Name: ‘t Smisje Grande Reserva
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Brewery: Brouwerij Smisje website
ABV: 11.0% Abv
How served: 330ml capped bottle poured into a Urthel glass.
My Overall Opinion: Very Good.
I paired this beer with: Gnocchi.
Tasted on: Thursday April 15th, 2010.
Note: This is the ‘t Smisje Kerst Ale brewed with Coriander and Grain of Paradise, (a 11%abv Belgian Strong Dark Ale) which is then matured in a Whisky Cask. This beer tasted more like an English Barleywine, except it wasn’t as “thick”. You get a faint taste of whiskey and a mild cherrish flavor to go with a strong malt sweetness, which wasn’t too sweet, as it wasn’t too “thick”. This is surely a sipper and could be easily enjoyed as a before or after dinner drink. I did enjoy the “plain” ‘t Smisje Kerst Ale better then the whiskey cask version I’ve just sampled.
On the Label: Brewed & bottled by De Regenboog, Brugge, Belgium
From their website: Nothing about ‘t Smisje Grande Reserva could be found on the Brouwerij Smisje website, so I added the following which could be found on this link within the Belgian Beer Board.
(BTW Filip Geerts is the Webmaster of the Belgian Beer Board and is also the Webmaster of the Brouwerij Smisje website).
After we finished the marvelous “Vin de Céréale” at ‘t Brugs Beertje, two marvels were ordered !
Barrel aged ‘t Smisje Kerst 11 vol% from Bruges’ brewery De Regenboog.
More info about ‘t Smisje Kerst can be found here…
There’s two different wood aged versions available.
One that has been aged inside a Michel Couvreur’s Whiskey barrel (this is new). The other batch underwent some E. Dupont Calvados barrel ageing.
Primary Fermentation: 2 Weeks
Secondary Fermentation in Bottle: Champagne yeast, port yeast and ale yeast
First Maturation: 60 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 weeks
Second Maturation: in the two different casks for 11 months
Third Maturation: 70 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 weeks
The result: Two masterpieces !
It’s really exceptional to actually be able to taste both beers side by side.
There’s so much differences.
The differences mainly cask related.
The ‘t Smisje Kerst is – ofcourse – clearly noticeable.
Still made according Bill Coleman‘s original American recipe with barley, wheat, vienna malts and caramalt.
The hops are Hallertauer, Kent Goldings.
Dark and white candi sugar, Coriander, Grain de Paradise !
Just after pouring out both beers, we noticed a less carbonated ‘t Smisje Calva Reserva. Not much foam.
I suspect that this beer is just that bit too young. Waiting should be the message, and the bottle conditioning will certainly give some nice head in the near future.
Nevertheless, the ‘t Smisje Calva Reserva got our vote !!! Why ?
Simple, because this beer has that bit more body to it. Much more aromatic flavors too.
The Grande Reserva seemed less complex. Nevertheless, the Whiskey barrel gave a marvelous Whiskey woody touch to the beer. But somehow I missed the impressive warming complex nose from the ‘t Smisje Calva Reserva.
The Calva has a most delicate aroma. Warming, caramel, Calva woody, candi sugar, amazing full bodied, somewhat roasty, complex, even fruity !
People, this is what I call the ultimate Bruges Beery Treat ! Yes, the two beers !
No question: The € 5.00 we paid for each beer was well worth every drop !
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