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't Smisje Calva Reserva - Brouwerij Smisje

Not Rated.
't Smisje Calva Reserva't Smisje Calva Reserva

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

144 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 144
Reviews: 102
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 15.06%
Wants: 8
Gots: 8 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Smisje visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  12.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Jon on 11-26-2003

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 144 | Reviews: 102 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of marburg
4.31/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured by my lovely fiancee and set on the coffee table 3-4 feet away. No more than 45 seconds later, the entire area felt like a sea of fruit and alcohol. I was swimming in redolent joy. I glanced over and noticed that it poured with absolutely no head whatsoever, and there wasn't even a hint of carbonation. I won't linger on that point, but I think a little carbonation would have been nice.

Evocative aromas of apple juice, prunes, alcohol, candied apples, and musty earth. Mind boggling combinations of aromas and flavors. Apricot? Maybe. Carmelized pear? Somewhere deep inside. Overripe peaches in syrup? Sure. The apple-ish flavors and alcohol really push the palate around and take it for a ride. I'm glad I had someone to share it with though, because I really should have poured only half a bottle and put the rest in the fridge. As this warms, the alcohol and apple become overly burdensome to the tastebuds, and this loses its appeal in a hurry. For something so intense, it's very good and very easy to drink. But let's not forget that it *is* this intense, and while 12% is hefty, there are plenty of brews that don't reveal the pure, brandy-like, unrestrained power of alcohol so quickly. I consider that a fault -- albeit a small one -- with this beer.

A very engaging beverage. The aging process really changed this beer, I'm sure. And it's unique qualities make that a very good thing.

Photo of drewbage
4.31/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap courtesy of the mad storage lockers of Lucky Baldwin's and the inebirating condition brought on by the annual Belgian Beer Festival.

Beer arrives in the small Chimay goblet as a light milk chocate hazy brown with no head for the seeing.

Aroma is chocolate cherries with a twist of the oasis scent of dates adding an earthiness and sugar not normally found.

Wet, cherries with a sweet chocolate orange and brown sugar to the end disguising the alcohol which becomes evident by the inevitable head swoon induced somewhere around sip #3.

Photo of beerthulhu
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
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 jdhilt
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours with NO head, bottle conditioned so there are chunky bits on the bottom. Hazy, murky off-color amber. Strong raisin nose, starts sweet and malty, finishes smooth and sweet. Alcohol is clearly noticeable. No carbonation and medium bodied. Savor this one - NOT a session beer.

Photo of Spider889
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased this bottle from Monk's Cafe.
The bartender was pretty knowledgeable when I inquired about the 't Smisje brewery. He explained that it was a little one-man operation and that the brewer was a little crazy. Sounded right up my alley!

The label art is different, not sure of the age though as everything I saw come up from their cellar had issues with labels marred/peeling off.

That said, I want to say this was a pretty old bottle. The label (and the Monk's bottle list) called the brewery by its old name: Deregenboog. The name wasn't changed until 2008, so this bottle has got to be at least an '07.

The label art was poorly printed, the text pixelated, and the background art of a cross-section of wood grain. Also listed as 11% on the label, with "coriander and grains of paradise" added. The bottle was a squat little Duvel style.

Poured into a Scaldis tulip. Produced a very tall fine head that threatened to spill over the sides of the glass. It quickly subsided, though a good half finger of head remained for the entire duration of my bottle. The color was a typical dark hazy BSDA/Quad orange brown with near purple twinges.

Smelled similar to unboiled wort, primarily wheat. Is this the grains of paradise? I am unfamiliar with them outside of a couple Samuel Adams offerings... Lots of sweetness in the nose. A ton of fig and toffee as well. Very inviting, though not terribly complex at first. By the end of the glass though, with some swirling, I was able to coax out some of the brandy aromas. Vanilla, hot but sweet liquor, and tobacco surface.

