Gouden Carolus Classic
Brouwerij Het Anker

Gouden Carolus ClassicGouden Carolus Classic
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Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
Ranked #14
Ranked #2,970
4.14 | pDev: 10.14%
Brouwerij Het Anker
Gouden Carolus ClassicGouden Carolus Classic
Notes: Gouden Carolus Classic, the ‘Grand Imperial Beer’ from Mechelen, is brewed with dark, very balanced dosed caramel and aromatic malts. This unique beer combines the warmth of wine and the freshness of beer. This makes it very suitable in combination with culinary specialties such as stews, pâtés, ripened or strong cheeses.

Elected Worlds’ Best Dark Beer (World Beer Awards 2012).
Reviews: 432 | Ratings: 939 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of DCurrier
DCurrier from California

5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is perhaps my very favorite beer. Next to impossible to find in the USA, it is very popular in Belgium. Very well balanced with no bitter aftertaste. Malty but not too sweet and not too heavy. Just the right carbonation. Wonderful flavor. A hint of fruity smells like banana but not too distracting from the dark almost caramel flavor.

Apr 20, 2021
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dbrauneis from North Carolina

4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a cloudy almost opaque dark mahogany in color with light to moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising along the edges of the glass and moderate dark amber + chestnut brown + ruby red colored highlights. The beer has a three finger tall dense foamy tan head reduces to a medium to large sized patch of medium thick film covering a little more than 50% of the surface of the beer surrounded by a large patch of thin film covering the remainder of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of dark fruits (plum + prune + raisin + cherry + currant) over the top of moderate aromas of caramel + toffee + toasted malts with moderate amounts of dark candi sugar sweetness. Light to moderate aromas of Belgian yeast along with light aromas of spices (coriander + clove). Hints of booziness.

T: Upfront there are moderate to strong flavors of caramel + toffee + toasted malts with moderate amounts of dark candi sugar sweetness. That is followed by strong flavors of dark fruits (plum + prune + raisin + cherry + currant). Then there are light to moderate flavors of Belgian yeast along with light flavors of spices (coriander + clove). Finally there is a hint of booziness. Moderate amounts of lingering dark fruit sweetness in the finish.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth but slightly chewy with a hint of dryness in the finish.

O: Drinks fairly easily though this one is more of a slow sipper for me. Can’t believe I have been reviewing beers for almost 10 years before I finally got around to reviewing this one (thanks for the jumpstart thread on the Beers of Fame) though I have had it many times before. Very enjoyable and definitely a classic example of the style.

Apr 02, 2021
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Sigmund from Norway

3.39/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

330 ml bottle, at de Klomp, Nice, France. Deep ruby colour, large head. Malty sweet aroma, notes of caramel. Malty sweet flavour, notes of molasses and sweet wine.

Mar 21, 2021
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BGDrock from Canada (ON)

3.86/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Light-medium brown body with hints of amber, clear, with a sand coloured head that builds big and holds good retention of several minutes.
Dark dried fruit aromas or rum soaked raisins, ripe banana, almond and vanilla extract, the sweetness balanced by soft alcohol heat.
Flavours of date syrup, molasses, raisins, sticky toffee pudding; satiny feel feel, owing to very fine and light carbonation, and a decent share of sugar of course; sweetness is balanced by warming alcohol heat that lingers in the semi-sweet finish; medium body, it goes down easy.

Sweet but not cloying, with rich fruity flavours, though not particularly complex to my palace - would like to see a bit of spice character and more heat.

Jan 16, 2021
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Robinshutedrums from England

4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Gouden Carolus classic 8.5%

Deep red brown color, beige head. Belgian yeast nose, caramel, raisins, hint of brandy. Taste is Slight Sweet taste, dried fruit, raisins, Belgian yeast, slight dark rum and Medium body. Lovely

Jan 11, 2021
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milkshakebeersucks from Maryland

4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Mahogany appearance with a large, firm, tan head and very good lacing. Multi layered aroma of yeast, dark fruits, chocolate and caramel malts. Sweet, yeasty flavors with a variety of fruits, some spiciness and a passive amount of hops. Well concealed alcohol in the full bodied, moderately carbonated mouthfeel. Medium length finish remained sweet but not cloying.

