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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale | AleSmith Brewing Company

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382 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: 382 | Ratings: 897
Photo of brdc
3.64/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Large capped bottle, aged as suggested in the bottle for one year. Poured into a goblet.

Burgundy red, with some obvious carbonation problems, and a head that shows minimal retention or lacing.
Nice fruity aroma, mostly dark fruits, caramel maltiness, candy like sweetness.
Full bodied, but the lacko of carbonation severely limits the enjoyment. Flavor profile is on the sweeter side, malty, fruity, with minimal alcoholic warmth.
A decent brew, but if I have another chance, will ignore the bottle statement and drink fresh. I believe the lack of carbonation might be an aging problem, although mentioned in other reviews as well.

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Photo of TexIndy
3.65/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml capped bottle into a Duvel tulip. No dating info on bottle but got recently from South Bay when it was released so should be this years. Was a deep red color with plenty of carb in the center. Quick sliding lace. It had an average sized tan head that quickly dissipated into a thin collar and film center.

The aroma was candi sugar, dark fruits, some spice and a touch of alcohol. Aroma was a tad too sweet for my liking. The taste followed the aroma but the sweetness was much more pronounced. Needs something to cut the overwhelming sweet. Piles up and becomes cloying after awhile.

Overall, I was disappointed with this one. Found the aroma and taste to be way to sweet to be enjoyable. Wonder what some aging would do to this one. For me, one was enough unless I can easily get an aged one to try. Maybe once on-tap.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.67/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured into the chalice crystal clear amber brown, almost ruby in fact, with a very low and wispy head which didn't even completely form at the top of the surface of the beer.

The aroma was fruity with a strong dark fruit character of raisins and prunes and dried cherries. Also present were some slight spicy phenolics from alcohol, but the alcohol aroma was not strong at all. A nice Belgian yeast character was present and interesting.

The flavor was malty with a fruity chocolate flavor. The fruity flavors were dark and that of raisins, prunes and cherries. The alcohol was present and detracting in the flavor. The carbonation level was so low in the beer that the flavor was almost syrupy while not being sweet. The bittering component and the alcohol kept the beer from being overly sweet.

The finish was even with a lasting alcohol flavor which contributed a spicy character with the Belgian yeast that lasted long into the aftertaste. The body was medium full. The lack of carbonation really killed this beer for me. A mostly flat beer with lots of alcohol warming after consumption, but little in the way of complexity.

750 ml capped and foil sealed bottle. Purchased at Papago in Phoenix a few days ago, kinda sad that the beer is retired when it can still be found. This beer must be the 2003 since it does not look like the other vintages on the AleSmith website and I see no new entries.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

750ml capped gold foil wrapped bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours a really beautiful dark brownish red color with a creamy light tan head. Very impressive.

S- The aroma features dark ripe fruits, hints of spices and yest. There is also some alcohol in the nose as well. You can tell that they used a Belgian yeast strain, it definitely has that feel to it.

T- The taste is dark alcohol soaked fruits with some spices and a good dose of alcohol in the warming finish.

M- The mouthfeel is incredibly smooth with the perfect amount of carbonation. Very nice!

D- This is a very nice beer, but the high ABV limits the drinkability of this one. I find it to be a little too hot in the alcohol department. This is a fresh sample, so I think some aging would definitely help. I wish I would have split this one with somebody, the alcohol definitely sneaks up on you.

Overall, AleSmith Grand Cru is another solid beer from this great brewery. Recommended.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750 ML bottle just purchased from New Beer Distributors in Manhattan on Chrystie Street for $9.25...
Presented with an elegant gold-foil around the bottle neck...
A slow and steady pour yielded a dark-orange, hazy, off-red hue with a modest-sized foamy head that quickly dissipated and left behind a minimal amount of lacing...
Smell was loaded with yeast, citrus, and alcohol in the nose...
Taste was headily alcoholic, and very noticeable, especially with a powerful 10% ABV... This one is definitely a sipper and can be enjoyed over a long period of time...
Spicy, citrus-filled flavors dance on the tongue, along with a warming alcohol glow, candied sugars, caramel, and a touch of oak and vanilla...
Mouthfeel was full-bodied, rich, and creamy, however the drinkability took a serious blow due to the overwhelming presence of alcohol on the tongue and hefty ABV...
Worth a shot...

