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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
89
very good

105 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 105
Hads: 152
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 12.09%
Wants: 10
Gots: 9 | FT: 0
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 105 | Hads: 152
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
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. (1,805 characters)

Photo of tai4ji2x
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
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. (603 characters)

Photo of beerthulhu
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
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. (1,396 characters)

Photo of ggaughan
3.2/5  rDev -19.4%
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. (412 characters)

Photo of cjgator3
3.67/5  rDev -7.6%
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. (516 characters)

Photo of Slatetank
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked this up at Shawan Liquors in Md. Decanted cool into a Goblet from a brown 11.2oz bottle.
A - The bottle released not even a whimper when uncapped, the vigorous pour resulted in approx 1/4 inch of delicate whispy tan head. The liquid is a murky bottle conditioned brown, like chocolate milk. The lace is transparent but evident like whisky.

S - A caramel and vinous scent w/ vanilla woodiness and full strenght esters of a boozy Belgian. Malty sugary w/ plum and fig in the nose.

M - Malty, sugary as the nose hints at w/ a warmth and viscous syrupy full feel. There is an oakiness with toasted qualities also.

T - Maple, boozy woody vanilla notes start off the taste. A hint of sherry and the depth of port are both apparent. Candy sugar and nutty praline like sweetness make sure you know you are sampling a 12% ale - it tastes like one. Boozy with spice and warming toffee w/ a taste of dry yeasty spice and barrel aged dense flavors.

D - A big, sweet complex ale w/ the strength of 3 beers and the smell and flavor are compliance w/ a high abv of the quad. A nightcap in the best sense it is better than average drinkability-wise, but more than one in a sitting is probably not happenin' for me. The flavor and strength relaxed me slowly, this is a beer made for sipping. (1,287 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
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. (801 characters)

Photo of dnichols
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It was a 330 ml bottle poured into a challis. This was one of several beers imacoug returned to Washington with after a vacation in Florida. We got together on a Sunday afternoon to share a few newbies and watch football.

A: It poured a dark cloudy brown with a ting of orange and a fair number of very dark floaties that settled quickly in the base of the challis. It had a moderate head that held on and covered the surface of the beer late into the event. However, the head refused to lace the side of the glass.

S: I had trouble picking up a distinct aroma from this beer. There were hints of smoky roasted malts and dark fruits (perhaps cherries) but each time I tried to get a handle on what I smelled I lost it. Call it a subtle or gentle aroma or call it unremarkable…I’m not sure which. Another tasting is in required.

T: I experienced mostly a burnt malt kind of flavor with a strong alcohol burn. There was perhaps a hint of cherries but not much more than a hint. I can pick up a smoky earthy flavor that complements the burnt malts and gives it a creamy full flavor. It begins with a sweetness that is overcome with the bite of alcohol on the back side that leaves a dryness on the palate late in the drink.

M: Full bodied with a dry not sour alcohol aftertaste.

D: This one has a kick to it that would prevent it being a session beer. I split one with imacoug and after half a bottle a warm glow was already evident.

Comment: I love quads and this is definitely at home in the quad family. However, for a Belgium quad it falls short of some of its cousins. Better than its brother but shy by a long shot of its Trappist cousins. (1,655 characters)

Photo of cokes
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
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. (1,414 characters)

Photo of kajerm
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Saw this on the menu at Monk's and purchased based on the name.

Pours a hazy headless chocolate with zero carbonation and zero lacing. Hot damn, I think this beer might have alcohol in it.

Calvados dominates the aroma, imparting notes of apples and brandy-- and I'm not just saying that because I read the label. Other malt and barrel-derived smells flit in and out of the background-- toffee, molasses, vanilla, and an almost Brettlike mustiness. I'm pretty sure it's not infected though.

The flavor profile is sweet from beginning to end, opening up with lighter malts and fruity sweetness (apples, maybe?) and growing stickier mid-palate. Brandy character is present early on but grows towards the finish, which is almost winey.

This beer is complex as Hell-- how have I never heard anything about it before?

As for mouthfeel, I have three words-- chewy, chewier, chewiest. I could hold this stuff in my mouth for days.

Drinkability is kind of a pointless number for a 12% ABV barrel-aged malt monster like this, but I suppose it's pretty good, considering.

