Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas - Brouwerij Het Anker

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

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BA SCORE
88
very good

775 Ratings
THE BROS
70
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 775
Reviews: 473
rAvg: 3.94
pDev: 15.23%
Wants: 27
Gots: 71 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Het Anker visit their website
Belgium

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 775 | Reviews: 473
Photo of Hobbz
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this delicious beer on tap recently at the Brickskeller in DC. Was very much surprised to see it on tap, especially since I only had come across bottles when recently in the Bierlands of Belgium.

Drained from tap into appropriate glasses with full finger foam with the deep dark brown beer settling in nicely below. By the time these glasses were brought down below to the keller much of the suds had subsided - this is a 10+ percenter, after all...

The aroma was full-bodied candy-malt with also big nose of licorice and minty shades; in background, the age-old yet subtle yeast-bite.

The taste really was like candied-beer in a glass, matched with bold beer alcohol and perceptions of it hitting quite substantially (did someone mention schapps? well, gladly a strech). Yet all in all with each sip being more like a medium sized gulp, this seasonal truly is a tasty and drinkable beer. I really also liked the seemingly higher levels of carbonation in this one. Besides the above taste profiles were friuty and spicy notes (plums, anise - maybe coriander).

Enjoyed every last drop.

Photo of KingG
3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006 edition.
Poured into my Duvel tulip glass and served at cellar temp.

Appearance is very good. Dark red/almost purple colored beer with a very nice plump, light mocha colored head. No murkiness yet haunting with a dark shadow-like appearance. Very nice lacing coats the inside of the glass as well.

Smell is good. Sweet, fruity malts jump out with an earthiness that's welcome. Belgian yeast fragrance is there as well.

Taste is above-average. Bubblegum, unripe plum, raisins and a HUGE alcohol burst initially. The alcohol was almost over-bearing in the taste at first. After a few sips you get used to it though. However, i wish it wasn't so prevalent in the taste. Burped and it tasted like bubblegum.

Mouthfeel is good. The heat from the alcohol in the back of the throat takes away a point. Other than that, a perfectly carbonated beer.

Drinkability is above-average. One 750ML bottle was enough.

Overall: A decent Belgian beer that's a little rough around the edges. I'm hoping the alcohol fumes calm down when i age a few bottles.

Photo of akokandy
2.76/5  rDev -29.9%
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.

Photo of gerardoluna
4.13/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sep 15, 2008
[Eyes] Dark brown like the classic color with a moorefoamy white head.
[Nouse] The aroma is festive and strong... Christmas fruity with hints of banana, malt caramel, yeast, vanilla, and brown cuban sugar.
[Mouth] Great Full body with nice and gentile carbonation, notes of flavors of sweet, strong fruits, sugar and yeast. The Afther taste is long and sweet with a touch of caramel and vanilla. mmm!

Serving type: bottle

Photo of drummstikk
4.29/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark hazy brown with minimal head, smells of port: grapes, sugar, and chalk. Tastes of chocolate malt, white wine, dark caramel malts, phenols, and walnuts! Finish is exceptionally dry with oxidized malt flavors and a unique phenolic taste that really goes beyond traditional descriptors of cloves, bandaids, or medicine. It combines with a minearaly finish to produce a gummy, plasticy aroma, kind of like the bonding agent in plywood. But, you know, in a good way.

Hot alcohols play around with the phenols, while the good old fashioned ethanol warms your face and belly. The experience is a bit like riding on Santa's sleigh while huffing glue.

Body is medium and carbonation is light. I am not able to distinguish individual spices but I believe they're there, working at the complexities in my glass, begging me to try this again in a different mood, a different context, so I might find them. Others may have dinged this beer for its unique phenolic flavors, but I find them to be just as weird as anything else! This beer gets high marks from me for its dry finish and complex port-like aromatics, mixed with a sweet middle of caramel malt.

Photo of NoHipTee
3.87/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured out of a chilled bottle.

A: dark amber appearance. Medium head that leaves a moderate amount of lacing. Thinnish froth that quickly settles to a pleasing "just big enough to touch my mustache" thickness.

S: a sweet odor that does hint at the high alcohol content a caramel and "old english" after shave scent.

T: a sweet almost dessert type of belgian ale that leaves a hint of licorice and anise on the palate. Not bitter at all. Not a very complex beer.

