888: Gulden Draak

Name: Gulden Draak
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Country of Origin: Belgium
City & State: Ertvelde, Belgium
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Alcohol Content (ABV): 10.5%
First Brewed: ca. 1980
Price: $3.59

Tasting Notes
Dark ruby with a foamy, pinkish head and a sharpish but malty, gooseberry-tinged aroma. Rich, tart, fruity prune palate, a fluffy, herbal swallow, and gooseberry and custard to finish.

Ricky’s Thoughts

I have had this beer before, but I don’t really remember it. I remember the bottle and the label, but didn’t realize it was a strong dark ale. I also don’t agree that it tastes like a barleywine. Of course, I don’t remember the beer… so maybe it does! But I am excited to drink this because Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. also makes Piraat, one of my favorite beers of all time. Not sure it can live up to that beer, but I am sure it’s good! Let’s get to it.

In the Glass: This beer also started overflowing as soon as I popped the top. It has to be one the beers that traveled from Indiana. That is two in a row… only a few more before we need to start shopping again. Fun. That is my favorite part! Anyway, the beer pours a very dark brown, almost black into the glass. It also has a rich, foamy white head. It’s fun seeing such a dark beer produce such a light and appetizing head.

Nose: The beer smells like liquid yeast. It has a very malty aroma, too. The words “dark ale” truly come to light here. I pulled this beer from the fridge, but I almost think some chill to it might help. Upon a second sniff I am wondering if a beer with 10.5% might be best cellared until further notice. It seems half of the beers on our list are that way.

Flavor: Holy cow flavor. There is SO much flavor in this beer. It starts sweet, then gets bitter, almost dry, then finishes strong. Hence the name, I suppose. There is so much going on here, I almost want to give this to a guy that doesn’t know or appreciate good craft beer. I mean, there are ten different flavors from the second it enters your mouth. I can see why they would call this a barleywine. It has that sweetness, and it finishes sweet. It finishes strong, but it finishes sweet just the same.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is amazing. It starts soft and sweet, then explodes across the tongue, and finishes with an explosion of sweetness. Those malty flavors that I was smelling don’t really come around until the aftertaste, and they are subtle at best. The 10.5% ABV is also nicely hidden. One or two of these and you would be feeling just fine. Swishing it around in my mouth I was able to feet a few more flavors, but it is best just sipping as is. Man… what a great beer!

Aftertaste: The aftertaste starts sweet. There is a subtle sweetness across the entire experience here. But the aftertaste, as explosive as the beer was/is, is not as big as I expected. It sticks around for a few minutes, but doesn’t leave me begging for more. The sweetness sure does!

Like I said, I have had this beer before. But when I am sitting down to not only appreciate it, but drink it with a purpose (this blog) I am enjoying it a LOT more. Man, what an incredible beer. That, and I learned that Gulden Draak actually means golden dragon. That was a cool little backstory. We are going to be in Belgium next month. Maybe I can find this on draft somewhere. Bottoms up, people!

Gulden Draak – The bottle says: “NA”

Rating: 5/5

Sheryl’s Thoughts

I have had tonight’s beer before, but I don’t really remember what it tastes like.  I think it was good, if I remember correctly.  It foamed up a lot when Ricky opened the bottle, but I think that might be because it traveled across the country.  There are quite a few beers of ours that made the journey with us from Indiana to Arizona.

In the glass, it looks somewhat thick, with a kind of brownish-red color to it.  I can’t tell for sure, but I’d say there might even be some sediment in the bottom when I get close to finishing it.  It’s definitely not transparent in the glass.  The smell… well, it smells pretty good.  The first thing I smell is bread.  There are also maybe some cinnamon and spices.  That is the majority of what I get from the smell, not much else.  Let’s take a sip and see how it tastes.

Oh wow.  I love this one.  It tastes kind of like a barleywine to me.  I can immediately tell when I start to take a drink that I want more.  It’s like I want a big gulp of it.  It’s got a lot of spice, a bit of carbonation, and tons of flavor.  There is a bit of aftertaste, but not that sticks around for long.  What aftertaste is there is sweet, like a barleywine, like I said.  This is just good, and the type of beer I really like.  I’m sad that it’s only a 12-ounce bottle and I only get half… I’d love to drink more of this.  The flavors just explode all over your tongue when you take a drink.  Ricky told me this was rated the best beer in the world until 1998, and I can see why.  Definitely one I plan on picking up again.

Rating: 5/5

887 bottles of beer on the wall…

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