Alesmith: Grand Cru (USA: Belgium Strong Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual:Dark bronzed red. Massive off white head made of a mix of small bubbles.

Nose: Wheat. Slightly vinous sour grapes. Malt drink. Raisins.

Body: Red grapes. Malt loaf and sultanas. Dry malt drinks. Very vinous. Slight sour white grapes. Light aniseed. Malt chocolate.

Finish: Bitter. Wheat. Dry. White wine and sour grapes. Cinnamon. Soy sauce. Liquorice.

Conclusion: Bit of a disappointment this one. Maybe I built it up too much in my mind as I was looking forwards to it. Not a bad beer, but compared to similar beers with similar reputations it just doesn’t quite match up.

I’ve pretty much started at the end there. Maybe being a bit harsh as well. Lets go back to the start and I shall explain.

The aroma was fairly simple, it calls to the Belgium Saison style with dryness and what characteristics. What it didn’t do was get me excited for the main beer. It did have a slight sourness but not too much is hinted at. Thus I had to move onto the main body for it to stand on it’s own merits alone.

The body definitely showed the influence of Belgium yeast (or if not then a facsimile thereof) in the texture, but the flavours call more to heavily smoothed out version of the British ESB style. Now here it does do some nice tricks with fruit flavour, wine sourness and a dryness mixed in. It did seem a bit light without any push or emphasis initially. This resolves itself as I poured more into the glass. Either the flavour had built up or, at a guess, the extra dislodging of the yeast in the bottle helped the flavour. Its amazing how many times with beers like these the second glass from the bottle is far more flavoursome than the first.

The finish is dry and simple. Maybe it was due to only having a year to age but the beer seemed to fare badly against the three year aged Bush Prestige I had before. They seem to play for the same style butt this beer doesn’t have the same range or craft.

Now I have listed the areas I found disappointing I will say again it isn’t a bad beer, just not in the league it was seemingly aiming for. It is nicely vinous and tart, easy to drink and does have decent flavour to the main body. The mix of styles is interesting, and gives the impression of a malt drink saision with vinous touches. Not as good as that sounds though. It does do a nice mix of raisins and red wine with lots of Belgium character. I guess for all its reputation, and my enjoyment of the similar, Bush Prestige I was just expecting more. Not bad, just not great.

Background: Picked up a while back from Brewdogs guest beer section. There’s no bottled on date, but based on how long it’s been in my cupboard and how long American beers usually take to get here I would guess it’s had about a years ageing. Alesmith is one of these breweries that have a legendary rep, but I’ve yet to try a beer from them that matches their rep. There haven’t been any bad beers, just none so great as to make me go wow. Then again it took me a while to find beers that made me see why Moor had a good rep as well and now I love that brewery, so I’m always willing to give Alesmith another try to see what I’m missing. (odd fact noticed from this write up, I always seem to typo “malt loaf” as “malt load” – I really hope I didn’t miss this elsewhere). Final Note: I have been reading “John Dies At The End” which may explain the sudden appearance of the “Soy Sauce” flavour note in this review.