AleSmith Grand Cru Ale | AleSmith Brewing Company

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381 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: 381 | Ratings: 892
Photo of Kemmerlin
4.62/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a gorgeous velvety unfiltered caramel color with very little head.

S: Supported smells of caramelized sugar, with fresh malts, and a hint of cinnamon, yum!

T: Had a very holiday type of taste. Apricot, raisin, caramel, brown sugar, spices, alcohol, and well done beef. I strongly recommend this one for a Christmas dinner.

M/D: A light feel that actually had a spicy feel to it. The drinkablility was very good with strong sweetness and very tiny alcohol feel.

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Photo of robbyc1
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

From the bomber into a plastic cup, nice looking near black, fuzzy head, looks like a BSDA for sure.

Nose of dark fruits, some yeast esters, gooood...

Taste is full as it smells, goes good with roast beef, very nice caramels from the malt, tasty dark fruits, and a bit dry at the end but no notice of hops, just right.

Good mouthfeels, a bit fizzy and not as full as I like, but ok.

No sign of abv at 10% easy drinker, would love to see more of this , thanks to my trader who got me this one. Very close to the Chimay Blue which I like too.

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

750ml bottle, split on memorial day, a few years old at least

appearance: poured into a capital pint glass, moderate mahogany body with light strawberry highlights, light tan foam head

smell: big and bold, dark belgian yeast, raisins/prunes/walnuts/dates, brown sugar, light cinnamon and loads of other belgian spices. thick caramel malts

taste: a delightful belgian treat, loads of dark belgian yeast, brown sugar and tons of belgian spice, big caramel malts - lovely!

mouthfeel: active spicing, medium body, lively and somewhat potent

drinkability: good

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Photo of willjschmidt
4.02/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml champagne-style bottle into a Stone IRS glass.

A: A ruby brown color with a very thin head.

S: A sweet malty smell with a hint of spices, dark fruit, and caramel.

T: Dark fruits, caramel, brown sugar, and other similar sweet dark malt flavors. It's a little too sweet and a little less complex than I like to see in a Belgian Strong Dark.

M: Nice mouthfeel, its smooth, rich and low in carbonation.

D: A decent BSDA, not the best I've had but not bad either.

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Photo of DIM
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: This was an amber/orange color, slightly murky. It poured with a smallish light tan head that faded quicky leaving some lace behind.

s: This has a huge malty nose. Aromas of peats, cherries, and sugary raisins. To a lesser extent I found some vanilla and alcohol.

t: This was on the sweeter side, but it works. Brown sugary raisins, floral peats, and some sour cherries dominate. There is a bit of alcoholic heat at the end.

m: Great body and gentle carbonation, very nice overall.

d: Thanks to tayner for this treat, I'd like to try this again sometime.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.89/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2004 750 ml bottle.

Pours a red/amber color. Some tan head but not much and it didn't last. The beer is hazy but the color is very nice.

The aroma is, like the last guy said, amber-like. Interesting use of darker malts in a belgian beer. Some moderate yeast smells. No hops in the nose. A little alcohol is noticeable.

Taste is very similar. Malty and tangy. The tanginess is almost like a wit thats past its prime. The rest of the flavor is sweet and spicey due to the belgian yeast no doubt.

Body is a bit thin for my tastes but I'm not sure that a belgian beer is supposed to be thick. Medium CO2.

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Photo of Atron67
4.62/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to olibeer22 for this great trade!!!

A- almost ruby red body, with a crystal clear body. lgiht brown foam built on top and then fell down quickly. not too impressive, but its not where youd expect it to be impressive either. its a lot lighter than i would expect, but theres nothing wrong with it.

