Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

AleSmith Grand Cru Ale | AleSmith Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
91
outstanding
379 Reviews
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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:
379
Ratings:
879
Avg:
4.06
pDev:
10.1%
 
 
Wants:
109
Gots:
187
For Trade:
7
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 379 | Ratings: 879
Photo of watermelonman
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This poured to a nice dark ruby color with a minor head. Lace is minimal.

The smell is a wonderful combination of dark fruits. Most notable are dark cherry, plum, and fig flavors. The taste is an even mix of dark fruits, malt, and just enough hops to balance it out. Alcohol is nowhere to be found. The mouthfeel is full. Drinkability is disturbing for the content.

 368 characters

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

Murky, rusty amber pour with a massive, billowy head of oatmeal colored froth that retains exceptionally, leaving scores of delicate lace.

A convincingly Belgian nose exhibits big malt notes, candi sugar, figs, sour apple, raisins, yeasty must, (the yeast smells very Unibrou), and traces of crushed rock minerality.

Flavor certainly stands up as well, with complex malt, dried fruits, green apple, pinapple, cherries, lots of yeasty spice, and a dry, mineral laden finish that leaves me wanting another sip. Reminds me of a dryer version of Brasserie de Rocs Grand Cru.

Body is medium to large, with a light and airey mouthfeel and a soft, pillowy texture. A joy to drink and could easily convince one that this was crafted in Belgium.

 745 characters

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

Alesmith tends to be the brewery I love to hate. Most of their beers are obscenely overrated and all that aluminum foil is just pretentious as hell. Also, their IPA sucks.

But a good beer is a good beer and I won’t deny it when I find it. Speedway was awesome and so is this Grand Cru. It begins with a nice bready aroma with a bit of cognac and brown sugar. The taste is gracefully defined by dried fruits and runs smooth from start to finish. The body is carnelian with no lace, minimal head, and concise carbonation that strikes a perfect balance between mellowness and vigor. The 10% alcohol makes no unwarranted intrusions.

Unlike most Alesmith beers, this one resonates with genuine character. A true pleasure.

Note: green bottle with gold foil. As of mid- '05 this is not a retired beer.

 808 characters

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

Pours into a tulip with a clear cola like brown hue, bubbleless due to 10% ABV and topped of with a scant ring of khaki collar.

Initial scents of some slight sambuca and a fruity bouquet of dark fruits such as figs, over ripe banana and plum. A detectable ABV and a slightly biscuit scent.

First swigs: Close to the nose mirrored on the tongue with a flour dryness. Reminds me of an English Barley wine meets Belgian. Yeast is slightly prescent but overpowered by the dryness and dark fruits. Naturally, as warmed the awl-kee-hawl becomes more prescent.

Incredibly airy feel with just a pinch of soft carbonation on the tongue. Nearly, amazing. 10% is detectable but just barely. Wow!

Pretty sure that this was the 2003. Nope 2004!

 746 characters

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

Reddish brown Loveliness. great taste: Coriander, brandy-like barley, some toast, cherry, raspberry, black cherry, oak, chocolate malting, caramel,warming alcohol. Honeyish yeast, full mouthfeel, lovely in the mouth and well-carbonated. Thanks Joey Capps.

 255 characters

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.

 1,424 characters

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

Pours a hazy chestnut brown ale with no head at all.

Smell is raisins and brown sugar with a bit of caramel and pineapple make up the bulk of the scent. Spicy black pepper and nutmeg scents ride on the alcohol fumes from this.

Taste is brown sugar and chocolate cake in the first sip. Spicy black pepper and coriander are the next flavors to appear. Mild chocolate and fruit show up next. Flavorful but it could be more.

Mouthfeel is good.

A nice drinkable double but this one just isn't all that in the flavor department. I might be a bit spoiled on the easy availability of La Chouffe here but this just isn't quite up to the level of Belgium's best.

 664 characters

Photo of OldSock
3.49/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance – Green 750 ml bottle from Bev Mo and hauled back from San Diego. The beer pours a dark brown-ruby with a small bit of carbonation rising through it. The head is tan and composed mostly of large bubbles that only rises one finger even with a vigorous pour. Retention is poor and lacing is patchy.