M: somewhat thin and watery for all the flavor and odor packed into this bottle.

D: Drinkable but not at the top of its class. Smooth but not good enough to linger in my memory much past my next trip to the bathroom.

A good beer but not a great Belgian.

Photo of LennyV
3.16/5  rDev -19.8%
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

Photo of jeffaz02t
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark, with a red hue. Nice thick head.

S: Spicy, with alcohol being very apparent.

T: Warm alcohol, spicy, very very malty.

M: Med. heavy, average carbonation.

D: Great great great. I love this beer. Could drink all night, but would end up on the floor if I did!

Photo of truthbrew
3.41/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2004 vintage, served at 54F. Pours a crimson with brown hints, unstable brown fluffy (but short lived) head. Dominate aroma is anise which almost covers the alcohol. I am not particularily fond of anise, but this beer did improve and it seemed to blend as the bottle slowly emptied (wow... 750ml of 10.5% abv can take a bit). Feels chewy thick in the mouthfeel. More anise on the exhale.

I am a fan of all other Het Anker beers, so hard to fault this for anything other than personal preference, which makes this review harder. Will review again in a few weeks then again in a year or two, but this I will need to warm up to a bit. A great candidate for cellaring and I'm sure that the strong anise will die down after a long cold conditioning.

Photo of AlexF
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pour a deep ruby-brown colour. Creamy head that disappears quickly.

Fragrence of cooked grapes, anise, brownies, overrippen fruits.

Holy damn anise-sweetness-coholy! This is an intense brew. Could have use a little more subtelty. But still, it's a straight to the point X-mas brew that will warm you up. Syrupy, heavy, intense.

Photo of newton99
4.55/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pouring a very dark brown, black almost, with reddish brown highlights, this beer is capped with a dense, light brown head with excellent retention and very nice lacing. The nose is a spice bomb. A blend of mace, nutmeg and anise, with some eucalyptus, cola, mildly burnt sugar, this is a little too spiced for my liking. The cola notes here bring to mind discount sodas. Alcohol is reasonably well hidden. In addition, there's quite a bit of dark fruit present, with prunes and figs.

Photo of ToolHead
4.79/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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...)

Photo of Lupin
3.83/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I will now commence the battle of the Christmas Ales with Gouden Carolus Noel.

Pours dark brown with good clarity. Pillowy head recedes in my La Chouffe tulip to under 1/4"

Aroma is rich, with dry spices, a little bit of maltiness, and that usual sugar/alcoholic sweetness that makes these beers my favorite style to drink.

First sip is snappy, and dark Licorice and Sambuca are the first things that come to mind. Spicy and medicinal, but also sweet. These characteristics are bound to express themselves more as it warms. The spices have a little bit of a dry sourness to them that leads to both a bright flavor and a very alcoholic finish. That's not to say it isn't smooth, just a mite bit unbalanced.

If you like a good spicy belgian, you've probably already tried the other Gouden Garolus offerings. The Grand Cru of the Emperor is pretty reliable. This one reminds me a little more of the Ambrio (I may be wrong here, I get this one mixed up with the classic in my memory) in its very distinct flavor profile.

Overall, a good choice and a very distinctive first tasting for the season. I will probably snag another bottle of this before the end of the holidays because it's a good example of the broad 'style' of spicy holiday Ales.

Photo of IceTrey9785
3.2/5  rDev -18.8%
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.

Photo of dino213aa
2.74/5  rDev -30.5%
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.

Photo of dankbrew21
3.63/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed on 5/27/09

Bottle has a picture of Santa riding a sleigh pulled by horses instead of reindeer. Pured into my widemouth kasteel glass. Beautiful big head. Dark brown, almost no light coming through.

Aromas of sugar, slight banana and lots of spices. Tastes full flavored and warm! Has a slight coppery taste to it. No unpleasant alcohol burn but the warmth lets you know it's there. Some brown sugar and cinnamon come through. Very tasty indeed.

Medium drnkability.

Photo of teddibrewski
3.66/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

good xmas beer a little heavy on the liquorice though

Photo of voteforgoat
2.82/5  rDev -28.4%
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.

Photo of beerogre
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Even though tonight is as far away from Christmas as it is possible to be, I decided in the beer store that this was to be the main beer highlight of the weekend that I would be trying for the first time (well, this and the Ommegang Hennepin Saison I had last night).