S- amber scents, light plum characther, light on both malt and hops flavor, definitely dark fruit characther but beyond the plum, which is definitely strongest, but only the beginning. slight caramel charachter which im not the biggest fan of, but with all the raisen plum charachter is rpetty good

T- big malt charachter to start. with the beginning of the malt bursts begins a huge dark fruit burst being, as would expect from the nose, mainly plum and raisen charachter coming from the yeast, but which is much more than just that can say. the caramel flavor is there but its not a negative. very creamy throughtout and very delicious

M- creamy, medium carbonation, lingers on the tongue

D- amazing to have gotten it, sad sad sad that this cant make it out to madison

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Photo of ArrogantB
4.22/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 vintage with a really cool silkscreen on the bottle. The smell is a real nice maltiness followed by syrupy caramel and some alcohol fumes. It is a good smell and reminds me a little of Caracole amber. There are almost no bubbles whatsoever let alone a head and the beer is an opaque chestnut color. The flavor is very sweet and hard to describe, complex and fruity, its quite delicious. This is perfect for sipping, gets better the closer it gets to room temperature. I'd like to try a fresh version to see what the differences are but this was a tasty beer.

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Photo of throwitallaway
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750ml. bottle into a goblet. Nice brown color, with a small head that sticks around for awhile. Smells of spice, dark fruits, and brown sugar. Tastes of spice, slightly bitter hops, brown sugar, apples, and a slight alcohol warmth at the end. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and creamy. Complex and tasty, but suffers in the drinkability department. I'll probably have to struggle a little to get through the bottle.

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Photo of mattster
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Opened impressive 750ml bottle, poured into chalice.

Pours a low creamy head atop a dark amber colored mostly opaque brew. Nice small bubbles present.

Smell is of malts, warm caramel and dark fruits. Taste follows through with a full bodied flavors. I really like how this taste on the palate and finishes really nice. I was expecting something more sweet considering the sugary smells; the 10% ABV of this brew would also leave one to expect something a bit more burning, but this ale is definitely a well balanced beast.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.97/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

(Served in a chalice)

A- This beer pours a slightly dense amber body with a good carbonation of tiny bubbles supporting a creamy light caramel colored head. The head last as a thin film with nice lacing for most of the beer.

S- This beer has a soft yeasty note of faint bananas and circus peanuts which are subtle and balanced soon give way to a bolder toasted note and a robust caramel sweetness at the finish.

T- The rich caramel malt flavor has some darker roasted notes to it with a soft alcohol heat and white raisin quality. There is a soft cola note that gives way to an apple butter note to the malt and a soft toasted malt flavor to boot. The finish is a soft herbal bitterness that wraps up the malt flavors quite nicely without big hop flavors.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a soft alcohol heat and a tight little fizz in the finish that enhances the herbal bitterness.

D- This beer has a great depth of flavor and a perfect support of the wonderful caramel malt. This grand cru is like a great loaf of fresh bread. It doesn't wow you with over-the-top flavor or huge amounts of flavor but it has that amazing freshness and subtle complexity to make this beer stand out.

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

Pours a slightly fogged brown with a very thin creme head. Nose is touched with caramel with some yeast and sugar. Flavor is robust and mildly sweet with an earthy tone. Nice, but perhaps a bit too rustic and earthy. It's still nice though; make no mistake. Feel has a fairly full but not obtrusive carbonation. Overall this is pretty easy to drink. Definitely well made, but lacks a certain edge that would take it to a higher level of appreciation for me. (I mean, it is a Grand Cru and all)

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a cloudy, medium brown body with a full, foamy, off-white head.

Smell: Aroma of dark caramel malts, dark candi sugar, vanilla, plums, and earthy dried herbs with a spicy yeast character.

Taste: Sweet, rich caramel maltiness with a juicy, tangy dark fruit flavor. Pinch of cherry-infused pipe tobacco. A drizzle of sweet syrup and two drops of vanilla extract. Lightly alcoholic throughout. Mild hop bitterness. Spicy yeastiness. Fruity, semi-dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Moderate carbonation. Slightly syrupy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: One of my favorite American-made Belgian Strongs.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a one finger, cream head that quickly fades leaving no lace. Nose is raisins and alcohol. Cloudy amber color. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Flavor is caramel, raisins and some alcohol. Pricey - $12.70 for a 750ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

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Photo of sloejams
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

on tap at Pure Luck, Los Angeles
$5 for a 20oz glass - beat that price!

I'm glad I go to have this again to get around to review it and on draught, no less.