Smell – Good malty yeasty aroma. Hints of caramel and alcohol play back up roles as well. In the background there is a faint hint of chocolate.

Taste – Eh, alcohol and a faint toasted malt comprise most of the flavor. Pretty well balanced, sweet , but not cloying. It isn’t an unpleasant flavor, just not particularly interesting.

Mouthfeel – Full mouthfeel with low carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – The mouthfeel and big alcohol flavor, not to mention the alcohol itself, make this a slow drinker. This is an alright beer, no glaring problem, but nothing really sets this apart from its peers. A bit of a disappointment from such a great brewery.

 976 characters

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

Thanks go to Jamie at From the Vine for the chance to sample this one at a recent beer tasting that she hosted.

Served from a 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: Pours a clear ruby-amber color with carbonation noted in the body.

Smell: Alcohol, deep dark fruits, cabarnet grapes, and over-ripe bananas.

Taste: dates, raisins, butterscotch, rum-soaked raisins, cocoa powder, and over-ripe bananas.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied bordering on full and crispy due to the carbonation.

Drinkability: Careful...this one is dangerous. Very complex and immensely enjoyable. Alesmith continue to impress me.

 603 characters

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

Thick set russet brown color with a small, compact tannish cap. Bits of lace grab hold in light ink blot patches.

Nice aroma of tangy molasses and dark fruity syrup. Fairly plump and ripe with raisin, fig, and dates floating around on top keeping a big boosted sweet malt profile. Notes of slightly burnt or smoldering doughnut dough.

Taste is darkly sweet and ripe with ample dark fruity flavors masked within a molasses tang. Has a partial smokey finish with regards to some vanilla, brown sugar, and licorice. Nice doughy center and creamy mouthfeel with a sweetly dark brigade behind it all keeping a fairly bold and dense action of flavors and bread doughy heft. Dark cherry hints and very light tobacco spices sweep off and on throughout the finishing areas as it floats away with one finely appealing dryness.

Mellow but stark and darkly set with sweet fruits and sugared breads. Age has suited this well. The feel is quite big still. Creamy medium/full tilted body with just a slight edge of warmth and alcoholic texture underneath. Bold, clean, and rightly set with dark fruity tang and sweetness. Nicely balanced. Easily drinkable and easy to get use to. 10% shows up later. A nice complimentary beer to all the other fine Alesmith brews. Yum.

 1,262 characters

Photo of palma
4.39/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Very dark amber color body. A head barely develops even with the most aggressive pour. A little disappointing actually, though the ring around the glass warrants a respectable score. After all, it is an aged beer ya know.

Smell: Prunes, licorice, banana, and a considerable nuttiness. A complex smell to say the least.

Taste: Very malty. Brown sugar. Sherry-like. A robust malty flavor lingers on the palate. Spicy aftertaste is sufficient. If not for a little more spice or zest in the finish, this beer scores a 5 in taste. Almost like an English Old Ale but with a yeasty kick in the ass... Get some MF!

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation. Slightly creamy. Maybe even a little oily. A sugar stickiness, which is not a detriment.

Notes: This is a very drinkable ale. Smooth yet strong, and so flavorful. Too bad it’s so hard to find. This is definitely Alesmith’s Grand Cru.

 897 characters

Photo of DogFood11
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

exceptional brew from alesmith. I love the fact that american breweries are stepping up and making beer that are hard to make, complex, full bodied, creative....man this is a gem.

Poured a dark plum color with a rich frothy head throughout.

smell of some plum, malt, and a kick ass in your face complexity of aroma's that I wont even venture to guess...JUST GOOD!!

Tasted like a good strong belgian on steroids. lots of different size carbonation, mostly fine with some mid size popping on the lips. taste lingers alot...you can move your tongue around and smack your lips and taste it over and over again...gobble. I used this beer as a nightcapper and would do so again...the drinkability is amazingly good....I was craving another one of these big 750ml bad boys as soon as i finished. Lets put it this way, when I was halfway through I was already planning a trip to the brewery....unfortunately late october or november is the earliest it can fit the schedule...Great BEER...THANK YOU ALESMITH.

 1,008 characters

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

2003 vintage sampled in July 2005.