Boy was this beer a treat! Luckily it was my last beer, as it is both a desert beer and a sipper. Considering that this is often the purpose of brandy anyways, I'd say the beer hits its mark. The barreling is very strong in flavor, but not in alcohol heat. Maybe the age has mellowed this a bit.

Lots of aged oak notes - vanilla plays a big role in flavor. The apple brandy lends additional sweetness and a faint cidery flavor. The other huge flavor component was prune. It was very distinct but also worked very well. Mayhaps this is the product of a BSDA meeting calvados wood.

The alcohol is strong in this beer, though it never burns my throat or makes me feel tipsy. Again, I attribute the smoothness of character here to some age. The carbonation was very strong, but not detracting in the way some BSDA's can be.

Overall an excellent beer. My first experience with a calvados aged beer, but now I can see why they are so sought after!

Photo of Yetiman420
4.29/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed fresh on site at The Fooder in Philadelphia.

Poured into a Stoudts pint glass. Hazy copper brown with exceptional appearance.

1/2 finger head with consistently small bubbles.

Nothing exceptional from what I expected to be a spicy Belgian aroma.

Full mouthfeel with a punchy Belgian flavor. Really hits you upfront and finishes strong and clean. Lots of flavor in this one.

Photo of RickS95
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
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 GClarkage
4.27/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

05/04/08- Purchased at Plumpjack's in San Francisco, CA.

Presentation- 8oz stubby bottle. Not sure of the bottling date, but I have had it since '05. Pretty sure it's an '02 or '03. Poured into my J.W. Lees glass.

Appearance- Brown-caramel colored pour. Solid 3/4 inch pocky head. Leaves light lace streaks behind.

Smell- Smells strong...liquor-like strong. Dark fruits, chocolate, tobacco, earth. Oh and alcohol.

Taste- Taste mirrors the nose, except the alcohol is a bit more relaxed. Lots of tobacco as well as a chocolate-dirt flavor if that makes sense. Prunes soaked in a brandy like flavor as well.

Mouthfeel- Too carbonated for a 5 or 6 year old beer of his style. Flavors were fine in the aftertaste, but didn't quite last long enough.

Drinkability- If this were a bit more cask-like, it would really make the beer. I picture myself sitting in a 8 bedroom mansion, sitting my cherry walled office while smoking my pipe and reading War and Peace. Or sitting on my Levitz couch while watching Sportscenter. Really good beer...could probably age for another 5-10 years and be just fine or better.

Photo of brentk56
4.27/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy sienna body with a modest head that declines to a film but leave an abstract pattern of lacing across the chalice

Smell: Strong phenols with prominent apple and grape elements as well as some wood

Taste: Starts with a complex blend of burnt caramel, oak and fruit that is transformed, mid-palate by Candi Sugar, raisins and oaky tannins

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light bodied with very modest carbonation; lots of warming on the finish

Drinkability: Very interesting and unusual; a definite sipper

Photo of mikeinmemphis
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of CaptFrothy
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle that's been siren calling me from the cellar, been there about 3 years, decided to reward myself after a couple of hours shoveling snow .

vigorous foaming that crests at 3 inches and settled down to skinny white ring, dark mahogany brown.

ancient raisins and wood scents with a sugary old ale aroma.

smooth as newly paved interstate with a figgy raiseny front side and a buttery apple barrel back end. No abv taste detectable, just a little bit of heat.

Just about perfect for me, equal to the rich luxury taste of BCBS or Parabola and only surpassed by the likes of Utopia to these tasting buds.

Photo of patm1986
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of tsauce2
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

P: 11.2 fl oz bottle in to DFH tulip

A: SRM is raisin/dried plum brown. Semi-translucent and clear. Head is off white, 1/2 in, dissipates to nothing. Medium carbonation. Light/medium lacing.

S: Raisin, apple, plum/fig/date, caramel, brandy, oak, alcohol. Very sweet.

T: Much less sweet than nose indicates. Oak and bread notes temper fruit flavors, which are apple and light raisin. A touch of tartness and alcohol. Aftertaste is apple and alcohol.