It's a copper color ale with virtually no head from the barkeep's pour. Raisin and currant are the predominant scents. The taste follows with more dried fruit - apricot and pear. Caramel sweetness comes across later and even a hint of fig.

I enjoyed it but I was in a bit of a rush and sadly didn't finish the entire 20oz.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Beachwood BBQ, in Seal Beach, CA,

A: Pours a dark red-brown, with a full off-white head, with fair lacing in the end, but looks good right off the bat.

S: Medicinal herbal esters, mixed with dark fruit and malt.

T: Malty at first, then the Belgian character kicks in, one of the most medicinal, phenolic beers I have had out there, but not in a Ren and Stimpy, "All Purpose Icky-Tasting Medicine", kind of way, but a complex herbal character that really added to the enjoyment of the beer. Also, I got flavours of orange and tangerine, mint jelly - which was weird, some cherry as well, maybe some Luden's flavour, but it is slight, a sweet flavour of malt and dark fruit end the beer.

M: Smooth and phenolic, easy to drink for 10% for sure, tastes more like 6, though there is some warming solvent character to this brew for sure.

D: Another excellent beer from Alesmith, they just consistently put out good beer that is easy to find in California, one of the better and more interesting American-made BSDA's out there.

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Photo of Stoneman78
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a translucent ruby red to brown hue, head is off-white and completely disappears within a minute, no lacing
S- Nose is surprisingly subtle, mostly dark fruits (raisins) and molasses, slight alcohol and caramel tones
T- Initial taste is a blast of rich, chewy raisins with some slight bitter hops, the sweetness is short-lived, leaving a finish of mostly alcohol warming, delicious
M- Full-bodied ale, thick chewy texture, mild carbonation
D- One of my favorites from the 'Grand Cru'/ strong ale style, the alcohol is there but not overwhelming, the sweetness is present but not cloying, nice balance and drinkable at 10%abv, this holds up very well to similar offerings from the likes of Lost Abbey

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Photo of toeknee
2.93/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Purchased this bottle in LA area Summer, 2006. Carried back to Atlanta where it has been in my basement since.

Not much fizz when I popped the cap. Pours a very murky amber with surprisingly weak head.

Big, rich, malty aromas with almost candy-like sweet notes. Smells almost of creamy cotton candy. Big and sweet, but with little complexity.

Very sweet, malty flavor with not much carbonation at all. I find I'm having to search really hard on my palate for flavors and that should not be the case. Perhaps it's too cold. Regardless of temperature, the flavor starts slowly on the tongue, ramps up nicely, but then fades away before any sort of defining climax. All that's left on the tongue is the telltale vinuous coating of oxidation.

I've heard / read this beer can be hit or miss, but I wonder if it is a quality control issue or if people are cellaring improperly or what. I took pretty good care of this bottle and I can't imagine this is what the brewery intended for me to drink.

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

Pours a deep dark copper color with a decent white head.

Aromas are dusty, with apple like notes, bread, and some complex spices.

Taste is very full, rich, and flavorful. Flavors are of roasted malts, toasted bread, biscuits, spice, tart fruits, and a very dry white wine like finish that hints of the strong alcohol. Very complex and interesting beer to sip.

Mouthfeel is very nice. Kind of prickly up front, but the feel and finish is long, thick and smooth. The prickliness actually helps balance it all out.

Drinkability is good. Very nice and complex Grand Cru style that is well worth a try.

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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.16/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into corsendonk tulip. Thanks tayner for the opportunity to try this great brew.

Pours a hazy brown with red tones. Smell is of malts and dark fruits with a bit of alcohol. The first taste is very malty but quickly changes to raisins, dates or figs and sweet sugars. the slightest bit of appley fructose flavor. there is a touch of alcohol on the finish to remind you that this is a grand cru. The texture is quite good, but just slightly too thin. Drinkability is dangerously high. sugar resides on the lips after each sip. A wonderful offering from alesmith and certainly one of the better belgian styles brewed in america. A great shot. Very admirable.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy dark tea amber color with a shallow wispy eggshell head that fades quickly to spotted lacing. The smell is rich and malty sweet, dark fruit, caramel, Belgian yeast and alcohol. Full bodied and lightly carbonated, a significant piece of the mouth feel is the tang from the 10% ABV. This particular sample isn't exhibiting the effervescence from the secondary fermentation that is described on the bottle. I like the flavor and I fully intend on stocking up on these on my next trip to Table & Vine, but i can't say that its true to style or not. My first impression was that the taste came across like a barleywine. The nose has off setting figginess. The flavor will change as you get closer to the suspended yeast. Highly recommended. Yes...i intend on doing "the yeast shot".

