Gulden Draak (Dark Triple) - Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
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Ratings: 3,056 | Reviews: 1,204 | Display Reviews Only:
4.49/5 rDev +6.1%
As always, I review live, not from notes, puzzling out the libation brewed in houses of salvation. As always, I review to style (ala BJCP), modified by personal taste (contra BJCP), not solely to personal taste, which would be unfair to many great examples of styles that I don't personally favour.
I'm re-reviewing this beer. I had it first out of a small bottle and did a "quick rating" of 3.75 - it was drinkable, and even good, but I wasn't impressed.
Called a "Dark Triple" by the brewers, this is more of a unique Quadrupel.
Presentation: 750mL corked and caged bottle, $11.99, covered in a white plastic coating, making it opaque. Poured in to a Chimay chalice/goblet at around 45ºF, warming as I write.
A: A cloudy, but still translucent-to-nearly-transparent around the edges, dark nut brown colour with strong highlights of some shade of muddy red. On a gentle pour, one finger of head is left, which recedes slowly to an almost-cap upon the face of the beer and a ring around its edges. Lacing nonexistent.
S: The nose is dominated by fruits and esters, with a strong malt presence and sweet odor. There's some elusive caramelized sugar and toffee in there, too. There is no detectable alcohol in the nose at any temperature - it blends that well with the other smells. The fruits aren't the standard Belgian Strong Dark dark fruits - they're more citric. As it warms, a mild Belgian funk and equally-mild spice become noticeable in the nose. Not extremely complex smelling, but appetizing and inviting.
T: Malts, brown malts, roasted malts - lots of malts, did I say? - fresh red grapes, raisins, plums and prunes, a slight, typically Belgian spiciness, with a mild solventy or spicy alcoholic taste on the finish, which actually adds to and completes the flavour, instead of detracting from it as it can so often do. A thread of moderate, but far from cloying or unappetizing, sweetness runs through the beer from start to finish, as is typical in true Belgian Darks but so often devolves in to overly-sweet, unbalanced cloyingness in American "replicas" of the style. The sweetness runs, melds, interchanges and combines with a bready dryness which also runneth from stem to stern. A little warming alcohol on the finish intertwines with the omnipresent exchange and interplay of fruity sweetness and bready dryness. Excellent.
M: The carbonation is loose and light-feeling. This drink is reminiscent of St Bernardus Abbot 12 - the best beer in the world, and the only that I have ever rated perfect 5s down the line - but is a bit thinner in mouthfeel. The loose, bouncy, spritzy carbonation doesn't allow the flavours to pull together as well as they could. It's still excellent.
O: I'm blown out of the water by the differences between the first small bottle I had and this large one, for whatever reason (freshness? etc.). A worthy Belgian Strong Dark/Quadrupel, an excellent example of the style, well-deserving of the reputation it has built up. 4.5s down the line here, and I may be under-rating the appearance and taste a little bit. Highly drinkable, moderately-highly complex, begs you to take another sip. Not as complex and unfathomable as a St Bernardus Abbot 12, but comparable to a Chimay Blue. I'll be sure to come back to this one.
To style (BSDA/Quad): 90/100
To official BJCP style (16E, "Belgian Specialty"): 97/100
To taste: 93/100
03-31-2013 12:10:32 | More by Chrysostom
4.64/5 rDev +9.7%
This beer was outstanding. At the behest of my best friend, I sought out this beer. As a lover of European beers, this was definitely on my radar. What better time to try it than Easter weekend?
The bottle alone is full of personality, having a different shape than most domestic beers. It draws one's attention to it as something special. It pours a nice amber-brown with the head lacing the bottle rather elegantly. It smells of toffee and roasted malts, with subtle chocolate notes. The first sip came and I was not disappointed. I had to pause and collect my thoughts on what I just drank. There were some spicy notes, yes. There were some toffee notes, yes. It has a noticeable alcohol flavor but not so much that it detracts from the flavorful crafting that went into this brew.
I put this up there with Schlenkerla or Ayinger. Delicious to the last drop.
03-30-2013 23:18:30 | More by jmendels
4.36/5 rDev +3.1%
Appearance- Another Belgium with tons of head but smaller bubbles. This doesn't look like it's going to dissipate as quickly as it is already leaving lacing. The foam is light yellow/beige and the body is maroon/light chestnut brown with a hazy orange that reveals itself when held up to the light. It is receding quicker than expected with slight wisps of lacing. There is much more lacing left after an additional pour but it is pretty much a line around the top of the glass. There is a lot more lacing after a third pour.
Nose- Very odd nose. I got a whiff of pinto bean/black eyed peas. A very umami smell. Better than it sounds. Sort of cheesy, savory. Some notes of Belgian spice, yeast, and apple lingering around the edges. The aroma is quite inviting. There are also some sour notes and rich, appetizing mustiness. I'm quite curious as to whether the flavor profile expresses this.
Taste- It begins with sourness match with citrus fruits and pretty much continues in this manner. You can taste some of the savory, umami aspect at the back of the throat. Not as complex as I would have hoped but that may change. More spice and yeast make themselves known on the second taste. The yeast continues to climb as the sourness descends. Pretty tasty. Could use a couple other notes to put it into truly exceptional territory. Some fungal/funky notes are beginning to appear but with too much malt. It's not an overwhelming amount but starts to appear near the finish.
Mouthfeel- Fairly creamy. Medium bodied with some thinness. It could perhaps use a little more carbonation but overall, it's a pretty solid mouthfeel.
Drinkability- Pretty accessible. The alcohol doesn't really show itself at all. Not as easygoing as Orval but fairly close.
Overall- A very good beer. A. It could warm up and reveal more character and become an A+, but I'm pretty sure this is a solid A.
03-24-2013 04:56:49 | More by artoolemomo
4/5 rDev -5.4%
Pours a beautiful ruby brown with fizzy khaki head which quickly fades to a thin ring. No lacing.
Smell is sharp, poignant, but not entirely unpleasant. A bit of chocolate and spiciness.
Taste is pretty boozy. Fairly bland BSDA flavor, which is not a knock. Nothing sets this apart from other beers of the style I've had though.
Mothfeel is creamy and well carbonated. After it settles in my mouth, it's much thinner than other Belgians.
Overall not a bad beer by any means, but not something I'll likely crave in the future.
03-18-2013 23:22:10 | More by CurtFromHershey
Gulden Draak (Dark Triple) from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
94 out of 100 based on 3,056 ratings.