Dec 13, 2020
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JonnoWillsteed from England

3.79/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L- Very deep chestnut brown, clear, pours with 3mm pale tan head.
S- Some richness, a caramel note.
T- Rather lovely! Some caramel/toffee, but also a deeper baked raison/Brit Xmas pudding note too.
F- It isn't too much of anything, including rich, pungent, obviously a high(er) ABV%, in fact for an 8.5% I think it decidedly understated.
O- It's very nice, and would make a lovely slow-sipping beer for winter. Nearing the end of the glass it is beginning to get a bit warmer and richer than I'd wish, I'd suggest not loitering too long!
330ml bottle. Euro 2.60. BB: 16/10/2022 Bought from: BelgiumInABox Antwerp/BE for home delivery to me in London/UK

Jul 14, 2020
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shambeano from Australia

4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

330ml bottle, best before 11/09/2021, poured into a tulip glass.
Look: Pours a dark brown, with about 1.5-2cm of fluffy off white head. Head sticks around for a little bit, leaving some nice lacing. Looks good.
Smell: quite fruity upfront, fig, plum, raisin, a little toffee sweetness, a little spice (allspice maybe) and some alcohol in there too.
Taste: sultana, prune and burnt fig, toffee, sweet malt, a little spicy.
Feel: Mid bodied, mouth filling, a little bit of prickly carbonation at the back of the palate. A slight dryness towards the end and a good length of flavours.
Overall: delicious.

Mar 14, 2020
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Mugman8 from New York

4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Taking a rookie tour of Belgian beers that I purchased at Total Wine. This one is a cloudy mahogany on the pour, with a big fluffy beige head and deep lacing. Aroma is sweet and a little musty. Has a sweet complex taste of raisins, figs and other dried fruits. ABV is over 8.5% but you would never know it, as it is warming but not too strong. This is a top notch brew that is worth the price!

Feb 22, 2020
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KooVee from Finland

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle, bb in 2.5 years, so still quite young.

Clear carmine colour, fizzy beige head that rises fast, recedes more slowly and leaves very fine lace.

A lush nose, with brown sugar, fig, prunes, a hint of alcohol. Bread. As the beer warms, a bit of pear. Overall a subtly complex mixture of fruit, grain and sugar.

Taste is delighfully drinkable. Not tiringly sweet, a supple body that glides over your tongue smoothly, enlivened by the considerable (in-style) carbonation. Raisin and the smallest hint of coriander bitterness in the aftertaste. Alcohol is totally hidden.

A justifiable classic. And an epitome of Belgian brewing. Sweet yet not tiring, subtle in a hard to break into constituents way like a top restaurant dish. Yet very simple and traditional. No gimmicks here.

Feb 16, 2020
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Lanas from Greece

4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

For sure i don't expecting to be so good beer this one.. I expecting something good but this one surpass my imagination..
First of all is one refreshing beer and you drink it cold because some other good Belgium beers serving at 10-14 serving.. This one is very punchy because has very high carboration and can fill very well your mouth with the awesome taste and the power it has.. The after taste remind you little the "Gouden carolus Imperial Dark" and general the whole taste but it seems different beers. The imperial Dark is much more sweet and rich..
Overall a very strong and good all around beer to drink in the summer.. Amazing power and taste..

Sep 13, 2019
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RayCannata from Louisiana

4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great looking mahogany toned quad from Belgium. I actually liked their Christmas beer better -- richer and boozier than the classic. But this is a tasty, if reserved, quad. Love it!

Jul 18, 2019
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TheBierdimpfe from Canada (QC)

3.94/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Medium: Capped, goblet glass.
Opacity: Deep hazy and cloudy.
Color: Dark brown with a copper hue.
Head: Creamy light beige 1 finger.
Legs: Good with decent swirl reaction.
Smell: Brown sugar/Cinnamon/Toffee.
Taste: Dark berries/Molasses/Coriander/Nutmeg.
Feel: Spicy/Estery/Earthy/Yeasty.
Body: Medium smooth and light creamy.
Carbonation: Moderate crisp.
Overall: Warming and slightly alcoholic, still easily drinkable and not overly rich.

High quality.

Visual 7/10 - Flavors 7.5/10 - Sensations 8.5/10 - Balance 9/10 -
Freshness 5/10 - Intensity 7/10 - Complexity 8/10 - Appreciation 8.5/10

Mar 18, 2019
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Gajo74 from New York

4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear dark brown color with notes of ruby. Medium large frothy head displays good retention, a creamy layer of film and lacing throughout.
The aroma is complex, with dark fruit, cherry, plum, raisin and berries. Notes of toasted malt, graham cracker and honey. The sweetness of the aroma is complemented by spices, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, along with floral hops notes. However, what stands out the most midway through is a vinous red grape aroma that becomes thematic to this beer.
Sweet and fruity all throughout. Big vinous flavors of red grape, cherry, plum and raisin; it drinks like a full bodied fruity red wine. Moderate spices balance the sweetness somewhat. Full malt flavors evoke honey and graham crackers.
Full bodied and vinous. A moderate carbonation. It hides the alcohol flavor well, yet, there is a touch of alcohol warmth and a spicy linger in the finish.
Although I found this beer to be a fit on the sweet side, it is possible that perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood for it. Nevertheless, technically and stylistically speaking, its right on point, and thus deserves a good rating. I would be happy to revisit.

