Brouwerij Smisje is part of the Belgian Craft Beer movement. Johan Brandt trained in graphics and opened a printing shop in Bruges in 1989. He eventually had to move his shop and not all of his customers followed. This allowed Johan the time to pick up a new hobby: home brewing. As his printing business further slowed, he decided to start selling his beer under the name of Brouwerij De Regenboog “The Rainbow,” after his printing shop.
The Rainbow brewery lasted until 2008 when they needed to move to a better facility to increase volume and keep up with food safety codes. The new brewery located in Oudenaarde was called Smisje or “the Smithy.”
Smiske Kerst or Smiske Winter Ale, depending on where in the world you pick up this beer, is the breweries seasonal beer for the cold days of winter.
Appearance: Cloudy copper, beige head, great retention.
Aroma: Spicy, floral, earthy, caramel, spiced rum, cinnamon, allspice, dried fruit, bread pudding.
Taste: Marzipan, caramel, toffee, dried fruit.
Overall Impression: Smiske Winter is lightly boozy, which makes for an enjoyable winter tipple. It reminds you this is a big beer while adding to the complexity. In contrast to some other Belgian winter beers that are very dark and rich, Smiske Winter aims to be somewhere lighter but no less rich in depth and complexity. Hardly known in the United States, Smisje is a brewery worth seeking out, as is their Winter/Kerst Ale.
Availability: Available seasonally in very small quantities. Imported by B. United International.