't Smisje Kerst
Brouwerij Smisje

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Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
Ranked #77
Ranked #10,710
3.98 | pDev: 9.8%
Brouwerij Smisje
Very Good
Notes: Also known as Smiske Winter
View: Beers
Reviews: 74 | Ratings: 112 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by IceAce:
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IceAce from California

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

Poured a murky chestnut brown body with three fingers of dirty light tan foam in a Duvel Tulip. The collar of foam collapses leaving an awesome trail of tan lace and a pillowy buttress of foam in the center of the glass.

As I began typing the appearance portion of this review, the nose began to beckon...a siren song of cherries, toasted malt, and caramel sugar held together by a unique strain of Belgian yeast.

Entry is smooth with silky carbonation caressing the sides of the tongue.The immediate sensation of rum-soaked pitted fruits registers on the middle of the tongue, closely followed by the intense sweetness of caramelized sugars and toasty malt. Grains of Paradise bring forth a hint of pepper as well.

The finish begins dry with undertones of soft yeast quickly followed by cherries. Despite a hint of alcohol in the nose and a wee bit of warmth following the swallow, this delicious brew does an admirable job of camouflaging its reported 11% ABV.

This is simply an excellent Belgian Winter Warmer and I'd like to throw down some props to stewdawg for making this available to me.

Dec 24, 2006
More User Reviews:
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oberon from North Carolina

4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Not a style I venture to very often but after lookin over some info on this beer I grabbed it over the weekend.Poured into a goblet kind of a russett color with some deep orange hue a frothy slight off white head atop,a mix of dark fruit and nuts really stand out aroma wise,somemildly sweet brown suagar as well.Starts out a little sweet on the palate with some spiced cherry and raisin flavors but a big peppery finish really rounds it out well,it has a boozy fruit cake character that is nice, the spicey finish really compliments it.Just really solid it has complexity and finess.

Jan 17, 2008
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aracauna from Georgia

3.02/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A dull, dark, cloudy body. Very light tan head was a bit of a foamer but faded quickly but incompletely. The aroma is soapy and very perfumey. Flavor is figs, spice, fermented grapes (bad homemade wine). It has a very fuzzy mouthfeel from carbonation.

May 16, 2003
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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
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feloniousmonk from Minnesota

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

toasty brown color, like cinnamon toast or ginger bread, with a creamy, lush soft tan head.

Aroma is lovely! vanilla, cream, & spice...eggnog?...swear to god, someone just asked me about eggnog beer the other day...this is as close as I've come, at least in aroma. bready malt, spice, ....yum.

Scrumptious in the mouth....mmm! Reminds me of Anchor's OSA, but smoother, perhaps, though it shouldn't be, it's 11% abv...whoop, there it is!

Alcohol heat does creep into the taste, but the delicious malt and yeast really retain control, so it's no burner. Gets more complex, hops shine higher, but this specia spicy, creamy yeasty thing just spreads the flavor over and over.

I'm liking it. Yay, Regenboog!

Dec 18, 2007
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tavernjef from Minnesota

4.59/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opaquely browned color with a torrid orange hint gumming it up at the edges. Soft, smooth, and slimming creamy head of off-white foam sits on top for a decent length before settling to a whispy skim and a thick collar. A few thick stings of lace stick to the goblet.

Full, lush, and invitingly yummy nose! Big lush fruityness and candied goodness of dark cherry, raisin, fig, and some nice lofty spice of dry yeast and floured torte.

Taste is just as good with lots of candied malt and a creamy array of caramel loaded with dark fruit chewyness of raisin, fig, cherry, and dull orange. Nice yeasty spice and candied effects of brown sugar, corriander, and black licorice. Heavenly lofty in the finish with a tender, slow dryness of yeast and a smirking of warmth to top it off. Nice...

Nicely rounded body; big, full, creamy, lush, warm, and inviting. A welcome decadent treat on the palate as nothing is overpowering nor out of place. The near perfect balance of big malty goodness and yeasty dryness.

Wow, what a surprise! This a nice little gem of a Belgian Dark. Could easily drink a bunch of this, but I imagine the 11% is pretty damn sneaky and would and could catch up quickly. But damn if it ain't yummy! Good stuff!

Dec 22, 2007
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weeare138 from Pennsylvania

4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to mughugger for sharing this rare treat...
Appears a hazy, light golden amber with a small, off-white head that slowly fades away. Light lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is yeasty, candy sugar, citrus, caramel, figs, and gentle spicing of pepper and thyme.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with some caramel and raisin flavors rising to the top of a sugary, yeasty bed.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, yeasty, sugary, lightly carbonated, and semi-dry.

Feb 15, 2007
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Gavage from Nevada

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

Appearance: hazy dark amber in color with a 1" head that slowly falls to surface foam. No real lacing develops.

Smell: prunes, yeast, and a hint of pepper are easily detectable.

Taste: malt sweetness, prunes, raisins, yeast, pepper, coriander, and alcohol are balanced with a nice bitterness. Mildly spicy and quite warming.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy in body. Smooth from start to finish. Long aftertaste as the flavors seem to stick to your tongue.

