't Smisje Calva Reserva | Brouwerij Smisje

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very good
108 Reviews
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't Smisje Calva Reserva't Smisje Calva Reserva
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Smisje
Belgium | website

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
Reviews:
108
Ratings:
159
Avg:
3.92
pDev:
17.86%
 
 
Wants:
10
Gots:
8
For Trade:
0
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Reviews: 108 | Ratings: 159
Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A rich aged beer, reddish-brown, not much head, slightly detracted satisfying experience at the end, with many black grains of sediment. Alcohol warming began promptly. Brandy influence from barrel. Caramel. Fruity and honeyish, yet grainy not creamy mouthfeel.

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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 BEERchitect
3.92/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Intense beer that shows many signs of age; perhapse too many. Opens with a murky, orange rust color, a slight, fleeting foamstand and a lot of particulates floating around. Aromas of fruitcake abound with emphasis on cherries, apples, over-rippened oranges, grapes, nuts, berries... it's all in there, but muted and well rounded into the malt profile. Flavors are the same, but with a syrupy sweetness that hurts the drinkability. Musty, vineous, and rather earthy flavors come up in the aftertaste. Nearly flat texture, makes the beer feel heavy and oily to the mouth. Finishes with a mouth-coating film of grandma's fruitcake. Thanks Jeremy.

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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

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Photo of oberon
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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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 Slatetank
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
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.

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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 feloniousmonk
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Dark burgundy color, utterly opaque....nestled 'neath a solid, if thinnish cap of tannish foam.

Aroma: sweet, tart, pungent, cherryish, lemony, deep, twisted, delicious...love it.

Taste it, now: huge presence in the mouth, floods every section of the senses with intense flavors, vast citric feel, sharp, spicy, somewhat sweet taste...brandy and barleywine comes to mind...big plum and grape...a little oaky, but fruit and alcohol reigns supreme.
The 12 % abv becomes king in time, but the flavor there remains Lord of All. Wow. If you want a tasty ride for mind and body...grap onto a bottle of this one!

...it's almost "too strong"..but, then, it's not...it's huge, but...I like that!

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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 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 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 JohnGalt1
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Squat 11.2oz bottle picked up at the Coop more than a week ago and refrigerated ever since.... poured into my Chimay goblet... Don't remember exactly, but paid about $5.

Cracked the seal and immediately the brew fizzed up and out of the bottle.. at least I was able to keep it over the counter on the way to the sink and off the floor.... Crap!! about a third of the bottle was gone by the time I got things cleaned up and poured it.

4 finger head stood an easy half inch out of the glass... lite tan and died back noisily leaving descent lace... the brew is a very murky lite walnut.

Nose is expected spicy dark fruits with a pronounced applesauce aroma.. raisins and mild caramel trails off into the apple... some earthy woody notes as it hits room temperature..

Flavor is an interesting yet fairly uninspired mix of dark fruity malts with a significant pour of apple juice... sorta funky woody presence... just doesn't strike me as remotely interesting in the big picture... all the flavors are by themselves and are one dimensional at that... I think some age in the bottle may help it, but christ.. I don't want bottle bombs.

The body is about right for the style, but the carbonation is waay too much..

I don't think I got a bad bottle.. I am pretty sure of it.. I do however think this was bottled before it's time... descent and better than my above negatives describe, but I am still not digging it as I approach the bottom of the glass... I've always found quality control issues with this brewery.

3.5/3.5/4/3/3.5

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Photo of John_M
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yeah baby, out of a gravity feed cask at 72 hours of Belgium (at Max's today).

The beer pous a hazy tannish brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is profoundly complex, with orange peel milk chocolate, brown sugar and honey. There's some underlying spice as well, but I can't begin to describe it. Flavors replicate the nose on this moderatly sweet beer, with the spice and light hoppiness giving the beer a somewhat dry, lightly bitter finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full, and drinkability is very good.

Nice beer and an absolute treat to sample on cask.

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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 corby112
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving type: bottle.

Pours a dark red/brown color with hardly any head at all. Tart aroma of cherries, grape, blackberry, raisin and plum. Sweet fruit taste perfectly balanced out with strong alcohol flavor rendering it not too sweet. A touch sour in the finish. Very good!

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

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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.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.67/5  rDev -6.4%
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.

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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 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 drpimento
3.74/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I thought this was going to be better. Poured a small, light tan, fizzy head that quickly faded and no lace. Aroma was malt, toffee, ripe dark fruits, caramel, and wet cardboard. Color was a slightly hazy brown with amber highlights. Flavor was like aroma. Didn't really taste the alcohol as much as feel the effect. Finish is fairly short and like flavor. Wholesale price for this is way too high.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to jedwards for sharing. 2009 vintage served in my Allagash tulip. Poured a translucent copper, almost caramel in color, with a bubbly, quarter inch bright white head. Some lacing, but no legs. Nose is boozy - dark fruit (prunes) and vinous. Taste is boozy, sugary (brown sugar and/or molasses) with some dark fruit and grains of paradise. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and a little fizzy. A flavorful Belgian Strong Dark - a little hot, but didn't overly detract from the experience.

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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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't Smisje Calva Reserva from Brouwerij Smisje
88 out of 100 based on 108 ratings.
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