't Smisje Kerst
Brouwerij Smisje

Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
Ranked #78
Ranked #10,635
3.98 | pDev: 9.8%
Brouwerij Smisje
Very Good
Notes: Also known as Smiske Winter
View: Beers
Reviews: 74 | Ratings: 111 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of SLeffler27
SLeffler27 from New York

4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark garnet brown and a bit hazy. A short-lived dark khaki tight foam settles to a thick blanket leaving no lace in a Rochefort chalice.

Rich earthiness marks the otherwise sweet aroma. Dark fruits such as raisins, dates and figs compliment pumpernickel bread. Warmth reveals prunes and Brazil nuts.

Strong flavors are revealed within a well-balanced sweet/bitter profile. This follows the nose with earthy flavors being more prominent. After the modest finish and warmth, some ginger is noticeable.

This is extraordinarily creamy with ample carbonation against a light medium body. It is on the dry side with alcohol well below expectations.

Kerst may stretch the style but it does so in positive ways. I found it to be just right while relaxing after work on a cold winter day before dinner.

Jul 25, 2017
Photo of Beginner2
Beginner2 from Illinois

4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Here is an example of what happens when you take short-cuts in your (my) research.
I bought this because I recognized the brewery's name and had a few of their quirky interpretations... of which all were interesting and one superbly good.
So this bottle of Kerst hangs in my cellar, somewhat neglected because it is hard to know what you are going to get with Smisje. In a flurry of cleaning out my beer cellar to prepare for Fall, this one gets ramped up to the staging area in the cooler.... and I soon pop the top.

The research problem emerges quickly because I want a beer to soothe the Dog Days of Summer. Fortunately for me, there was enough alcohol in this beer that I could imagine it was January in Chicago... instead of the humid, heavy rainstorm in July that was passing through.

This is a great ale... but follow this advice: drink it when the temperatures are low.

Jul 24, 2016
Photo of pat61
pat61 from Minnesota

4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Has a tartness on the nose and a little funk. Hazy amber, bone white stiff cap dissipates to ½” from 3”. Palate: fruit, rich malts, bubble gum, pineapple, peach with a balance of tart and sweet. Medium body, above average carbonation.

Mar 17, 2015
Photo of teromous
teromous from Virginia

3.74/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The bottle I have appears differently from the one listed on this site. It has red lettering and a black silhouette of hills with trees. The bottle also says 12% ABV and "Belgian Winter Ale brewed with spices (coriander & grain of paradise)"

Appearance: It is a hazy murky iced tea brown color with a thin dirty-white head that fades instantly. As usual head retention is not something to hold against a beer that is 12%.

Aroma: There is a strong caramel scent along with dates. It has a very rich aroma to it, that completely consumes all olfactory senses. If aroma had a "mouthfeel" it would be syrupy.

Taste: It has quite a lot of flavor. At first there is this rich candy caramel flavor, then it is followed by this nutty pecan flavor, which has a biscuit aftertaste, and a popcorn-like ending. I like it.

Mouthfeel: Despite the collection of flavors and ABV of the beer, it comes across as a fairly medium bodied beer, and a lighter shade of medium to boot. It has a touch of effervescence which seems to further the lightness of the body. I would like to see a larger beer like this have more of a coating quality.

Overall: I didn't pick up any coriander or grains of paradise, but the flavor qualities were still there to make this an interesting beer. It didn't blow me away but it was a good beer. Try it if you like large Belgian beers, but you're not missing anything if you can't get it.

Jan 18, 2015
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84 from California

3.77/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a hazy dark orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to a small cap on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Tiny particles of sediment are seen suspended in the beer after the pour. Smell is of toasted malt, dark fruit, mixed fruit jelly, and spice aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, caramel, dark fruit, and spice flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of spice bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a nice balance between the malt, dark fruit, and spice characteristics all around.

Serving type: bottle.

Jan 15, 2015
Photo of Bitterbill
Bitterbill from Wyoming

4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

It pours a very hazy/cloudy dark honey colour, 1 finger head of foam with the usual Belgian quality re retention and lacing.