This quad really has more in common with, say, JW Lee's (especially the Calvados-aged one) than with Westy 12 or Rochefort 10. (1,210 characters)

Photo of Drew966
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

't Smisje Calva Reserva came in an 11.2 ounce brown bottle and pours a dark brown with orange highlights when held to the light. There is very little head, mostly just a ring around the outside of the glass. The aroma is intense, and I like it quite a bit. Dark fruits are most noticeable, but there is more than that going on, oak is hiding in the background, and there are other aromas that I can't quite put my finger on. Frankly it smells more like wine than beer. The flavor is not as complex as the aroma, but it is still quite tasty. Dark fruit and oak are noticeable, as is the alcohol which is quite pepper like in the finish. The mouthfeel is a bit thin. Drinkability is not particularly good, I had a hard time finishing the bottle, even though I enjoyed it. (769 characters)

Photo of jim102864
4.85/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was a shot in the dark purchase, but given my love for Belgian Quads, a no brainer. And what a find it turned out to be.

The appearance of this special Quad was cloudy, chocolatey in color with a thin head and some specks of yeast floating in my Duvel tulip glass. Some sticky lace hugged the glass.

The nose was ripe with prunes, figs, raisens and other like dark, aged fruit and candy sugar. Truly a special aroma and classic for a dark quad such as this.

Taste was fruity, somewhat sweet with candy sugar and lively alcohol in the finish. Delicious.

Mouthfeel was full with notes of port and and aged fruit hugging the tongue and alcohol in the background.

Overall, a highly enjoyable and very special quad, meant to be savored in a proper glass. I will seek this one out again and again. (813 characters)

Photo of rallison
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice red brown with a 1 finger off-white head that leaves some interesting lacing. Smell is of Belgian Candi Sugar, raisins, dates and toffee.

Taste is quite interesting, and very nice. Lots of Belgian Candi sugar, with port wine soaked raisins, toffee and other dark fruits. No hops whatsoever, with an overall sweetness. Nice touches of oak. Some alcohol, but that seems to have mostly mellowed by this point. Rich and delicious.

Mouthfeel is beautifully rich and creamy. A wonderful after dinner sipper. Drinkability, while not perfect, is pretty good on this one - especially considering the high alcohol and oak aging.

Highly recommended. I believe this bottle has aged for a while - picked it up at Stuffed Sandwich a few months ago - so that I think has really helped this one out. If you see this, give it a try. (837 characters)

Photo of nlmartin
4.44/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have no clue where I got this beer. I wish I had purchased a second one. The beer was served in my trusty Hamms chalice.

Appearance: The beer pours a slightly hazy chestnut brown coloration. The head was a very short lived white coloration. The head quickly resolved to a thin ring of foam. No lacing was left behind on my glass.

Smell: This beer has a strong malty caramel/ vanilla aroma. This combines very well with the apple, pear and berry fruityness of the beer. The alcohol is very spicey and almost gives the beer a bourbon character. In short this beer smell very nice!

Taste: The beer delivers a most excellent carameled apple and dates combination. The beer has plenty of malty sweetness. The oak/ vanilla taste wonderful. The alcohol is noticeable but not obnoxious.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer is full bodied and very syruppy. Overall this was a very enjoyable and drinkable beer drink. I wish I had another one of these. If you like Quads or Belgian Strong ale you will most likely like this one. (1,031 characters)

Photo of IntriqKen
4.14/5  rDev +4.3%
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. (705 characters)

Photo of SacoDeToro
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured a nice rich amber with a rocky off-white head.

The aroma smelled of sweet brown sugar and alcohol. Caramel and biscuit malts were in the background. There was a faint smell of apples and pears in the nose as well.

The flavor of the beer was intense and slightly sweet. It had a heavy flavors of dates and pears. There was a little bit of oak and apple in the finish, but not so much that I'd think this beer was barrel aged, let alone in calvados barrels. The alcohol was warm and a good amount of fusels were there. This was an interesting contrast to the serving temp of the beer (50 deg). Some floral hops were there, but were pretty subdued.

The mouthfeel was thick and syrupy although this beer was very drinkable for being 12%. The carbonation seemed good.

This was a decent quadrupel, but can't hold a candle to the likes of Rochefort 10. Reminded me a lot of Avery's The Reverend, which is a pretty bright Belgian quad. (955 characters)

Photo of Oxymoron
3.27/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I found this in the back of my beer closet and have no idea where I got it. That being said, the pour was a cloudy brown color with red amber highlights. There was some sediment but a good pour kept it in the bottle. No head really to speak of or carbonation either.

The nose was noticeable with a sweet caramel aroma. More of a caramel candy smell then a caramel malt. Noticeable candy hints. Some lighter tropical fruits as well, with some raisin and touches of plums.

The taste is similar but more emphasis on the sweet candy caramel flavor. The malt is the major characteristic with the sugary background. There are some toffee and a light phenolic value that is noticeable. This comes out more as the beer warms. I also picked up some hints of vanilla as it warmed too.

