AleSmith Grand Cru Ale | AleSmith Brewing Company

384 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: 384 | Ratings: 904
Photo of sweetbrew82
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

750 ML bottle into a tulip/ no freshness date

P: Gold from the bottle, cranberry-tinted plum in the glass. Light tan head is bubbly & rather loosely-compacted. Decent retention was shown, and settled to a halo on top.

A: Toasted malts, caramel, dark fruits, candied sugar, spicy yeast.

T: Sweet, toasted caramel malt lays a sturdy base. Dark fruits like raisins, figs, and mostly plums swim in a pool of candied sugar and taste great! Hops provide a little floral touch with a spice that collaborates with white pepper and spicy yeast to lend a magnificent spicy kick.

M & D: The mouthfeel of Grand Cru is great! Full-bodied, creamy, and nicely carbonated. Drinkability is very good, but alcohol hits hard.

Notes: It's more sweet than bitter with malts and high levels of dark fruits coming forth. This beer is dark, rich, magnificently spicy, complex, and more than satisfying. Very much enjoyed my time with this one. One of the best BSDA's I've had! Highly recommended

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

Pours a cloudy amber brown with a thin filmy off white head. Aroma is very sweet with caramel, almonds, toffee, maple syrup and a lot of dark fruit. The flavor is much more nutty and less sweet. The caramel and fruit still shine through and are balanced by a nice amount of bitterness. Finishes long nutty sweet and a bit hot. Medium to full bodied, creamy texture.

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Photo of bultrey
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Color is dark cinnamon brown, with a thin head clinging to the sides of the glass. Aroma is redolent of a bit of banana and clove, and a little bit of orange oil, but with something slightly deeper going on, though I'm not quite sure what.
Taste also has a little banana, but dusted with cocoa powder. Also present are notes of tobacco, cinnamon, and toasted almonds. The start is quite sweet, but the finish is drying enough to keep the balance. This reminds me -- very distantly -- of Vapeur Cochonnette, but it seems like everything went right with the Alesmith as opposed to everything going wrong with the former. Just an incredibly rich and complex taste.
The mouthfeel is a bit syrupy -- I'm wishing for a little livlier carbonation. Overall drinkability is good -- huge alcohol is fairly well-hidden.
What do you know? West coast can make Belgian beers...
Many thanks to EyeChartBrew and co. for the sample.

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Photo of OldSock
3.49/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance – Green 750 ml bottle from Bev Mo and hauled back from San Diego. The beer pours a dark brown-ruby with a small bit of carbonation rising through it. The head is tan and composed mostly of large bubbles that only rises one finger even with a vigorous pour. Retention is poor and lacing is patchy.

Smell – Good malty yeasty aroma. Hints of caramel and alcohol play back up roles as well. In the background there is a faint hint of chocolate.

Taste – Eh, alcohol and a faint toasted malt comprise most of the flavor. Pretty well balanced, sweet , but not cloying. It isn’t an unpleasant flavor, just not particularly interesting.

Mouthfeel – Full mouthfeel with low carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – The mouthfeel and big alcohol flavor, not to mention the alcohol itself, make this a slow drinker. This is an alright beer, no glaring problem, but nothing really sets this apart from its peers. A bit of a disappointment from such a great brewery.

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Photo of lou91
3.32/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

No cork and no fizz on the open. Oh, what a great nose of sweetness, plums and rum. Good looking beer. A dark amber color with a creamy rich head. I hate to say this but the taste falls way short of reputation for the style and the brewer. The taste is like a tug-o-war between malt, alcohol and sugar with taste being the obvious loser. The imbalance makes for a dry malty strong ale with a maple butter chaser. I can't imagine time helping but I could be wrong.

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Photo of abfraser
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one's been aging for a couple of years. They don't stamp batches, unfortunately, so I have no idea how old it really is.

A: Deep nut brown with no head. Looks a little viscous. Almost no carbonation.

S: Spicy, medicinal, orange peel

T/M: Smooth, sweet and malty. The medicinal qualities on the nose are really present here, which is a little bit of a turn off. This was definitely not as present in the non-aged versions. Mouthfeel is close to syrupy. Spice is definitely there. A really complex beer.

D: Being a bit syrupy and medicinal detracts from the drinkability here a little bit. But this hides its alcohol really well.

