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 Lnedrive14
2.13/5  rDev -47.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Disclaimer: this beer was part of the shipment that came to Boston in the fall of 2005. I had heard that something had happened to these, and from my experience, that is true. So i am not entirely sure how accurate my review is of the beer, aside from my idiosyncratic experience was.

It was flat out undrinkable. Pours a reddish brown with a medium sized head. Very thin, almost watery appearance. The beer started off well on the palate - lots of citrus balanced with a touch of hops and some crystallized sugar sweetness. Then the back of that was just horrible. It was like drinking really gross medicine. It wasn't sweet, it was just stinging; piercing. I had to spill a portion of it out - i just couldn't get it down.

I hope that i just didnt have a good bottle and that if i get another chance to try this beer i will be able to change my review.

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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 neonbrown82
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer seems all over the place. Not that that's a bad thing. It's just so incredibly complex. It pours to a dark plum color, very hazy. No head even with a vigourous pour. Carbonation is very minimal as well, and of course, no lacing.

The smell is very interesting. A whole bunch of tropical fruits, such as pineapple, but also some more dark and earthy berry-like tones, such as raisins and dates. A little brown sugar with an alcohol burn as well.

The taste is very good. Almost has a Oude Bruin tartness, though it is not sour. It would be interesting to see how this recipe would turn out with a touch of brettanomyces. Other than that, it tastes much on par with the nose. Quite sweet with some very nice fruity esters. Lots of residuals leave a coating brown sugar flavor in the mouth.

The body is very thick and chewey. Seems almost flat, however. The finish lingers forever. Quite good. Thanks to dogfooddog for the opportunity to try this.

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Photo of Dewey0603
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark mahogony with a large tan foamy head. An excellant looking beer with good lacing and a long lasting head. The smell is strong with alcohol, roasted malt, brown sugar, and dark fruit. The taste is creamy with roasted malt, brown sugar, alcohol, dark fruit. Pretty much the same as the smell,but the alcohol is hidden by the nice mixture of flavors. The m/f is medium with the flavors mix perfectly. A very drinkable high alcohol beer that is needed on a cold winter night. Cheers.

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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 Westsidethreat
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2003 Vintage

A: Chocolate brown with mahagoney tints...sort of looks like sludge. Very low head and lazy bubbles in the interior of the glass. Filthy and intriguing.

S: Molasses, brown sugar, raspberry, cherry, slight coffee and dried figs.

T: Begins with tangy toffee, perhaps marscipone on the back of the tongue and licorice in the front. Sultry cherry cordial blends in and takes control of the palate leaving in its wake rich and afluent mocha flavors. As it moves towards the finish line, the moment turns to bitter coffee then coasts with vanilla latte. These flavors linger long after the swallow.

M: Full and thick. Could use a touch more carbonation.

D: Age has done some amazing things to this beer. I think its probably about 8 months past its prime though. Very sweet and rich but not so much where its cloying...although its close.

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

Poured this one into Unibroue tulip. Nice dark amber color, some carbonation, quick white head, some lacing around the edges. Scents of sweet malts, grapes, raisins, caramel, and figs. Taste is sweet and caramel like. A nice warm feeling in the throat on the way down. Medium body. Very drinkable, Another excellent brew from AleSmith.

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Photo of BeerRun13
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finaly got around to cracking this one open.
Pours a mostly clear rusty-brown. A bubbly off white head falls to a ring and gives off some lace. I really like the color of this one.
Raisiny-datelie aroma. Niceley sweet with a caramel like quality. Alcohol is evident in the nose.
Flavor is much like the aroma. Caramel/toffee like quality is more evident. A nice bittering quality at the swallow.
Full bodied. Low to moderate carbonation. Syruppy but clean. Warms down the throat.
Glad I finally opened this one. Good beer. This would be a nice one to impress company new to craft beer, without going over the top.

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

Deep amber color with a short, white head.
Very aromatic, strong scents of fruits and raisins.
Very strong raisin/fig taste. That fig-like quality was a bit much in my view.
Smoothing and lingering in the mouth.
I enjoyed one glass but had no desire for a second.
I think they tried very hard to create a particular flavor and they nailed it. I just wasn't totally on board with that flavor. If one was partial to that fig-like flavor they would proabably love this.

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Photo of brewcrew76
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Murky brown with a thin beige head that disipates quickly with no lacing.

S - Apple cinamon spiciness with plums, dates and figs mixed in. This one is good but I would have prefered a little more complexity.

T - Sweet but not cloying. Dark fruits, raisins, dates, figs. You can feel the alcohol but the sweetness hides the taste. I was hoping this one would be a little more complex.

M - Medium but with low carbonation that leaves the beer a little syrupy.

D - A very good BSDA but I was expecting just a little more from Alesmith. I would drink this one again though.

