Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas - Brouwerij Het Anker
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Ratings: 682 | Reviews: 444 | Display Reviews Only:
4.8/5 rDev +21.2%
Appearance - Deep, rich reddish-brown in color with a rather smallish head that dissipated quickly.
Smell - This one is a boat load of dark flavors. Tobacco, plums, and licorice come to mind at first. There's also some overripe apples rolled in cinnamon. All of this is laced with big alcohol notes and a small yeast base.
Taste - The licorice leads the way here, trumping the sweet fruity notes and making the yeast difficult to detect. The alcohol is big as well. Belgian Sambucca?
After about 30 minutes, once the ale warms, the dark malt and yeast come out of hiding just enough to fit the style. The alcohol though is still quite noticeable, even after developing a bit of a buzz.
Mouthfeel - A hefty medium in the body and a bit on the dry side.
Drinkability - This one is a real sipper. You have to be a big fan of exotic ales to enjoy this one. It is like nothing that I've ever had before and markedly different even from the other Gouden's that I've popped. Don't leave this one under a novice's Christmas tree, but with a 4+ average and only 22 reviews a BA Buddy might really appreciate it.
I also highly recommend drinking the bulk of this bottle after it warms to almost room temperature. Anything much colder than that and you'll miss out on the modest yeast flavors.
Comments - My 2003 vintage was at 10.0 not the 10.5 listed on the site. Also, the bottle says that this will age well, and I think that it would indeed improve from a year of cellaring.
Update - I cellared a 2005 for three years and popped it open tonight in May 2008 for no real reason. Boy oh boy I was right about the cellaring. This beer is amazing. The Appearance, with its never-ending lacing, was gorgeous and inviting. The Smell is a deep, wicked blend of darkish sweets, rich malts, and light yeast, the Taste is an explosion of huge malt and a plethora of fruits especially dates and raisins, the Mouthfeel is full and lively carbonated, and the Drinkability is non-stop. One of the best Christmas time beers I've ever had.
PS: LOL at my original 2003 comment that only 22 BAs had reviewed it. It's like over 200 now.
11-30-2003 05:05:40 | More by RoyalT
4.8/5 rDev +21.2%
Presentation: 75 cl corked bottle. Poured into a Leffe chalice.
Dark reddish-brown, nice beige/tan head w/ good retention.
Enormous, warm, spicy, in-your-face aroma full of the best Christmas has to offer. And then some.
Gorgeously balanced taste; the powerful, richly warming, and complex spiciness is kept beautifully in check by a nice, bitter finish. Mouthfeel and drinkability are through the roof; I had to pace myself in order not to finish this one too quickly. Wow.
This is one of the best beers I've tasted, and certainly the best winter seasonal, easily surpassing even the magnificent Brøckhouse Julebryg 2003. All in all, not the worst beer to kick off my BA reviewing career... :-)
(I cannot wait to see how this one ages; I'm afraid I'll have to ask my girlfriend to hide the key to the cellar, lest I prematurely break open one or more of the eight bottles of Gouden Carolus Christmas I've stashed there...)
12-02-2003 14:35:00 | More by ToolHead
4.8/5 rDev +21.2%
Murky copper color with a low light brown head. Strong spicy aroma (coriander and black pepper) with lots of phenolic alcohol overtones and dark fruits. Tastes much like it smells with lots of dark fruit and spices; Big and Rich !! Medium-full bodied and very warming.
Not just another Double-Dubbel ... !!
Per Label: Since 1369
($8.09 / 25.4 oz corked and caged champagne style bottle)
01-05-2005 21:35:29 | More by RBorsato
4.8/5 rDev +21.2%
Oh man, I am excited for this one! This season I decided to try every Christmas beer that came out. I started at Total Wine & More and made my way through the list. I also attended a winter beer class at the Scottsdale location, and this beer was on the list. Nearly every seasonal beer I tried was boring, and didn’t live up to my expectations. Not sure what my expectations were, but nothing like what I was tasting. Then I tried this one… and my mind was blown! I was SO impressed with the flavor in this beer. It is sweet, loaded with booze, and has a LONG lingering aftertaste. Everything about this beer is enjoyable. The only thing I have had recently that comes close is the Terrible from Unibroue. Guess this is why I like Belgian beers!
I hope Total Wine & More lowers the price on these before they are gone. I would love to have one of these sitting in the cellar. Let’s start drinking. I can’t sit here and smell this any longer! Bottoms up, people.
