'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 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.

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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.

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Photo of Soto
2.75/5  rDev -22.3%

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

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.

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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.

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Photo of organicbrewer
3.12/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

a-ruby brown. Brilliantly clear with a huge khaki head.

s-slight peaty smoke. Not as impressive as the taste. rum soaked cherries. No hops.

t-Firmly bitter. light smokey phenols. A bit of alcohol. Almost like scotch.

m-Prickly carbonation. Slight alcohol burn, but ok for style. Some toasty malt.

d-I couldn't do more than one of these in a night. Good beer, but a lot going on. Between the phenols and alcohol, i can't have another.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of rbrefbeerman
3.25/5  rDev -8.2%

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.

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Photo of Radome
3.46/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Very cloudy, opaque medium brown. Maybe a hint of red in color. The head is off white and creamy, but not huge. This does not look at all like an imperial stout, more like a cloudy abbey ale.

S - Aroma like nothing I've smelled before and tough to describe. A mix of wood, smoke and something organic. The organic note is not sour like a wood-aged gueuze, but more like a "stinky cheese" in the background. None of the roastiness or alcohol I was expecting from an imperial stout.

T - Again, not like a imperial stout. Strong bitternness and alcohol burn are up front, then lots of wood and smoke. No roast coffee notes. Fairly one-dimensional, centered on the smoky wood flavor.

M - Mouthfeel a bit thin.

D - Unique, but too one-dimensional and over the top with smoke and wood for me (and usually I'm a big fan of both in a strong beer).

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Photo of portia99
3.48/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

11.2oz bottle poured into a Brooklyn snifter. Classified here as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but the label proclaims it is an Imperial Stout aged in cognac barrels...we will see which it is.

A - Pours a very dirty dark brown with huge and obvious wisps of yeast swirling through the glass. Three fingers of dense tan head with oustanding staying power - pretty impressive for a 10% beer - a small amount of lacing left behind on the glass. The overall muddiness of the appearance detracts a bit here.

S - A bit fruity up front almost Grand Marnier like, a bit of lemon, some woody bite around the edges. Raisins, licorice, prunes, some alcohol round things out. Very unusual...some smells in there that definitely are unique in the beer realm.

T - Boozy, alcoholic in flavor up front. Strong woodiness throughout. A sharp bitterness in the middle with some unusual sourness on the edges. Still get some orangey citrus in this sourness. After the swallow some sweet caramel flavors creep in. Not at all what I was expecting out of this.

M - Medium/full bodied with medium carbonation too. Alcohol warmth and unusual combination of fruity flavors fills the mouth completely. Sweet caramel on the finish lingers into the aftertaste.

D - A very unique offering. Not entirely sure how I feel about this one...but leaning towards not liking. Not a drainpour (at least if you go in open-minded), but definitely not an easy drinker either. Don't think I'll be trying this one again. Glad to give it a shot, but this one is a bit out there for me.

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Photo of WynnO
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of gpblackgt
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%

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

Editors note: I am going to be elaborating on this beer from notes, but here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Bottle says it is Catherine the Great imperial stout aged in cognac barrels but looks nothing like an imperial stout and pours out nothing like an imperial stout colorwise or headwise, massive head very lacy, does the barrel really impart these kinds of changes, I don't think so and it's listed as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale on the site. What gives?

2. For being aged in cognac barrels I don't really pick up on it at all, really more of a slightly sour, woody almost oxidized smell versus the sweetness I am used to from barrel aging.

3. Tastes is difficult to explain, lots of wood character, lots of oak mixed with a bit of funky sourness, grassiness and sweet grainy malts, finish is quite fruit and lingers for a long while after the beer is past. Feel and tastes nowhere near 10%.

4. A beer clouded in mystery, not quite sure what to make of it besides the fact that it is really like nothing I've encountered, certainly not what I was expecting but also not a appointment either.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of mikey711
3.62/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a bottle into a oversized wine glass. Heavily carbonated, filling up to the top with white foam on top of a dark murky brown. The lacing is pretty good as the foam sits on the sit of the glass nightly. It has a spice of alcohol that stings slightly. Good fruit notes, grapes likely from the cognac. Some yeast and earthy aromas arise as well. It tastes slightly and alcoholic. It is fruity, mostly grapes, with some dryness, a bit of woodiness, and bitterness. This beer could benefit from a little bit of age, but I actually enjoy the alcohol heat in this beer. The mouthfeel stings a bit from the cognac and there is a little acidity. Definately a sipper

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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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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.66/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - a nice amber iced tea color, lots of pale mocha foam. Graduations of rings hit the glass as the head falls and holds at a quarter-inch.

Aroma - a nice sugary sweetness balanced with a good Belgian yeastiness.

Taste - mild malt influence. The abv heat is in force pretty quickly. The swallow has a mild tartness and bitterness. Some yeast on the swallow, the flavors working out together better after some warming.

Mouthfeel - a moderately crisp brew yet quite smooth. Not oily slick or anything but creamy and fulfulling.

Drinkability - a stiff nightcap, not quite as much flavor as I'd hoped for given the strength. Not a bad bottle of suds though.

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Photo of metter98
3.7/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is cloudy brown in color and has a small head that's off white in color. Despite a very light amount of visible carbonation in the rising bubbles there is a good amount of head retention.
S: There aren't a lot of cognac aromas in the nose, which has more notes of chocolate and oak.
T: The cognac flavors are more pronounced in the taste and particularly stand out in the finish. There is some bitterness and notes of oak and pepper.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate. The limited amount of carbonation makes this feel a bit thin and there is some alcohol burn.
D: The beer is easy to consume when it is sipped, although I'm not sure if I would have this again because I thought there would be a larger presence of cognac.

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Photo of weeare138
3.75/5  rDev +5.9%

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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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