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't Smisje Great Reserva - Brouwerij Smisje

Not Rated.
't Smisje Great Reserva't Smisje Great Reserva

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

37 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 37
Reviews: 28
rAvg: 3.55
pDev: 15.49%
Wants: 0
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Smisje visit their website

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Catherine the Great Imperial Stout aged in Cognac barrels.

(Beer added by: Gueuzedude on 01-03-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 37 | Reviews: 28 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of metter98
3.73/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is cloudy brown in color and has a small head that's off white in color. Despite a very light amount of visible carbonation in the rising bubbles there is a good amount of head retention.
S: There aren't a lot of cognac aromas in the nose, which has more notes of chocolate and oak.
T: The cognac flavors are more pronounced in the taste and particularly stand out in the finish. There is some bitterness and notes of oak and pepper.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate. The limited amount of carbonation makes this feel a bit thin and there is some alcohol burn.
D: The beer is easy to consume when it is sipped, although I'm not sure if I would have this again because I thought there would be a larger presence of cognac.

metter98, Jun 14, 2010
Photo of TMoney2591
3.78/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Pours a dark, nearly opaque black-brown with a half-finger of bibbly, very light tan head that leaves little lacing behind. The smell is almost entirely wood, though some notes of smoke, brandy, coffe, and dark malts are also hanging around in the background. The taste is a bit if a step-up: the brandy and wood are still in good abundance, they allow the dark malts, figs, molasses, and brown sugar to share in more of the spotlight. The body is almost heavy, with light carbonation and a generally smooth feel. The relatively high ABV and thickness and the prevalence of the wood, though, keep the drinkability from climbing higher.

TMoney2591, Mar 06, 2010
Photo of JAHMUR
4.75/5  rDev +33.8%

JAHMUR, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of RblWthACoz
3.93/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy dark brown with a big, frothy crème head. Nose is a tangerine or apricot kind of thing with the expected dark sugar tones. Flavor is oddly smoked, like a rauch. Kind of that meaty and bacon thing you get from the German styles. But there's also that Belgian ale character at the same time. Feel is full with carbonation. Liquid is typical. A nice hearty ale. Interesting and different types of character, but a good one to drink.

RblWthACoz, Mar 10, 2009
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.33/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

't Smisje Catherine the Great Imperial Stout Man Cognac Barrels. (Wait, that doesn't make sense.)

't Smisje Great Reserva, brewed & bottled by Smisje, Oudenaarde, Belgium. No other information. Except, 10% Alc/Vol.

Well, let's find out what it is by drinking it, shall we?

Dark brown body, small, cocoa-tinged head on top, slims down to a tight ring.

Aroma: Ooooh! Aaaah! That's whiskey-up, people! Deep, dark, dank, rich, ridiculous! Maple, licorice, molasses, vanilla, and the darkest chocolate. Incredibly indulgent. Bourbon and brandy are running rampant here. Whoa.

Taste: Pow! Alcohol is not hiding, fairly prominent, practically biggish. Getting bigger, rising higher, getting stronger. Full-bodied, but not quite as full as I'd like to keep up with every other big thing in this beer. Large amount of sweetness here, terrific bourbon-y flavor.

What's the base beer? I can't say, but it's not evident, doesn't show, it's pretty much covered by the barrel-aging. Not that I care too much, it's terrifically tasty. Oh, it's just damned delicious.

feloniousmonk, Jun 25, 2012
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A soft, careful pour in to my 25cl tulip glass still sees my glass filling up with four fingers of head and then an additional finger rises above the rim of my glass threatening to over flow. The head is a tan color with a varied, rocky surface. The beer is a dark amber, well brown color that shows a lightly hazed, red color when held up to the light. The aroma is fruity, quite spicy and actually quite nice. I think that a lot of the rich fruitiness is derived from the Cognac barrels; notes of cherry, a touch of strawberry, sweet currant notes and a nice, concentrated raisin note. Pepper like spice, some clove, and some woody allspice as well as a tannic black tea like character add complexity to the nose, which is otherwise quite fruit dominated.