In the Glass: I don’t even want to drink this. It looks GREAT in the glass. The head has been sitting there for a good five minutes. I could literally take a spoon to it… it’s that thick! The tasting notes mention red… but there isn’t any red here. It’s black. Coffee black. Hence the style, I guess! This looks nice and thick sitting there, and just begs for me to smell it! Let’s see what she smells like.
Nose: The nose is insanely fruity. I am getting a ton of raisins right off the bat. On a second whiff, I am picking up additional dark fruit notes… think plums and apricots. The beer looks great. Now it smells incredible. I can’t imagine what this will taste like. Like I said, I had this in a beer class a few weeks ago. I am sure a few months in the bottle and my attention to detail here will help me enjoy this beer even more. Let’s drink!
(Oh, I forgot to mention the lace. When I swirl this, the head just sticks to the side of the glass. It’s like glue. PERFECT lace.)
Flavor: Holy crap. This is just as good as I remember. The raisin flavor kicks things off, and your mouth just journeys through several dark fruit flavors including those same notes I was grabbing in the nose. You would never know this is 10.5% ABV. The mouthfeel is also nice, but we will get to that. I am just so impressed with the flavor. I can close my eyes and imagine myself by a fire just enjoying good conversation and good food. I wouldn’t even know where to begin pairing this with food. From meets and cheeses to breads and salads, this is a beer best served with a meal. Such a great flavor!
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel here is incredible. It is thick, almost like syrup… but drinks and goes down nice. The burp is also amazing. Those same flavors I was talking about come rushing back, and while a burp is not an enjoyable experience, you will want to burp to this one! The mouthfeel also gets smooth as this beer heats up. The flavors change, and the overall beer drinking experience changes.
Aftertaste: This might be the most impressive aftertaste I have had to date. It is not overwhelming, but there is a subtle sweetness that just sits on your palate for a while. As the beer slides down your throat, the fruity flavors turn dry, and the sweetness kicks in. Every time I swallow the flavor profile changes just a little, and I have a hard time going back for another sip!
The beer manager at Total Wine & More loves Belgian beers. He likes this one and the Gouden Carolus Easter. This is better than the Easter offering. But they are both good beers. We drank this one cold, but it has been sitting out for a good thirty minutes. If you have the chance to try this, get two. Throw one in the cellar for a few years… because this beer will only mellow out with time. Hands down the best Christmas offering of 2012. Can’t wait to try this again next year!!!
12-31-2012 00:16:42 | More by rickyleepotts
4.8/5 rDev +21.2%
2005 vintage on tap at the Stuffed Sandwich
A: Chestnut amber with minimal activity under the hood. Head is medium beige made up of semi tight bubbles. As it falls, a fine layer remains on top.
S: Fresh anise, caramel, fig, honey and blackberries
T: Begins lightly herbal with obvious anise qualities. The anise is concentrated, like and extract that was created from soaking seeds in vodka. Alcohol vapors rise to the nose filling with licorice memories from my childhood. A base of submissive dark malt is hard to describe...almost like a mild chocolate component to support the licorice, like an Andes candy. Licorice flavor has ridiculous amounts of depth which platueas and peaks at so many levels. Finishes spicy and lively with caramel simmering under the herbal flavors. Aftertaste is herbal yet fruity.
M: Medium body with a decent mouthfeel. Highly carbonated like most Belgians.
D: I love this beer. In a world of copy cat beers, this one stands out as unique. I can see how some dislike it though, perhaps too much licorice. Personally, I think its near perfect. One of the best Xmas beers ever made.
12-17-2006 17:49:36 | More by Westsidethreat
4.78/5 rDev +20.7%
Murky, reddish brown in hue, the color is actually kind of attractive which is odd for the "style." Beige head, at the apex the foam was a half finger tall. Head retention was decent; a tight, firm cap lasted a few minutes before turning to a soapy cap that lasted the entire consumption. Sadly, there wasn't much subsequent lacing. Still, overall, the appearance was quite pleasant.
The nose offers a good amount of dark fruits and brandy before yielding to some awesome bubblegum aromas and spice. The more I smell this the more the fruit turns from generally dark to tropical with apricots, pears, and apples. Oh wait there is more! I get hints of vanilla, banana, nutmeg, cloves, coco, and some caramel. The nose is quite impressive, robust and complex but not brutish. The nose offers moderate-high potency... it is chatty and, yes, quite inviting. I can't wait to take a sip.
