Grand Cru - Barrel-Aged | AleSmith Brewing Company

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Grand Cru - Barrel-AgedGrand Cru - Barrel-Aged
Very Good
65 Ratings
Grand Cru - Barrel-AgedGrand Cru - Barrel-Aged

Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
This Belgian-Style Ale has been matured in American and French oak red wine barrels for a year to add layers of complexity to its rich flavor profile of dark fruit and Belgian caramel malts. The oak and red wine flavors imparted by the barrel-aging process blend seamlessly with subtle hints of raisin, plum, and bittersweet chocolate from the beer. Enjoy now or continue to age in a cool, dark place.

Added by ArrogantB on 05-07-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 65 |  Reviews: 11
Reviews by Tom-Peters:
Photo of Tom-Peters
3.75/5  rDev -4.8%

More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
3.75/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Huge thanks to Kevin R for opening this one, along with many other AleSmith goodies. It pours just slightly darker than the regular Grand Cru - deeper brown and rusty copper with even less clarity than before. The head is about the same, though it seems to fade just a bit quicker. Needless to say, no lacing is left on the sides of the glass.

The aroma contains many of the components present in the original Grand Cru, you know, the typical notes you'd find in Belgian strong dark ales - dates, raisins, plums, brown sugar, toffee - very sweet and malty. However in this barrel-aged iteration, each slice of the pie is a bit more soft and tame and combines much more nicely with each other than they originally did.

Aside from softening up the aromas and giving the beer more time to "mesh", the red wine barrel aging also adds some large vinous notes to the aroma. Wet oak, light vinegar, mild grapes, and a touch of vanilla in the back end. Red wine barrels are some of my favorite barrels to age beer in; I already like this beer better than the original and I haven't even tasted it yet.

Much like I was expecting (and hoping), the flavor follows suit with the aroma in the fact that the flavors are yet again similar to the original, yet much more refined, soft, and mature, giving them a chance to blend in a much more enjoyable fashion. Vinous flavors are abound in the same capacity as they were in the aroma; vinous oak, grapes, and a touch of wine-like booziness.

The Barrel-aged Grand Cru is not quite as sweet as the original, either, which bodes pretty well as it was quite sugary. The barrel takes away some of the sweetness, softens it up, and counter it with oak and boozy warmth. The mouth feel is also a little sharper, with noticeably higher carbonation... A cause of secondary fermentation perhaps?

Overall, this is not a beer I'd spend twenty dollars on for a single bottle, nor would I trade away lots of other good beer to get a bottle. It's just not *that* good. However, I feel that the red wine barrel aging did quite a bit to improve the base beer - something that I wasn't particularly fond of.

 2,129 characters

Photo of warnerry
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Photo of aquazr1
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of acurtis
3.3/5  rDev -16.2%

Photo of SoCalBeerIdiot
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Photo of Alesmither
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.3/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Amber body. Big off white head. Thick collar.

Smell - Very malty. Fruity malt. Red wine. Cuts the depth with a bright wine aroma.

Taste - Very caramelly. Some fruits. Kinda monotonous. A bit of red wine, but mostly a Belgian malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel - Feels light. High carbonation and bright flavors lend it lightness.

Overall - Disappointing BA beer from AleSmith without being offensive.

 448 characters

Photo of GRG1313
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.75/5  rDev -4.8%

Bottle: Poured an hazy amber color ale with a medium off-white head. Aroma of sweet malt with some residual sugar, some caramel and light dry fruit notes. Taste is also a well balanced mix between some sweet malt with caramel malt and light dry fruit notes. Body is quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Enjoyable but not as complex as I was hoping and barrel was not as apparent as I would have expected.

 425 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.21/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle poured into a tulip.
10% ABV, Serve in a goblet at 50-55°, 2012 on bottle.

A - AleSmith's red wine barrel-aged Grand Cru pours a turbid-looking ruby-hued tawny brown in color with a fleeting, loose eggshell head that dots the tulip in little more than specks of lace.

S - Barrel-aging at it's finest, AleSmith's Grand Cru escapes the confines of a dark Belgian beer and breaks into the world of wine with a glorious aroma of distressed leather, oak vats, and dry, Merlot-like vinous red wine grapes. Subtle spicy yeast emerges through the deep and complex barrel-aging for a relaxed blend and smooth nose. Quite extraordinary.

T - Dark rock candy sweetness splashes the tongue, quickly followed by powerful dark malt and Belgian yeast-driven dark fruits. Moist fig newton, Crasins, and prune linger with a touch of peppery spice before finishing out with grape skin tannins and dry oak stave.

M - Sparkling carbonation prickles the lips and throat before descending to bloat the burp chamber otherwise known as the stomach. The beer's sweetness is thankfully cut by dry alcohol and an even more bone dry red wine finish that leaves the tongue feeling like sandpaper. Aside from the bothersome effervescent of this beer, the profile has a wonderful smoothness to it!

O - AleSmith's wine barrel-aged Grand Cru smells voluptuous and incredible; an early indicator that the $40 price tag was well worth it but, beyond that point it's worth seems to diminish. Like regular Grand Cru, the beer tastes heavily of dark fruit - great! - and dark, alcohol-boosting sugar - not so great. The Belgian character is there and, don't get me wrong, the beer is damn good but, it's red wine barrel influence seems to disappear rather quickly, only adding faint grape and oak flavor with a dry red wine finish in flavor. In a beer this sweet I was hoping for, and think there should be a little more barrel prominence, especially with the cost attached.

 1,955 characters

Photo of mtomlins
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%

Shared at a 10K review beer tasting; drank from a Hill Farmstead stemmed snifter.
Thanks to Phyl21ca for the bottle!

Pours a rich amber color, clear with a short off-white head and no lacing. The nose is rich, sweet toasted malt, brown sugar, caramel and some wood. On the palate, the grain bill shines through with big toasted grain, caramel, brown sugar, raisins, molassas coming though; the barrel is also more present with some wet wood and grapeskins. Nice.

 465 characters

Photo of ShanePB
4/5  rDev +1.5%

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

Photo of spinrsx
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.25/5  rDev -17.5%

Photo of Phoque
4.75/5  rDev +20.6%

Photo of gshak
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%

Photo of IrishColonial
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Photo of jeff1973
3.96/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of drewone
3.75/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of Morey
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of SocalKicks
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Photo of NickMunford
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%

Photo of dar482
3.5/5  rDev -11.2%

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Grand Cru - Barrel-Aged from AleSmith Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.94 out of 5 with 65 ratings