Pours a ruby brown with a small head that is not hugely impressive. The lacing and syrupiness of this brew is apparant, and the color is beautiful.

Nice fruit alcohol aroma, simple and sweet.

Malt character is complex and hard to describe. A lot of flavor comes from the fruits in the brew. Raisins are big, as well as some plums perhaps. Hops show there face only in bitterness, but the alcohol is slick and warming.

Medium bodied with a slick oily feeling. Very velvety smooth. Light carbonation.

Buy this one and shelve it. It will mellow out with age. In 3 years I can tell this will be incredible.

 652 characters

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

Being a big AleSmith fan I picked up a 750ml bottle from AJ's in late April for $10.99.

Poured a deep red-brown with a champagne like head which quickly dissapated. Nose is of dark fruits, sugar, and alcohol. The first taste reminded me of champagne because of the high carbonation and high alcohol. There was an overwhelming blast of the dark fruits at the beginning of the taste quickly passing to a sugary alcohol finish. Mouthfeel is very lively but it was thinner than I thought it would be. Overall drinkability is good as the complexity of all the flavors make this very interesting. I would recommend that one try this once as I will probably not purchase again with the high price tag.

 697 characters

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

Pours a cherrywood color….no head…what a great nose…fresh, spicy blend of crisp Cabernet grapes….crushd green leaves….and efervescent tangerine and bergamot.. smootthed with rich tobacco….violet….nutmeg and earthy woods....deeper in a big boozy, rum like alcohol smell eminates..,

Flavor is very sweet…a blend of fruity heartiness of lemon, lime, pineapple and tangerine…. combined with jasmine….rose……port soaked cherries…nutmeg and cocoa…. also some hints of woods, musk and even some slight vanilla...definitely some heat too

Body is full…slick and sweet…

Overall I find this a fascinating beer but one that is a bit too sweet…Despite it’s intrgue I don’t think I would pay the coin for this one again..

 734 characters

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

Vintage bottle 2003, Sampled April 2005
This beer sits a rich amber color, and pours with a thin head that disappears pretty quickly. The aroma is thick with notes of dark fruit, I get notes of raisins, figs and a solid caramelized bread note. The aroma is quite evident and quite enticing. The taste is sweet with a thick-mouth coating feel to it that is quite satiating. The flavor is quite fruity, again I get notes of raisins as well as notes of prunes. I was not expecting this beer to be so thick and hearty, but it is and I really like it.

 547 characters

Photo of bultrey
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Color is dark cinnamon brown, with a thin head clinging to the sides of the glass. Aroma is redolent of a bit of banana and clove, and a little bit of orange oil, but with something slightly deeper going on, though I'm not quite sure what.
Taste also has a little banana, but dusted with cocoa powder. Also present are notes of tobacco, cinnamon, and toasted almonds. The start is quite sweet, but the finish is drying enough to keep the balance. This reminds me -- very distantly -- of Vapeur Cochonnette, but it seems like everything went right with the Alesmith as opposed to everything going wrong with the former. Just an incredibly rich and complex taste.
The mouthfeel is a bit syrupy -- I'm wishing for a little livlier carbonation. Overall drinkability is good -- huge alcohol is fairly well-hidden.
What do you know? West coast can make Belgian beers...
Many thanks to EyeChartBrew and co. for the sample.

 919 characters

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

2003 Bottle: Alesmith continues to impress! Deep amber color with a thick and rocky beige head. Thin and sticky lacing. Big aroma of sweet caramel, malt and maple. Rich body with loads of fruits and spices up front, and more sweet malt, chocolate and other goodies underneath. The finish is chocolatey and sticky. As with the other Alesmith beers, a champagne bottle disappears all too easily.

 393 characters

Photo of ppoitras
4.41/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle obtained via trade with kmpitz2. Thanks for the opportunity... Capped and foiled.

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed a 1 1/2" light tan head over the dark reddish copper brew. Exuberant carbonation generated while sitting in the glass makes the head grow and grow. Superb foamy lacing. Aroma is slightly spicy, slightly fruity, a bit yeasty, a lot going on, but could be a bit more intense for the style, in my opinion. Taste is light dark fruits coupled with malty depths, sliding into the slightest alcohol flavor, but all the warming one would expect from an abv 10. For the style, mouthfeel and drinkability are excellent. Grand indeed.

