't Smisje Calva Reserva | Brouwerij Smisje

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't Smisje Calva Reserva't Smisje Calva Reserva

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Smisje

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Jon on 11-26-2003

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Reviews: 111 | Ratings: 162
4.6/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Absolutely one of my all time favorites.
By the time I discovered this brew during the past summer only two bottles remained and the manager told me they didn't deal with the distributor any longer .Ughhhh :(
My friends from Belgium had never even tried this one before as they live in West Flanders and this brewery is in East .
I can't explain the smell and taste, but it has to do with these special barrels it's aged in and the spices .
Super delicious strong and dark Belgian that has a potent kick, but you will not taste the high abv.

Hoping to come across this one again one day, so I can stockpile them for years to come :)

Highest rating I've given yet , though I have not had many great ones and still have to review plenty that I have enjoyed :) Cheers !!

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Photo of JayQue
3.84/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours an orangy/light brown opaque color from an 11.2 oz bottle into my Chimay goblet. Small white head, lots of bubbles. The head fades fast, no lacing. Aroma is dark fruit {plums and raisins) some oak and the brandy. Taste is more of the same with some sweet malt. Mouthfeel is rich with a lot of alcohol warming and some alcohol "bite" even though I have had the bottle for around 2 years. This is a tasty BSDA and a great slow sipper.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.39/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

how good is this?! man oh man, what a splendid beer from one of the most overlooked producers i can think of. this is a barleywine type strong malty ale, aged in calvados barrels, and its amazing! cant believe how affordable it is too! lighter brown in color with some deep mahogany notes to it, a short but persistent tan head rests lazily on top, this is definitely mature beer, been in the bottle awhile, and in a barrel for a long while before that. the apple brandy is immediately evident in the aroma, oaky and sweet, red apple skins, red grape, strong malt, molasses, fig, tobacco, this is highly nuanced and complex beer, and the flavor follows the nose pretty well. lots of the barrel character, oak and fruit, somewhat rotting, overripe apple, bruised but still edible, with a baked malt base, almost like a pie. honey and grain, granola sort of quality about the base beer, and some ancient high gravity ale yeast thats tired but still lingering. enormously impressive glass of beer here, amazing what this barrel treatment brings to it, and a lighter more mature base beer than anticipated. easily the best i have had from these guys. this is expert stuff, hoping to find more out there in the world one day...

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Photo of CoreyC
4.66/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Approximately two year old bottle
A - Brown with light white head
S - Dark fruits and prominent Calvados
T - Really good strong dark stone fruits (raisin, plum, prune) as in other excellent BSDAs which are very much enhanced by the Clavados - excellent flavor
M - Nice, sticky
O - Exceptional BSDA

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Photo of teromous
3.17/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

No bottle date that I can see. The label appearance is a bit different than the one displayed and the ABV is listed as 11% on this bottle.

Appearance: Murky dark tea colored body with a very short head that is very short lived. The head is an off white with a small bit of yellow. It fades as soon as it is poured and doesn't even leave a ring. Very poor head retention. No lacing.

Aroma: I get a very light but sweet smelling caramel aroma that intermingles with a bit of wood. The label says it is brewed with coriander but I don't pick it up at all.

Taste: I'm getting more of that caramel flavor with a bit of a fruity touch at the end. A nice woody finish. Aside from that there honestly isn't a whole lot more going on in this beer. There is a bit of a honey flavor in the aftertaste which is nice but it is very faint.

Mouthfeel: Medium body without much texture. Some apparent alcohol but nothing overwhelming while the beer stays cool. There is not much bitterness. There is a slight tinge to the beer at the front of the palate which adds a touch of complexity but overall it is a bit lackluster.

Overall: It is hard for me to even rate this as average because I find that many parts of the beer are lacking in depth and complexity. I could not consider this beer to be in the poor range given the minor strengths it does have. There is a nice caramel sweetness to the beer and the honey aftertaste is quite nice. Overall I really wouldn't recommend it to a person seeking Belgian Strong Dark Ales or simply Belgian Ales for the first time, but to the more experienced drinker of Belgian Ales I might recommend it for its minor positive attributes that would be appreciated by a person with a bit more tread under their tires.

