AleSmith Grand Cru Ale | AleSmith Brewing Company

385 Reviews
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale

Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bottle conditioned.
AleSmith Grand Cru really needs to be tasted to be truly appreciated. Toasty, caramelly flavors, as well as flavors imparted by the Belgian yeast strain, predominate over a tapestry of subtle nuances. Winner of the blue ribbon at the 1999 California State Fair, it is a thing of beauty. It is available in 750 ml. champagne bottles.

Added by Jason on 04-27-2002

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Reviews: 385 | Ratings: 911
Photo of bruachan
4.21/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

great ruby red color with vivacious carbonation that helps sustain a very nice merengue head

this is a belgian? i would have picked barleywine in a blind tasting. no tastes like a slightly subdued old guardian (which i loved). same butterscotch/toffee character in the aroma and flavor and the same chewy feel. it's even hoppy enough to fit the style. this beer makes me wonder if i have a grasp on barleywines like i think i do

do i punish this beer for tasting like a beer that i loved from a different style?

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.64/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am splitting a 750 with Stopper and pouring it at room temp into a snifter.

The beer pours a clear mahogany with some deep ruby highlights. A small beige head foams up and fades rapidly.
Aroma is caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit, plums, raisins, and a little bit of rum booziness.
First sip reveals a syrupy texture with very mild carbonation. Pretty hefty body. The flavor is similar to the nose and almost as complex. Brown sugar and caramel mix with dark fruit, plums and raisins, some tart raspberry, and even red grape. I also get the warming booze on the finish. A sipper but a damn tasty one at that. Definitely worth a buy!

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

Vintage 2003. 750ml. green glass, capped champagne bottle, with gold foil and a silk-screened label. It pours a slightly cloudy, dark copper-brown ale
with a quarter inch of tan colored head, that disappears quickly. No lacing so to speak.

Sweet, earthy malt nose with hints of roasted nuts, tobacco and brandy soaked fruit, very mellow with whiffs of alcohol seeping through.

The taste is of sweet roasty malt, with fruit and nut flavors blending with alcohol, then dropping to a slightly bitter, yet clean, mellow warm finish. Very tasty, but the carbonation has dropped which seems to let the full flavors of this fine ale to blossom in your mouth and yield the complexity that the Grand Cru fresh on tap has to offer. Perhaps if the bottle I'm reviewing here, had been properly cellared for the last three years, it would be better than what I had fresh at the brewery, several days ago.

None the less, still a very tasty, complex ale that's worth it's weight in gold...very tasty stuff, bar none!

Medium heft in body, silk-smooth mouthfeel, this stuff goes down like water, then kicks your a$$ in a good way! Another gem from AleSmith, a no-brainer...try it numbskull's, or miss out!!!

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

Pours a slightly hazy brown/orange, tiny white head, some spots of lace,. Smell is sweet, with caramel, brown sugar and apple. Taste is huge, caramel and apple, some vanilla toffee, tootsie roll finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation, very smooth. 2004 edition, nicely aged. Thanks DrJay!

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

Translucent burnt umber, 1 inch head, falls to a ring with islands of bubbles. Smell is alcohol, rum soaked raisins, and cinnamon bread dough. The taste is caramel and alcohol, though less than I expected after the strong nose. This has a fine mouthfeel, with the alcohol thinning things out a bit. Very drinkable, but after a 750ml bottle you shouldn't be having much else.

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

750 ml bottle similar to the Grand Cru 2003 bottle shown under that beer entry. This beer has no dating information. Purchased at Hi Time Wine Cellar about a year ago (early 2005?), no price or date info recorded. Cellared by me for about a year.

Pours a pretty brown/amber with auburn red highlights. Medium head dies very quickly to a thin cover; no lacing remains.

Aroma is that of a very nice Belgian Strong Dark ale- moderately sweet, burnt sugar and chocolate-covered candy bars. Slight roastiness and a few spices to boot- orange peel is the obvious one, but others are around too. Quite nice to sit and enjoy smelling.

Flavor is complex, malts with roasty, almost charcoal softened by semi-sweet chocolate, and fruits. Dark fruits. Dried fruits. Candied fruits. I'm talking fruitcake cherries, black cherries, dried plums, dates. And then at the end, almost hidden by a huge alcohol kick in the ass, is a gritty, yeasty, flour-like flavor. Like mixing the bread ingredients (without the water), and putting some in my mouth.

The alcohol reduces the overall score for me. I know some people like it, and that's good for them, but I don't care for it. To be fair, it does diminish as the beer warms to room temperature. I'm glad I let it age, I would have hated to fight this one fresh! That bit kept me from scoring this one higher.

Overall, this is a really good beer- I waited a long time to try it.

My 400th review. Wow.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, 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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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..

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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