't Smisje Great Reserva | Brouwerij Smisje

't Smisje Great Reserva't Smisje Great Reserva
Liked This Beer
3.54 w/ 38 ratings
't Smisje Great Reserva't Smisje Great Reserva

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Smisje

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Catherine the Great Imperial Stout aged in Cognac barrels.

Added by Gueuzedude on 01-03-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 38 |  Reviews: 27
Photo of RochefortChris
2.75/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Photo of brandoman63
3/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of rbrefbeerman
3.25/5  rDev -8.2%

Photo of gpblackgt
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev +13%

Photo of Offa
2.96/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of stuppy
2.64/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: light brown, opaque, light tan head when poured, leaves small ring around glass,

Aroma: Dark fruits, oak, vanilla, some sour notes. Cognac/rum like qualities, alcohol

Flavor: Caramel, oak, strong vanilla, cognac, alcohol strong on finish

Mouthfeel: med heavy body, med carbonation,

Overall: Very barrel forward. Heavy cognac and lots of alcohol. Not very pleasant looking. Not a Stout as described on bottle, nor as a Belgian Dark Strong as listed on Beer Advocate. Will not have again. Bottle says "t' Smisje Catherine the Great Stout Man Cognac Barrels", google translate wasn't working properly the day they decide on label as I am not sure what that means.

 678 characters

Photo of weeare138
3.75/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of Soto
2.75/5  rDev -22.3%

4/5  rDev +13%

Photo of WDJersey
3.75/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of nUgZ
3.56/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

11.2 ounce bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a dark amber color with a half finger head and minimal lacing.

S: Sour fruits and cognac. Sour.

T: Lots of cognac, oak, vanilla, and some fruity flavors. Again, sour. Alcohol is evident.

M: Medium bodied with light carbonation.

O: This is not my style, but it's not all that bad. More barrel evidence than there is of the base beer though.

 394 characters

Photo of ColForbinBC
3.79/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a snifter, split with Keanlacrosse

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

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Photo of popery
3.2/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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

 821 characters

Photo of WynnO
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of corby112
3.15/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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

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

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

 992 characters

Photo of brystmar
2.33/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Stubby old bottle thanks to blatantdream.

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

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

 428 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.32/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 1,057 characters

Photo of Viciousknishs
3.82/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- pours a burnt orange russet color with two fingers of off white head. Ok head retention.

S- Man, if ya like cognac you should be all over this brew. Overwhelming musty oak, cognac(there it is again) and rich topsoil tones pretty much characterize the aroma. Some cherry pit and very heady alcohol hit the nose on the finish.

T- substantial cognac flavor dominates this brew with notes of musty oak, cherry pit and sugary fig. Lots o' alcohol heat on the back end that somehow works quite well. Earthy finish with some maltiness and booze lingering in the palate.

MF- sugary slick mouthfeel. Thick body with an active carb that seem to simmer down as you sip.

D- one hell of a sipper. Although its only 10 percent it drinks almost like a spirit.

Overall a very interesting beer. Wish the beer had held up to the barrel.

 826 characters

Photo of JAHMUR
4.75/5  rDev +34.2%

Photo of ktrillionaire
3.03/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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

 688 characters

Photo of Allpe45
3.4/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle

Appears cloudy, dark brown with reddish tints and a thick and monstrous tan head that delays the pour. Good retention and lacing. Smells like mold and aged cheese, some compost and bready malts. Tastes like dark fruit and sweet malts at first. It's very sweet throughout. The fruitiness fades away to reveal caramel, toffee, wood, and a touch of chocolate. A little bit of cognac in the end but the initial sweetness never goes away, causing a lingering dry finish. Medium-light bodied with low carbonation. I found it tasted much better than it smelled.
Interesting but not something I would seek out.

 617 characters

Photo of StJamesGate
3.05/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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

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

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

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

 895 characters

Photo of chicagobeerriot
3.56/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The label says imperial stout aged in cognac barrels. The taste says Belgian Quad. What is a reviewer to do?

Well, let's stick to the facts. Right out of the bottle, it's clear that this is not an imperial stout. It pours a cloudy bronze with yellow highlights at the edges. A thin off-white head develops, but beats a hasty retreat.

The smell is dark fruit, fig, caramel, biscuity malt and just a bit of alcohol.

The mouthfeel is medium-full with more carbonation than you would expect from a stout (but again, more in line with a Belgian quad).

The taste has many of the flavors that are present on the nose: caramel, toffee, cherry and biscuit. But there's also some wood/vanilla action going on here and some sweet alcohol warmth on the finish.

A very nice beer for warming up in front of the fire, and should pair quite nicely with pork belly or duck. Just be sure to ignore the "Imperial Stout" label.

 913 characters

Photo of UnDeadly
3.65/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle, Urthel snifter

Appearance - Strangely light-colored, a dark, burnt amber color. Pour with a moderate head, but no lacing. Pretty good retention though that hung in there for a good 10-15 minutes.

Smell - I guess it smells like cognac? I don't know, I don't drink the stuff myself. Slight notes of brown sugar and oak as well. It's nice, but relatively consistent and unremarkable.

Taste - Pretty nice, the flavors really came together as the beer warmed. Light notes of rum and milk chocolate came through the front, and then glide smoothly to the back with a buttery oak. There is very, very little bitterness to the beer that is only found in the aftertaste. Very late in the aftertaste I start getting cigar/tobacco notes as well.

Mouth Feel - Well carbonated, and this beer should definitely be consumed at warmer temperatures. I got a sting early on that went away. Very silky and buttery.

Drinkability - It would have been nice to have a larger bottle of the stuff, but oh well. I think this beer would be great with a smoke to be honest, and that is something I rarely even think about beers. Pretty high on the ABV, but overall pleasant.

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't Smisje Great Reserva from Brouwerij Smisje
Beer rating: 36.8% out of 100 with 38 ratings
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