Well, it's pretty good and quite naturally improves as one works ones way down the goblet, as the beer warms. I think I prefer Gouden Carolus Carolus D'Or - Cuvée Van De Keizer, from the same stable, but still, this a fine offering and not far behind at all.

Having that Licorice element in there definitely helps bribe this judge when it comes to holding up the scoring cards, as does the warming strength and very well balanced sweetness.

Overall an excellent beer, whether you pull it out of your Christmas stocking or pop the cork outside on your deck to celebrate Midsummer's night.

Updated August 19, 2013 - In the intervening seven years since I first reviewed this beer, my palate has gravitated more towards IPAs, than the darker, sweeter beers which I was formally so fond of, but even so, this beer is every bit as good as I remember it and definitely a classic.

Photo of pioppo
4.37/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark amber. Very fine and quite persistente beige foam.

S - Very spicy aromas. There's something of winy marked by ethylic aroma.

T - Ethylic is predominant. It seems something like Porto.

M - It's like a Rochefort 10 but with less body and more spicy. Also the high level of alcohol is hidden by 2 years (from 2008 to 2010) of maturation in cask.

D - A fantastic way to celebrate Christmas!! Drink this beer it's very very easy!!

Photo of M_J_Z
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Had this on draft last night. I enjoyed it. 3.75-4. It didn't blow me away but it was tasty. Very solid for the style. Definitely something I'd order again, though this isn't my favorite style and I'm not overly crazy about Belgian beers.

Photo of stof0048
4.4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 Bottle
A: Dark brown/red, mildly cloudy, nice fluffy white head about 1/8" with moderate lacing.

S: Plums, dark sugars, touch of alcohol... nice sweet smell.

T: Hints of anise, plums, brown sugar, dark malts... This one has a slightly "bitier" taste than the 2003 I recently had. Somewhat stronger taste of alcohol than '03 as well.

M: Moderate carbonation on the tongue, rolls over the palate smoothly, medium body.

D: A little on the strong side to drink more than one in an evening, but a wonderful winter beer nevertheless. This is one of my all-time favorites!

Photo of petemoss14
4.49/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

330ml bottle.

Pours a deep ruby color with a creamy tan head that settles to thin blanket that clings.

Wonderfully full aroma. Sweet anise/licorice asserts itself confidently. Esters of grape and plum. Cherry and, dare I say, roasted pear. Or perhaps pear poached in mulled wine or port. Spicy phenols -- clove, and a touch of cinnamon. These warm spices are accompanied by something a bit brighter as well -- cardamom perhaps. Not sure if I want to drink this, then there'd be nothing left to smell!

Oh, so creamy smooth on the palate. More fruit on the palate. Sweet but not cloying. Again, roasted -- a bit of caramel -- pear comes to mind, studded with cardamom. Cinammon and cocoa. Sultanas. More sweet anise. Actually finishes dry -- like a dusting of cocoa, with a touch of bitterness at the back of the tongue.

Really, this beer is simply delicious. I wish I had some almond biscotti, as I think this would be the perfect accompaniment. Definitely my favorite Belgian Noel, and also my favorite Carolus. Seek it out!

Photo of Buttermaker
3.66/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not much on the nose but a nice creamy head. Taste: Holy Caramel Bomb! This Belgium Ale tastes like a double bock crossed with a root beer. It's still very drinkable, especially on a cold December evening. There's plenty of depth (cinnamon, prunes, banana), but I prefer something with a little more balance. (I'm not sure they used hops at all.) They do great job of disguising the 10.5% ABV, it's wonderfully warming but not at all harsh.

Recommended music pairing: Ray Charles - That Spirit of Christmas

Photo of noslenwerd
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Brownish Magenta color, typical creamy looking head.

S: Spicey and sweet

T: Wow... this is a great noel beer. Might be a little sweet for some but just perfect for me. Lots of brown sugar/molasses taste, with light christmas spices. Reminds me a lot of Kasteel Donker, but not as sweet.

M: Typical Belgian Dark Ale Mouthfeel. Creamy and smooth.

Summary: One of my top three winter warmers. I will undoubtedly be drinking this one again.

Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas from Brouwerij Het Anker
88 out of 100 based on 775 ratings.