'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
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 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 RoyalT
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This one is dark brown in color with a tinge of orange and a nice, full head that left clumps of pitting foam on top of the liquid.

Smell – The light, fluffy orange aroma mated perfectly with the big yeast. The fruits are bold as well. The pear and banana in particular go well together. The high ABV is masked well at the nose. This one is nicely put together.

Taste – The malty backbone takes on some sour notes at the taste. The spicing here is powdery and dark. I can pick up some good caramel flavors along with some granular brown sugar. The hearty, overripe apricots are overflowing. In the background I’m finding some good, doughy flavors and a small reminder of the high ABV.

Mouthfeel – This one is bigger than medium in the body with a chewy, sugary mouthfeel and a small alcohol sting.

Drinkability – I thought this BSDA needed a bit more structure but otherwise filled the bill. It kind of tasted liked a BSDA that was overaged a bit past its prime. Either way, it made for a great aperitif.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.94/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 330ml bottle. Black label has red, orange and yellow artwork, lending a fiery appearance. Listed at 12% abv and described as being brewed with Barley malt, wheat malt, Vienna malt and caramel malt. Hallertauer and Kent Goldings hops are used together with dark & white candy sugars. Spiced with Coriander and Grain de Paradise. Aged in E. Dupont calvados casks for 6 months.

Appearance: Leaving the thick carpet of dark brown yeast behind in the bottle, a steady pour reveals a dark brown body that is pellucid. Held to the light a shimmering dark orange reflects the light. A small bubbling crusty tan colored head starts smooth but then collapses to leave a craggy looking pot-marked creviced head which soon disappears completely. Negligible carbonation.

Nose: Lots of dark fruits, dried orange zest, spices and black peppers mingle nicely in the dark malts and high end alcohols. Very strong aromas from this monster.

Taste: Rum like bourbon soak woods entrance this goliath. Dark rum soaked fruit cake sizzles throughout. Smooth flavors but the alcohol is detectable in the latter third. After the swallow the alcohol scorches with burnt sugar and spiky black peppers lingering on the tongue. As it warmed the dark fruits revealed a luscious rich feel.

Mouthfeel: Warming alcohol leaves a temperature trail; at the death it fires a little. Burnt sugar laces the finish. Despite the double-digit tag, it keeps you guessing because it felt like it lacked something somehow. Big but thin at times. The low carbonaion does not help either.

Drinkability: Difficult to finish towards the end but given the high alcohol content it was a pleasant enough brew.

Overall: I found this one to be a little too much in the end, it felt like it was too harsh in the finish, maybe a bit more time in the bottle would have remedied this, but it is still an expensive investment nonetheless. Share this one if you can.

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Photo of cokes
4.07/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

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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 sulldaddy
4.74/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked one of these up at Mountview liquorafter Terry told me there was only 2 cases of it in the state.
I am drinking a room temp bottle and pouring into a chalice. Upon opening the beer I get some gushing foam out of the top. As quickly as possible I begin to pour the beer into my glass. The beer pours a hazy chestnut twinged orange with some white yeast sediment on the bottom of my glass. After the gushing opening, I am surprised at the rather small beige head of .5 cm that develops, The head fades to a sturday surface layer that does stick around through the sampling.
Aroma is complex with green apple, sour cherry, cloves, some general bready/biscuity scnets and a brief hit of white grapes and alcohol as well. First sip reveals a thick body and fine tingly carbonation. THe texture is actually almost syrupy or chewy. Flavor is tasty and complex with caramel, apples, white grape, and perhaps melon. Overall it is very fruity and sweet up front. I also get some warming alcohol on the finish in my belly.
Overall this beer is very easy to drink for being 12% and I enjoy it thoroughly. Definitely buy this if you can find it!

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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 msubulldog25
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This has been on my 'wants' for some time (I believe since it had been at a recent Portland Int'l Beerfest at $3, maybe even $4, for a 4 oz. taste); thanks to Metalmonk for saving one from a dusty NC shelf, then sending it clear across the country to be sampled by me this evening. No date on the 11.2 oz bottle, poured to a snifter.

A: Is there such a thing as a mediocre-looking quadrupel? 'Cuz this is... a ho-hum murky brown, very little head (a thin off-white ring and a few bubbles in the center). held to light, I see a few small bubbles rising around the edges, but mustly it looks like water out of a ditch.

S: Bits of caramel and toffee, some candied fruit and a trace of booze-soaked oakiness (the 6 mo.-aged Calvados casks). a little cleaning solvent/alcohol aroma...and, as it warms, some tart/yeast qualities come forward.

T: Alright, so there's still something left in the flavor: rum raisins and licorice, cloves and some herbal hops; plenty of sweet citrus, smacking lightly of pineapple and apple cider. Sort of buttery sweet - caramel popcorn?