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Photo of stakem
3.62/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Dinky 250cl bottle that ive had for a number of years (dating back to my infatuation with calvados BA beers) and by the looks of the sediment sticking to the glass, this is bare minimum 6, maybe 8 or so years old. It pours dark amber to brown with minimal head.

It smells of woody earthen calvados with some oxidation and chocolate/raison. Toffee and caramel is also present.

Tastes oxidized with paper/foliage chocolate and raison. Woody yet boozy. This has an earthiness about it that tastes similar to every "old school" calvados barrel aged beer ive tasted that was pushing several years old.

This is medium in body with light carbonation. Earthy and woodsy but showing its age. More enjoyable than the new rebrew that I hear is tart and has been infected.

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Photo of Zach136
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Muddy brown with a solid head for 12%

Aroma: Sweet caramel malt with a touch of tomato...

Flavor: Touch of oxidation and burnt caramel.

Mouthfeel: Medium with a pretty dissipating finish.

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Photo of MissSmisje
4.68/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a stubby bottle with a red cab and purple label into HF tulip. Has been in the cellar for 2.5+ years.
L: beautiful garnet red/brown, with khaki, almost mocha head. Head is much less than other Smisjes, maybe one finger, not erupting out of the bottle, dissipates into a thin collar and island.
S: smells like a dry cidar, some raisins and plum, a tiny bit of malt.
T: apples predominate - fresh but not tart apples, and cooked apples. Some raisins and plum, and little raspberry. Oak. There is some tartness, but it is berry tartness, not apple tartness. Some caramel. A very faint trace of baking spices, but it could just be flavor association.
F: just about perfect, like thick apple juice, but not at all syrupy. Perfect for sipping. Light carbonation, but you can feel it.
O: I love this beer. It's undoubtedly more beer than cidar, and I love where it falls on that spectrum. My favorite smisje after the Double. So happy I have a few more socked away in the cellar. Very curious to see if it changes more, but would be happy if it stays as it is.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big raisins on the nose with traces of alcohol, biscuit, spice and caramel. It pours hazy reddish brown under a 1” off white quickly dissipating foam cap. The palate is loaded with fruit and biscuit, sugary dark bread flavors, plum, traces of prune, and golden raisins in the aftertaste. Its creamy and silky smooth with a medium body and very luscious, fine soft carbonation.

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Photo of CaptFrothy
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

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Photo of Danny1217
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 2.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

33 cL bottle poured into a St. Bernardus Challice. Saw this sitting on a store shelf and couldn't pass up the concept of a calvados barrel aged Belgian ale.

This beer pours an extremely murky reddish brown with a small head that fizzles out very quickly. A very ugly looking beer, to be honest.

The smell is a step up from the appearance. Lots of dark fruit. Plums, grapes, figs. Some oak, tart apple, and calvados notes. Some funky, leathery notes. I could swear there is some brett in here, but it could just be everything else going on.
Taste follows similarly. Dark fruits and some caramel like flavors as well. "Barnyard" and leather somewhere in the background as well. A touch of tartness, but not as powerful as in the nose, as it is balanced by the sweet flavors of Candi sugar and caramel malts and some spice.
Feel is a touch thin for a Belgian dark ale, but pretty solid otherwise. Moderate-high carbonation.

A very interesting beer, for sure. Worth checking out if Belgian dark ales and calvados barrels interest you.

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Photo of AltBock
4.06/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz dateless stubby bottle with a bright red cap. The label is a blurry purple colored piece of wood. The top of the one and only label explains what kind of barrel it was aged in and what kind of spices it was brewed with. Poured into a Cycle Brewing Snifter.

This beer looked like an apple cider to me. It poured a murky caramel brown with some minor reddish orange highlight. The head of foam was a weird color as well. It was a light tan/khaki color. It's hard to explain the true color. As for the size of it, it wasn't that big. It was about 1/4 of inch in height. It had acceptable retention that a sting of foamy rings and some small spots of lace around the glass.