The smell is of dark fruits, black cherries amongst them?, yeasty, some light spiciness.

The taste is stronger than the nose but not as impressive to me. Dark pitted fruits, yeasty, orange peel bitterness, has some woody notes and light Port(more of that please), vanilla,..to me, a tad over complex and not everything comes together in total harmony.

Top end of medium bodied, medium carbo, very good mouthfeel.

So, in the end analysis, I reckon, despite what I said about the complexity above, this IS a very good brew.

Jan 03, 2015
Photo of BlackHaddock
BlackHaddock from England

3.96/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

33cl Bottle, well in date when opened on 10th Jan 2014. Poured slowly into a 'Leffe' badged chalice. Some sediment did get out though.

Good deep mahogany body (with a slight mist from the sediment): the thin head became a wisp and collar far too quickly for me.

Port like aroma, this is a winter brew with attitude, my nose warmed up just sniffing it, actually you can add 'Bovril' to the smell.

Malty molasses sticking to a side of beef left in a shallow mash tun for a week and then had Port or Madeira poured onto them just before bottling, you get the picture.

Rich, tasty and very alcoholic from the off. This is a monster brew that has prune, damsons and spices all vying for attention within the sweet beefy brew.

Barley Wine in feel and taste, very drinkable, but dangerous.

Jan 10, 2014
Photo of drpimento
drpimento from Wisconsin

4.14/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured slightly warm with a gigantic, cream-colored, foamy, frothy head and some lace. Color is at first a slightly hazy honey amber, then upon emptying the bottle with the sediment, more cloudy and brown. Aroma is very mild, vinous, malt, fruit, yeast. Flavor's like nose and has sweet, bitter, & tang up front and other qualities in back. Body/carbonation are excellent. Finish is like flavor, slow taper, significant warmth. Great sipping beer.

Nov 23, 2013
Photo of Misanthropy_Sipping
Misanthropy_Sipping from Nebraska

4.31/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

So, I am a bit a lost as to where this should be put. As my bottle is different and is labelled as Smisje 'Smiske' Kerst. Note this should a separate beer appear elsewhere. But judging by other posts on here this is likely very very similar or the same thing.

Pours a rusty, reddish, tan murk with grainy and small light tan head that dissipates quickly. First thought at smell, and appearance, it may be similar to Scaldis Noel. Looks similar, just... muddy. Not pretty, but I always have high hopes for this brewer and have loved all from Smisje (Smiske) so far.

Smells of damp wood, warm booze, a bit of vanilla, citrusy caramel tinge. You catch a hint of Belgian candi sugar... a very unusual earthy, yeasty presence which is fairly common for this brewer. Unusual all around, but I like it in an odd way.

There is a whirl of spice going on as I taste. A little nutmeg, a little dry cinnamon maybe, pepper and some other things I have trouble really connecting or putting finger on. There is a toasted raisin sort of taste. Toasted, dried dates. There is a tad bit of caramel, a little vanilla. The candi sugar sweeps in on the middle and follows through until it dries and bitters out lightly on the end with sort of a herbal hop character. Earthy and yeasty with the sugars. This is on the sweeter side but not too sweet. It is actually pretty well balanced and the booze gets lost among the other things going on... but adds to the bitterness I think. Has a nice warming effect with the spice.

Reminiscent of Scaldis Noel for me... but better. I think the yeast and spice profile is much more interesting and adds a great deal more complexity to this.

Mouthfeel is very nice. Not sticky, a little dense, but the carbonation scours away and lightens things up a bit. Pretty spot on. A nice cold/snowy spring evening beer. Surprisingly easy to drink for the high alcohol content.