M: Medium/full body. Semi viscous texture coats the tounge, light tartness stimulates the sides of the palate. Alcohol slides down the middle of the palate. Oak aging adds additional texture to mf. Carbonation brightens everything up. Finishes semi wet.

O: A pleasure. Easy to drink and could sneak up on one very easily if you had a few of these. Alcohol is VERY well concealed. Quite a complex and masterfully balanced beer. Will definitely buy more and age.

Photo of daedalus
4.24/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From what I have read, calvados is the new ‘in’ liquor and is gaining popularity in upscale restaurants and trendy bars along the East Coast. The apple brandy is most often served as a digestif, which is exactly how I enjoyed this beer.

Poured carefully into the center of a brandy snifter with the yeast left at the bottom of the bottle. After all of the aging, I was surprised to see carbonation, coarse as it was, form a quickly dissipating tan colored head. The beer itself is burnt sienna with orange hues - nearly the same color as the bottle from which it was poured.

The nose reveals dark fruits, rum soaked bread, calvados/apple aromas and a fair amount of alcohol.

Served at cellar temp, the flavors really come alive. The calvados is evident, but not overpowering, and a sweet caramel maltiness disguises the beer’s strength. The pleasant, warming alcoholic finish makes this one a nice conclusion to a hearty meal.

Photo of GilGarp
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
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
4.19/5  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 GCBrewingCo
4.19/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured into the chalice hazy medium amber with a very low off-white head that while barely there, managed to lap at the glass and leave traves of it's presence.

The aroma was deeply malty with dark caramel malt, biscuit aromas and huge dark fruit aromas of raisins and prunes. The aroma had a strong alcohol presence which caused spicy peppery phenolics of belgian yeast to emerge.

The flavor was deep, deep maltiness with strong dark caramelization and large flavors of biscuit and amber maltiness. The flavor was toasty with dark crystal maltiness and fruity with raisin and prune flavors pronounced in the complexity. The alcohol was restrained in the flavor, but the spicy phenolics remained and enhanced the package.

The finish was dry with long lasting biscuit and dark caramel maltiness and peppery spice lasting beyond the aftertaste. The body was just below full and above medium full. The biscuit malt flavor was extreme in this beer and actually very well done. The alcohol left a large warming sensation and reduced the drinkability but certainly enhanced the complexity of the beer.

11.2 ounce (said the label) bottle. No freshness dating. Purchased at Green's in Atlanta, GA for $4.

Note: I took the 11.2 ounce bottle and put water to the level the beer was and then poured into a measuring cup and only got about 8 ounces. The bottle was purchased without regard to bottle volume, but the labeling should indicate with some reasonable accuracy the amount of liquid inside.

Photo of kmpitz2
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solid amber color with almost no head and no hint of carbonation from the bottom. Very pretty shade. Nose is alcoholic, with a background of raisin and a red winey grape, almost portlike. Wow. Intense aromas. I'm a little scared to taste it. Flavor is not as strong as the aroma would lead to believe. Foundation is the dark fruity to winey, but with a solid oaky character on the finish. I think the oakyness helps to balance it and make this a very tasty beer. The alcohol is not too strong on the flavor either. Tasty. Feel is thick, with a lack of carbonation. I'm actually impressed with the drinkability of this brew. Everything about it is big and full, but it doesn't keep it from disappearing from my glass. I enjoy it a lot.

Photo of IntriqKen
4.14/5  rDev +7.5%
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 beerpirates
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

33 cl bottel from brouwerij smisje poured into my lost abbey stemware glass

A : Pours a hazy copper color with a smallish tan head. Nice lace left behind.
S : Aroma is malty bready sweet, dark fruit, caramel and a touch of brandy.
F : Flavor is dark fruit, malty, bready, apple brandy and the finish is quite spicy.
D : very drinkable , i would never say that this beer is 11 % abv.
O: nice brew ! I’m really enjoying this beer, very nice!