Overall, I know this is a great beer but I don't think it aged particularly well. The carbonation is almost completely non existent, making it too syrupy. I think I'll drink the others I have sooner rather than later. My ratings are posted as a hybrid...I've had enough non-aged versions that I feel comfortable doing so.

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Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my Chimay chalice, and man does it look like liquid gold. Even 20 minutes after being poured, it retains a nice velvety tan colored head. Color is a beautiful copper red that is only enhanced when held up to the light, very nice.
Spice and a mild alcohol bite compose the nose up front, with mission fig and a bit of nuttiness in the background.
This brew is just miraculous once you take a sip, or better yet, a mouthful so you can completely experience the mouthfeel. A delicious spiciness again dominates the palate, and the booze creeps just a little closer to being fairly noticable, but not in any way discouraging. This thing is just so creamy and smooth, and i really wouldnt change much about it. This bottle has about a year and a half on it so id be interested in trying it on both opposite ends of the spectrum. Very nice overall, love the spice and creaminess, stellar.

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Photo of trep
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle.

Pours a murky brown with appropriate head that lasts for a while. Some carbonation but not much. Some sediment.

Smells like hazelnut and a bit of alcohol. Some raisin and some toffee.

Very nice. Begins with a bittersweet fade into the some nuttiness. Very smooth and the alcohol is not present whatsoever. Nutty, raisin-y and much dark fruit. Finishes kind of dry.

Medium mouthfeel. Perfect carbonation and good thickness for the style. Pretty easy drinking for the 10% and I would definitely get this again.

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Photo of Grundle20
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark burnt amber into a snifter. There was a substantial 2-3 finger head but it was quick to dissipate and there was no lacing to note.

Rich roasted malts and a standard "earthy" Belgian quality dominate this beer. There's slight tart yeasty notes but they are pretty well muddled by the primary scents.

Taste and Mouthfeel:
The beer blankets my mouth with a dry silky layer of chocolate cherries. It's certainly malty but there's big fruit character of cherries, apples, and pears to compliment the sweet maltiness. The alcohol is very well hidden amongst strong flavors. For being a 10% big malty bastard this beer finishes amazingly clean.

I would usually score such a big beer lower in this area but Alesmith has pulled out an amazingly clean and refreshing beer as far as really malty high ABV beer goes. Drinkable and infinite food potential really boost the score this time around.

Bottom Line:
A surprising beer indeed. One of the better really strong beers I've had. If you're in to Belgian dark you must try this beer.

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Photo of ballewblake
3.82/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Gold foil wrapped cap 750 bottle into my Duvel glass.

On pour I wasn't getting a head so I notched it up and still didn't get much of one. One finger on a semi aggressive pour, that dropped down to a ring of foam around the glass. Dark brown in appearance, off white head when it was there. Smell is yummy, lite malts, grapes, and ethanol. Smooth brew with some warm alcohol on the finish. Carbonation is low but there. Lacing practically washes off with each swig. Some Belgian yeast notes further in, really lightly roasted malts in the finish. Alcohol is a bit noticeable, but not a killer for the brew.

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Photo of beersarang
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 vintage sampled in July 2005.

Pours a ruby brown with a small head that is not hugely impressive. The lacing and syrupiness of this brew is apparant, and the color is beautiful.

Nice fruit alcohol aroma, simple and sweet.

Malt character is complex and hard to describe. A lot of flavor comes from the fruits in the brew. Raisins are big, as well as some plums perhaps. Hops show there face only in bitterness, but the alcohol is slick and warming.

Medium bodied with a slick oily feeling. Very velvety smooth. Light carbonation.

Buy this one and shelve it. It will mellow out with age. In 3 years I can tell this will be incredible.

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Photo of Estarrio
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a semi-translucent brown with hints of amber and copper. Surprisingly, the head was nearly non-existent. The only evidence of carbonation came from a frothy white ring around the glass.

The aroma was nearly pure malt and brewers yeast followed by sweet hints of fruit.

The light carbonation lends to a light syrup-like consistency. I was somewhat unimpressed until I took my first sip but the complexities of tastes become apparent through the taste. The flavor is well balanced with smoke, malt, yeast, nutty caramel and fruity tastes. Light hop tastes produces just enough bitter taste to counteract the sweetness. The high alcohol percentage is masked nicely.

An overall enjoyable beer despite its deceptive appearance.

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Photo of garbercury
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a St Bernardus goblet...

A--Fine, no lacing, deep amber, nice color.