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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 dgilks
3.69/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Hazy dark amber colour with a small, light tan head. Fair head retention.

Aroma is pretty classic. Caramelised sugars and dark fruits. A moderate yeast ester note which raises some almost tropical notes. Touches of clove.

A little sweet but not too much. Nice fruitiness but it is pretty indistinct. Light spicing.

Medium body with moderately-high carbonation. Fine.

A solid beer but nothing special in my book. Good aromas and an approachable flavour. It just doesn't reach any highs.

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

Pours out a nice dark reddish brown with very little suds. Lacing appears on the tulip glass.
Smell is root beer and ainse. Sour cherry and raisin with a burning
sensation that must be the yeast. Can't really smell the alcohol.
Taste is licorice(sp) and orange peel with lots of alcohol. Very sweet but it quickly leaves and the alcohol and bitterness take over the palate.
Very oily slick feel in the mouth. Not a lot of carbonation here but with all the alcohol who needs it? The alcohol sits in the back of the throat and simmers keeping you warm on a cold night.
Great winter's sipping dring here! Couldn't drink a lot of it but I can and will finish this bottle.

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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 cvm4
3.71/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours a deep amber with brown hues to it. Has a creamy beige head to it that dissipates to just a ring around the glass.

S - Has great dark fruit qualities of prunes & figs. Some candied sugars are present.

T - Sweet from start to finish. Figs, brown sugar, candy qualities, bready malts and toffee.

M - Light to medium bodied with a good amount if carbonation. Has a dry finish and the sweetness can seem cloying.

O - It's not something I'd normally reach for as this style typically bores me. But, it's not a bad one to try.

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

25.4 oz. bottle poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Deep rusty orange almost red, decent head of about a 1/2" which quickly recedes to a ring, with nice lacing.

Smell: Sweet malt, caramel, and a hint of spice.

Taste: I seem to be hitting a few of these lately, but this is beer trending more toward the style of a British Barleywine more than a traditional Belgian strong dark ale. Heavy on the malt and sweetness but at least this one includes a nice balance with a touch of spice and hoppy flavor. This provides for decent balance and complexity. Good carbonation and a pleasant level of alcoholic warmth cleans the palate and prevents this beer from ever becoming cloying.

Mouth feel: Very good level of carbonation and alcohol cleans the palate, relatively smooth.

Overall: Very different version of a Belgian SDA, not a bad beer, but not a beer that merits its’ cost. I would prefer any other Belgian SDA/Quad to this (plus a few from Unibroue) and that even includes Urthel Samaranth.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.74/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I drank this from a 22oz bottle into a Rochefort chalice.

The beer pours medium brown with tons of carbonation. The head rises a good 4 fingers of light tan head, decently creamy. The retention is nice lasting several minutes. The lacing is very nice as well.

The aroma is medium, smells must like any other belgian dark ale, light hops, some carmel.

The taste is ok light malts on the front, some alcohol on the back.

The feel is a little light for my liking, but drinkable.

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Photo of Sixpoint
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted this one at the annual FUNKY TASTING held at Barcade. Cheers to Warren and Bill, and to Glenn for procuring this beer.

This beer enters with the usual fanfare and aggression of a high-gravity Alesmith offering, yet there is one distinguishing feature that cannot escape my mind:


For some reason, this sample I enjoyed had an unmistakable roasted marshmallow flavor. The more I drank it, the more it reminded me of eating Count Chocula cereal as a kid.

Strange flashback!

Not one of my favorite offerings from Alesmith, but I still have not had a bad beer from them, nor do I ever expect to.

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Photo of bnes09
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Iced tea appearing ale. Light tan head goes flat very quickly.

Chocolate, dark fruit, pepper and funky yeast aroma.

Nice, complex, dark fruit, subtle caramel, mild chocolate and yeast flavor. Minimal hop flavor.

Full body. Not sticky. Minimal malt texture. Clean. Descent carbonation.

A solid Belgian style ale. Quite enjoyable.

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Photo of Qbdoo
3.77/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Reddish brown color with a nice head that quickly vanishes. Aroma is caramel, brown sugar, and dark fruit. Taste is similar though there's an interesting but somewhat odd clove taste as it finishes. The texture is on the thin and crisp side. A solid take on the style.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Black Raven pint glass. Pours a dark red amber, massive, fine off-white persistant head and lacing. Looks nice. Aroma of malt, Belgian spices, slightly sour. Sweet malt and fresh fruits; apple, pear and raisins. Starts sweet and fruity, but finishes dry with a hop kick. The aftertaste is overly astringent and bitter. Alcohol is noticeable. The finish knocks this one down a bit in flavor. Not my favorite Alesmith.

