't Smisje Calva Reserva - Brouwerij Smisje

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't Smisje Calva Reserva't Smisje Calva Reserva

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BA SCORE
87
very good

139 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 139
Reviews: 101
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 15.28%
Wants: 8
Gots: 7 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Smisje visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  12.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Jon on 11-26-2003)
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Ratings: 139 | Reviews: 101 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by zhooker:
Photo of zhooker
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Was briefly on cask at The Ginger Man, NYC.

From a goblet. Per cask, little to no head. Brown with red and purple hues.

STRONG smell of raisins/prunes -- first and foremost. Then some orange peel, cherries, maybe some coriander? Funky, and I will say it again... strong.

The nose doesn't lie -- first sip almost feels like a spiced/mulled wine. And that is the overriding theme throughout the glass -- the Autumnal flavors of a warm spiced wine not-so-gently mixed with an average Belgian Dark or Stong Ale, something along the lines of Brooklyn Brewery's Local #2. Make no mistake though, it is the spiced raisin/prune flavor that dominates this drink, even to the detriment of its drinkability.

This was a fun glass, definitely one to pass around the table and watch reactions, gather taste interpretations, but I can't say I would order it again.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass a deep brown with ruby red tint when held up to the light a few chunkies and floaties swirling about,deep dark brown sugar notes along with some candied orange peel with an underlying oakiness as well.Starts out quite sweet I pick up some vanilla and caramel along with that candied orange peel like in the nose finishing slighty dry and woody.Full lush mouthfeel like dessert in a bottle almost,a nice night cap brew although not my favorite style its nice to indulge in things like this from time to time.

Photo of RoyalT
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This one is dark brown in color with a tinge of orange and a nice, full head that left clumps of pitting foam on top of the liquid.

Smell – The light, fluffy orange aroma mated perfectly with the big yeast. The fruits are bold as well. The pear and banana in particular go well together. The high ABV is masked well at the nose. This one is nicely put together.

Taste – The malty backbone takes on some sour notes at the taste. The spicing here is powdery and dark. I can pick up some good caramel flavors along with some granular brown sugar. The hearty, overripe apricots are overflowing. In the background I’m finding some good, doughy flavors and a small reminder of the high ABV.

Mouthfeel – This one is bigger than medium in the body with a chewy, sugary mouthfeel and a small alcohol sting.

Drinkability – I thought this BSDA needed a bit more structure but otherwise filled the bill. It kind of tasted liked a BSDA that was overaged a bit past its prime. Either way, it made for a great aperitif.

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From my cellar, same bottle as pictured. Honestly not sure how long I have held onto this one. It pours into my glass a murky, hazy cola brown with orange accents. A small head appears and fades to a ring of bubbles just as quickly. Aromas begin with sweet dark malts upfront with lots of fruit flavors. Apple brandy is quite evident with oak undertones. Raisins, brown sugar and marzipan with yeasty spiciness. Very mild oxidation. I like it.

First sip brings sweet malts racing across the palate with fruity flavors leading the way. Bread notes in the middle along with a touch of fig. Apple brandy moves in along with a woody twang. As the brew flows down hints of raisins and brown sugar meld into a yeasty spiciness with a touch of coriander. Rather sweet overall with a mild alcohol hotness on the finish. Complex.

Mouthfeel is smooth and somewhat chewy as well with solid maltiness, however it is thinner than most Quads. Carbonation is quite mellow here. Alcohol is evident but not overpowering. This is a nice sipper and has aged well. I'll need to get a couple fresh bottles and keep track of how long I age them better next time. Would make a good dessert beer.

Photo of Kraken
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from odd sized11.2oz bottle into a standard pint glass . Minimal head that dissapates very quickly, beverage is a cloudy chesnut in color. Smell is amazing , rasins, malts, alcohol complex. . Taste very similar to smell, raisins , sour apple , fair malt backbone hints of vanilla. Finish was odd, sort of a sour rotten wood funk from barrel aging. Mouthfeel was suprisingly thin n for a quad. Drinkabiliity suffers at 12% . Devecnt beer worth a try unique.

Photo of rastaman
3/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle @Toronado, San Fransisco. I think thanks go to mat for this beer, but i’m not entirely sure. this was pretty wierd. Salted licorice, toasty caramel and vegemite, definite aged character, not quite my bag, but not bad. Packed a punch, and theres lots of flavour.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours an opaque amber body that has a soft glow of red in the light but is to dense to see any carbonation. The snow-white head is a thin ring of big bubbles and slides down the glass with each sip.