The palate is generally fruity, lightly buttery with wonderful bubblegum notes and a caramel/chocolate malt backbone not to mention some molasses and light brandy-rum flavors. Fruitiness includes: apples, figs, pears, peaches, apricots, dates, apples, and some melons. Rich. Deep. I love the subtle spiciness, cloves, nutmeg, peppermint, peppery, coriander too. Amazing. Licorice, fruitcake, cola as well... the finish is so smooth and so sweet. I am so impressed with palate; I love everything Gouden Carolus and Noel is no exception. This is one of the best Belgian Abbey-style beers I have ever had. This is simply a great beer.
Big aftertaste, lingering sweetness with some spiciness too... oh so pleasant, so rewarding. Medium in body, moderately low carbonation, the mouthfeel is heavenly.
Dear Nebraska BAs, I will do my best to get this beer into Nebraska next winter. No promises of course but God do I want it! This beer freaking rocks... it is so rich, so complex and yet so light and easy to drink. The alcohol is hidden aside from the belly warming and brain fuzziness. I bought my 750ml bottle in Lawrence, KS and if I knew it was anywhere this good I would have bought more. I can't overstate how lovely a quaff this is. Wow. Highly recommended!
03-26-2008 04:59:54 | More by bditty187
4.78/5 rDev +20.7%
This is the ' 05 brew. I aged it for one year.
Pours out dark brown with huge tan head. Laces and settles to about 1/8 ".
Smells mostly of malt and chocolate. Some hints of spice.
Taste is very complex...loads of sweet malt..buttery, touches of licorice, cherry, caramel , toffee, chocolate, butterscotch ...some dried fruits and even some bubblegum.This is a heady brew. Just gets more intense as it warms up. Alcohol barely noticable.
Thick, rich, velvety mouthfeel .
Damn , this stuff is good. This is a dessert beer....although I enjoyed it with roasted chestnuts...it would definitely stand up alone. Quite the brew.
11-29-2006 01:46:47 | More by Hautacam
4.78/5 rDev +20.7%
A- pours a really really dark brown , that I would almost say black, but when I held it up towards a light i could see it was more brown than black, has a small off white head with a good amount of froathy inviting lacing
S- chocolate and black Licorice, some light cinnamon as well
T- the black Licroice really stuck out in my mind, the chocolate was also there, it finished with some other wonderful spics, maybe ginger... not overly sweet very very pleasant
M- really smooth, goes down alot easier than I thought it was considering how dark it is
D- normally I dont give such high marks for such a high abv beer... but wow this is hidden so very well.. I would have guessed this beers abv to be about 5.5
Im gonna go out on a limb and say this one is kinda rare... but even it isnt drink this one up and enjoy
12-27-2008 07:11:37 | More by gdfan47
4.75/5 rDev +19.9%
750ml corked and caged bottle from last year's stash. Cellared for one year and served in a Chimay chalice at about 55°.
Appearance- Pours a crystal clear ruby/chestnut color, with a fast-growing light tan crown that grows to three fingers, eventually settling to a thin layer. The beautiful sound is the classic muted, insulated impact of beer to an expanding head. A phenomenal geyser of effervescence launching from the etched bottom of my glass replenishes the middle constantly. Sheets of paper-thin walls of lacing line the insides.
Smell- Notes of evergreen ferns, peppermint (maybe spearmint), lemon rind, sassafras, brandy, and some residual alcohol boom from the glass... this is Winter in the deep woods! Candy canes, wreaths, twigs, it's incredible the pictures that come to mind with aromas like these. With each swirl, the character grows deeper and even more enjoyable.
Taste- Gingerbread, cinnamon, mulled holiday wine, sassafras, peppermint tea... obviously with 6 different herbs and spices (none of which are divulged on Het Anker's site), this is a thrill ride for the tastebuds. The Belgian hops that linger long after the swallow just go on for days... and the alcohol isn't quite so much a "burning" as it is a soft fire. As it opens up, it disappears completely. Stupendous sipping.
Mouthfeel- The soft, prickly sensation in the mouth tickles the tongue... then it softens eloquently and expands like soapsuds in a perfect, exquisite progression. After the swallow, there is a charming afterglow that is hard to put into words. Extraordinary.
Drinkability- Let's see... I've been sipping and reviewing this beer for over an hour and a half. I still have ½ remaining in the bottle, with no desire for this tasting to end anytime soon. In a nutshell, it would be a tragedy to miss out on sampling this wonderful beer.
11-27-2006 04:12:35 | More by yelterdow
4.72/5 rDev +19.2%
750ml brown bottle with the cork and cage. Non-descript blue label. $9.50 price tag....yea I said $9.50, so I read the reviews and Its Christmas so what the hell, right ?
Murky brown color, like the Ohio River in the spring. Head thicker and more dense than your average Denny's Nightime Dishwasher. (Sorry..that was uncalled for.) Smell was super smooth and rich. Full of fruits, and traditional Christmas spices. First taste was a rich combination and ample amounts of plums, figs, earthy fruits and a bottle and a half of cinnamon. Taste stayed creamy and rich. Sediment swirl yeiled anouther explosion of smells.Christmas in a bottle about sums it up. Alcohol sneeks by at 10.5%, but at one point was just shy of Cherry Nyquil. I guess you could say, slightly medicinal. Not a bad thing at all, IMO. This bottle got better and more flavorful as the night went on. Took me about 2.5 hours to drink, and savor. Medium bodied, perfectly carbonated, and super smooth. A Christmas beer to enjoy. Cheers to all the ba's who tried this before.
12-30-2002 18:04:10 | More by StevieW
4.72/5 rDev +19.2%
Glad to find this on-tap at Ashley's. Served in a tall tulip glass. Dark ruby body with chestnut brown edges. Sticky, off-cream head. Nose is full of rich fruit and sugar malts adorned with light cloves, yeast, toffee, sugar cookies, and some vinous notes. Sweet and malty; dark fruits blend with sugary cookie malts. Yum. Mild and appropriate spices (clove, anise, and vanilla). Alcohol doesn't hide in this one, but it fits in nicely. Warming, but not boozy. Full-bodied, slightly syrupy feel. A very well done and not over-spiced xmas ale. Must make this a staple every December from here on out.
12-07-2006 01:12:11 | More by alexgash
4.7/5 rDev +18.7%
750 ml bottle, no evidence of dating of any sorts.
brilliant ruby color, smooth re-forming thin layer of tightly microscopic bubbles.. lacing dries hardcore quicker than i can drink the beer. gets your fingers all sticky. aroma exemplifies the perfect boozy belgian.. big candi sugar with muted cherries, green apples, and a large biscuity heaviness in the nose. caramelized sugar. slight perfumed spice in the end of scent absorption. at a barely-cool temperature, the flavor expands on the tongue from the more pronounced flavors (warming liqueur like estery alcohol) to the lesser quirky notes (pear, caramel, apple).
thicker mouthfeel without being syrupy.. moves around spryly and goes down easy. gravity serves more to encourage sipping than to limit drinkability. very sweet for the holiday beer requirements, but big helpings of malt and yeast balance the nectar qualities with beeriness. cherries soaked in brandy.. clean herbal botanicals. liquor sting is expected like it is with a nice sipping scotch.
this is a huge beer, a special occasion beer. as far as their dark offerings go, het anker remains one of the top shelf belgian breweries doing business today.
08-02-2005 13:15:23 | More by goodbyeohio
4.7/5 rDev +18.7%
Merry Christmas to me!
Pours a thick, extremely dark amber into a tulip glass, a 1/4" blonde head cap soon falling to a sticky ring that clings to the walls as I sip.
The smell is sweet and cloying, and immediately hits me with licorice or anise; There's a definite festive sweet spiced quality to this, bringing to mind Christmases past.
Each sip is a massive burst of flavors - licorice and aged whiskey with lots of vanilla, rum and blackcurrant, lemon and orange. So many flavors my palate hardly knows how to separate them!
Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, with a light fizz on each swallow that spreads the delicious flavors of this brew over the tongue.
Overall a fantastic brew, this one really hits the spot on Christmas night. I love licorice and this beer has that flavor in plenty, but if you're not a licorice fan it has much else to recommend it.
12-26-2012 01:30:51 | More by Tupperwolf
British Columbia (Canada)
4.7/5 rDev +18.7%
A brewery with experience. Let's see what this seasonal ale has to offer. With maybe a surprise ending at the end??
Appearance - A very dark, stern ale with amazing head retention. Faint, strong amber/ deep ruby coloration around the edges of my Gouden Carolus glass (when light manages to get through). An off-white, beige head with a slightly brown hue. Very rich and creamy. Thick head.
Smell - Strong notes of cherry, dark malts, light woodsy aroma with possibly even whiskey. Dark fruits with a light hop on the nose. Not much though. Quite spicy and sugary. Without tasting, it hints at being very sweet. Anise (a common trait of almost all Het Anker products) and dark, dried figs.
Taste - Smoke, whiskey/ scotch, ripe cherries, anise (black liquorice flavors), wood and barrel (this beer is definitely casked in something) with plenty of herbs and spices (I cannot seem to figure out which, and it's driving me nuts!). Hints of hops. Maybe traces of cinnamon, although very subtle. The alcohol, sugars and herb notes almost create the impression of cinnamon. This is definitely not as balanced as other Het Anker recipes, but it is still overwhelming delicious and impressive. A tad on the sugary side, but hell, it's Christmas!! This is one to bust out and overload on sweets!
Mouthfeel - The sugars and smokey notes really create a massive PUNCH here. After only one glass I am feeling this. A staunch kick-off to Christmas for sure. This is smooth and sweet. Again, a tad on the sugary side and the alcohol isn't fully hidden. But I am willing to cut this some slack being it's Christmas and the rum and the scotch are a-flowin'.
Overall - If you are not a fan of Christmas treats and toothaches, then perhaps this is not for you. A plethora of sweet notes, whiskey (wood and smoke), brown sugar and cherries with anise. As far as brewing goes, I am fairly confident that this is the Classic aged in wood barrels each year. I am not entirely sure if it is scotch or whiskey, but nonetheless, it is aged and perhaps a few more ingredients are thrown in as well. Amazing and festive. Love this beer!
12-24-2011 02:04:51 | More by Agent1
4.68/5 rDev +18.2%
750 ml bottle pours deep chesnut (garnet when held to the light) with 2 fingers of sand colored head. Very good lacing & head retention
S: Bannanas, iron, alcohol & breaddy notes
T: Chocolate, bannanas, cakeyness, & a kiss of earthy hops up front. Oak, caramel, tannins & pine follow. Fruitty notes come through as this warms (pears, peaches, & berrys) with mucho warmth. Finishes, dry,oaky, fruitty & with a little hint of bananna split, plus a little licorice aftertaste!
MF: Medium bodied with low carbonation, with a little chewyness
Super drinkability for the abv! This a interesting/complex, beautiful winter warmer that is helping fight off the chill here! One of the better x-mas begians I've tasted, If not the best
01-06-2007 05:19:33 | More by russpowell
4.68/5 rDev +18.2%
Bought a 4pk from Beers of the World in November 2013. Poured from a 330ml bottle into a St Bernardus Chalice. Served at cellar temp.
Appearance: very dark with a tan, foaming head, scant lacing.
Aroma: Licorice. Lots of licorice i]with a touch of cloves in the background. Maybe some earthy spearmint too. Very unique, quite intoxicating.
Mouthfeel: soft, supple, bouyant.
Taste: Burnt brown sugar/ molasses with a spicy, spearmint kiss.
Notes: Unlike any other Belgian Dark Ale, this is a unique, interesting and tasty beer. Wish I had more of it.
12-25-2013 00:51:37 | More by fx20736
4.68/5 rDev +18.2%
I poured this into my De Garre snifter from an 11.2 oz bottle.
This beer has a very deep, ruby brown body with a massive light brown head. The head retention was superior and the lace was very sticky. Perfect.
The beer smells like Christmas pie. The dark fruit wafts from the snifter speckled with hints of nutmeg, cream, and brown sugar.
This beer is fantastic. It is sweet without being cloying. It has body, but still remains appropriately dry for a Belgian. Cinnamon really jumps out at me in the taste with some dark fruit sweetness.
This beer is everything I want in a Belgian Christmas beer. I will buy more before the season is up.
12-20-2007 00:35:10 | More by IPAcraig
4.65/5 rDev +17.4%
Two year old cellared bottle. Poured into an Ommegang flute. Pours a very dark red brown. Half finger fine light tan head with good retention and nice lacing. Looks good. Aroma of dark fruits, sweet dark malt, cherry and brown sugar with the dark sugar dominant. Delicious dark and light fruit, malt with the typical aged malt component. The sour fruit flavor has attenuated and blended in the the dark fruits and dark malts. Nicely integrated now. Full bodied and creamy, complex and a delight to drink. This two year old aged bottle is still an excellent strong dark. I'm not sure if it has improved, but it doesn't matter much.
01-26-2012 04:21:20 | More by LiquidAmber
4.65/5 rDev +17.4%
Pours a two-fingered creamy white head that fades slowly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Cloudy mahogany color. Strong carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Raisin/plum nose. Flavor - sweet raisin, caramel and spices, high ABV is noticeable. Nice Christmas ale. 750ml bottle, gift from Liquid Solutions Oregon City Or.
02-04-2007 23:59:49 | More by jdhilt
Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas from Brouwerij Het Anker
89 out of 100 based on 682 ratings.