AleSmith Grand Cru Ale | AleSmith Brewing Company

BA SCORE
91
outstanding
385 Reviews
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States
alesmith.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
385
Ratings:
911
Avg:
4.06
pDev:
10.59%
 
 
Wants:
111
Gots:
199
For Trade:
6
User Reviews
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Reviews: 385 | Ratings: 911
Photo of tectactoe
3.44/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Huge thanks to Kevin R for opening this one, along with many other AleSmith goodies. The Grand Cru pours a light-ish, slimy brown color with some mild copper clarity at the top of the brew. The creamy, beige head makes plenty of noise and it sizzles away quickly from almost a half-inch to nothing but a thick skin and collar.

Sweet, sweet grapes and plums and dates in the nose; plenty of dark fruits, like you'd expect from a Belgian dark ale, possibly a little softer and more sweet than usual. Sticky toffee and buttery toasted malts make up the background while also adding more sweetness to the already sweet aroma. Earthy phenols and sweet esters, with a slight medicinal undertone that's kind of throwing me off.

The taste is complex in that it has may elements in it; figs, light clove spice, sweet plums, brown sugar, toasted malts, Candi sugar, spicy yeast, burning phenol alcohol... see? The problem is that, for whatever reason, the flavors don't meld together in Utopian harmony like they typically do for Belgian strong ales.

It seems more like a pot where you just throw in any and all ingredients you can find in the cupboards, paying no attention to the amounts, the schedule, or anything like that. I can't quite put my finger on why this might happen, but the beer definitely suffers in drinkability and overall enjoyability due to this. All the flavors are there, sure, but not in proper capacities.

The mouth feel is typically for this type of ale; carbonated quite heavily giving a light and effervescent (almost) feeling on the palate; medium bodied and lightly creamy. I was expecting to enjoy this beer more than I did, especially given the scores. It was far from bad, but I've had so many other Belgian strong ales that I'd choose over this (and they're cheaper and easier to find, too!)

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.02/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750 mL capped bottle, no date.

popped the cap, and it fizzed over. pours a clear chestnut brown. the bubbly head fades fast. the smell is a nice mix of slightly earthy Belgian yeast and bready malt. taste is bold yet smooth and easy drinking. good balance, starts biscuity and slightly sweet then finishes dry and a bit boozy. thin to medium body, higher carbonation. could be a little less fizzy.
overall - quite good, only the over carbonation is an issue.

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

750 ml bottle into chalice, no bottle dating. Pours crystal clear reddish brown color with a 1 finger fairly dense cream colored head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with some moderate streaming carbonation. Aromas of raisin, prune, banana, grape, clove, caramel, dark candi sugar, toast, bubblegum, and earthy yeast esters. Very nice aromas with good balance of fruity/spicy yeast esters with candi sugar maltiness. Taste of raisin, prune, banana, grape, clove, caramel, dark candi sugar, bubblegum, toast, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of dark and light fruits, clove, caramel, dark candi sugar, bubblegum, toast, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of fruity/lightly spicy esters with malt sweetness; and almost zero cloying sweetness present after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a slick, lightly syrupy, and lightly prickly mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice Belgian strong dark ale. Very nice complexity of fruity/spicy yeast esters with candi sugar sweetness; and quite smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of SLeffler27
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Clear, dark ruby with a short-lived, off-white creamy head. Leaves a viscous film on the Brigand oversized wine glass.

Part cherry and candy sugar comes out front with raspberry and crisp apple presenting with warmth. All are rather subtle.

Opens with light, tart cherries and sweeter than expected. Light earthiness, banana, plum and faint oak in the middle. Lots of faint flavors oscillate between spicy and fruity character. The finish is almost absent. Warmth adds little.

Soft, fine carbonation and silky texture compliment this medium-bodied beer. The alcohol is well below expectations.

This is an easy sipping beer and, while quite tasty, lacks the pop expected of this style. I enjoyed it as part of the pre-Super Bowl festivities.