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Photo of Billolick
4.59/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Large champagne bottle, gold foil, capped, no vintage or best before indication. Poured dark murky plum brown, very minimal carbonation, no head, no lacing. Bold nose of rum, smoke, vanilla, nice.

Deep, bold, intense and complex brew. Notes of rum soaked raisins, oak, smoke, figs, vanilla. Port like. World class brew, fine night capper, or with some tasty rich foods, roasts, bbq, stinky cheese etc.

BSDA lovers go get some to wrap yourself around

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

Strawberry caramel with bright orange edges. The cap is pale orangish ecru in color and is airily expansive thanks to a near Belgianesque amount of carbonation. It's too bad that it doesn't share the firm, sticky texture of the best Belgian heads though. The foam is much too soft to last or to result in much glass coverage. The beer itself looks great though.

On a good note, the nose is classic BSDA. On a not so good note, it could be both more powerful and more complex. It's wonderfully mushy apple fruity with a warm spiciness that is more appealing the more I smell it. I detect cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, spices that remind me of autumn for some reason. Warming improves things to a considerable extent and makes a bump in score an easy call.

I needn't have worried. This brewery rarely disappoints and they definitely haven't done so here. One sweet, spicy, explosive sip is all it takes to tell me that Grand Cru is yet another fantastic AleSmith ale. For some reason, it looks as though the brewery decided to stop putting the vintage on the bottle. My best guess is that I'm drinking the 2005 edition.

This truly is a world-class BSDA that can easily hold its head high in the company of the best that Belgium has to offer. Grand Cru isn't all that dark in terms of roasted malt (see Stone Vertical Epic 05.05.05), but is more darkly fruit along the lines of heavily spiced dates and figs. Delicious, delicious, delicious.

I'm a little surprised at how sweet it is. That isn't a complaint though, I love sweet as long as it's in the context of an outstanding, multi-faceted flavor profile, as it is here. It looks like a perfect amount of dark candi sugar is Grand Cru's secret weapon. That and a wonderfully spicy Trappist yeast strain that provides authenticity and complexity galore.

I'm feeling the double-digit ABV much more than I'm tasting it. Well-integrated alcohol is a valued part of the flavor, as it is in almost all big beer. The fact that it whispers rathers than shouts is a very dangerous thing indeed. The body/mouthfeel is the best of both worlds. It's full, borderline syrupy and sticky, yet is as energetically carbonated as all but the most hyperactive Belgians.

Grand Cru is truly wonderful beer. It pays homage to its Continental counterparts while at the same time delivering a distinctly American, big beer twist. It isn't often that I spend $13 on one bottle, but it's hard to argue with the quality that this brewery puts into each and every one of their 750s. I love AleSmith beer!

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Photo of BeerManDan
4.67/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

When poured, it was a dark reddish brown with absolutley no foam what so ever and no trace of lace what so ever also. Now, the smell was something else. There was a sweet candied smell with the aroma's of fruits and roasted malts. The taste was outstanding, with the sweet caramel/toffee/figs along with the roasted malts is just overpowering. I'll give it a five, but, it may be just a little to sweet for someone else!

Overall, toasty toffee/caramel/fruity nose, with layers of soft malt and hops. Extremely well balanced. Another winner from Alesmith!

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Black95tt: Poured an hazy dark amber color ale with a medium foamy head with good retention. Aroma of candi sugar, sweet malt and alcohol is pretty intense and reminiscent of Gouden Carolus Keizer. Taste is quite hot at first, which does not really suit my taste. The presence of candi sugar is quite evident as well as some dry figs characteristics. Yeast is totally overshadowed by the malt and the alcohol. Body is just above average but could be fuller and carbonation was appropriate. Overall, I really don’t see the big fuss over this beer and would prefer to taste a Gouden Carolus Keizer, which is similar, but more balance overall.

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Photo of cheers2beers
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: This beer pours a dark rusty brown with absolutely no head,not even a thin ring. It has a little cloudiness floating towards the bottom,dregs perhaps.

Smell: The aromas have some candied sugars, ripe dark fruits, sweet molassas, white grapes possibably with a little alcohol.

Taste: The flavor seems like spicey fruits with a semi high alcohol punch. This has some white wine characteristics. A slight green apple tartness is present, alongside some bready malts.

Mouthfeel: Almost slick and oily,yet on the wet side too. Seems like the carbonation is medium to high , yet I couldnt draw a head on this at all. Thick to medium bodium bodied.

Drinkability: This is another beer I can honestly say it was a pleasure to drink and can't wait to try it again. if you have not had this i would definitely recommend to you and as always ....


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Photo of lackenhauser
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very nice, chestnut hued color. Very low carbonation-almost flat. Good aroma-great raiseny and sweetly slick malt aroma-slight spiciness to it-reminds me of a whole cinnnamon stick. Great malty flavor-phenolic bite that is well balanced against the malty backbone. Sort of a caramel/toffeeish flavor. Very nicely balanced-no alcohol trace for 10%. Good mouthfeel-very full bodied-nice lingering residual sweetness. Very enjoyable beer. My first try of the much raved about Alesmith. Just bumped it up in drinkability-damn fine effort.