S- The smell of apple butter and wood has a nice flower blossom hint and a note of brown sugar.

T- The taste of dry apple skins and smooth wet wood has a nice caramel malt flavor for support. There is a soft herbal dry spice note at the finish. As the beer warms there is a light brightness of apple juice.

M- This beer has a light mouthfeel with no sign of alcohol heat even when warm.

D- This beer has subtle flavors but they all blend very well and this is a very drinkable beer. The calvados and cask notes really compliment the beer without overpowering it.

Photo of acurtis
3/5  rDev -22.3%

Photo of mikeinmemphis
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%

Photo of ggaughan
3.18/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I shared this bottle with my wife at the Brugs Beertje in Brugge. The beer poured a brown color with no head to speak of. It had an iced tea look to it, not the taste though. The aroma of the beer gave off solid hints of the high abv that this beer has. The taste was a bit citrus but was dominated by the high abv and some oak notes from the aging. The beer also had an almost maple syrup quality to it as well.

Photo of IntriqKen
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark amber fills the glass with a small white head of tiny bubbles that melts to a fine ring very quickly.

Aromas are caramel, brown sugar, applesaste , pears, and cherries.

Taste is richly thick caramel malt with a slightly burnt aftertaste. Apples and pears with a hint of cherry dominate the very present fruits in the flavor. Only a hint of the very strong alcohol comes out in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is full, rich, and creamy but leaves the mouth with only the hint of dark fruits and alcohol.

Very pleasant warmth as it fills your body.

I didn't realize this was a quad and was expecting a belguim red, for some reason. Consequentially, this tasting was a very pleasant surprise.

Photo of GilGarp
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle served at about 50 degrees. No date but I would be interested to know.

Poured into a New Belgium etched-bottom goblet, Calva Reserva is a deep redish brown color with good clarity. The head is creamy smooth but settles pretty quickly. A quick swirl brings it back easily.

Aroma is sweet and a little boozy. There is some oak but the smell is really dominated by cherries and other sweet dark fruit.

Flavor is very intense and equally unusual. It has a richness that is almost port-like. Cherries, chocolate, and oaky vanilla all come through. It's definately a sweet beer but never cloying. Bitterness is minimal.

Velvety mouthfeel with full body and low carbonation. The alcohol is very well hidden.

This is a great slow sipper of a beer. The alcohol warms but otherwise you would never know it's 12%. I'd love to get another botttle for the colder winter nights ahead. Next time at cellar temperature.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bought these in dusty condition--not the most promising looking things, but I figured at 12% there had to be some life in them. Or maybe I can claim a valiant effort to save them, as it didn't look like they'd be rescued anytime soon. No bottle dating of any sort, dammit.

Pours a thin head that disappears to a wispy crown very quickly. Nice murky brown color with tiny particles of sediment in suspension. Didn't try to rouse it up at all, but I don't mind the stuff anyway. Still, it's not the best looking beer, no real complaints either. Moving on...

Rich, earthy and bold aromas awake the nose: black cherry, cola, black currant, blackberry, lightly smoked malt, and just a peek into the magical yeast.

Flavor is just as good, with fruits exhibiting darkly sweet, seductive characteristics; hints of spice & leather; big pungent peat-like malts; a hint of the yeast which provides an earthy grounding to the succulent malt/berry-fruit feature. A quintessential Quadrupel flavor without the cloying alcohol that is sometimes their Achilles' heel. At 12%, it's very well-incorporated. Not "well-hidden", because there's just the slight bit of warmth, but it's an undertow and not an overlying trait. Finishes lightly sticky with milk-chocolate licorice lingering.

Mouthfeel is a little thin. I'm guessing this is due to the presumed age and obvious lack of carbonation. Play with it a little more and it's not so much thin as it is mellow. Found it to be complementary to the flavors, but the sticky coating was a little tiring in time.

A cask-aged beer that doesn't scream "wood!"...it's just the means to the end...a delicious end. Would love to try this a little fresher and closer to its home.