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Photo of Vixie
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice ruby red color with a decent sized tan head. Fair amount of carbonation.

Smell has quite a bit of brown sugar to it. Can also detect a hint of chocolate and toffee.

This is a fairly sweet beer, I am describing it mentally as liquid candy. There is a lot of brown sugar and toffee to it, if a Heath Bar was in liquid form, it would taste a lot like this. I can also detect some Belgian candy sugar, and there is just a hint of a hop bite at the finish. The alcohol is very well hidden in this one, just a touch of warming at the back of my throat.

Feel is just ok, I think should be a little more solid for the style.

Overall a pretty good beer. It is lacking a bit in complexity, but has a nice flavor and is easy to drink for such a strong beer. This one is deceptive, it doesn't taste like a 10% ABV beer, handle with care, but worth a try.

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Photo of ksimons
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A-a clear amber with ruby highlights and two fingers worth of white head that sticks to the edge of the glass

S-dark fruits, rum soaked raisins, caramel, Belgian yeast, and a bit of alcohol

T-very similar to the smell. Caramel malt, apples, raisins, plums, lightly spiced, with well hidden alcohol

M-thin to medium body, carbonation seems a bit on the lighter side as well, very smooth sweet finish

Overall very malty with good yeast character, but not as good as other BSDA's I've had, especially for the high price.

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Photo of mmapes
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bought in September, opened in March. Bottle suggests cellaring for 6 to 24 months.

Pours a big head of medium-sized bubbles. Amber/peach colored, very clear. Smells of dried fruit -- apricots?

Tastes very much like it smells. It's nice but a little one-noted. Sweet finish after a tangy start. There are some sweet malts but not much in the way of hops. The apricot smell/taste is prevalent -- is that from the Belgian yeast?

Nice, but not very complex.

Would buy again if it weren't too expensive. We have one more bottle in the cellar. Will see how it ages.

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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 KFBR392
3.26/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Very similar look to a barley wine style ale, dark amber color. Clean look with a much smaller head then I expected. Had to aggressively pour this one to get a more traditional belgian head, which subsided quickly.

Smell: A very bright yeast aroma, not what I expected out of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. The booze is hidden well behind the again very strong belgian aroma.

Taste: A smooth clean taste, again, not what I expected from this beer. There are some slight exotic fruit flavors at the front of this beer but subside quickly to a traditional yeast taste. A very thin body to this beer, certainly didn't make me remember or favor this beer.

Mouthfeel: Thin. Drank like a regular belgian beer. No flavors stood out on the tongue.

Overall: I had higher hopes for this one. Alesmith brings it with most of their brews but I won't recommend this one. Maybe it is unfair I had Unibroue Maudite a couple days before so it had some high standards to meet. Solid beer but did not live up to my expectations or the price tag.

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

Bottle to snifter.

A - Very dark amber/brown in colour; basically opaque with only a slight shimmer of ruby glow around the edges. Half a finger of cream coloured head formed and slowly dissipated.

S - Belgian yeast, spice, clove, candy sugar, raisins, figs, toffee and a hint of chocolate. Fairly complex nose.

T - Big spice presence combined with Belgian yeast and cloves up front. The mid-palate adds caramel, candied raisins and toffee. The finish is dry with a touch of chocolate. Very easy drinking.

M - Medium body but a touch thin at times. Light to moderate carbonation.

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Photo of retry4z
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Served at room temperature in an AleSmith Decadence glass.

A deep and dense Burgundy color with a beautiful three-finger persistent head.

Smells of raisins, caramel, alcohol, and some spices.

Taste is sweet, dark fruit, some spice, and a nice alcoholic finish. No bitterness present.

Full-bodied, with high carbonation.

Overall, I would try this again. It's sweet. This is one of the finest examples of Belgian strong ale. Would go very nicely with a fresh hearty burger.

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Photo of pmarlowe
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewery.

A: Pours a brownish, caramel color with dense brown head. Incredible retention (as with many of their tap beers) and displays generous lacing. Superb clarity for a darkish beer.