The body was a little skeptical with the lack of carbonation, but the sweet maltiness of it helps with a more mid to full feel. A nice creaminess to it as well. Overall I wonder if I might have sat on this too long, oh well. (1,008 characters)

Photo of fartingdog
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reddish brown with a very thin head. Light carbonation. Smell oaky and faintly sweet, you can tell it's gonna be strong. Tatses oaky, candi-sweet, dried fruit, with a bit of bitterness, bourbon notes. First thought was 'delicious'! There's some alcohol warming- no disguising the strength, but it is extremely drinkable. Not much carbonation, but not flat either.

This is a wonderful barrel-aged Belgian beer. Sure wish I could get more of this. (448 characters)

Photo of kolbe
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Once again I must say "Thanks!" to the fabulous gentlemen at Bottleworks for recommending this one to me. What a unique beer! It's a great opportunity to get to try this one.

The first thing I noticed when I popped the cap on this bottle was ... nothing. There was no hiss, no pop, nothing. This bizarre, complete absence of any carbonation was again obvious when I poured this into a small goblet and saw no head whatsoever. It could be that this was due to a bottling error or some other anomaly that is not representative of the whole batch.

The smell is lovely, and very strong of wood, as has been amply noted by other reviewers, and as would be expected by the name and preparation.

The taste is quite sweet and fruity, more like some kind of mead here than beer due to the complete lack of any carbonation to agitate the volatiles and bring out a bit more of the spice.

I think I would really enjoy this beer if there were at least a *few* bubbles emerging from the surface. The eerie stillness lost this offering a few points in the appearance and mouthfeel categories, but the taste and unique secondary fermentation make it compelling and worthwhile.

Strangely, the one thing I found most unappealing about this beer is the thing that might make want to try it again -- in an effort to see if it's meant (or doomed) to be experienced this way.

[EDIT: I bought another of these, and this one had some carbonation to it! Absolutely sublime. Increasing ratings accordingly.] (1,499 characters)

Photo of Westsidethreat
3.11/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Seriously explosive carbonation on the pour. Mysterious chestnut color with a lot of haze to it. Head settles down and remains that profound traditional Belgian head, night khaki color.

S: You can really smell the calvados, its crazy. Really dirty aroma to it. Sort of a rum raisin, cherry and a nip of citrus.

T: Begins really woody at the tip of the tongue. Seems relentless at first but releases its death grip and allows some strong, satured amber to dark fruit flavors to come through. Brown sugar plays the sweet angle which increases quickly to strong alcohol esters. Notes of plums, raspberries and red apple while here. Finishes dirty with very strong alcohol vapors.

M: Full body and syrupy.

D: Wow, aggresive beer. Unbalanced and a bit kooky. Not so hot on this one. Its too hot and needs to relax a bit. Maybe after some age it might be better but I'm not sure it would help the overwhelming wood flavor. (932 characters)

Photo of Iguana
4.72/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tonights rainy, drizzly, cold made this seem like a good choice. Pour was a nice deep brown/ruby color with a 1 inch head that receded to lacing fairly quick. Smell is of raisins, and dark fruity sugars. Smells great. Taste blew me away, my initial taste right after I poured was like a smoky quad, but as it warmed up it got alot more complex and alot tastier. Dark fruit simmered in brown sugar is what I am tasting, simply amazing. Mouthfeel was silky smooth, and sweet, perfect for the style. Drinkability is only hindered by the fact this stuff is kinda hard to track down and the fact the bottle is so small. The 12% alcohol cant be detected in the taste but you can feel it warm ya up as ya go. This is a great beer and I would recommend it for anyone who is a fan of quads or belgian strong dark's. Now if only I can find more for me. (842 characters)

Photo of TastyTaste
3.68/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

50 degrees and rain outside, seems like a 12% oak aged quadrupel should be right on.

Appearance: Evenly hazed red/brown body, head is large at first (even with the abv). Good retention after it fades to small creamy layer.

Smell: Sweet and woody, raisins, brown sugar, a malt bomb, with alcohol not making all that much of an impresion.

Taste: Very woody and earthy, vegetable flavors are big. Not as sweet as the smell would indicate, but it grows on me the more i sip, a very unique flavor, but not as good as many of the other quads.

Drinkability: Not bad, and fairly interesting, more complete than BBBourgondier, but not one of my favorites in the style. (671 characters)

Photo of dougnboston
2.63/5  rDev -33.8%
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. (576 characters)

Photo of oberon
4.05/5  rDev +2%
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. (533 characters)

Photo of acoatley
4.71/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearance: hazey golden amber moderate head that dissipated quickly

aroma: sour cherries and heavy caramel malt buttery toffee and light coffee

Flavor: Rich toffee with walnut and pecans, a hint of port or marsala wine just a hint of warm alcohol excellent


Mouthfeel: creamy and smooth low carbonation and full body (327 characters)

't Smisje Calva Reserva from Brouwerij Smisje
89 out of 100 based on 105 ratings.