As it warms it really blooms. Overall, I wouldn't consider this a Belgian Dark... Definitely a Belgian Amber. Definitely fits all those characteristics much better. On my love affair with Smisje, I may be a bit bias... but, this is one from the brewer that is not high on the list. It's awfully good! Don't get me wrong. It just doesn't surprise you and intrigue you quite as much as others. The quality is impeccable though. No one can deny the quality of this beer. I only picked up one when I saw it, and double of others. I'm satisfied that I did one and would definitely grab up another should the chance arise. But I wouldn't stockpile this like I do some of the others... (COUGH -calva reserve!-)

Apr 19, 2013
Photo of metter98
metter98 from New York

3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is cloudy light brown in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a two finger high off white head that gradually died down, leaving a large patch of bubbles on the surface and a thick collar around the edge of the glass.
S: There are aromas of dark fruits in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste has flavors of dark fruits and begins to develop a little bit of sweetness and notes of yeast as the beer warms up. There are also some subtle hints of coriander and peppery spices in the finish that add complexity.
M: It feels a little more than medium-bodied and somewhat smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This isn't one of my top favorites of the style, but this beer is incredibly drinkable considering its strength because there are absolutely no traces of alcohol in the aroma and taste.

Oct 05, 2012
Photo of BEERchitect
BEERchitect from Kentucky

3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Raisons, a multitude of other pitted, dehydrated, and candied dark fruits all provide an estery blend to this spicy and rummy Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

Pouring a rusty and brownish amber color with yeasty haze gives this beer the classy and Belgiany glow of signature ales from the region. A creamy bright-white head billows to the top of the glass and then settling slowly to a dense blanket from edge to edge. Impressive staying power and light lace tops off a very handsome ale.

Dark fruit aromas start with a pronounces raison scent, but then grows toward other dehydrated dark fruits of cherry, berry, dates, figs, prunes, and plumbs. Modest candy-like sweet notes introduce toasty, bready, and nutty elements of malt while complementing the fruity yeast notes. Mild peppery notes of white pepper, alcohol, and wood-like tannin notes provide a soft vinous note that reminds me of red wines.

The dry-fruity, spice and pepper flavors are to be expected, however in slightly greater intensity than expected from that of aromas. Sugar coated cherries, raspberries, raisons/grapes, figs, plumbs/prunes, along with pecans and bread crust flavors shape the more pronounced flavors while milder notes of apples, pears, and peppercorn round out the estery/spicy balance. Alcohol flavors inform the peppery spice, along with contributing flavors of rum and bitterness.

The bubbly effervesence gives an expansive and full impression, but is soon fleeting and provides a dry sweetness that evaporates off the palate and ushers in a finish of peppery spice, moderate prickle, and warm (boardering on hot) alcohols. An aftertaste of pepper and dry-fruitiness gives a supple linger into the next sip.

Kerst has an overall 'young' flavor that seems to have some aggressive, maybe abrasive alchols that still need maturing. As the alcohols subside, the esters and spice will meld and provide the complex sweetness that makes any single attribute difficult to pin point.

Mar 01, 2012
Photo of BDIMike
BDIMike from Ohio

4.37/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a cloudy reddish-brown color. A cream head appears in the very beginning but the head goes away very quickly.
Smell has a nice simple malt taste to it. The sweet malts are followed by that awesome Belgian sugar smell that I always love.
Taste is nice. A nice Belgian sweet sugar taste is balanced by a very good dark fruit taste. Dark fruits of raisins, prunes, and others are strongly prevalent in this beer.
Mouthfeel has a medium thickness, but a crisp carbonation gives this beer a refreshing quality.
Drinkability is awesome on this beer. For a beer of 12% ABV, there is such a nice balance of tastes and a fairly easy drink. Great beer.

Feb 17, 2012
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber from Washington

4.45/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Scaldis chalice. Pours a murky dark red orange amber with a massive fine off-white head that kept growing from active carbonation. Color isn't that outstanding, but a very attractive head on this beer. Aroma of light fruit, Belgian yeast and spicing with a bit of a sour element. Flavor is hard to describe. Sweet dark malt and dark fruit elements, fruit esters, brown sugar and light caramel in the finish which has a bit of cinnamon and a slight hop kick. Very complex and well integrated to the point that it's hard to distinguish individual flavors. Medium bodied with some creaminess. Delicious. This definitely tastes like a winter season dark Belgian ale. Well done.

Jan 19, 2012
Photo of ShogoKawada
ShogoKawada from Pennsylvania

4.29/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

got this one from the Bringing Back Tradition BIF, thanks mdaschaf! 11.2 oz into chouffe tulip.

