AleSmith Grand Cru Ale | AleSmith Brewing Company

920 Ratings
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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Ratings: 920 |  Reviews: 387
Photo of rfgetz
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy brown/ruby color with suprisinly active carbonation and cap of sand colored head... good retention and lacing. Scent is forward with fig, prune, hints of cherry and grape, background is yeast bread and booze touches the nose. Taste is very sweet and forward of the fruits mentioned in scent, the alcohol comes on strong and hides the belgian bready yeast qualities a bit. Improves as it warms. Medium bodied, slightly high carbonation, dry and warm. A very nice, fruit laden, Belgian beer which lacks some aggressiveness in the "Belgian" qualities, possibly due to alcohol warmth.

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Photo of snaotheus
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml capped bottle into a goblet

Pours with a huge pale beige head, brownish ruby in color, dark but somewhat translucent, not cloudy. Carbonation is very active. Smell is rich, slightly astringent, malty. Have a bit of a cold so smell is dampened for me. Sort of a sweet brandy smell, a little woody, very Belgian smelling.

Taste is surprisingly mild...maybe my cold is damping this, too. It's thick and malty, sweet, but somehow watery. Some tart fruitiness, maybe dates and cherries.

Mouthfeel is very surprisingly light and thin. Carbonation is pleasant. Drinkable, although it's very sweet and very strong, but I think that's expected for the style.

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

A: The pour is a slightly cloudy amber color with a very thin off-white head, sort of khaki color.

S: Plenty of sweet caramel and brown sugar and perhaps even more sweet, dark fruits. Some plums, figs, dates, and cherries, but a fair amount of alcohol as well.

T: A great toffee and brown sugar component along with some caramel. This provides a nice sweet, malty base and the dark fruit flavors just sort of sit on top. Somehow, the alcohol is a bit more pronounced than on the nose.

M: The body is medium with a really quite smooth carbonation.

D: I would have enjoyed this quite a bit more were it not for the obvious alcohol presence. This might be a good one to age and allow to mellow.

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

Poured into a Chimay goblet from a 750ml bottle.

A - Pours a nice amber to ruby colored red with a thin head and almost no other visible carbonation. the little head that is produced is nice and off-white and is left to a nice ring around the glass.

S - Ah yes! Nice sourdough and marzipan sweetness up front. Nice and buttery with some good malt hints that hold some good dark fruit aromas. Raisins and prunes abound. Aroma is good but a bit bland IMO.

T & M - Wow! In the flavor department this shines. Nice Sourdough and fresh baked bready flavors. Very nice full flavors. Some slight vanilla spices. Good raisin flavors with some nice toffee and some slight roasted coffee hints that just add to the great sweetness. Nice and well carbonated. As it warms there are nice fruitier sweet hints that pop up with some pineapple and cherry. Very complex and full bodied very good example of the style. Phenols are there but not too crazy and there are very nice boozy hints that aren't too intense.

D - Very refreshing and delicious BSDA. NO wonder its in the top 25 for the style. ABV is on the high side but thats part of the "Strong" in the name.

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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 smarcoly
4.7/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought the Alesmith Grand Cru as a celebration ale for my sister-in-laws wedding to share with my new brother-in-law. It was the perfect selection.

Poured beautifully into a "Bruery" tulip glass with a small head and mild lacing. Nice dark golden color worthy of any strong belgian ale. Aroma is extremely enticing and tempting to just dive in and drink up. The flavors did not disappoint. Just the right balance of sweetness initially, followed by enjoyable caramel/malty notes, and slightly hoppy in the finish. Just the right level of carbonation as it was not too bubbly, but just enough to let your tongue know it was there.

I cant wait to pick up another bottle. Alesmith hits it out of the park with this one!

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Photo of BeerImmediately
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml into Duvel tulip at 50 degrees.

Pours with a large, 4F of beige foam head over a really pretty mahogany wood colored body.

Aromas of prune, Belgian yeast, candied sugar, maybe even some red twizzlers.

Decadent. Thick sweet malted goodness. Currant jelly, red grape skins. Good spicy qualities come thru as it warms a bit, too. Lite bitter bite at the end, especially as it warmed.

Mouthfeel is pretty creamy up front, and then pulls in the carbonation through the middle and finish to keep it from being too thick.

