I love when a beer surprises you. When I first heard of BJ’s Restaurants, I didn’t expect much. It was a mall chain and let’s be honest, would you expect much from “mall beer?” Then I was given a taste of their Grand Cru and immediately knew I was wrong. That was last year. I’ve since been to a few BJ’s and continue to be impressed with what they have to offer. This year, to celebrate their 10th Anniversary, I went back to my local BJ’s (and the newest in the Bay Area) to try their Grand Cru and feature it as my Beer of the Week.
This strong Belgian-style ale features imported Belgian malts and secret spices resulting in a malty character with a whirlwind of fruit and spice flavors.
First served to celebrate the millenium, the Grand Cru is celebrating it’s tenth year at BJ’s. A Silver medal winner in Belgian-Styled Strong Specialty Ale at the Great American Beer Festival in 2002, and at the World Beer Cup in 2000.
Original Gravity: 1.092
BJ’s Grand Cru started with fruit and yeast in the nose, remisicent of wine. Ripe apples and grapes mingle with a yeasty body and finish with pepper, spices and a slightly tart bite that amplifies the grassy hops. Not defined by a style, the Grand Cru sits somewhere between a Duvel and Piraat with more body and stronger yeast presence. Easy to drink for the strength, but definitely worthy of sipping.
The Grand Cru is definitely a treat that should be sought out at BJ’s. If you’ve seen it at other locations in previous years, don’t expect it to be around as long as before. According to Michael “Mufasa” Ferguson, BJ’s Director Of Brewing Operations, Contract Brewing and Beer Training, the Grand Cru is selling at a rate three times faster than last year. In fact, San Rafael has sold all of their commemorative glasses, having only one left in-house for my visit. I recommend you hurry and get in for a glass before it’s all gone.