't Smisje Calva Reserva | Brouwerij Smisje

BA SCORE
87
very good
162 Ratings
THE BROS
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't Smisje Calva Reserva't Smisje Calva Reserva
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Smisje
Belgium
smisje.be

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
162
Reviews:
111
Avg:
3.92
pDev:
14.54%
 
 
Wants:
10
Gots:
9
For Trade:
0
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 162 |  Reviews: 111
Photo of Greggy
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- pours a 1 finger head into a large snifter. After about a minute, the head drops down leaving some great sticky lacing. The body is ruby brown and hazy with light yeast sediment.

S- First off, I can smell the alcohol, but hey, it's 12%. I get a very dry fresh baking flour component as well as some dark fruit mainly being prunes and raisins. I catch a light whiff of coriander and also gather the apples from the calva (french apple brandy) casks. A nice vanilla buttery note is also there which I suspect being the oak.

T- Huge mouthfeel here as soon as it hits the palette. I gather notes of green apple, brandy almost red wine like notes, dark fruits, and then a nice dry pepper finish reminiscent of shiraz. Pretty unique. No alcohol heat detected in the finish so it's nicely hidden there.

M- Huge mouthfeel with only light carbonation. Nice dry finish.

D- This is a very nice quad that is very complex. I look forward to having it now and then. It's definitely a sipper, but could easily be drank to fast. Be careful..

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Photo of kolbe
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
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.]

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.39/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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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...

 1,222 characters

Photo of Jon
4.37/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

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Photo of kmo1030
4.35/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

the beer pours a deep orange ruby brown with a large ligth tan head tht sticks around for the long haul and laces well.
the aroma is great... it's got rum raisin, lightly boozy berries, corriander, white peppery yeast, vanilla oakiness, caramel, and a small amount of brown sugar. a touch chalky. a very well balanced pleasant nose, it's got everything i'm looking for in a quad.
the taste while a touch sweet for me is not cloyingly so. it's got very little heat for the abv. the taste has got a dominant, but soft fruitiness, with raisin, berries (blue?), cherries, brandy, a hint of mango, and the slightest touch of citrus. there is some candy sugar sweetness in here too. on the more traditional maltier side of things you have caramel, vanilla tinged oak, brown sugar and raisin (different sort).
the mouthfeel is fuller side of medium bodied, with an active, but fine carbonation.
the drinkability is very good, the alcohol is masked well. this is my favorite quad to date. while a huge beer, it showed an admirable degree of restraint and balance. drinks like a well crafted dubbel.

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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 marburg
4.31/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

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Photo of drewbage
4.31/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

 558 characters

Photo of beerthulhu
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

 1,396 characters

Photo of jdhilt
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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Photo of Spider889
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
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!

 2,522 characters

Photo of Yetiman420
4.29/5  rDev +9.4%
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.

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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 lildevle
4.27/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of GClarkage
4.27/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

 1,108 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.27/5  rDev +8.9%
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

 532 characters

Photo of mikeinmemphis
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%

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.

 607 characters

Photo of patm1986
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%

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.

 914 characters

Photo of daedalus
4.24/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

 924 characters

Photo of ZEB89
4.21/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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