Drinkability is just fine for a 10% BSDA - Not too thick, not overpowering on either end of the flavor spectrum. Would be a fun one to age as well.

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Photo of ne0m00re
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

07/26/10- Had a 750 mL bottle of this an won't turn back.
A: Cherry and burnt orange, it has a nice cream head and lacing.
S: Cherry, cranberry, sweet yeasty bread, raisin, banana caramel, clove, slight cinnamon. Awesome.
T: Subtle raisin cinnamon bread, cherry, exactly what you'd expect from the smell. Slight lingering alcohol and a nice leafy/moldy hops.
M: Mildly sweet with a nice frothiness.
D: Awesome.
Overall, very close to Chimay Grand Reserve.

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Photo of 3HovsepiansBrews
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A nice orangish brown with a cream colored head.

S- Alcohol, toffee, leather, and dried fruits.

T- The sweet taste of brown sugar/molasses is what hits you first. But as the taste matures in your mouth it turns into mostly dried dark fruits like raisins and plums with a hint of apricot. There is also a nice warmth from the alcohol.

M- Syrupy with a subtle carbonation.

D- Be careful. At first you think you could drink a bit, but at the end of the glass, you realize your eyes were bigger than your stomach because the alcohol catches up with you.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 7/24/10 notes. Had at the CL cdc release.

a - Pours a mahogany color with no head and moderate carbonation.

s - Smells of cherries, dark fruits, spices, and sweet sugar.

t - Tastes of dark fruit, molasses, and a hint of alcohol.

m - Medium body and no carbonation.

d - A pretty good Belgian style dark ale. I enjoyed the smell a lot and would like to try again.

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Photo of xraided81
4.72/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: poured from a 750ml bottles, pours a clear amber, with dark ruby highlights. The head quickly dissipates, and only leaves a moderated carbonation.
S- Vinous, dark fruit, dried cherries, sherry like aromas are present, and acidic smell, which is great.
T- bready yeasty flavors are present, with a subtly tartness is present in the back of the palate, the taste is all malt and yeast and very little hop presence.
M- a medium mouthfeel is present, surprising fro the maltiness of this beer. the high alcohol content of this brew is present in the mouthfeel, i feel the heat as i swish in my mouth.
D- Is great i would definetly pick this up if i came across again, i have never had an alesmith beer i did not enjoy, awesome interpreatation of a belgian beer, by an awesome brewery.

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

Beatiful copper colored trasparent liquid. A 3 inch head with golden hue is very loose and fading quickly leaving splotchy lace.

Fig, candy sugar, spice, yeast, plum, bready malts with a hint of floral hops.

Nice beer with a creamy smooth mouthfeel. Semi sweet with date, fig, plum, candy sugar, cardomon, light corriander, a hint of floral hops and a sweet caramel finish. Finish is short and too the point. Very nice. 10%? seems more like 5%.

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

1999 vintage shared by Brad at my tasting on May 29, 2010. Thanks!

This beer appears a thin, chestnut brown hue with very minimal head and no lace. Being over a decade old, this is a typical result. Aromas consist of Belgian yeast strains, white wine, apples. The beer tastes pretty good overall. The feel is slightly thin. There is a slight burn in the finish, though the 10% abv is disguised fairly well in the taste. Alesmith Grand Cru tastes like Belgian apple juice. Good stuff.

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

750 split with a friend, poured into a Delirium Tremens glass.

A: Pours a dark ruby-cherry with a modest light tan bubbly head that quickly faded into a thin fizzy film.
S: Notes of tart cherries, yeast, spice, and alcohol vapor.
T: Notes of cherries, raspberries, strawberries, yeast funk, honey, and strong spices. Aftertaste is acidic and slightly warm with alcohol. Starts smooth, then gets sharp, and finishes slightly sour. Very fruity and spicy.
M: Medium body, moderately crisp with soft carbonation. Aftertaste is a bit too acidic.
D: Definitely drinkable with a big, bold, fruity taste. Not a bad beer but the price is a little steep.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this beer. This is my 1,700th beer and it didn't disappoint.

The beer pours a hazy brown color with a white head. The aroma is sweet sugar with some vanilla and cherry notes. The flavor is cherry, caramel malt, brown sugar, alcohol, Belgian yeast and Belgian candi-sugar. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A great American-made Belgian-style beer. Glad I got to try this one.