A- Large head, really unattractive pondwater yellow color... nice big creamy head though. Beer looks better in the glass, hazy and dirty though. Head settles with spotty lacing into a bit of peaks and crags.

S- Smells like strawberry jam and maraschino cherries. Very sweet, fruity and floral. Great aroma.

T- Spicy clove and a warming, brandy/orange liqueur sweetness. Great sweet malty waves and spicy belgian yeast. Reminds me of chewing on raspberry seeds, I know that's a weird descriptor but it's very similar.

M- Hot- I think this is stronger in heat than the whisky barrel version I had. Alcohol is tasty though and imparts a warming, glowing feeling. Good stuff.

O- More please! Quite interesting somewhat fresh, would like to see what this is like with a few more years on it.

Sep 19, 2011
Photo of Goatshaver
Goatshaver from Maine

4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Medium brown with a nice fluffy one finger head.

S: Earthy smell with a little sweet spicyness

T: An earthy taste with a flavor of tabacco and nutty/wood flavors combined with some nice spices.

M: Very smooth, with a light feel and little carbonation.

D: Easily drinkable. Very smooth and well balanced for the abv%.

Loved this would like to try a bottle sometime.

Mar 27, 2011
Photo of impending
impending from California

3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

33cl into a tulip. Pours a muddy ruddy deep reddish brown. Nice dense head with superb retention and excellent lacing.

Sedate aroma for this strong of a strong dark. Sweet dark candies and much yeast, more than typical.

Begins proper to the style then suddenly the taste of lightly scorched wood chips dominates the palate, completely unexpected based on the nose. Alcohol is restrained. Mouthfeel is prickly and long lived.


Their website, which doesn't get much traffic and english is not an option, sheds no light on the 12 abv nor label. They seem to be only brewing 2 beers. They label themselves as microbrewers and so they are.

Dec 06, 2010
Photo of Liverpool08
Liverpool08 from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Monk's In Philadelphia. Pours a nice dark amber red. Nice puffy white head. Aroma of spices, and darek fruit. This one is billed as a Christmas Ale, and it fills the bill.
Nice dark fruity flavors followed by spices of cloves. A great winter sipper. Booze is very well hidden, carbonation is good. If not for the high ABV, this would be a multi-sipper.

Oct 20, 2010
Photo of UnknownKoger
UnknownKoger from California

4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Same as the previous review, my bottle has different artwork and is labelled at 12%abv.

Poured into my Chimay goblet. Pours a super hazy, cloudy light brown. It almost looks like an unfiltered beer. Lots of sediment and spices at the bottom of the bottle trickle into the glass. Tons of carbonation and a big head that surprisingly lasted for a while until thinning into a nice thin layer.

Smells like a winter ale! The spices and character of the brew are definitely evident.

The taste is interesting. I can't help but compare this to a Maredsous or Rochefort dubbel. Even though it's the middle of summer and blazing hot, this is a nice drink to have at night. It feels light on the tongue and goes down smooth. The spices that are typical of a winter ale are evident. Interestingly there is a bit of smokiness in the aftertaste. It's not overpowering, but it was certainly unexpected.

As other reviews have noted, the abv is pretty well hidden. That being said, the high carbonation certainly fills me up. It's drinkable, but I wouldn't drink more than one in a session.

Jul 16, 2010
Photo of augustgarage
augustgarage from California

4.38/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Slightly different label art on my bottle - also this batch comes in at 12% ABV. Poured from a 330mL bottle into my Westvleteren chalice.

Opaque raw sienna and copper liquid. Magnificent head retention - the crown looks like a wheat-colored souffle dotted with chocolate from the lees - raised well above the rim of the glass. Multiple layers of lacing hide any legs that might be present.

Rich complex yeast aromas along with a deep maltiness and a pleasant spiciness suggesting pepper, ginger, and cinnamon.

The foam itself almost tastes like beef jerky, but in a good way - the ale is suffused with flavor: dark fruit esters, lots of spice (the grains of paradise in particular are intriguing and well matched to this beer), rich dark malt, caramel...the list goes on. Sweet-ish, but the spice and alcohol seem to dry things out a bit in the finish. As the ale warms, there is a slight hint of smoke in the aftertaste as well.