Photo of brewandbbq
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stubby bottle with the new label, no bottle date.

Pours dark copper and clear, with a one inch head of off-white.
Retention is moderate and theres a decent amount of continual lacework throughout.

Aromatics lead off with fruit-laden booze, raisins, spice, and a hint of oak.
Tangerines drizzeled with caramel, vanilla-steeped rum, coriander, white pepper, and cedar.
Some earthy, slightly musty notes step forward as the brew warms.

Medium bodied, chewy, and creamy. Fullish mouthfeel without being thick, thanks to a higher carbonation level.

Sweet malt, rum-soaked raisins, and citrus fruit start the pallet. Warming spice and lingering alcohol rise up, as well as some vanilla and oak.
Some faint grape jam pulls through with brown sugar residuals.

Finishes with lingering alcohol warmth, a peppery spicyness, and woodsy bark.

Plenty going on here, and the nose takes the cake. Quite boozy in general with plenty of spice and fruit.

Photo of mrfrancis
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark, hazy amber with a thin, creamy white head.

S: Strong apple skin and oak aromas reminiscent of calvados dominate the nose. There are also traces of caramel, alcohol, pear, and cherry.

T: Calvados, brandy, sweet cherry, spiced pear, caramel, toffee, vanilla bean, brown sugar, and a melange of spices wash across the palate. The finish is peppery and prickly with a combination of spice and calvados flavors.

M: Very full in body, rich, and grainy. Quite dry. Carbonation is stinging. Alcohol presence is pronounced.

O: I'm always at least intrigued by Smisje's products, but this one I love. The overwhelming spice and calvados flavors lend this ale a great deal of depth and complexity. Quite sophisticated and refined for such a rustic, unorthodox brewer.

Photo of tai4ji2x
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

with dinner at publick house, cambridge, ma

interestingly, they claimed this was the same as the kerst, only cask aged. the bottle and label was also different from the one pictured above. (the shape was actually the same as the kerst)

it was recommended that we try both, for comparison.

as such, this review will only point out differences from the kerst.

there was ever so slightly less lacing and head retention.

aroma, and even somewhat the taste, had much more of a spiced rum note. possible whiff of cask aged wood.

a little more syrupy in the mouthfeel, with more of a slight alcohol kick.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Murky cherry caramel with abundant particles that I was unable to keep out of the snifter. They seem to have dissolved now, however. The pale beige crown was small thanks to a gentle pour and has turned from foamy to lightly creamy over time. The fact that almost no lace graces the glass doesn't detract from the appearance.

The nose is concentrated blackberry fruity and is also somewhat Cabernet Sauvignon-like. So far, I would never have guessed that this big ale was aged for 6 months in Calvados (French apple brandy) casks. There are also aromas of tobacco and leather, but it's more 'dark red' than 'brown' if I can describe the nose in terms of color.

't Smisje Calva Reserva isn't quite as deep and as complex as the nose suggested it would be. Having said that, it's still an enjoyable sipper with no real negative traits. It tastes like a well-aged quadrupel (2 years at least) that is remarkably gentle for such a high ABV.

On the palate, the beer is still incredibly bursting berry-like, with black cherries and raisins in addition to blackberries. It's also vinous in a way that suggests tawny port rather than Cabernet. The earthy flavors of tobacco and leather are still present, as is a background exotic spiciness (that I subsequently found out is due to coriander and grains of paradise).

The mouthfeel is much closer to medium than to full. This is probably where age has had the biggest impact. It's still more than acceptable, it's just that I tend to like mouthfeels that err on the side of big rather than not big.

Brouwerij Smisje has always struck me a brewery that produces solid, drinkable beer that doesn't make it all the way to spectacular. That is exactly where Calva Reserva settles out. I'll gladly spend $4.29 for another bottle if I happen to run across it again.

't Smisje Calva Reserva from Brouwerij Smisje
86 out of 100 based on 144 ratings.