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Photo of Bmoyer0301
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


This beer comes in a beautiful 750ml champagne bottle with shiny gold foil around the neck and artistic gold hand writing all over the face. I ripped off the neck wrapping and popped the cap and was greeted by a slight hissing sound. I pulled out my Kasteel goblet for this Belgian treat, and I poured straight on and got a wonderful two finger thick head in my glass. This beer poured a hazy amber brown color with some rusty hues trying to shine through. I held my glass up to the light and didn't see any light passing though this murky drink and as typical I gave it a hefty swirl and got a slight amount of legs running down the glass but nothing too thick or thin.


Now this is a well made ale, there is a lot going on here in the nose. First off, I'm picking out notes of bananas, clove, raisins, chocolate, and something spicy like cinnamon. There really is not much heat alcohol to mention here but there is a buttery, almost carmel like aroma that is lingering around the belly of my goblet. As my beer gets warmer the phenolic apple like notes are really shining though and create a comforting aroma.


Belgian breweries better be watching there back because this beer gives them a run for their money. This baby is sweet and warming plum notes with plenty of spices wrapping around your tongue, I'm noticing the dark candy sugar which produces a nice caramel note as well as dark pit fruits to balance out the sweetness. As far as hops go they are almost nonexistent, there is only a faint amount of bitterness to be talked about here. Again, as in the smell I'm really noticing a green apple taste as it warms up and it adds a certain amount of tangy complexity which I'm really liking. This almost reminds me of a rum cake or something cooked in brandy that I had before, either way this is a great sipper and I'm going to go refill my glass now.


AleSmith, I tip my hat to you this is a solid representation of a dark Belgian beer. I would say that this beer would be enjoyed by many especially since there is a low amount of bitterness and higher level of residual sweetness. With the high alcohol level I am willing to bet if you cellared this beer for a few years it would improve with complexity and taste. This beer was overall a great pick for the price ($14) and I am glad that this is now available here in PA and can't wait to try some of their other offerings. If you come across it I'd say this is a must try, and you won't be disappointed.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1999 vintage. Thanks Brad. Beer is brown and hazy with no head, appears kind of thin.

Beer has an odd aroma, almost musky but really caramelly, lots of malt character in there, hint of sulfur.

Beer is medium bodied, not quite what I expected. Lots of malt and caramel. Its very butterscotchy, could be a sign of oxidation. I mean this bottle is 11 years old at this point. Its quite alcoholy but not hot or boozy. I can tell that its high but it doesn't dristrat. Overall this beer was OK, the newer version was totally different but they probably weren't even close to the same recipes.

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Photo of htomsirveaux
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle tried 22 Feb 2010.

Served in a 0.4 L Steiner Pils snifter. Small white head. Well carbonated. Clear very dark reddish brown color. Yeast, ethanol and brown sugar in the aroma. Lots of candy sugar, very much like a spice cake, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and molasses. Dried fruit, resin and orange. Warming ethanol finish, aftertaste is sweet with a touch of chocolate. Medium light body.

Would get this again, but probably not a daily drinker...

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.21/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle purchased at Whole Foods for a nice price. Split with Oglmcdgl, into some Duvel snifters. Been two years since I had a aged bottle and I think this is fresh(er).

Dead red plum juice drizzle with light brown bark rounding out the hue. A stealthy healthy pour yielded a whole hand of vanilla white foam that stuck together quite well, but not on the glass. Just some small sqiggly streaks and a ring around the glass.

For a BSDA this does not have the moxy or the dark fruit and sweet presence for the style. This smells more like an American Strong with all that booze in there, it's not hiding, it's not scurred. There is some dark fruit with light plum and apple but it comes off some what rotted or decayed. Some melted banana and strange yeast.

A big bite of banana in the morning that's whooomp, up there. Some applesauce with sprinkled cinnamon, rotted plums and bready yeast that leaves a strange taste in my mouth. Along with all of that is the booze which is kinda killing this for me, or the beer for that matter. Some sweet toasty malt but it needs more and more fruit for that matter.

Grand Cru is nice on the higher side of medium that is boozy and some heat comes from that, especially warmed. The warmer it got the drinkability went down, although the fruit comes out more, but so does that booze. A semi dry finish where I would expect a smoother ride. It does kinda fit the strong ale category in feel along with other areas. A sharp bitey carb on the tip of the tounge.

