Requires a Bullwhip and Fedora Hat
A Review of Guido by Smisje Brouwerij
Posted on 3/9/2013 by Chops
When novices begin their journeys through the lands of better beer, a common misconception is that this simply involves drinking better beer. While this is true, it is also only one piece of a much bigger puzzle. Great beers, strange beers, punishing beers, untamed beers, mind-bending beers, they are all part of the journey. What you are also going to do is educate yourself and become a pseudo-detective. You will learn about the beers you like and discover interesting tidbits in the process.

Take the Guido by the Smisje Brewery in Belgium. I found this beer on a recent trip to my favorite local beer store. It had a hand-glued label which struggled to stay on. It also donned the words ''Regenboog Ale brewed with honey and raisins''. Curiosity got the best of me and it found a place in my basket. Before opening this brew, I was compelled to learn more about it. What I found was pretty damn interesting. Get this, Smisje is a tiny Belgian brewery started by a beekeeper, which of course accounts for the signature use of honey in many Smisje beers. Johan Brandt, also a printer and homebrewer, decided to combine two of his loves, the result of which is now in my hands.

In the glass, Guido has an earthy brown coloration with ruby red hues and a lot of fine sediment. It comes with a fizzy light tan head that is almost soda-like. Seriously, imagine a glass of soda and that hissing sound of quick dissolution. That's what we have here, which was really odd. It was a race with the devil just to get a picture before the head vanished. On the nose, I found a potent dark fruity aroma laced with alcohol burn. Resting underneath were notes of honey and toasted bread. This is certainly a strange introduction for any brew, let alone a Belgian. So, I honestly had no idea what to expect going in for that first sip.

Wow, just... wow. This beer has a very rich and complex flavor that slaps you across the cheek. My initial impression was that of an amplified Orval (but don't get excited just yet). While unbelievably complex, it's also painfully disjointed. Don't get me wrong though, this is a really good beer, scrumptious even. But, it's a lot of work to dissect. For example, the dominate flavor note is cigar. Yes, you read that right. It tastes like cigar tobacco. From there I found an array of other traits, namely caramel, herbs, toasted bread crust, a touch of chocolate, honey, burnt sugar, dark fruits like raisins, and coffee. I could have easily found more if I had another bottle. It's quite the flavor adventure. The mouthfeel is equally vexing with a thick meaty body that drinks smoothly and easily. The finish is quite sticky and leaves behind a malty sweet aftertaste. Another important aspect to highlight is the warming effect, which is somewhat unpleasant. As the beer warms, there is a significant increase in the boozy burn, so best to enjoy this beer slightly chilled.

Overall, the Smisje Guido is a savory and strangely fascinating brew. This review was difficult to write because Guido challenged my ability to give meaning to disorder. But, I did find the disorder to be inherently meaningful, which resulted in serious bouts of writer's block. After much contemplation, the best way I have found to describe this beer is through a single world: elder. This beer tastes earthy and wise with a healthy dose of kookiness. Consequently, I can only recommend Guido to experienced drinkers with honed palates. Otherwise, this beer will probably taste like a flailing bottle of madness crafted by a demented brewer with pet bees. Guido is quite an adventure, so be sure to grab your bullwhip and fedora hat before cracking one open.

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Guido by Smisje Brouwerij
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