S--A bit medicinal, cherry, plum, raisin added into the nose.

T--Outstanding, great flavor profile. Cherry is really coming out in this brew.

M--Silky smooth.

D--This one has a bit of burn to it, the alcohol hits you good. This could get better with age I am sure.

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Photo of radshoesbro
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this shit is pretty good, but it's really strong which means you're not gonna be able to drink many more than one bottle if you value your motor functions. it tastes basically like maple syrup and alcohol. phenols are very present just like any beer of this type. this is absolutely a sipping beer and not something you're going to want to have multiples of.

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Photo of dwilson01
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into my arrogant bastard pint glass.

Caramel color, looks a bit like an amber ale, nice carbonation which produces a foamy head, perfect recessing , stays completely flat the whole time with medium sized bubbles.

It seriously smells first of champagne, just a hint of fruityness but the alcohol esters are definitely there. If you have tasted the awesomeness of almond champagne and how sweet it is this is what the brew smells of. Second smell I can differentiate is white zinfandel, the fruit flavored kind that is really easy to drink.

The taste was surprisingly smooth, not very thick because of the solid amount of carbonation. The wine and champagne nose I got was completely smoothed out in the flavor. Fruit is there, cherries mostly but that's just part of the raisin/currant/cherry type flavoring. It's (wine+champagne)-alcohol ester flavor. The wine flavor imparts a sourness in the end somewhat reminiscent of a belgian sour. Spices have their touch as well, coriander is present, nutmeg seems to be there too. Overall extremely complex flavors in there, much more than the initial general description I am trying to give

The mouthfeel is lighter than I expected, the carbonation disguises how much like a stout the body of this beer is. In my mind it combines a stout body with that of a white zin.

Drinkability, always, I mean I keep going back for more so yea, it's got it but definitely in the sipping brew type of way.

Overall it's interesting, complex, comparable to the blue label chimay but with a bit of american spice thrown in the mix. I like it, it's the first offering I have tried from alesmith and it will most certainly not be the last.

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Photo of bradybeer
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A=Pours Dark Brown with a light brown head-little carbonation.

Aroma= Malty candy sweet with little hop aroma

Taste=not much hoppiness to get in the way of a malty candy sweet taste

Mouthfeel=medim body than thns out evn more in th finish

Drinakability=I like this beer-although as I have gotten older the less likely I am to seek out Belgium style ales-because I cann't get over the candy sweetness. I could drink this beer from time to time-however, it s a really good beer

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Photo of walshclimb
3.31/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is a strange beer. I expected more, coming from Alesmith, but overall I was not very impressed. The bottle states that it is brewed once per year, but there is no indication on the bottle of brew date or year. I think it may be better aged, but how long? Who knows because we have no date. I don't know if this was a 2006 or 2007 bottle.

The appearance is the highlight. It is dark honey to red amber in color with a thin bubbly head that dissipates quickly to almost nothing. It smells malty up front with molasses and a hint of spice with maybe a hint of cough syrup. The initial flavor is hot and strongly malty with some carmel and slight perfume. Overall pretty sweet with maybe a hint of wet blanket. The aftertaste is sweet molasses and a little tart and is medium lived. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with an alcholic finish, and It is a little light on carbonation.

This is an interesting beer with complex flavor, but I would probably not buy it again. One small glass was enough. I would like to taste an aged bottle to see how the flavor changes.

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Photo of KellyScottMad
4.89/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

WoW! This beer is the closest thing to a real Belgian Dark Ale coming from the States that I have ever had. The look and the feel of this beautiful beverage was that of a Rochefort. This beer is a thing of beauty. I wasn't expecting this from and American Brewery, but I like it very much. I will be buying this again.

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Photo of Thanby
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep garnet color with lots of foamy lacing. Fairly clear with visible carbonation.

Nose is a dark malt with a lot of dark fruit tartness. Fig, plum, black cherry, a little spiciness.

First taste is the dark sweet malt, well-rounded, the dark fruit follows leaving the tartness behind.

Full body and wonderfully delicious, a little spicy from the carbonation, very easy to drink with a nice citrusy aftertaste, overall a great beer.

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Photo of TheLiterati
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Popped the top and this ale sparing into action like fine champagne. The froth and foam was all over the place, along with the raisny, plumy aroma. I could barely pour a glass fast enough to contain the aggressive head on this thing.