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

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

Aroma= Malty candy sweet with little hop aroma

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

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

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

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Photo of BlindPig
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Thick dense tan head on a clear dark ruby body with some orange hues in it.
S- Sweet malts, hints of alcohol, big esters, different bread aromas, oranges, lemons, hints of fruit rind, and hints of yeast.
T- Really big alcohol and ester flavors. The tongue gets warm after this one! Not very well hidden at 10%. Some sweet malts and fruits like in the aroma come out too. Esters are one of the main things in this brew though.
M-Full body with low carbonation.
D- It is a sipper! I am not sure I like this one to much. I am not sure if I will buy this again.

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

Another great Alesmith offering. Pours a dark (surprise surprise) brown. Smells like rich malt and a bit of ... spices?

Nice thick, chewy mouthfeel. Dark fruit, rich malt with more than a hint of complex sweetness. Finishes a bit too sweet ... gets to be a chore after a while.

Pretty good.

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Photo of Mauerhan
3.79/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

06 vintage enjoyed with my good friends olieipa and patronwizard. this beers for you bitches.

opened the bottle with a faint hiss. sounded more like a whisper than anything else. poured into my tulip with a heavy hand that produces no carbonation. dark caramel color.

smell is sweet. candy apples. caramel. sugars.

taste is alright. good not great. very sweet. slight boozy burn.

this beer is flat. but alas its also three years old. i prefer the fresh batch to this. but worth a try.

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Photo of gford217
3.79/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750mL bottle, 2006 vintage, courtesy of throwitallaway, poured into a snifter.

Pours with low carbonation out of the bottle - an aggressive pour producing a few big bubbles that recede immediately leaving the tiniest of rings around the glass. It's a slightly hazy caramel brown with no lacing though the beer leaves some legs on the way down.

The aroma is sweet, with lots of brown sugar and caramel malts. There is plenty of rum-soaked dark fruit, and possibly a bit of oxidation in the nose.

The taste has a sweet fruity kick up front with booze-soaked apricots and pears dominating. The backbone is big on caramel malts and the finish is slightly oxidized and very dry with some cardboard in the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is light to medium bodied and super slick with very little carbonation.

This is a decent beer, though I think the oxidation and complete lack of carbonation has hurt it a bit. The aroma and taste are still fairly good, but this particular bottle has seen better days.

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Photo of corby112
3.79/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark golden brown color with tangerine edges and a two finger off-white head that slowly settles into a thick, lasting ring. Streaks of soapy lacing left behind.

Sweet, slightly spicy aroma with prominent dark fruit esters and dark malt sweetness. Slightly herbal and medicinal with a touch of cough syrup, pepper and clove. Vinous fruit sweetness with grape, fig and raisin. Some Belgian candi sugar in there with caramel malt sweetness, toffee and toast.

Fuller end of medium body with a more complex flavor profile than the nose hinted at. Soft carbonation with a nice balance of peppery spice, herbal/syrupy flavor, vinous fruit and dark malt sweetness. Peppery with some clove and faint piney hops. Very sweet and vinous with prominent fruity esters, notably grape, fig, raisin and other dark berries. Also, there's some dark malt sweetness with hints of chocolate, caramel and toffee. Nicely balanced and the high ABV is excellently masked making beer a bit too easy to drink. Would never have guessed it was 10%.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.81/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I picked this up for $14.20 at Downtown Wines in Boston.

It pours from the classy champagne bottle with thick gold foil around the neck a copper mahogany color. The head is diminutive for a Belgian Strong Ale but it lasts forever leaving a good smattering of lace. The aroma is very sweet with some sourness and a hint of wet cardboard. The taste is vinous with sherry, cherry cordial and maple syrup present. There is a whisper of wet cardboard in the background but it doesnt detract from the taste. Hop bitterness is more noticeable than typical for the style. Booze is prominent. The mouthfeel is coating and medium-thick. Carbonation is light. The finish is sweet with a peppery alcohol heat.

This is a decent BSDA but its not as good as I was expecting. More complexity and less sweetness and booze would make this another Rochefort 8.

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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 897 ratings.
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