Warm, creamy, medium-heavy bodied, pillowy, and effervescent.

Despite the high ABV, this is incredibly drinkable, and perfect for the Winter season - creative yet traditional.

Jun 17, 2010
Photo of chaz01
chaz01 from Ohio

3.62/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served at Chappy's Tap House as part of a month long beer event. Served in a 6 ounce mini wine glass.

A: Murky lite brown, hazy, cloudy. Produced a large head which looked like a layer of cream floating on top. Good lacing around the glass.

S: Big Pineapple aroma when first served. Another review mentioned "wet paint", as the beer warmed, I could definitely pick this up as well.

T: Initially pineapple, but turns into a little tart sour cherry taste.

M: Heavily carbonated, maybe a bit too much. Nice bitter tart finish.

D: Definitely worth having one of these, but I'm not sure I'd want more than one at a sitting.

Apr 22, 2010
Photo of John_M
John_M from Oregon

4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at Max's during 72 hours.

The beer pours a somewhat hazy brown color with pretty good head retention and lots of sticky lacing. Lots of brown sugar on the nose in this one, and on the palate it's pretty sweet. However, there is a somewhat sour, funky underlying element that helps to cut the sweetness and enhances drinkability. Mouthfeel is pretty full, with a long, rich finish. Drinkability is entirely too good for this beer's abv., though you can tell it's up there a bit.

Still, this is a very fine beer on cask.

Max's also had the draft version of this beer, which we tried side by side with the cask version. The draft version was a bit sweeter then the cask version, and I didn't get much of the underlying spice and sour element. As one would expect, mouthfeel was considerably softer and richer in the cask version. Regardless, either way this was a very fine, impressive beer.

Feb 12, 2010
Photo of jrallen34
jrallen34 from Illinois

3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I drank this from a 12oz bottle into my Rochefort chalice.

The beer pours cooper with a light orange tint. The head is tope rising about 1 finger and fading quickly to only a ring of foam around the glass. The lacing is actually really good.

The aroma is light, at first it was wet paint, really? I guess that's just alcohol with a bit of spice, not much to hang your hat on.

The taste is nice very flavorful and only enough winter spice to make it one, but not so much that it overwhelms you. The front is very sweet ends with a touch of spice.

Medium feel and drinkability.

Not expecting much and got more than I though, decent Belgian winter.

Jan 08, 2010
Photo of Travlr
Travlr from District of Columbia

4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark maroon color with a big, fluffy, irregularly colored brown head that lasts a long time and leaves good lacing.
S: Aroma of freshly baked bread, caramel and toffee.
T: Flavor is dominated by malt and yeast, as well as light spice, maybe nutmeg.
M: Good body.
D: Nice Christmas ale, worth trying.

Jan 06, 2010
Photo of weissbierdrinker
weissbierdrinker from Belgium

3.28/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a muddy brown color with a thick tight head that fades leaving solid lacing around the glass.

Smell is sweet, slightly hoppy.

Taste of ginger bread, and orange flavors, some cinnamon, maybe some lemon tang. Finish is smooth and the alcohol is no where to be found.

Not the best christmas beer I've had, but not the worst.

Nov 18, 2009
Photo of glid02
glid02 from Georgia

4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cask pour at the Brick Store.

Pours a purple-brown color with a large-bubbled off-white head that diminishes very quickly into a thin ring around the glass leaving no lacing but decent legs.

Smells of raisins, plums, brown sugar, and alcohol. It warms slightly and the nose sweetens a bit.

Tastes very good. Lots of dark fruit flavors up front that are joined by brown sugar and a hint of spiciness midway through the sip. The ending is mildly dry.

Mouthfeel is good. It has a good thickness with very light carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I didn't have a problem finishing my glass, although another might be a bit much. It's not that it's not good, just that it's a sipper.

Overall this was a solid BSDA that I'd be interested to try from a bottle. Worth a taste if you see it on cask.

Jul 27, 2009
't Smisje Kerst from Brouwerij Smisje
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 111 ratings