Photo of cokes
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A stray bubble or two pockmarks the surface of a muddied burnt sienna pool, but otherwise there is no head to speak about.
A fruit salad nose of figs, plums, raisins, apple butter, and stewed pears. Oak has a cameo, as does a fleeting band-aid yeast phenol. A fortified viniousness comes out especially as it warms, but is much quieter than expected.
Most of the fruit apparent on the nose follows on into the mouth, along with a few newcomers. Date and figs roll through first. Then it veers towards orange marmalade. It rumbles toward cherries and Concord grape, then baked cinnamon apples. Yeast adds a dusting of paste across it all, and few distinctive flavor apart from it. It concludes with a vanilla oak nuance as the Calvados rains down alcoholic apple brandy hues. All told, however, the heat is tempered and booze flavors are merely that, not sting.
It is basically utterly flat. It's a bit unusual, especially coming from Belgium. But the body works in cohesion with the flavors, so it befits the moderately thick (but far from chokingly cloying) body. As a fan of things like Gale's Old Ale and Le Coq Imperial Stout (both essentially uncarbonated), I can dig this too. I also understand how others might not.
This bottle is several to many years old (I don't have the vintage date, as none is given on the bottle). It seems that the alcohol mellows dramatically with age here...even moreso than most.

Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A rich aged beer, reddish-brown, not much head, slightly detracted satisfying experience at the end, with many black grains of sediment. Alcohol warming began promptly. Brandy influence from barrel. Caramel. Fruity and honeyish, yet grainy not creamy mouthfeel.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.4/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very carefully poured from a long-standing bottle with great care to leave the lees behind, it's a fairly clear orange-copper color. A half ounce of beer may be lost in the effort to leave the sediment behind, but it's well worth it as it leaves a cleaner flavor and lends a bit to its appearance as the lack of head can be somewhat detracting. The aroma, however, more than makes up for any faults in its appearance with it's rich caramel-drenched maltiness, dark sugars, sticky prunes and soft raisins, just-cut juicy apples, earthy wood, subtle vanilla, and delicate waft of alcohol. A Belgian barleywine? Interesting. It's body is full, and it's exceptionally smooth across the palate as there's no carbonation whatsoever; leaving it very much like a brandy in more ways than one. The flavor continues the onslaught of apple/caramel/prune that the aroma began with the addition of some spice and heat from the alcohol. As it warms (and you progress through the glass) the alcohol softens a bit, but still lingers at the back of the throat. Hmmm.... given that this is a rich and strong sipping beer, but not one that's overly complex (class it along with Samichlaus), I'd suggest that the intensity of the alcohol might be a bit much. A pleasant surprise that's certainly worth trying but Valhalla's a long way off.

Photo of cjgator3
3.63/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2oz bottle poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. It pours a murky dark brown color with a light tan head. The aroma is very aromatic and complex. The aroma explodes with dark fruits, freshly baked bread, and yeast with a touch of spices. The taste is slightly fruits with bready malt with some spices and a boozy finish. Overall, this is a very nice brew that is definitely a "sipper" that would be perfect to warm up with on a cold night. Too bad we really don't get many snuggle up by the fire nights in Florida.

Photo of RickS95
4.31/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Rich mahogany brown pour, thickest looking beer I've seen that wasn't pitch black. Nothing watery looking, just a muddy brown that you can tell is full of flavor. The head is a very light brown/tan color and creamy looking. Decent retention, small buildup of bubbles forming a ring as the bubbles dissipate. No lacing at this point.

Malt and alcohol. Smells like a liqueur, less like a beer, unless it's a brute and based on the ABV for this, it is. The more whiffs I take, the more is smells like Utopias.

The malt is prevalent on the taste buds, but thankfully, the alcohol isn't. Caramel and dark fruits, think plum or raisin. Only a splash of alcohol deep, deep in the swallow.

Remarkably smooth compared to what I expected from the smell. The alcohol is well-hidden, only showing up as a bit of heat from time to time. Sweet intial burst of flavor, buttery in mid-sip and slightly tart, hot finish. Full bodied. There is some carbonation in the finish, as it starts off somewhat crisp but the butteriness comes on for a sticky swallow.

I was scared of this just from the smell, but it's exceptionally good beer. A sipper for sure, my bottle only claims 11% ABV, but it's still plenty. Reasonably easy to drink, full of good flavor. Very happy to have another bottle for another time.

