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Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas - Brouwerij Het Anker

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

464 Reviews
THE BROS
67
poor

(Read More)
Reviews: 464
Hads: 777
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 12.66%
Wants: 27
Gots: 74 | 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: 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: 464 | Hads: 777
Photo of jeffaz02t
4/5  rDev -0.7%
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! (280 characters)

Photo of truthbrew
3.41/5  rDev -15.4%
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. (748 characters)

Photo of AlexF
3.92/5  rDev -2.7%
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. (329 characters)

Photo of M_J_Z
4/5  rDev -0.7%

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. (238 characters)

Photo of newton99
4.55/5  rDev +12.9%
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. (484 characters)

Photo of ToolHead
4.79/5  rDev +18.9%
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...) (935 characters)

Photo of Lupin
3.83/5  rDev -5%
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. (1,245 characters)

Photo of IceTrey9785
3.2/5  rDev -20.6%
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 dino213aa
2.74/5  rDev -32%
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 dankbrew21
3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
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. (476 characters)

Photo of voteforgoat
2.82/5  rDev -30%
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 beerogre
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
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. (1,146 characters)

Photo of pioppo
4.37/5  rDev +8.4%
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!! (438 characters)

Photo of stof0048
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
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! (583 characters)

Photo of petemoss14
4.49/5  rDev +11.4%
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! (1,036 characters)

Photo of Buttermaker
3.66/5  rDev -9.2%
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 (507 characters)

Photo of noslenwerd
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
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. (443 characters)

Photo of 77ships
3.18/5  rDev -21.1%
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 bitterdestroyer
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

wow another awesome xmas ale. wow another good gouden carolus...

appearance: nice dark brown amber. lacing was sparce. nice thick head.

smell: somewhere in the vein of chocolate covered bananas. a bit of hops and slight traces of alcohol, sugar cane, and plums.

taste: man there's a lot goin on here. sugar cane, plums, raisins, a nice bouquet of spices; cinnamon or nutmeg perhaps?

mouthfeel: nice and robust. the flavors really showed through as it warms to the taste. a lil hoppy.

drinkability: excellent. despite the high alcohol content, this beer could be drank, or sipped and enjoyed rather, until memorial day. (633 characters)

Photo of surfnebr
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep, golden brown with a light head. Carbonation is light and lacing is limited.

The nose initially comes off with raisins, big malt, maple syrup with a light alcohol. As it warmed up you get more xmas spices; nutmeg, cinnamon, almost a malty egg nog.

This beer is a holiday party in your mouth. I poured about five minutes after I took it out of the fridge, and waited to drink it for ten minutes after that. Cranberries, cinnamon, egg nog, nutmeg, malt with much less booze than I expected. The mouth feel was much lighter than I thought it should be, and I liked it. This is a dangerous beer in that it goes down too smooth. This would be a hard beer to put down once you start, if you have more than one available.

The appearance did not do justice for the beer. Understand that beer is 10% + so the light appearance of the beer, lack of lacing was a bit surprising. (876 characters)

Photo of tenesmus
4.19/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap in a straight half glass at the Sand Bar Manchester.

Minimal off white head that soon faded, vigorous carbonation, the beer had a dark, almost black appearance, although held to the light one could see it was not as dense as first appears - not dissimilar to Coke to be honest.

Fragrance was enticing, of liquorice and stone fruits.

First impressions when tasting was of a velvety smooth beer, any heaviness lifted by the carbonation, a great wet kiss of liquorice dominant in the mouth with a complex aftertaste, plenty of spice such as anise, cinnamon, plus sweet malt. Very pleasant, hardly notice the alcohol content and a real hit with the Badminton group. (671 characters)

Photo of evh883
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Being that the Belgian brews are my favorites, I loved this one. It had a very dark and opaque amber/brown color with a nice head that faded rather quickly. I loved the aroma of the beer which had some cinnamon and nutmeg standing and also a slight fruitiness. I picked up a ton of molasses flavor with some berry notes along the aromatic flavor mentioned before. This is a truly exceptional beer and made my Christmas Eve evening a memorable one. (447 characters)

Photo of Eddxii
3.05/5  rDev -24.3%
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 beerthirtysa
4.41/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

a: nice ruby-red color, but almost brunette unless held directly in the light. weak, off-white head with decent, but not thick, lacing.

s: alcohol predominates along with malt overtones. some gentle hops and plenty of dark cheery and blueberry.

t: smooth as silk. sweet, chewy malt with hints of molasses. alcohol noticeable. slightly hoppy finish.

m: a bit oily in consistency but very inoffensive. lusciously rich texture. carbonation effervesces only slightly on the way to the back of the throat.

o: a very pleasant ale that, though high in alcohol content, is extremely drinkable brew. one to enjoy with friends on a cold winter evening. (647 characters)

Photo of nd5282
3.73/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a sweet ale that was very easy on the palate but not too sweet like some winter seasonals. Weighing in at over 10% this beer has a well balanced list of highly prized characteristics that make this beer surprisingly enjoyable. I bought this beer at Whole Foods in Westwood. (282 characters)

Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas from Brouwerij Het Anker
90 out of 100 based on 464 ratings.