Drinkability: a nice warming beer for some cold weather drinking. A definite slow sipper, but a beer I'm looking forward to having again.

Feb 24, 2007
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brewandbbq from New Hampshire

4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle perhaps about a year old, as I picked it up over the summer.

Pours slightly hazy amber, with a thick, dense beige head of two fingers. Excellent lacework as the head fell to full surface coverage.
Plenty of curtains and strings of fine foam.
Aromatics are fruity, boozy, and spicy.
Dark rum with caramel maltiness, orange marmalade, and clovey goodness. A fairly evident vanilla note steps forward as the beer breaths.
Mouthfeel is medium, sticky, and somewhat creamy.
The pallet is bursting with citrus notes, rummy quad-essence, and pepper dusted raisins. Shades of Grand Marnier and Amaretto, with a hint of cherry.
Alcohol is very warming but not quite hot, and drinkability is terrific for an 11% beer.
Finishes warming, juicy, and slightly nutty.
The body is light enough, and spicing mellow enough to make this one dangerously drinkable brew.

Nov 18, 2007
SPLITGRIN from Kentucky

4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A monster 2 and a half finger head of light tan head erupts off the top of a deep brown body. Has hints of ruby red on the edges. Nice staying power to the head fades in a crater like fashion. Nose is very zesty with huge spicey notes, dark fruit, citrus zest, and yeasty vanilla. A slightly soured fruity feel is the first thing to enter the mouth. This is followed by a spicey reci yeasty palate. Starts like a flemish sour and finishes like a true Belgium winter warmer. This beer would go really well with a variety of cheeses. Nicely drinkable and gets even better as it warms.

Oct 24, 2007
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Phyl21ca from Canada

4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a murky dirty brow color ale with a super large foamy head with great retention and great lacing. Aroma of sweet malt with typical Belgian malt and light spices mix. Taste is also a very well balanced mix between somerich sweet Belgian malt well balanced by some spices such as coriander and a spicy peppery yeast finish. Body is full with limited filtration and great carbonation with no alcohol was apparent.

Apr 26, 2009
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Gueuzedude from Arizona

3.7/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled May 2007
Pours with a fairly tightly beaded, frothy, textured, tan head that leaves a nice lacing pattern on the sides of the glass as it slowly subsides. The beer is an almost brilliantly clear, deep cranberry color. The aroma smells of soft, earthy, citrus-like coriander, which is a mix of blood oranges, a textured-chewy spice character and notes of clove.

The beer is quite thick, which is certainly not unexpected give this beers strength. It is sweet, but definitely sweet from a healthy, chewy amount of malt. Notes of caramel intermingle with the more dominant, concentrated fruit character of prunes and figs. The taste is also quite spicy, with a earthy backdrop of coriander as well as a spicy finish reminiscent a bit as ginger (perhaps a combination of the carbonation and the grains of paradise). A hint of sweet citrus is here as well. The beer has quite a creamy texture to it; all of the malt allows the beer to stick to the palate.

This is definitely a sipping brew and there is enough chewy, fruity malt character to offset the spice-character quite nicely. The coriander helps to dry this beer out, which is certainly nice as it might be too sweet without something like this.

Jun 13, 2007
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ViveLaChouffe from Georgia

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

This one is bottled in a green glass stubby with a red bottlecap. Very festive!

It's a luminous reddish-copper with a thinnish ivory head. Smells of lightly fruity malt with significant floral, noble hops aromas. Faint spice.

Huge fruity sweetness, ripe cherries and black currant, hints of pear with a distinct coriander flavor underneath. Very sweet with a touch of alcohol flavor in the finish. It says it's an 11% ABV beer but you'd never know it. I would've guessed it was a beer that was 2/3 that strong. Sticky sweet finish and spicy aftertaste.

Delicious beer and very drinkable! I'd get it again.

Dec 31, 2008
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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
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Rastacouere from Canada

3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2001, first batch. Muddy brown, light off-white cover. Very fruity nose containing a dense creamed berries flavor topped over by fresh bananas, blueberries, cherries etc. Interesting sour hint, mostly fruity. More fruits come out as it warms, notably peaches. Extremely sweet, cream soda level, yet in the genre, this is fun and works well. Just as fruity taste, pie-like, an alcoholic meringous to my senses. Sugary whipped cream strawberries. Very creamy palate enhanced by very light carbonation. Understated spiciness all throughout, I couldnÂ’t name one, I could feel many. Long sweet aftertaste. A big candy. Nice treat, gracias to New York babblers Bill and Warren.

Mar 08, 2005
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

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

Bronzed kumquat with a citrine-like luminescence when sunshine is allowed entry. Kerst's crown is yet another Belgian masterpiece of foam. It looks absolutely stunning after the initial pour and is impressively rocky as it melts. A beautiful array of abstract-patterned lace is icing on the cake.

Although the nose isn't quite the appearance's equal, it's still a good example of the style. Present are earthy caramel, bruised apples, figs and a subtle spiciness that I would never have identified as coriander and grains of paradise if those ingredients weren't listed on the label.