Photo of Jon
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

't Smisje Calva Reserva is yet another take on barrel aged beer. This beer is aged in E. Dupont Calvados casks for six months before bottling. Keeping that in mind, this is a wonderfully unique creation. It pours a murky auburn color with absolutely no head and no active carbonation. Nose is dominated by the Calvados, or apple brandy, oak, raisins, additional ripe fruit and a healthy dose of alcohol. Additional notes of sweet malts, coriander, Calvados, overripe fruit (apples, obviously) and a warming alcohol presence characterize the flavor profile. Only the slightest hint of earthy Hallertauer hops used in the brewing process are noted. Mouthfeel is super smooth and elegant, much reminiscent of a strong liqueur. This is a true sipping beer with the weight it carries, but it sure is delicious on the way down.

Photo of dougnboston
2.58/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Please understand, it's about 85 degrees (f) here today and this beer deserves a strong winter storm, being cut off from all the world, a big fire and someone special to linger with. Pair it with a hearty stew and you may have something.

Summer beer it's not, so it's very hard for me to rate this fairly. I'm not an extreem alchohol guy and this one is stong on the taste. Plums do seem to come to mind. Sweet for sure. Dark, dark fruits. Malty after taste. The head died quickly and no lace on the glass. Smell the brandy! Light up a cigar with this baby. It's a big one.

Photo of zonker17
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%

Photo of MichaelLamb
3.64/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of claaark13
4.43/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 bottle, 25cl. Poured into a Bell's tulip. Approx. 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Jedwards, thanks for another great bottle that I never knew existed.

A - Dark brown pour, not much light is getting through at all. 1/2" or more of head, slowly but surely dissipates. Lacing retains even now, which is about 45 minutes after the pour. Pretty good looking beer.

S - I could smell it as soon as it started coming out of the bottle. Dark fruits, mild licorice and esters. As it airs out for a few moments, a swirl gives me what I believe are apples. Yes, green (not sour) apples. Very pleasant. Slight amount of cherries.

T - Yep, cherries and apples are coming out. Cherries start and meld into a slight amount of boozy cherries, going into apples....then a pretty dry finish. There is a mild Belgian dark ale in the distant back-flavor. About 1/2 way through each sip, the calva barrel esters start to appear and then turn into apples. It is pretty unique. There is a mild amount of sweetness, but nothing that really stands out. Great balance, smooth, and the noticeable esters are very welcome.

M - Smooth until towards the end, when the slight booze and dryness come out. Medium body that fits perfectly with the rest of the beer. It could work if a little thicker, but I like it how it stands. This is extremely drinkable. I think that red wine drinkers would go crazy of this one.

O - Pretty good beer here. Well balanced, the barrel aging adds favorable and unique layers, the sweetness is low and allows for the other flavors to come out, the mouthfeel fits well. I will get more of this one. I am very happy with it. My only concern is that I've reviewed a beer that is 7 years old and I'm not sure how a fresher one will fare. I can see a younger bottle being hot and something more around the B+ range. I will know soon enough.

Photo of beerthulhu
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12% Quadrupel. Matured in Calvador Casks for 6 months. Bottled in 03 and aged and sampled after 4 years in 11/07.

A: The beer pours a dark burnt burgundy color with virtually no head.

S: On the nose is a strong vinous wine like aroma of sherry. There is a noticeable amount of alcohol on the nose as well as oak, burnt brown sugar sweetness and a complexity of burnt woodiness.

T: The flavor starts off with some burnt sugary sweetness, molasses and woody notes. There are underling notes of dried fruit, figs and dates. The alcohol is very even, noticeable but very well subdued for its 12%abv drinking more like a 8%abv. The beer is sweet from the caramelized malting and very complex from the calvador cask ageing. There is a nice earthy bitterness from the hops to balance out the malt sweetness and nice campfire minerality notes such as charred wood. There is some acidity to the palate and the beer finishes with a nice alcohol warming fade full of dried fruit, figs, dates, burnt molasses, and woody complexity with a touch of light smokiness.

M: The mouthful is syrupy and full bodied.

D: A must try and recommend and surprising enough has a great drinkability factor despite its high abv. I would suggest ageing this for 3-5 years to let the alcohol mellow. This beer truly has the aroma and palate of a sherry and drinks just as eloquently smooth and complex as any fine wine.

Photo of mdillon86
4/5  rDev +3.6%

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't Smisje Calva Reserva from Brouwerij Smisje
87 out of 100 based on 139 ratings.