S: Sweet bubble gum and cherry, and a bit of red fruit.

T: Sweet and a little tart with cherry and dark dried fruit. The fruit or yeast is reallly pronounced which contributes to the tartness.

M: Medium-full body--a bit syrupy--with medium-light carbonation. Hides the alcohol well.

O: Pretty good. A touch sweet for my tastes, and very fruity.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark reddish brown with large head that recedes quickly. Very effervescent. Aroma of mostly fruit (plums, figs, pears) and yeast. A hint of spice. Flavor is heavy on prunes and fig, with a bit of toffee giving this an interesting complexity. Mouthfeel is lighter than I expected. A good bite on the way down to balance out the sweet fruit. A lot going on here. Solid brew.

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Photo of draheim
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL into a chalice. Pours a clear amber w/ moderate carb, light head settles to a thin film.

Aroma is dark fermented fruit, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla.

Taste follows nose. Dark fruity malt, candi sugar, toffee, vanilla and booze. Rich, sweet and tasty.

Mouthfeel is sticky and chewy, but finishes fairly dry.

Overall a solid, enjoyable BSDA.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from 2007.
Pours a dark ruby brown with a smallish bubbly off white head that dissipates rather quickly. Smells of caramel and brown sugar with a fair bit of melanoid, spice, peeper, and a touch of alcohol round out the nose quite well. The flavor is sweet up front with brown sugar and caramel. Melanoid, prunes and plums come in with a bit of alcohol and licorice midway through. Long lingering sweet burnt sugar lingers long after every sip. Medium to thick body with a light level of carbonation and a sweet almost syrupy mouthfeel. Nice brew, I really enjoyed it. I would have liked a touch more carbonation, but I can live with it as is.

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Photo of MadScientist
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: A medium copper with excellent clarity and a ruby hue. The creamy off-white head leave lacing on the glass and falls slowly but is easily roused.

S: Fruit, spice with a malty sweetness is my first impression. There is a moderate plum and raisin fruit aroma with a moderately-low peppery spice that seems part yeast part hops aroma. A nice rich malt with a little caramel mixes well with the perfumey alcohol and dark fruit.

T: The fruit, malt sweetness and alcohol the dominate flavors here with a moderate flavor of plum and dried cherries. The moderately-high hops bitterness more than balance the malt sweetness bringing the balances moderately bitter despite the initial sweetness. There is a quick bitterness and fruit in the after taste and an off-dry finish. The alcohol brings a floral sweetness towards the finish.

A: This is a medium-full bodied beer with a high level of carbonation and substantial warmth. There is a satisfying moderate creaminess as well

O: Like candy coated plums with a healthy balance of hops. A rich beer like this would be complement to a rich holiday dinner with ham.

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Photo of Dope
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark mahogany with a huge frothy tan head. Fades slowly but leaves almost no lacing behind, just hints here and there.

S: Fruity, get some raisin, fig and grape. Lots of caramel with some brown sugar. Earthy with a bit of cocoa. Finally, some spices.

T: Lots of raisin, apple and grape skin up front. Molasses, caramel and brown sugar in the middle. Finishes earthy and spicy in typical belgian fashion.

M: Heavy, borderline syrupy.

O: Not a bad BSDA. Heavy on the molasses and fruits for sure, more barleywine than belgian in my opinion. Having said that, there's plenty of spice and earth from the belgian yeast. Pretty decent brew but nothing amazing or outstanding about it.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 750mL bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: deep amber hue with a body completely free of haze. Effervescence is very low, but the head is a nice thick finger of frothy ivory foam. I like it.

Smell: rich malty aroma with a little bit of a biscuity character and a light component of dark fruits. It reminds me very much of a Scottish wee heavy. Not typically what I'd call "Belgian" in character, but not bad.

Taste: malty, thick flavor with a light hint of dark fruits. This tastes exactly like a wee heavy. Did I get a bottle that is labeled wrong? It's not bad, but again, there's nothing Belgian about this beer.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a surprisingly large carbonation, considering its low apparent effervescence. Creaminess is wonderful in this beer, though; I love it!