Spicy and well carbonated peppery notes greet my tongue up front. The beer softens a bit as it rolls across the tongue with a touch of cocoa and a dark fruitiness. Brandy soaked raisin flavors, concentrated plum, and some complex fig notes seem to capture the fruit flavors here. There is a touch of chalky, cocoa and toasted caramel character to the finish of this beer. The toasted character also takes on a wood-like note as well as adding some nuttiness to the flavor. I like how light bodied this beer is for a 10% abv beer; there is just enough heft to this beer, but it is far too quaffable to be safe. The nutty flavors really become quite a bit more pronounced as this beer warms up a bit. There is a touch of tartness here as well, it boosts the fruit character a bit and reminds me just a bit of tamarind.

This beer has seriously mellowed compared to the non-barrel aged version, the roast character plays a much lesser role here and the off-flavors of the base beer are not to be found here (thank goodness). This is actually quite tasty and I really like the boosted fruit character that the Cognac barrel added to this beer.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

Gueuzedude, Jan 03, 2009
Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev +12.7%

GClarkage, Jul 03, 2014
Photo of corby112
3.13/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark chestnut brown color that's completely opaque with amber edges and a one finger off-white head that settles into a lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lace left behind.

Boozy whiskey barrel aroma that slightly overpowers the characteristics of the base beer. Some dry oak, vanilla and toasted coconut along with a very prominent cognac/whiskey presence. Smells more like liquor than beer until it warms up considerably and the malt notes come forward.

Medium bodied with an explosion of hot, boozy whiskey that dominates the flavor, covering up almost everything from the base beer. All barrel character with dry oak, vanilla and a very strong cognac flavor. I like whiskey and the flavor is pretty good but it demolishes all of the other notes. It takes a while for the palate adjust and the other elements to come forward. Subtle hints of spicy rye, caramel and toffee. If you are a cognac/whiskey lover than you might enjoy it but it's very one dimensional and kind of boring.

corby112, Aug 09, 2012
Photo of weeare138
3.75/5  rDev +5.6%

weeare138, Jan 01, 2014
Photo of John_M
4.33/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled today at Max's during 72 hours.

The beer pours a slight hazy brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is impressive, with coffee, chocolate, vanilla and smoke. This is a very fine smelling beer. Flavors replicate the nose, with the spice and smoke balancing the sweetness very nicely. Both the nose and the flavor profile are hugely impressive, with a boatload of flavor. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a long finish. Alcohol is well disguised, and this beer is remarkably drinkable for its abv.

Another very nice effort from the folks at Smisje.

John_M, Feb 12, 2010
4/5  rDev +12.7%

WOLFGANG, Jul 03, 2013
Photo of popery
3.18/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

New batch, picked it up in August or so, I think. This beer pours a brownish amber. Though fairly hazy, it's still pretty easy to see through and looks lighter than expected. Very little head, just a ring of khaki bubbles after a few seconds. The aroma is heavy on the cognac in a rather indelicate manner. There's some nice sweetness and complexity in there, but it's behind a wave of vinous booze. Cocoa and Belgian earthiness are further in the background. Some caramel sweetness. The taste has similar faults. It's just a bit harsh. Fairly sweet, lots of wood, lots of cognac. Mouthfeel is heavy and a tad harsh, though fine, really. To be honest, it's started to grow on me, but I'm still not a big fan. I think they needed a lighter touch with the barrel-aging, but it might also just be a harsh base beer, to boot.

popery, Oct 26, 2012
Photo of ColForbinBC
3.8/5  rDev +7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a snifter, split with Keanlacrosse

The body pours an ice tea color with a thin off white cap. Not much retention or lacing. The nose is of sticky caramel, candied granny smith apples, pear skins, oak tannins, and cognac. Light earth, leather, and tobacco poke through as it warms. On the palate, oak tannins, caramel, and candied tart apple skins hit first. Caramel, earth, leather, toffee, and tobacco notes come through before a finish that is sweet and tart. Alcohol warming is hugely present, making this an ideal sipper. Medium body with minimal carbonation. This is an enjoyable after dinner sipper. Complex flavors and aromas and just plain tasty.