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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 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 sinstaineddemon
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - this grand cru pours a sark reddish/brown thatn wells up a thin tan head but is too dark to see any carbonation

S - the aroma is nice, but rather nondescript, and unusual iced tea aroma with associated undecipherable spices, very enticing

T - a ver nice sweet taste, with a great hoppy/malty balanced aftertaste, with a great roasted malt background

M - smooth, very smooth, this grand cru is nice and easy on the palate

D - high, the smoothness and balanced flavor lead to a above average drinkability

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Photo of bignick
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ TPH. Served in an oversized wine glass.

Wow, this is a very good beer. It smells fruity, of apples, oranges, and apricots. The taste is wonderful. I love the fruitiness of it, with a subdued yeastiness that doesn't interfere. Overall, this is a very good beer.

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Photo of TheBungyo
4.06/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is tough to review. I poured into my Orval glass and was shocked to get NO head whatsoever. I know it was clean as I had washed it whilst being careful NOT to use too much soap, and rinsed it generously. In another review, Skyhand used the word lifeless in regards to the appearance, and because I'm unimaginative I'm going to steal it and agree. Very little carbonation and no lacing or head. Body is exactly the right color. Brown and amber mingled. Nose is tart apples, red wine, butter ... just what the doctor ordered for a good Grand Cru. Taste put me off initially ... it was much like the smell, maybe with the tart apples playing the dominant role. I paired this with some Jarlsberg and made sure I had several sips before eating any cheese so as not to blemish my initial taste. It was only when I tried the cheese when the flavor really became amazing ... the cheese really balanced out the flavor and made this beer extremely enjoyable. Mouth is ok, but maybe just a little too thin for my taste. Drinkability suffers when you know there are better and CHEAPER beers of the same style sitting on the shelf. I surely would give this another go though, because this is an enjoyable beer ... if I could get it without having to trade for it.
Thanks to Clickpush for providing this!

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Photo of deuschbag
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

sharred this with a childhood friend of mine.

750 ml. capped bottle pored into a snifter. this pores a beautiful leathery red color with no head.

the smell has a very strong floral hop scent with a big kick of spices and fruits. big alcohol tone in the background.

the taste is about the same as the aroma. very fruity and spicey. has a nice malt and hop balance in the end. wonderful cherry like after taste.

thick syrupy mouthfeel. very chewy.

for being 10% alc. this is a dangerously drinkable brew. i highly recommend this.

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

2004. 750. red foil. mwah!

murky swampwater reddish brown color, healthy heaps of aerated lace and foam atop the beer. amazingly authentic belgian nose, the yeast is old and spicy, the fruit selection is overripe, rich in sweetness and very- very- dark. slight notes of candy apple crispy tart aroma as well.

very carbonated, which helps with the alcohol warmth in the finish here. initially introduced by a brown sugar reduction, a dark brand of sugary smack. caramel evolves with raisins and figs present. taste continues with some more natural outdoor flavors.. treated leather and edible flowers. something woody sneaks in at the end, probably due to some well-rounded aging, and imparts a smooth vanilla bean shell bitterness. slight sherry twang also closes this beaut out.

a delicious selection and one that picked up some interesting quirks with its years in the cellar. recommended...alesmith- purveyors of quite consistent quality.

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Photo of OStrungT
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a clear redish brown color with a light brown head. The head fades fast, leaving a thin lacing.

This beer has a spicy, clovey aroma. It smells slightly of alcohol. It has a citrusy hop aroma. It has a sweet caramel malt aroma also.

This beer tastes sweeter than I expected. It has a spicy slightly clovey flavor. also, it has a pleasent citrus hop flavor to it. This beer has a slight dark fruit flavor to it also. Raisins, and prunes.

This beer warms the throat as it goes down. It is surprisingly smooth, leaving a slightly spict aftertaste.

This beer might be a good session beer but the alcohol is a little high. It tastes great, but I wouldnt drink tok many. It is a very good beer though.

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Photo of DrJay
4.67/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 batch (gold foil): I had been saving this one for quite some time and I wasn't disappointed. It poured a rich caramel/toffee colour with a thin ring of fine bubbles. Very mellow, well-integrated aroma, with notes of caramel, apple, toffee, and brown sugar. The flavour has a fine balance - moderate bitterness with plenty of bready malt. Apple, chocolate, and toffee all make contributions as well. The finish has a tootsie roll character and fruit lingers beyond that. No alcohol was apparent. Full bodied with low carbonation and an extremely smooth texture. Truly awesome. The balance in the flavour and aroma was superb. I wish I had more of these beauties in storage. I miss this beer already...

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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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