’s a wonder that there’s any left at all. The balance comes together some as you continue to drink the beer.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation (another shocking attribute for a beer of this age), finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easily, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, it’s a solid beer to sip on for a while but there are better beers in to age for a long period of time.

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Photo of BuckeyeSlim
4.6/5  rDev +13.3%

Notes of yeast and gentle spicing. Nutmeg, white pepper, cardamom. Foundation of moderately toasted malts, caramels and toffee with some ABV floating above. Plums, moist raisins, dried dark red fruit. Nose is soft and needs coaxing, but well worth it. After it warms in the glass, the ABV includes sugared orange rind and takes on a brandy personna.

Rich caramel malts and dark fruit jam open. Spices from the nose follow after the ABV moves over the tongue. Finish offers traces of anise, pepper, and raisins / dried black cherries with caramel and toffee.

Smooth and rich without being thick. Good carbonation with a solid body. Components are extremely well-integrated, offering a complex and nuanced melange of flavors.

Want to make a great impression at a small dinner party? Take a bottle or two and some small tulip glasses and serve this with dessert. Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch would be an outstanding match. This is a libation that's meant to be shared, enjoyed, and appreciated. Great stuff.

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Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +17%

Nose: very fruity nose (plums) over spice and malt, dried fruit, brown sugar
Pours hazy reddish amber to deep brown with a thin white quickly dissipating head that provides light lace. Has legs.
Palate: Starts sweet with a wine quality, plums, brown sugar, toasted grains, with a gentle, balancing hop finish.
Mouth feel: Very creamy medium to medium full body, medium high carbonation, warming but not harsh or solventy alcohol.
A classic

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Photo of jellikit
4.49/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Crystal clear. Deep copper. Thin foamy head.

S: Cream Soda. Vanilla. Prune.

T: Raisin, prune, fig, vanilla, slight chocolate. Well balanced with the flavors and the booze.

M: medium carbonation, medium body. Velvety goodness.

O: great beer. Well balanced. Easy drinking for a big beer. Will buy again.

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Photo of seand
4.37/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a translucent reddish brown with a fair amount of tan head. This dissipates to a ring around the edge of the glass, which leaves mild lacing.

S: Candied honey sweetness, with a touch of booze.

T: Full candied raisin-y sweetness leading into some mild but noticeable booze towards the finish. Extremely well balanced, deep, complex, and sweet, but well short of the cloying line. The finish is a touch sticky.

M: Full body, medium carbonation, and perfectly matches the flavor profile.

Overall, this is truly an excellently constructed beer. Everything is very well balanced, and the end result is complex, rich, and very enjoyable.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.82/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I completed an IRONMAN 70.3 in Haines City on April 13 and popped this beer open that afternoon to celebrate my accomplishment. I wish I would have opened something else :(

I received this in a trade about 7 or 8 years ago. Popped the cork and there wasn't a lot of fizzy sounds coming from the bottle, which usually portends a lack of carbonation. The beer emerges hazy and muddy and ruddy brown in color with not much head on the beer or carbonation. Looks very dull and rather unappealing.

Aroma was sweet and caramelly and oxidized. This bottle has not held up well. I have kept this one is a cellar since I received it. No real spark or anything to the aroma.

Flavor was dull and muted as well. Sweet and alcoholic, mostly flat with very little carbonation. Perhaps a fresh bottle of this is delicious, but one aged in perfect conditions for 7 years doesn't hold up well. Not sure what to say about this one except it was a huge disappointment. Belgian styles are supposed to stand the test of time; not this one.

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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
4.06 out of 5 based on 911 ratings.
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