The aroma was apple brandy first and the beer a far second. Up front was the tart green apples, sweet caramel, brandy/alcohol, and a whiff of raspberry and oak. If you can catch it, you'll smell the malt and that's the only beer like aroma that came through. It sort of smelled like an apple cider.

Looked like an apple cider, smelled like an apple cider, but did it taste like one? I'd say so. Like the aroma, it was apple brandy first and the beer a very far second. The apple brandy was a lot stronger in the aroma than the taste. The taste started off with lightly tart green apples, a dash of raspberry, a plum or two, a bite of sweet caramel, a pinch of oak, and a subtle taste of alcohol/brandy. After that, the beer then finishes up with a taste of dry lightly roasted malt.

Despite clocking in at 11% ABV, this beer was medium bodied. This beer's apple cider qualities masked the high ABV. It also added to the beer's low carbonation rate and apple heavy aftertaste. The aftertaste had a bunch of lightly tart apples, caramel, a little raspberry, oak, and a pinch of malt. This aftertaste doesn't linger.

It's certainly unique, I'll give them that. Looked like an apple cider, smelled like an apple cider, tasted like apple cider, but guess what, it's not an apple cider. You'd think this Calvados barrel aged beer would be overpriced, but its not. I think I paid about $6 for this small bottle. Not too overpriced. If you like your hard ciders, I'd say you should buy a bottle. Would I drink it again? One bottle is fine for me.

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Photo of themind
4.34/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This brew is very good! it has a slight sour taste to it and an apple brandy finish. The barrel aging is pronounced yet not overwhelming. I really enjoyed this and I am surprised this is not rated higher. This is a quality Belgium brew that I would buy again.

Bottom Line: Good brew!

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Photo of Misanthropy_Sipping
5/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


This... this is a beer that if I would ever see again, I would buy as much as I could.

It cost about $6-$7, but it was amazing.

Poured a very nice deep brown/red, a bit murky... a bit creamy look to it. Very fine, grainy bubbles that stood the test of time and did not go flat through the lengthy enjoyment of the beer. Just held on excellent.

Smelled wonderful, had that calvados scent, bright apple and raspberry sort of tart smell, intermingled with wood and earth tones. Hints of pepper and vanilla.

The taste is great. I held on to a bottle for quite a while and it matured well. The calvados comes through in the front, it is sweet. A bit thick but not sticky. There is a soury tartness that cleans the palate. You really get a great pinch and peppery bite from the grains of paradise and the booze. There are cherries and apple, berries, brandy, oaky vanilla flowing through this beautiful brew. There is a slight dryness with the low tone sour and pepper bite.

Mouthfeel is great, as said it is sweet but not sticky. Which I love for the medium to slightly chewy body. The carbonation is fine and gritty. Adds kind of a crunchiness to it.

I can't believe this beer is not rated higher. It is definitely a dessert/cold autumn/winter to spring transition night beer. But I love this beer. One of my favorite Belgian Brewers, and by far my favorite of this brewer's beers that I have had.

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Photo of MDDMD
3.84/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-dark brown red color with a light tan head and minimal lacing

S-dark fruit, apple, caramel, brandy, hint of spice

T-caramel malt, dark fruit, apples, brandy, cinnamon, slightly boozy, flavor fades quickly with no significant aftertaste

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth

O-a nice strong ale, but flavor seems to fade out. Would have merited a higher score if not for that.

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Photo of RickS95
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
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.

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Photo of impending
3.61/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5


33cl into a tulip. Pours a rich amber dirty cola dishwater, little head, minimal lacing.

The aroma is treacly sweet in a nice way, rich in caramel and barrel. Vinous and mild oxidation. Lots of fruits that have begun to rot.

Pleasantly low in sweetness, less than expected. Full bodied lifeless mouthfeel. The barrel aging is its signature. Only a hint of tart but enough to know this is destined to be cider given time. More a belgian barleywine than a bsda.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
3.89/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle poured into a snifter; thanks to Keanlacrosse for the share

A hazy brown body with a thin light tan head. Not much staying power as it falls pretty quick. No discernable lacing.