ColForbinBC, Nov 10, 2012
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.65/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - a nice amber iced tea color, lots of pale mocha foam. Graduations of rings hit the glass as the head falls and holds at a quarter-inch.

Aroma - a nice sugary sweetness balanced with a good Belgian yeastiness.

Taste - mild malt influence. The abv heat is in force pretty quickly. The swallow has a mild tartness and bitterness. Some yeast on the swallow, the flavors working out together better after some warming.

Mouthfeel - a moderately crisp brew yet quite smooth. Not oily slick or anything but creamy and fulfulling.

Drinkability - a stiff nightcap, not quite as much flavor as I'd hoped for given the strength. Not a bad bottle of suds though.

brewdlyhooked13, Dec 24, 2009
Photo of WDJersey
3.75/5  rDev +5.6%

WDJersey, Mar 05, 2013
Photo of StJamesGate
3.03/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a not-viscous rosy brown with a fast-fading thing taupe head that leaves some trailers. Nose is leathery perfumed cognac notes with more than a bit of barrel funk. Earth, walnuts and unsweetened cocoa and maybe some prune, lots of harsh phenols, followed by some iodine woodiness then tobacco (as another review said) and mild winter spice plus straight bitterness to finish. Thin to medium, way hot, tinny. Calms down as it airs.

OK, right away I'm wondering what Catherine the Great is like to begin with, and I see it's not much of an RIS, so it's not a surprise that this is lightweight even for a BSDA.

Trouble here is that it doesn't seem they started with a beer that could stand up to barreling with something distinctive like cognac. So this too thin, too hot dark ale then gets clobbered by heavy booze notes, to ugly effect.

Far out of balance, and at 10%, a chore to drink.

StJamesGate, Dec 31, 2010
Photo of Offa
2.94/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

My bottle said Smisje Great Reserva Catherine the Great and indicated that it was an imperial stout aged in Cognac barrels, 10% abv.

It was an ok beer, but simple and a bit one-dimensional, harsh & boozy.

Hazy dark brown, thin ring of bubbles - off-white.

Aroma was fermented caramelised dried figs and sherry, not really what I'd call an imperial stout aroma.

Taste was woody wine, vague hints of sherry and dried fig, quite boozy, a bit sweet and zesty, hint of caramelised grain in finish. It is a decent sipping beer, but not one I'd ever choose again, being one-dimensional and boozy.

Offa, Feb 17, 2014
Photo of ktrillionaire
3.13/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Firstly, this is not an Imperial Stout in any respect. The brew pours a hazy mahogany-brown hue and is topped with a short-lived cap of tan froth that recedes to an encircling wisp. The nose is strange; somewhat off-putting, and definitely strange. It reminds me of a fig and cheese plate, with contrasting sweet dark fruity and pungent lactic notes. The taste is incongruous to the aroma; there is a good deal of barrel and booze atop a lighter barleywine-ish brew. The Cognac impartation is just that - an adjunction of nice Cognac. The feel is rather thin and barely petillant, but it works well enough for the brew. Overall - quite a strange brew; not sure I'd be eager to revisit it.

ktrillionaire, Jul 30, 2011
Photo of portia99
3.48/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

11.2oz bottle poured into a Brooklyn snifter. Classified here as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but the label proclaims it is an Imperial Stout aged in cognac barrels...we will see which it is.

A - Pours a very dirty dark brown with huge and obvious wisps of yeast swirling through the glass. Three fingers of dense tan head with oustanding staying power - pretty impressive for a 10% beer - a small amount of lacing left behind on the glass. The overall muddiness of the appearance detracts a bit here.