Overall: this is a decent strong Scottish ale. Is it the Belgian style that AleSmith is marketing? Not really. If they were going for that style, it's not really a success.

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Photo of parris
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter, deep amber color, 1/4" beige head.

Smells toasty, molasses, a bit smokey

Tastes toasty but smooth, similar to the smell, but much more rounded out, some vanilla, some butterscotch.

Big bodied, stronger than expected carbonation, but I like it.

Overall great beer, stand up Grand Cru.

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

750 ml bottle, no bottled-on date, poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours a hazy amber brown color, produces a thin layer of off-white head, leaves spotty lacing.

S- Sweet aroma of caramel, brown sugar, candi sugar and fruit, a bit of alcohol and spice in the background.

T- Brown sugar and caramel blended with candi sugar and Belgian yeast. Some spice, fruit and alcohol as well as a phenolic, herbal orange and citrus flavor.

M- Medium-bodied, smooth, spicy feel, booze is well-hidden.

O- A nice Belgian-style beer, very drinkable for 10%, although I would still recommend splitting this bottle with friends.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Small head atop a dark brown body. Not quite quad dark. Lighter side of a BSDA.

Smell - Belgian yeast, apples, caramel, and spices. Nice. Dry smelling, if that makes sense...

Taste - Candi sugar taste up front. Interesting, and nice, twist on what I expected. Caramel, but it's not a sweet caramel. Earthy hop finish. Spicy and dry in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Dry. Too dry, I suppose. I guess it's to style, but not what I like. Good carbonation. Not really a smooth drink and possibly a bit thin.

Overall - It's nice, perhaps very good. Not as good or complex as other BSDAs, but nice in everything in provides.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Tony's Darts Away in Burbank, CA.

Pours a slightly murky orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that fades to nothing. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, spices, wood, alcohol, and an unmistakable woodsy cologne scent. Taste is of malt, brown sugar, spice, banana, and an alcohol kick on the finish. There is a mild spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that tastes better than it smells, especially with the cologne deal going on.

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

A: ruby brown beer with big head of tniy bubbles that'll settle into a nice lid with some ropy lace

S: orange, coriander, spices, toffee, dark fruit

T: spices and fruit with booze infusion, raisins, figs, toffee, caramel, apples, clove, ginger

M: fuzzy and rich, medium body, fairly clean-finishing, wonderfully drinkable

O: AleSmith hasn't had a miss yet in my book - I'll venture to say that any big bottle of AleSmith beer is worth a buy, their Grand Cru being no exception - I'm gonna say these guys are in league with Founders, 'cept Founders produces some of the best 4-packs of 12 oz beers and Alesmith produces some of the best 22 oz bombers of beer

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

750ml bottle served in a snifter.

pours a deep, dark, and translucent amber tone with ruby red hightlights; yields a a big foamy 2" head, light tan in color; patchy lacing. great nose offers sweet malt, candied sugar, dark fruit, a bit of spice, and a perceptible alcohol character.

taste follows the aroma fairly closely with a good dose of fruits - primarily dark, but i do get a subtle note of apple... very malty; sweet but not overly so... there's a substantial floral/spicy quality to it... very enjoyable. booze could be a little better hidden, but that's my one real complaint. medium bodied mouthfeel with medium carbonation.

overall, as far as american versions of the style go this one is really well done. the more it warms the more impressed i am. not on the level of a rochefort but then, what is?

originally reviewed: 04-11-2011

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Unique in every way it looks, dark hazy beer amber in color and an off-white head roughly 1/3" above the body.

Smell: Light yeast and feel of banana (peel).

Taste: Complex and sweet but bitter with a touch of malt. This is truly good beer, it is not good actually it is great...for a beer that is not from Belgium it would impress any Belgian (and you).

Mouth: Medium to full, and everlasting after taste.

Overall: I would buy this again, this was great beer and just that impressing. I hope you like as much as I do, a blessing not in disguise, Salud!

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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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