M: Smooth, soft and rather sublime. There's not a great deal of complexity, but there is a pleasing warmth and coating richness. One of the thinner bodies I've had in an alcohol-laden quad, I must say...

D: It's a rather strange blend of sweetness, a little citrus and tartness. Wood is an aftertaste only; there's warmth and familiarity though it stays as a background accent. All those subtle, blended qualities make this surprisingly easy to sip...I'd like to try this again fresher, but I can't complain much about the nuances in this version, of yet-to-be-determined age. Thanks again to Jeff for sending...

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

2005 Bottle Sampled Tonight

Appearance: Murky brown with a caramel head that fades quicly. Little lacing to be found but as you drink you see foam on the opposite side of the glass with extremely small bubbles in it.

Smell: Vinous qualities mixed with leather, tobacco, and fig. I wish I had a fresh bottle to compare it to.

Taste: Considering that the brewer ages this extensively before bottling and it was bottled 3 years ago, this one has held up to be an interesting meld of daring notes. Leather, Wine, Tobacco, Fig, Blackberries, Raisins, etc. The alcohol is non-existent which is amazing considering this one is 12% ABV.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly, this 2005 bottle had a nice carbonation release when I opened the bottle. Medium to borderline thin mouthfeel but I'm sure the age of this bottle factored in to it. I really wish I had a newer bottle to compare it to. I only see the mouthfeel getting progressively worse in time.

Drinkability: This is a sipper all the way. The flavors aren't the most approachable for me so I'm not sure if I will come back to this in the future. But I'm still amazed that this brew is 12% ABV because its very soft and gentle.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured into the chalice hazy medium amber with a very low off-white head that while barely there, managed to lap at the glass and leave traves of it's presence.

The aroma was deeply malty with dark caramel malt, biscuit aromas and huge dark fruit aromas of raisins and prunes. The aroma had a strong alcohol presence which caused spicy peppery phenolics of belgian yeast to emerge.

The flavor was deep, deep maltiness with strong dark caramelization and large flavors of biscuit and amber maltiness. The flavor was toasty with dark crystal maltiness and fruity with raisin and prune flavors pronounced in the complexity. The alcohol was restrained in the flavor, but the spicy phenolics remained and enhanced the package.

The finish was dry with long lasting biscuit and dark caramel maltiness and peppery spice lasting beyond the aftertaste. The body was just below full and above medium full. The biscuit malt flavor was extreme in this beer and actually very well done. The alcohol left a large warming sensation and reduced the drinkability but certainly enhanced the complexity of the beer.

11.2 ounce (said the label) bottle. No freshness dating. Purchased at Green's in Atlanta, GA for $4.

Note: I took the 11.2 ounce bottle and put water to the level the beer was and then poured into a measuring cup and only got about 8 ounces. The bottle was purchased without regard to bottle volume, but the labeling should indicate with some reasonable accuracy the amount of liquid inside.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bought these in dusty condition--not the most promising looking things, but I figured at 12% there had to be some life in them. Or maybe I can claim a valiant effort to save them, as it didn't look like they'd be rescued anytime soon. No bottle dating of any sort, dammit.

Pours a thin head that disappears to a wispy crown very quickly. Nice murky brown color with tiny particles of sediment in suspension. Didn't try to rouse it up at all, but I don't mind the stuff anyway. Still, it's not the best looking beer, no real complaints either. Moving on...

Rich, earthy and bold aromas awake the nose: black cherry, cola, black currant, blackberry, lightly smoked malt, and just a peek into the magical yeast.

Flavor is just as good, with fruits exhibiting darkly sweet, seductive characteristics; hints of spice & leather; big pungent peat-like malts; a hint of the yeast which provides an earthy grounding to the succulent malt/berry-fruit feature. A quintessential Quadrupel flavor without the cloying alcohol that is sometimes their Achilles' heel. At 12%, it's very well-incorporated. Not "well-hidden", because there's just the slight bit of warmth, but it's an undertow and not an overlying trait. Finishes lightly sticky with milk-chocolate licorice lingering.

Mouthfeel is a little thin. I'm guessing this is due to the presumed age and obvious lack of carbonation. Play with it a little more and it's not so much thin as it is mellow. Found it to be complementary to the flavors, but the sticky coating was a little tiring in time.

A cask-aged beer that doesn't scream "wood!"...it's just the means to the end...a delicious end. Would love to try this a little fresher and closer to its home.