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Photo of malcontent
3.28/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Ruby to brown body with a slight haze about it. Head is short-lived but lacing is generous.

Dried fruit, especially prunes and apricots, rush forward initially. Then, however, strong boozy aromas and faint spice (cardamom) flit back and forth. There's a lot good going on here but the fruit esters grow a touch strong.

Big fruit right off the bat (it's squarely apricot now) turns quickly to borderline cloying because of the alcohol. If it were more viscous this could pass as a dessert wine. Hints of toffee creep up before a mild sourness meets it, thereby creating an almost lactic (if not downright cheese-like) finish. A real mish-mash of flavors without much cohesion. The beer certainly has its strengths but seems to fail on the larger level.

Mouthfeel is a strength with a thick start that never descends in to syrupy territory. In fact, it's almost shockingly thin given the ABV. Still, the sheer inconsistency of the beer makes it fall short of my expectations. The real culprit actually seems to be a yeast strain that may have gotten away from the brewers. I'd be curious to see how this ages.

Big thanks to kryptic for the trade.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.09/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11/13/07- Received in trade with RKHaze.

Presentation- 750ml bottle. Nice silk screen logo bottle. Doesn't have the year of the release, but I know it was version 2003 per the trader. Poured into my Alesmith tulip as suggested by the bottle label.

Appearance- Mahogoney-brown in color pour. Really light lace patchwork with a 1.4 inch if that head upon pour. Very light rim after it settles.

Smell- Raisins, sugar plums, a really sweet caramel and light alcohol. Very pungent and sweet boquet.

Taste- Another caramello bar beer. Very sweet, but also has a tiny hint of sourness (think it was a bit past it's prime). Decent amount of alcohol noted as well as some raisins and dates. Maybe even a touch of coffee as noted in the first few sips. Mild hops noticed.

Mouthfeel- Very minor and light carbonation. Slight bitterness in the aftertaste and headed towards being a tad watery. Still silky and smooth though.

Drinkability- I wish badly I had tried this beer last year. I think 4 years old was pushing it a bit. I have no doubt in my mind this beer would have been fantastic or even world class if I had consumed it earlier. As is, it's still a very good beer, just a bit past it's prime.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aged in my cellar for at least a year and a half. Pours a murky brown with a head that fades prettty quickly. The smell has aromas of spicy coriander, is slightly sour, and has quite a bit of brambly fruit. The taste really improves as it warms up and open to a spicy, brambly fruitiness, especially blackberry; candi sugar sweetness, and more coriander as well as some typical Belgian yeast notes. Very interesting flavors, and definitely a bit sweet. Very little noticeable alcohol. The mouthfell is very balanced, creamy, and sweet. Very well integrated and smooth, and despite the high abv is qquite drinkable- probably partly from the ageing.

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Photo of far333
3.82/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2000 vintage. Served at cellar temperature in a crystal snifter.

Picked up in a trade several years ago, and patiently waiting in my cellar ever since.

A murky brownish orange color, with a thin soapy head that rises up slowly and settles back down quickly with minimal lace.

Aroma of caramel, tart cherry, oak, sherry, roasted malt, and some brown sugar. A hint of the alcohol strength rises up.

This is strange and wonderful all at once. Mildly carbonated, yet a fine tingle dances on the tongue. Flavors of toasted malt, cocoa, and grainy brown sugar, but also hints of sherry and brandy, and fermented plum. The alcohol sits beneath and doesn't mess with the flavors.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin, fairly drinkable, but definitely a sipper.

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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
4.06 out of 5 based on 892 ratings.
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