Loads of fruit on the nose. Apples, bears, bananas, raisins/figs, and plums. Notes of caramel, oak, brandy, and sweet bready malt.

Caramel, plums, and apples slide onto the palate. Oak and a mild tartness through the middle with a finish of booze and fruit. There are layers of complexity here. Each sip brings something a little different.

Medium feel, soft carbonation. The finish has this lingering fruity tartness that mixes with a little booze and oak.

Solid complexity with some very good flavors. Worth a shot.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.01/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review from 10/2010 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a murky dark orange amber. Nice one finger white head with lots of lacing. Looks very attractive. Sour and fruit aroma. Nice medium body. Light fruits, spice, mild malt and just the right amount of sour. A definite vinous quality that worked well. A nice complex dark Belgian and one of the first unequivocally enjoyable beers from Smisje for me.

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Photo of metter98
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is cloudy brown in color and poured with a two finger high off white head that has very good retention properties and took a long time to settle down.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of dark fruits in the nose—raisins seem to stand out in particular.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and also has some hints of wood in the finish.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a high amount of carbonation. Some warmth from the alcohol becomes noticeable as the beer warms up.
O: This is a very enjoyable that is pleasant to sip, although it seems to be a bit over-carbonated (you need to pour it carefully and let it settle down). It’s also not too difficult to drink because the alcohol is well hidden from the taste.

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Photo of mrfrancis
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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Photo of aasher
3.47/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 1 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Calvados, I'm in. This beer arrived in Indianapolis a few weeks ago.

Calva Reserva pours a dirty full bodied pond water brown with a frothy cream colored lacing. It looks like a toilet that you'd find unflushed in a subway bathroom. The nose is rich and malty with plenty of calvados on the nose. It's solid and has plenty of caramel apple presence. The flavors are kind of a mess though. There's the green apple and caramel but also plenty of random malty sweetness, heavy on the toffee and butterscotch. It's too much sweetness and doesn't feature enough complexity. It drinks heavy and sticky and surprisingly doesn't show any alcohol. This beer was strange but had some redeeming qualities. It wasn't bad at $5.99 a bottle.

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Photo of pigc
3.35/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a dark brown with two finger head.

S - Banana, clove, bubblegum, raisin, figs, dark fruits.

T - Peppery sweetness upfront followed by a wave of dryness and taste of rum cake and tropical fruits. An astringent aftertaste that lingers at the end. A bit off-putting.

M - Medium to full bodied with decent carbonation.

O - Decent Belgian strong ale but nothing to get excited about. It's been a while since I've had this style but this one seems on the dry, astringent side.

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Photo of eyeenjoybeer
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from a bottle into a Jackie O's tulip glass

A: cloudy hazel body with a light off white head. Head grows to half an inche and settles quickly to a thin layer of bubbles on the body.

S: The initial smell is brett funk. I was not expecting this. Faint caramel is in there too, but Brett is dominating.

T: Well the brett is much, much less pronounced in the taste. I get a lot of champagne notes with some light sour apple notes. I am not really getting the more nuanced flavor of calvados as much as just some apple tartness. I am wondering if this bottle has a tiny bit of infection going on. I will check some other reviews to see if others have noted this. Some tobacco and light wood linger well after the swallow. I am not blown away, but I sure like it. The 11% alcohol is not really an element to my tastebuds. The carbonation is just right.

M: Stay with me here, but it "feels" like champagne bitterness without the bubbles. Otherwise the mouthfeel is not particularly noteworthy.

Overalll, this is an interesting beer. I like it, but it was not like I expected. There is a lingering bitterness, tobacco and oak like, that I am just not on board with. I would like to try this beer again with some other calvados barrel aged beers.

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Photo of tsauce2
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

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't Smisje Calva Reserva from Brouwerij Smisje
3.92 out of 5 based on 162 ratings.
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