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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 kmpitz2
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solid amber color with almost no head and no hint of carbonation from the bottom. Very pretty shade. Nose is alcoholic, with a background of raisin and a red winey grape, almost portlike. Wow. Intense aromas. I'm a little scared to taste it. Flavor is not as strong as the aroma would lead to believe. Foundation is the dark fruity to winey, but with a solid oaky character on the finish. I think the oakyness helps to balance it and make this a very tasty beer. The alcohol is not too strong on the flavor either. Tasty. Feel is thick, with a lack of carbonation. I'm actually impressed with the drinkability of this brew. Everything about it is big and full, but it doesn't keep it from disappearing from my glass. I enjoy it a lot.

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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.

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Photo of Crosling
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 3

Burgundy color, with a lasting film of large bubbles. Expressive apple brandy, soaked oak and brown sugar in the aroma, with hints of caramel and cider. Flavor is rich, supple and very well balanced. The attributes of the original beer integrate well with the barrel, giving hints of soft caramel, apple skins, toffee and vanilla. It’s delicious, no doubt, yet, unfortunately, the front palate to the mid-palate shows a completely flat body and it only improves a little and becomes very slightly chewy on the finish. Could easily be a 4.3+ if I didn’t score the mouthfeel a 1. Too bad.

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stubby bottle with the new label, no bottle date.

Pours dark copper and clear, with a one inch head of off-white.
Retention is moderate and theres a decent amount of continual lacework throughout.

Aromatics lead off with fruit-laden booze, raisins, spice, and a hint of oak.
Tangerines drizzeled with caramel, vanilla-steeped rum, coriander, white pepper, and cedar.
Some earthy, slightly musty notes step forward as the brew warms.

Medium bodied, chewy, and creamy. Fullish mouthfeel without being thick, thanks to a higher carbonation level.

Sweet malt, rum-soaked raisins, and citrus fruit start the pallet. Warming spice and lingering alcohol rise up, as well as some vanilla and oak.
Some faint grape jam pulls through with brown sugar residuals.

Finishes with lingering alcohol warmth, a peppery spicyness, and woodsy bark.

Plenty going on here, and the nose takes the cake. Quite boozy in general with plenty of spice and fruit.

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Photo of jampics2
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled with the Grand Reserve, which I much preferred, though this wasn't bad.

Amber beer, looks very similar to the GR.

Smell is sweet malt, toffee, and the calvados wood.

Taste is a bit too hot for me, not as balanced as the GR. Brown sugar, malt, figs, toffee, Spices, and Belgian yeast.

Mouthfeel was good, nice low carb.

Very drinkable but a touch too hot. OK beer.

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Photo of rastaman
3/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle @Toronado, San Fransisco. I think thanks go to mat for this beer, but i’m not entirely sure. this was pretty wierd. Salted licorice, toasty caramel and vegemite, definite aged character, not quite my bag, but not bad. Packed a punch, and theres lots of flavour.

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

Poured from an 11ish ounce bottle into my dollar store snifter glass. Appears a clear deep ruby red/brown color with about a finger of light ecru foam. Smells and tastes of mildly spicy belgian yeast, hint of pepper, dark fruits such as plums, cherry skins, raisins, apples and pears. Medium in both body and carbonation, this quad left a bit to be desired when compared to what else is out there in this style.

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Photo of TastyTaste
3.68/5  rDev -6.1%
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.

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Photo of clvand0
3.45/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours an amber color with no carbonation, no head. The aroma is very alcoholic and fruity. There doesn't seem to be much more to it than alcohol and raisin/grape fruit. The flavor is very much the same. Very thin with a lot of raisin and grape flavors going around and an alcoholic bite. The body is very thin. The drinkability is ok, but the thin alcoholic character makes it tough.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
3.87/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From my cellar, same bottle as pictured. Honestly not sure how long I have held onto this one. It pours into my glass a murky, hazy cola brown with orange accents. A small head appears and fades to a ring of bubbles just as quickly. Aromas begin with sweet dark malts upfront with lots of fruit flavors. Apple brandy is quite evident with oak undertones. Raisins, brown sugar and marzipan with yeasty spiciness. Very mild oxidation. I like it.

First sip brings sweet malts racing across the palate with fruity flavors leading the way. Bread notes in the middle along with a touch of fig. Apple brandy moves in along with a woody twang. As the brew flows down hints of raisins and brown sugar meld into a yeasty spiciness with a touch of coriander. Rather sweet overall with a mild alcohol hotness on the finish. Complex.

Mouthfeel is smooth and somewhat chewy as well with solid maltiness, however it is thinner than most Quads. Carbonation is quite mellow here. Alcohol is evident but not overpowering. This is a nice sipper and has aged well. I'll need to get a couple fresh bottles and keep track of how long I age them better next time. Would make a good dessert beer.

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Photo of Drew966
3.82/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.44/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

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