I remember liking this more when I picked it up an aged bottle in NY a few years ago, a bit more complex then. I don't think my palate changed, I just think this beer may need to grow up a bit and mature. Split these 750's or sit on em, this could be good in at least two years, not my bag now. Will update in the future.

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

750 ml bottle split with onix1agr and poured into duvel tulips.

A- two fingers of off white loose head rise from a hard pour. Ruddy red brown in color with hints of orange in the light.

S- sweet and fruity with caramel, brown bananas, and old oranges. Mild background spice and breadiness.

T- sweet malts up front with some fruit, bananas and orange peel. Some spice picked up with the booze. No hops to be found but I guess there in there.

M- medium body and about the same in carb. Nice linger and semi dry finish.

D- its nice stuff for sure but might need some time down. I thought it was an american strong ale but the site says belgian strong dark ill go with them.

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

Poured from a 750ml bottle into my La Chouffe tulip glass. Pours an amber color out of the bottle, but fills the glass a ruby red color with HUGE frothy off-white head...with very decent retention. As it finally dissapates, it remains a nice creamy surface but lacing is spotty at best. Not noticing any setiment floating around, but appearance is semi-hazy regardless.

Aroma is completely Belgian-like. Belgian yeasts and malts, candi sugar, light sweet fruits, and only slightly boozy.

Flavor is very good, not close to the Trappistes breweries out there, but a very good attempt at an American attempt at a Belgian style beer. Good amount of carbonation, light to medium mouthfeel. At first taste, lot's of Belgian yeast are prominent...but quickly followed by a small hop bite, but again very quickly taken over by sweet candi sugar and fruits...and malty! A very tasty beer from Alesmith!

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Photo of weatherdog
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A big thanks to Eric for bring this to a recent tasting. He was unsure of the age but he has had it since Jan of 2009 so the bottle has some age on it.

It poured a murky deep garnet with a bone colored head that lasted for a decent amount of time before dying which is kind of impressive considering the ABV.

Dark ripe fruits and port/sherry aromas were the main contributers to the smell. The nose had a warming alcohol aspect to it but it was actually very pleasant and not harsh which I suspect aging helped that tremendously. I can also see some parallels to a big bold red wine.

The taste is just brimming with a ton of plum and cherry flavors. Once again this beer has an absolute ton of port/ oxidized sherry flavors as well, more than I've ever tasted in a beer. The alcohol is present but very smooth. It's on the verge of having the alcohol too present for my liking but age has smoothed it out. i have a feeling that if I had this beer with 6 months less age or so I wouldn't be as much of a fan.

The body is on the thin side and carbonation is quite low which plays up the similarities to a sherry like beverage. On the same vein the thin body brings out the alcohol which dings the drinkability a notch. In this case I don't mind drinking it slower as it's a beer meant to be sipped over the course of an hour or so.

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Photo of tigg924
3.25/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: minimal head, low carbonation, clear, caramel in color

Smell: alcohol, toasted malt, and dark fruit

Taste: dark fruit, caramel malt, cinnamon, alcohol, and cardamom

Mouthfeel: light bodied, high carbonation, sweet with a slightly bitter alcohol backbone

Drinkability: Decent for the style but not spectacular. There is a lot of subtle flavor going on here, but nothing that calls me to rush out and get this again..especially given the price. Not bad, just had better--especially from this brewery.

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

Bottle age unknown. Poured into a Cigar City snifter.

Appearance: Poured out kind of thin, but produced a massive, khaki-colored, foamy head. Once settled, the body is rich auburn in color, showing shades of red and caramel around the edges. Head quickly dissipates to a thin crown. No lacy. Body still looks kind of thin.

Smell: I initially thought cherries, but JustinA1 called out rose champagne and I instantly agreed. Prunes, molasses, and dark currants are all over. The alcohol is quite apparent, but it's not off-putting. Great balance and complexity. I'm very happy with this.

Taste: Prunes, dark berries, clove, flowery esters, and leather. I'm having trouble picking out all of the flavors, but there's a lot going on in here. Really well balanced. I dig.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, foamy, warm, and dry. Carbonation is very high, but soft; lots of activity. Aftertaste is pretty light and composed mainly of floral esters.

Drinkability: Fantastically balanced and very interesting. I have had better strong dark ales, but not many. I'll certainly purchase this again.

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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
4.06 out of 5 based on 920 ratings.
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