The color was a burgundy-hued beauty, with that ever-present foamy white head. The aroma was of the before-mentioned raisins and plums, along with dates and spice.

Mouthfeel was so smooth it was nearly creamy. The malty, candi-sweetness is balanced with a nice bite of hops and spice. This is a mature tasting ale right out of the bottle…I can only imagine what an aged offering would taste like.

We served this ale with our main course of a braised and roasted pork loin seasoned with a dry steakhouse rub…it was the perfect complement, and one we will regularly add to our holiday menu for years to come.

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Photo of nomomentwasted
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Porter's Pub at UCSD in an 8oz Tuilp glass, and was shocked to see it in there. Just replaced the Old Numbskull on tap in there, received fresh from the brewery just days before I was told.

Appearance: I've read a lot of reviews calling this beer brown, and I was more thinking darker orange, like coppery-amber. Little head in the tulip glass the filed itself away pretty quickly.

Smell: Sweet, sweet, and more sweet. I smelled a sugary, apple, and grape notes which I have little experience with, but having had a few Belgian style I can say is much stronger than say the Stone Cali-Belgique style. Total Belgian sweetness though, with a hint of maybe a plum?

Taste: Whew, like the nose and then some. The sweet reminded me of apple/grape juice, except if it was a beer with Belgian yeast. The flavor keeps coming in waves, with the sugary characteristic on full display, running the gamut of fruits. Not a ton of citrus here, but more like plum, apple, and grape.

Mouthfeel: Sticky and slightly resin-y, and not too bubbly. Again, left me with the impression I'd just had a sip of apple juice with that texture remaining.

Drinkability: For a ten, it's almost perfection on the drinkability front. Catches up with you on the back end but not at all when it's being consumed. Only thing I'd say against it is the sweetness does eventually slow you down, but not in the first glass. Tasty, sweet, and a beer relatively unlike most of everything else I've had. Definitely worth a run.

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

Poured slightly chilled into a fluted tulip.

Pours a deep chestnut brown with about half an inch of light brown head that quickly recedes with moderate lacing.

Aromas of carmelized sugars, dried cherries and other stone fruits.

Taste follows through the aromas with a light sourness and I got a slight hint of smoke in the background. Almost like a slightly sour scottish ale.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Alcohol present but not overwhelming.

All in all a good beer, with what seem to me to be a bit of an identity crisis.

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Photo of Mitzvahman72
4.73/5  rDev +16.5%
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.

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Photo of xymyl
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Color: Vibrant dark copper/mahogany, 2 tone tan/cream colored head (like shore and surf). Very small bubbles, long lasting carbonation, some lacing.

Aroma: Scotchlike peaty malt and sherry (think lagavulin with less peat), light smoke, toast, yeasty dough, caramel, various herbs and spices (crazy stuff like dill), old stale coriander, anise, cloves, cinamon, candi sugar, plums, cherries, rasins and much more (but I haven't got all day to write this).

Taste: starts off soft, lightly acidic and mouthwatering, then gets huge and lactic with a dense rush of flavors, everything I mentioned as being on the nose and many others as well, you have to wade through the richness and complexity, as well as the sweetness, then there is a light floral/citric/herbal note that creates a line between middle and end. The end is a dry/sweet/dry interplay that lasts a good while.

Body is medium-full to full.

Note: This has been aged a couple of years, but seems to be at its peak. The sweetness might put some off, but I don't think you can make something this complex and large without this level of sweetness. It is a perfect beer to substitute for both a vintage port and a island single malt scotch (esp. Lagavulin 16 year old), if you need a beer to stand in temporarily for a higher ranking (in age and alcohol) dead soldier.

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Photo of ElSid
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The Beers of California


A: Amber brown with copper hues and a head of tan of foam which quickly abates to a thin layer of bubbly cling.

S: Berries on first pour which gives way to earth, wood and stone with hints of sugar and caramel.

T: Foundation of slightly toasted grain, caramel and candied sugar. Again are syrupy berry sweetness along with raisins and dates. Hints of oak, vanilla and cocoa powder bring interest and complexity to the palate. The finish brings some warming alcohol along with hints of black pepper.

M: Medium full feel which is also syrupy with good linger. The carbonation is moderate to light.

O: Bold and complex without being overpowering. This strong ale has nuances yet manages to maintain its drinkability. My hat goes off to Alesmith for producing this fine ale.

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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
4.06 out of 5 based on 904 ratings.
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