 661 characters

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

Pours a light mahogany with a light tan head that lasts and lasts is feed by lots of carbonation bubbles sticking to my chalice. Was hard to make out the hue of this brew do to the amount of bubbles stuck to my glass actually.
Aroma belgian candy like sweetness mixed with dark fruits, dates dipped in mollasses and some spice mingling around the mixture.
Taste is malty caramel, mollasses and candy like sweetness all rolling around with raisins, dates and figs a very tastey little party. Some spicey pepper and the like mix with some herbal/floral hops for a finish that also has hints of honey.
Mouthfeel is great all the carbonation noted in the looks doesn't make it into the feel, it is not fizzy at all just a good feeling medium bodied beer.
Drinkability is good a nice Grad Cru provided by an even nicer BA thanks merlin48 for sharing this with me.

 866 characters

Photo of merlin48
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another fine Alesmith offering enjoyed at a Saturday tasting session with mtnlover. Grand Cru pours an actively carbonated body with a large, ecru toned head that is creamy and longlasting. Sheet and patch lace is immense.
Aroma has notes of banana, mango, cotton candy sugars, and spicy notes of coriander.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied and has effervescent, Belgianesque, carbonation.
Taste has a notable dark fruit component of figs and raisins. Candy sugars and clover honey are also noted. Very little bitterness here, with a bit of spicy white pepper and coriander, and a mild yeast note. Alcohol is well hidden except for some warming sensation.
I wish Alesmith brews were available in Kentucky. This one came from Cincinnati, but is a nicely drinkable and well crafted Belgian style strong dark ale that is definitely one I would sample again. I just wonder what's up with the green bottles?

 901 characters

Photo of meathookjones
3.52/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes taken on 1/09/05 with a 750ml bottle. Even with an aggressive pour this beer seemed hard pressed to get even a full covering of tan bubbles. The body was a ruddy brown. Aroma was very sweet with various fruits, caramel and sugars. There was a bit of spiciness to it as well and another scent that reminded me of English style barley wines. Sweetness was dominant in the flavor as well with various fruits coming through and a good dose of caramel/toffee. Sugar and spice were prevalent as well. Something in the flavor reminds me of barley wines as well. A bit of lingering spice was on the finish. Fairly thick and slick was the body and it had quite a warming feel to it as well. Pretty good stuff but the sweetness became cloying towards the middle and really made the last glass drag on. On e I would like to try fresher if I ever get the chance.

 870 characters

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

Pours a dark caramel brwon and gold colors with reddish purple tints (I swear !) Minor off-white head disappears quickly leaving no lace but alcohol tannins on the glass are evident.
Aroma of plums, dates, figs, candy and brown sugar and some subtle dark spices.
Flavors of dark citrus, fructose sugar, Belgian candi sugar, a coriander yeat profile with a hint of herbal, fruity hops.
Mouthfeel is sweet but not cloying. Malts dominant but cut with enough spice to provide good balance.
Drinkability is good. Weel-crafted very attractive brew. Only issue I have is it is somewhat one dimensional and lacks a depth and a strong finish. After the malt and light spice it sort of fades away. This is a little picky point but just noticeable in comparing to other Grand Cru's

 775 characters

Photo of clvand0
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Second AleSmith I've tried. Pours a dark brown color with an extremely large head that sticks around for a while and leaves nice lacing on the glass. Aroma of sweet fruits, alcohol, and a slight spice (probably from the yeast). The flavor was very nice. Somewhat fruity - cherries? raisins? I'm not really sure, but I like it. Very easy to drink for the high alcohol. Wish this stuff wasn't so expensive, because I'd have it every day.

 435 characters

Photo of kmpitz2
4.53/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer poured a nice dark brown color with a 2 finger thich tan head that wouldn't go away. The nose was a nice brown sugary mixed with some raisiney spice. This beer tasted great, with a wonderful spicey and fruity character going on with the slight raisin flavor mixing with the belgian yeast. The beer was thick and a bit creamy, and fantastic. With the high ABV on this puppy, drinkability couldn't be better. A treat to have tried it. Word to my man clvand0 for sharing this one.

 487 characters

AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 379 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe