Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas - Brouwerij Het Anker

Not Rated.
Gouden Carolus Noël / ChristmasGouden Carolus Noël / Christmas

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

465 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 465
Hads: 779
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 19.6%
Wants: 27
Gots: 74 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Het Anker visit their website

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Gusler on 11-24-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas Alström Bros
Reviews: 465 | Hads: 779
Photo of Hopswagger
2.53/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

P: Dense mahogany body with bright ruby highlighted edges. Minimal silky khaki head that dissipates to a cola like roof. Beautiful lacing that climbs the glass.

S: Licorice bomb! Notes of candied malt, oak, caramel apples, pepper and a pinch of cayenne.

T/M: Taste follows the nose but more aggressive spices and spiced rum soaked figs. Full sticky body with spicy numbing carbonation. Finish is dry with lingering smoke, aggressive booze, apple peels and pepper.

O: I was let down with this one. The licorice was way too powerful and the customary flavors were faint and hidden. Once it warms it become much easier to drink but is still far from great. A hot mess of a BSDA that is not one to hunt down.

 710 characters

Photo of wmtxbb
2.74/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Bottle poured into pint glass

Appearance: Hazy dark brew with a finger sized head on top.

Scent: Pears, dates, cinnamon, pepper and a little alcohol.

Taste: Liqourish, an assortment of fruits, molasses, maple syrup, toffee, sweet malts, peppermint, and alcohol. Finish is dry. Flavors don't seem to mix well.

Drinkability: Incredibly complex. Not something to drink on a whim. By the time I got to the end of the bottle I poured the rest of this beer out. It's a shame; I really can't put my finger on what's wrong with this beer.

 536 characters

Photo of dino213aa
2.74/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This syrupy sweet dark ale just leaves me a bit flat. Originally poured with a one inch head that quickly dissipated never to be seen again, no matter how vigorously I re-pour. The Bros did much better at spotting individual flavors although the cumulative taste and mouthfeel resembles cough syrup... maybe an essence of NyQuil.. lol

Pretty weak offering from an otherwise strong brewery.

 390 characters

Photo of akokandy
2.76/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

750 mL bottle caged and corked poured into my Corsendonk tulip.

A- Dark, dark red with 2+ inches of head. After a few sips, the head died down and left some cool lacing patterns. A cool-looking beer in the glass.

S- Smells like white wine with some red fruit aromas.

T- Alcohol is definitely detectable. Red fruit flavors, especially grape, predominate. There is a wine dryness to the finish and a strong yeast note. The overall flavor is tart, yet also sweet. In-your-face flavor, but too much alcohol/wine flavor for me to really enjoy.

M- A lot of carbonation and a medium-full body.

D- I had a hard time finishing the first glass. The flavor is too tart, too sweet, too much. I feel it was overdone and it was hard to get through the bottle.

 750 characters

Photo of voteforgoat
2.82/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

From Winter 2009, drank May 2010

A - thick tan foam, almost black beer, with ruby highlights in the light

B - smells sweet, and slightly like bread dough, can smell the alcohol. Gf says it smells like Rodenbach, which totally surprised me, but decided there's some truth to that. We both agree it tastes nothing like it of course.

T - sweet taste, can taste the alcohol, malty, spice and gingerbread flavor

M- medium thickness, coats the tongue, lightly carbonated once the foam settles.

D-not as drinkable as other Gouden Carolus I've had ( a little cloying) but I'm still enjoying it. Have a bottle in the cellar. We'll see how it ages.

addendum - by the end of the bottle, I was not enjoying it much at all. Quite cloying, a little bit like cough sirup or herbal.
Really lingering taste still hours later. Unpleasant.

 826 characters

Photo of kajerm
2.85/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

On tap at Map Room a few days ago.

Pours ruby red and cloudy as hell with a billowy off-white head that sits just above the rim of the glass.

The aroma is full of heavy, malty sweetness with some figs and a weird note of anise that I can't remember ever smelling or tasting in a beer. Some other spices-- clove and cinnamon, mainly-- are present, as are alcohol and fruity esters.

Tastes like it smells, but much, much sweeter. This is just too cloying for me (and I like some sickeningly sweet maltbombs), and it's especially weird with the black licorice flavor, which would be interesting and refreshing in another beer.

The mouthfeel is syrupy and somewhat chewy.

Not much in the way of drinkability.

 709 characters

Photo of Naerhu
2.87/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750 ml bottle.
Appearance: Beautiful dark evil looking amber, with a brownish head and great lacing.
Aroma: Massive anise, ginger, minty hoppiness and brown sugar.
Taste: Hot alcohol not balanced with the malt. Sweet, bitter, and sour, and again no balance. Cloves, nutmeg and rough cinnamon.
I should have followed Venom's advice and spread my drinking of this over three hours, but I entirely lost interest. I was thinking it would have likely improved with exposure to air, but with all the other beers at the tasting, why bother?
Mouthfeel: A tad hot and and at the same time creamy.
Drinkability: Anything this unbalanced, and/or requiring three hours to grow on you in order to appreciate it is not drinkable to me.

 728 characters

Photo of ChillMike
3.02/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Picked this up on sale at BevMo, they were trying to get rid of some of their holiday brews so I couldn't resist.

A: Very opaque mulberry red color that has a nice medium sized tan head that recedes quite quickly but leaves a nice bit of lacing around the glass.

S: Scents of cloves, bananas, brown sugar and almost a wine-ish alcohol smell. Almost reminds me of Glühwein you'd have during Christmas time at a German outdoor market.

T: Very sweet taste, overly sweet, wow like tons of sugar sweet. A bit of some spice, but I can't seem to get passed the sweetness of it, it's like drinking bubblegum juice that has been saturated with more sugar. Then again it does have an oddly sour type taste as well. Sweet and sour should be reserved for chicken not Belgians.

D: Nothing too drinkable to me about this beer, it's a bit pricey, the taste is just a bit too off for me and the alcohol a bit much.

MF:Kind of a thin body but pretty good for the style.

Overall I just didn't really care for this one too much, it's a shame I was really looking forward this one as I usually really enjoy winter Belgians.

 1,110 characters

Photo of dgallina
3.03/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750ml corked and caged brown bottle. No date on cork or bottle.

Pours almost clear red-tinged chestnut. Little head and thin lace, but relatively good carbonation for a strong aged ale. Pretty strong smelling. Lots of alcoholic grape bubble gum, banana, black pepper in the nose. Bitter-sweet tasting. Heavy bubble gum stickiness vies uneasily against spiced medicinal alcohol notes. Some toasted malt shows through in the finish, but not enough to offset the tenacious bubble gum. Body is heavy and limp; sticky and not very exciting. I don't particularly enjoy the other Gouden Carolus beers, and this one is in the same mould.

 632 characters

Photo of Eddxii
3.05/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottled in September 2010, this particular bottle of Gouden Carolus Noël has definitely had some time to ferment further in the bottle. The result is enhanced sweetness and an unfortunate muddling of its several spicy and fruity flavors into a solid, if uninteresting, dark strong ale. It pours a cloudy dark amber with a medium head that dissipates immediately. A healthy off-white lacing around the surface carries on from start to finish.

It begins with a medium body, but as it finishes the syrupy side comes though to add thickness. The aroma is soft and sweet, but overly underwhelming. I will say that for a 10%ABV, you can hardly taste the alcohol elements behind the dark fruit. The Noël carries the spiciness you’d expect from a Christmas beer, but nothing too overpowering and nothing too “Christmas-y”. The sorts of spices that come out beneath the fruit notes are just as welcome in May as they are in front of the fire in winter. A subtle licorice pervades every taste, but it never goes fully into raw anise. Its muddy nature does a disservice to the various fruit flavors therein, with only a dark cherry really emerging from the more general dark fruit flavors.

Overall the Gouden Carolus Noël represents a decent Christmas beer. There are better and there are certainly worse. Though on tap this beer was not the best, the flavors that emerged from that serving far outweigh the cloudiness of tastes that take over after aging.

 1,457 characters

Photo of CharlatanSin
3.05/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A 2008 version served on tap into a tulip at Amsterdam Ale House. Pricey, but hey, it's the holiday season, so why not?

Appearance: A nice dark reddish brown, with a big honkin' tan head that leaves big time lacing.

Smell: Picking up a good dose of yeasty white bread, and then the sweetness pounds you. Brown sugar and plum mostly for me.

Taste: Well...not so good. The sweetness is overpowering. It tastes like purple Robitussin. If I start tripping balls, I'll think the bartender switched it up on me. The "tussin" taste is a mix of plum and strong alcohol. Now, generally I don't mind a boozy beer, but this one's all out of balance.To be fair, it gets better as it gets warmer, as some nutmeg and other festive spices start to show their head.

Mouthfeel: The booze dominates the mouthfeel as well. I don't mind that all that much. Other than that, it's got a medium body and good carbonation.

Drinkability: The tussin quality kills this one for me.

 959 characters

Photo of craftbeersweden
3.06/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear, dark mahogny colored beer with a two finger high, offwhite head.

Nose: licorice, herbs, toth-paste! (I know it's crazy), peppermint, milk and ice-cream.
Taste: Licorice, salmiak, peppermint, honey, syrup, brown sugar and sugar, sugar, sugar.... This is SWEEET!
Body: Medium body with a light, crisp, carbonation. The sweetness is overwhelming. The ABV: 10.5% is well hidden.

WTF is this? I'm not shure if I like it or hate it... Not what I expected. Almoust like a big bottle of Jägermeister. Well I have to decide... For this money you can buy great beer - This is not great, it is strange... I don't want strange... So conclusion - Buy something else!

 666 characters

Photo of bamadog
3.08/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Review is from notes taken on 10/9/2010 and poured from the bottle to a tulip.

Appearance: Pour is a dark cola brown and starts with a 2 finger fluffy tan head with decent retention; body is dark and murky, almost entirely opaque; thick fluffy strands and webs of lacing are left behind as the fair head slowly dwindles to a full and uneven frothy cap.

Smell: Smells like a TON of over-ripe, dark fruits, Belgian candi and spices; definite presence of alcohol. I'm a little nervous about the sweetness now as I'm feeling it's going to be cloying... Not awful and nice and robust, but damn, that sweetness...

Taste: Yep, overly sweet and ripe dark fruits and lots of them; lots of the Belgian candi and what would be a nice backing of caramel malts if they weren't totally owned by the fruits and near-cloying sweetness; definite booziness and presence of the Belgian spices (cardamom, cloves, etc.); bit of a mess and medicinal (not in a good kind of way, but like a syrupy sweet cough syrup or flu medicine) and alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Body is of medium weight with moderately strong carbonation that is not overpowering and very fitting for the style; a moderately thick and semi-dry coating is left behind and the belly is left feeling just a little bit warm from the ABV.

Drinkability: Meh -- not something that I'll be seeking out as it's too sweet and medicinal; the ABV would also prove to be a bit much as well; ultimately, if the sweetness is something you like, this may be your beer, but as for me, I like a bit more balance with the spices, and if it's going to be sweet, I like it to be more from the caramel maltiness as I feel it blends better and allows other aspects to come through.

 1,702 characters

Photo of kwjd
3.13/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Had this on tap at Burp Castle in New York City. Pours a dark brown colour with thin off-white head and nice lacing. Smells strongly of black licorice, with cinnamon and brown sugar. I cannot stress how strong the black licorice was, which was too much for me. Trying to keep an open mind since it isn't my favourite flavour, but it was too much. A little bit boozy as well. Big carbonation level. I could only get through about half of this and gave it to a friend. Though he did enjoy it.

 490 characters

Photo of Haybeerman
3.15/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark brown color; a little ruby on the edges. Poured a 2 finger tan head that dissipated to a bubbly skim. Patches of lace dotted the glass.

S: Caramel, candi sugar and spice. Plenty of alcohol.

T: Dark fruit and alcohol up front; a it like cough syrup. More malt character as the beer warmed. Dry and hot.

M: Light to medium body. Moderate carbonation. Warming alcohol.

D: Between the sharp sweetness and the alcohol I didn't find it very drinkable.

 457 characters

Photo of LennyV
3.16/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Growler purchased at halftime. Pours a dark mohagoney into my Leyerth Breweries glass. Small tan head with some nice lacing.

Smells of alcohol and malt.

Taste if full of ,at with some mouth warming alcohol. Finish is dry.

Mouth feels silky smooth, nicely carbonated.

Not my favorite. This brew is all malt. I prefer some more hops to balance the tastse. Abv is 10.5% so drink carefully

 389 characters

Photo of 77ships
3.18/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2009 Vintage, tried it Feb. 2011
From notes, on-tap@Kulminator:

A: very dark brown, cannot see through it, white head that leaves plenty of lacing
S: dark fruits (including the typical Belgian raisins), sweet malt, toffee
T: like pure liquorice, liquorice taste dominated so strongly that it was almost as if I was drinking liquid liquorice, also toffee, dark fruits, sweet malt, brown sugar, it is sweet to top it off
M: on the heavier side, certainly not thick but somewhere in that direction, certainly up there for a Belgian beer, not a lot of carbonation to speak of
D: this is basically liquor liquorice to me, quirky once but could not even imagine drinking this ever once again but who knows

 701 characters

Photo of IceTrey9785
3.2/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured a 750ml bottle into an over-sized burgundy glass...

A: Really dark tawny color, with a nice tan head that lasts the whole beer. At least a finger of foam which was nice. You can tell by the appearance that the brew is creamy and rich.

S: Wow -- a lot of spices, maybe too many. I got tarragon, anise seed, white pepper, figs, different stone fruit, and maybe a hint of vanilla bean and ginger. It smells festive (as it should), but really intense. I was afraid this was going to be a really sweet beer. The alcohol definitely surfaces as well -- kinda prickly.

T&M: The first thing you notice is how rich and creamy the ale feels in your mouth. Brown sugar, baking spices, currants, and dark black fruit are predominant. There are a few hints of peppery spice, but the caramelized malt really covers up a lot of additional flavors. The finish is not that great -- way too much alcohol burn that overwhelms the dark fruit that should emerge.

In general, this beer has potential. I like the smell and the attempt at a very festive fruit-forward beer, but it falls way short. The alcohol is way too high and just ruins the whole experience. Maybe if they had kept the abv to about 9% max, it would be a lot more balanced. I don't regret buying this beer, but I'll definitely think twice before purchasing it again.

 1,324 characters

Photo of taez555
3.2/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This beer poured a ruby dark brown coca cola colored body with a mild off-white head.

Nose has a strong alcohol note and extremely strong black licorice smells. Honestly at fist it smells like nyquil. Milk chocolate, licorice, liquid caramel and some mild phenols dominate the smell. It's a queer mix, but surprisingly inviting for the winter months.

Taste is medium to full bodied. Taste is dominated, like the nose by a strong mix of licorice and milk chocolate. Cloves, star anise, dry nutmeg, and cinnamon stick stand out as well, but the combination really give it a strong licorice taste. Hop bitterness is kept to a minimum and just enough to balance it out. Finishes with a lingering dry licorice, natural root, sort of flavor.

Some one read the recipe that said 1 teaspoon and accidentally put in 1 tablespoon. Tooo much spice. It's like drinking nyquil beer, or beer mixed with black licorice. I like the idea of the spice beer, but this is just too over the top.

 976 characters

Photo of willjschmidt
3.2/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Sierra Nevada 30th anniversary glass.

A: Pours a very murky brown with a thin tan head.

S: Sweet toffee malt, a bot of booze.

T: Slightly sweet malt in the form of toffee and brown sugar. A bit of spice and white pepper. Very hot and boozy in the finish. A bit muddled.

M: Medium bodied, highly carbonated.

D: I did not enjoy this one as much as I had hoped I would. The hot alcohol in the finish is not very pleasant.

 458 characters

Photo of stcules
3.2/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Black color, almost no reflexes. One finger of beige foam.
In the smell candy sugar, sugary. And malt.
Better taste, with candy sugar, maltiness, molasses. Fruity note (gooseberry). Sweet, spicy, christmas- like. Marzipan.
Alcohol well hidden, good body.
Warming aftertaste, very malty, with marzipan.

 301 characters

Photo of vanrassel
3.23/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Let me preface what is going to be a contrarian review by saying I like — no, love — big Belgian beers. I absolutely adore Carolus d'Or Cuvée van de Keizer, too. But after two big bottles of Noel, I can't proclaim its greatness.

This beer's look and aroma hint at good things: a rich mahogany body with a compact beige head and a nice mix of yeast, prunes, dried fruit, black licorice and brown sugar for the nose.

That nice complexity doesn't transfer to the palate, however. Sharp alcohol, black licorice and a strong medicinal taste preface a dry, powdery yeast finish. The carbonation is moderate and the body feels right, but I just never warmed up to this beer — and not for lack of trying.

 706 characters

Photo of sweethome
3.23/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Pours with cloudy dark amber to brown color. An off white head, leaves little lace. Poured in a belgian goblet.

Nose of coriander and anice. Fruitiness present - dried cherries and plums. The mouthfeel is full and quite alcoholic. Rather chewy malts, but the spiciness just overpowers the malts. Hops can't cut through the spice either.

It does not take long for the alcohol strength to show itself - provides quite a warming feeling.

The spice just dominates...anice is most powerful, with plenty of coriander. Some dried fruit in the midmouth, but spice lingers on the finish.

Tone down the spice and this 750 ml would be much more drinkable. My belgian beer fan friend I shared this with couldn't drink much more than a few sips due to "over spicing." I concur.

So close, but yet so far from being a great belgian Christmas beer...

 849 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.23/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a nice dark brown with some garnet hues. Nice of white head. The nose brings forward some dark fruits, booze, and quite a bit of wintry spice. Lots of black licorice. The taste is caramel, bread, dark fruit, dates, alcohol, and some nice nutmeg, clove, and a bit of other spices. Loads of anise. Overpoweringly so. Medium mouthfeel; a bit creamy. Drinks quite well and is a nice addition our holiday lineup.

 435 characters

Photo of SShelly
3.23/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at verdugo, labeled as christmas not noel,

I feel like this is a different beer from the "noel" ive had in the bottle...

aroma is a big shot of anise/black licorice with a little bit of sweet malt behind.

flavor is dominated by the same anise, some dark fruit, sweet malt and a light blend of other spices.

not the most enjoyable christmas beer ive had, way too much licorice not enough malt...have had this out of a bottle and dont remember it being like this...

 474 characters

Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas from Brouwerij Het Anker
89 out of 100 based on 465 ratings.