S - A bit fruity up front almost Grand Marnier like, a bit of lemon, some woody bite around the edges. Raisins, licorice, prunes, some alcohol round things out. Very unusual...some smells in there that definitely are unique in the beer realm.

T - Boozy, alcoholic in flavor up front. Strong woodiness throughout. A sharp bitterness in the middle with some unusual sourness on the edges. Still get some orangey citrus in this sourness. After the swallow some sweet caramel flavors creep in. Not at all what I was expecting out of this.

M - Medium/full bodied with medium carbonation too. Alcohol warmth and unusual combination of fruity flavors fills the mouth completely. Sweet caramel on the finish lingers into the aftertaste.

D - A very unique offering. Not entirely sure how I feel about this one...but leaning towards not liking. Not a drainpour (at least if you go in open-minded), but definitely not an easy drinker either. Don't think I'll be trying this one again. Glad to give it a shot, but this one is a bit out there for me.

portia99, May 08, 2010
Photo of Soto
2.75/5  rDev -22.5%

Soto, Sep 07, 2013
Photo of Spider889
2.13/5  rDev -40%
look: 1 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Picked this up in Orlando. Sounded great. Buuut... well... yeah...

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

I tried, I really did. But there's not head to be had here. This thing has sat undisturbed for months, then chilled for several days in the fridge as well, so it is as settled as it was going to get. But the beer is very cloudy. Murky, pond-water cloudy. Muddy pond water to be precise, as this beer is not black, it's more of a burnt sienna color. Why do I take issue here? Because it's supposed to be a BA stout. The Catherine the Great stout was darker than this (though not a lot), I can personally vouch for that much.

The bubbles that do form look like tapioca. Now... I am half tempted to include this element under "mouthfeel" because as I was sipping this I could tangibly feel these sturdy bubbles brush past my lips. Not pleasant. In short - as a BSDA this is an ugly beer. As a stout (per the label, friends) it fails completely.

The aroma is odd at first, but it definitely has its moments. At first it is extremely boozy, and the cognac is very potent. But soon enough strong aromas of toffee and vanilla greet the nose, and assure us that indeed this is a barrel-aged beer. A hint of the ashy char that was so prolific in the regular stout is still detectable here.

The flavor begins with all booze. It's hot and a bit phenolic. There are moments when I am getting peat and juniper. I am not a cognac drinker by any means so let's see what makes a liquor a cognac (to see if these flavors should be expected).

Annnd nope. A quick search yields that cognac is a french type of brandy, made with grapes. Then I must assume that Catherine the Great is to blame here. The ashy stout and the phenolic scotch and juniper notes muddle the subtlety that you'd expect from a fine brandy.

Boozy through and through. Maybe a bit gritty, with low, and odd carbonation.

Overall I liked this better than Catherine the Great, but this still falls short of the mark, especially if you're hoping to drink a BA stout. As I get more into this glass the more I am tasting scotch whiskey vs cognac. I am having flashbacks to the peat whiskey smoked Black Hole from Mikkeller. Just as the base beer was, this is turning out to be an inevitable drain pour.


Spider889, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of brystmar
2.38/5  rDev -33%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Stubby old bottle thanks to blatantdream.

Good appearance: sticky lace above a brown body, solid retention on the head. Aroma started off unpleasant but intensified as it warmed to become offensively bad. Rotten barrels, burnt smokey wood, ok I'm gonna stop smelling it for components because it's AWFUL.

Taste follows suit, unfortunately. Spoiled malts, disgusting barrel character. That's enough; drain pour incoming. Avoid.

brystmar, Aug 03, 2012
Photo of WynnO
3.5/5  rDev -1.4%

WynnO, Sep 08, 2012
Photo of gpblackgt
3.5/5  rDev -1.4%

gpblackgt, Nov 17, 2014
Photo of rbrefbeerman
3.25/5  rDev -8.5%

rbrefbeerman, Friday at 05:45 AM
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't Smisje Great Reserva from Brouwerij Smisje
82 out of 100 based on 37 ratings.