Kerst is unlike any BSDA that I've ever had. It's impressively spicy, but not in a Belgian yeast kind of way. Obviously, coriander and grains of paradise are responsible for that distinctivness. The latter is especially peppery and pungent, so you'd better be a fan or you won't care for this beer at all.

Beneath all the top note cacaphony is a pretty nice BSDA that features flavors of caramel, dark honey, tobacco, medium-dark fruit and a hint of alcohol. One more year in the cellar might have eliminated that last one. The final pour murks things up quite a bit and sends the spiciness into overdrive. Subtle it ain't.

The mouthfeel is good without being a standout. The beer features a light creaminess that stops just short of expansive. I hate to knock the drinkability score back a half notch, but the grains of paradise overload would keep me from drinking another bottle until... next winter at least.

With the exception of Vuuve (a less than spectacular witbier) and Wostyntje (a mustard seed BSPA), Brouwerij De Regenboog creates good, solid, drinkable beer. Kerst Belgian Winter Ale is a unique ale from a country that specializes in unique ales. Worth a look.

Jan 17, 2008
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Sammy from Canada

3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Winter brew pours very dark with good sized head. Knockout alcohol should be noted please, take this like a winter warmer nightcap. A bit of spicy nose. Noticeable corriander,brown sugar ,orange and clove. Not substantially yeasty, pleasing Belg though not overwhelmed.

Dec 16, 2007
WOLFGANG from South Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +6.8%

Jul 03, 2013
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MrBen from Ohio

4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark, hazy orange. Not too much of a head. Same for carbonation. Gummy, candy-like nose. Thick, syrupy, sweet body and flavor masks the whopping 11% very well. I have no idea what the spices are, and they come across as non-descript. However, what they do bring balances out the sweetness nicely. This is a good beer and a nice diversion for the winter.

Oct 22, 2007
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brentk56 from North Carolina

4.42/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a copper infused amber with a typically Belgian head; great retention but less than impressive lacing

Smell: Smells like a barleywine infused with coriander and grains of paradise

Taste: While the barleywine flavor persists throughout, the herbacious flavors dominate at mid-palate, with both the coriander and the medicinal/anise flavors of grains of paradise becoming prominent along with cracked black pepper; after the swallow, the bitter herbacious flavors continue to dominate the caramel malt, but the layered effect is quite compelling; the finish is somewhat grainy

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation; I would prefer a bit more of the barleywine mouthfeel, however

Drinkability: Totally unexpected, but quite impressive; I marvel at the creativity exemplified by this brew

Jan 28, 2009
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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
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GClarkage from California

4.77/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

04/11/06- Had on tap at the Toronado in San Francisco, CA, during Belgian Beer Month.

Presentation- Via the tap into a tulip style glass.

Appearance- Very dark amber in color. Slight, but creamy very white head. Lacing was above the norm.

Smell- Pretty good alcohol scent in the nose. Otherwise a miryad of scents. Seems like a few spices and definite cherry and dark fruits.

Taste- Wondering if I tried the same thing that everyone else reviewed here. There was a huge dark cherry taste in the beer. Maybe slight banana in the flavor, maybe a touch medicinal, but a huge dark cherry taste. Fairly malty as well.

Mouthfeel- Light alcohol burn, ultra smooth and somewhat creamy. Low carbonation.

Drinkability- Very flavorful brew. Reminded me of a Three Philosophers with a kick to it. Heavy chocolate-cherry taste with a nice tummy warming sensation. If you can find it....try it!


09/11/07- From the bottle, but not sure of the year. Didn't get as much chocolate-cherry flavor, but I did get loads of grape and a good amount of what was either clove or grains of paradise. Carbonation was higher, unlike the draft which was almost cask-like. Overall about the same, maybe a touch better. YUM!

Apr 11, 2006
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paterlodie from Belgium

3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not giving a best before date but with a new label( painted nov 2004 it says). Pours in fine but has very big bubles in its yellow/white head. Color is brown but whith a slightly white haze. Nose is very aromatic; honey, apricot sweet and malty. Taste is full too. Sweet caramel, maltaromes and alcoholic before it gets in a bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel is enormous even for a 11% beer; lots of carbondioxide, sweet and bitter together with a creamyness make it an enjoyable beer.

Feb 07, 2005
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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
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theopholis from California

3.82/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Pours a slightly cloudy amber with a huge, creamy off-white head. Leaves a nice, sticky, thick lace. Slowly effervesces for quite some time.

Smell- Classic aroma of a Belgian ale with apples, candy sugar, a nice earthy yeast, and a hint of dark fruits.

Taste- Fairly complex. Has a very earthy taste with a nice mix of malt and various spices: coriander, all-spice....Quite interesting. . Really nice.

Mouthfeel- Medium to medium-heavy body. CO2 level is high, but it works.

Drinkability- Very easy drinking for a winter ale.

Dec 23, 2008
't Smisje Kerst from Brouwerij Smisje
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 112 ratings