Jan 12, 2019
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HoppingMadMonk from New Jersey

4.46/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cliudy brown color,solid feel and decent carbonation. Aroma is a mix of different types of dried fruit,malt,spices,and some yeast. Aroma is strong and enticing and gives a great hint of the taste. Taste follows aroma,doesn't lack in flavor,the dried fruit really dominates rounded out by the spice and malt. A delicious beer thats slightly sweet yet has a slight bitter boozy finish

Dec 17, 2017
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The_Bujon from Ireland

4.58/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The Classic is just that, a true 'Classic', if you want a beer that typifies dark Belgian ale, this is it.

Pours a beautiful deep and full mahogany coloured body, with a two fingered head.
The head doesn't last too long which is a real shame because on first pour, this is the best looking beer you will find.

Aroma is lovely, really get those spiced figs, prunes and a tinge of malt.

Taste is sublime, all the aromas are there on the tongue also, but you get an extra kick of bonfire toffee sweetness, absolutely top drawer.

Feel is a slight blip on the otherwise perfect scorecard, while it leaves a lovely taste lingering in the aftertaste, it does have a a tiny artificial saccharin feel as it goes down.

Overall, a top top brew, one of the best available without doubt, and it is a toss up between this and the Carolus Christmas in my opinion, not much in it.

If you had to get only one Belgian beer to benchmark all other world beers, just use this, totally spanks the modern craft scene out of the park.

Nov 04, 2017
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Jtee from Canada (ON)

4.9/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From a 330ml bottle served at 12 degrees Celsius into a Gouden Carolus chalice. Best before date: 18.05.2019 – I've had the bottle for more than six months.

Look: A fine looking beer indeed. It pours a clear, very dark brown with red highlights. 3cm of dense, creamy beige head remains for 2+ minutes after which it settles into a decent cap. Exceptional lacing.

Smell: "Wow, so interesting" followed by "OMG" and "holy shit". Rich and complex. Malt-forward with significant esters and a deep caramel character. Additional notes of raisins, plums, figs, banana, brown sugar, and chocolate.

Taste: Strong and deep flavour profile with sweetness that is not cloying. Absolutely delicious. Malty-rich with notes of chocolate, raisins, plums, caramel, honey, banana, brown sugar, and tea. The finish is long and sweet with a slight mineral quality.

Feel: Medium-full body with lively carbonation. Smooth, creamy, and round. A pleasant, restrained alcohol warmth.

Overall: Very complex and rich beer. Just wonderful. I don't know what factors are at play but this one's among the best beers I've ever had. Nothing I've tried from Gouden has fallen below excellent which makes them one of my favourite breweries at this time. I may like this even more than the exceptional Rochefort 10. World-class and a must-try if you get a chance.

Jun 25, 2017
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BloodSoakedAleMug from New York

3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2016 Vintage

Look: Pours a light, although opaque, brown color with a one finger head of beige foam that settles down quickly and leaves no lacing.

Aroma: Not too strong on the nose. Mostly chocolate roasted malt, akin to sweet milk chocolate and dry, powdered cocoa with a backdrop of bittersweet dark chocolate. That's really all I'm getting, but it's probably because my bottle is a little more than a year old.

Taste: Rich, but not cloying notes of sweet chocolate and dry cocoa nibs. There are some hints of candied raisins, caramel and plums in the background. A little bit of yeasty funk here and there along the lines of clove and white pepper. . . maybe some very mild banana, but it's mostly an afterthought. Some dry, floral bitterness just to round things out midpalate. It's a fairly straightforward beer. Not incredibly complex or intriguing, but what it does offer is done well.

Feel: Very clean and light on the palate, with no overtly hot alcoholic profile, and again the sweetness is not to that sickeningly saccharine degree. For the style, the body is light, but not thin. I would be remiss to imply the beer is watery. Mid-Heavy carbonation. Somewhat bubbly. Rather thirst quenching.

Overall: This beer treads the line on the "too sweet" category just barely, but the flavors are skillfully blended together here so it works. Not bad at all. If you like a sweeter BDSA, especially if you're looking for one with strong flavors of chocolate this is worth a shot. I enjoyed this quite a bit, but I have had more impressive interpretations of the style.

Rating: [B+] Great. 3.88/5

Jun 09, 2017
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REDAMI from Ohio

4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from 11.2 oz bottle into Westvleteren chalice.

L - Red-brown pour with a thin ecru foam.

S - Raisins, cinnamon, brown bread, molasses, sweet on the nose.

T - Prunes, fig, creamy butterscotch, cinnamon, treacle bitterness, toasted grain.

F - Smooth, easy on the carbonation. The alcohol is hidden, but hints at its strength at the end.

A solid BSDA. Slightly sweet, but comfortably so.

Apr 09, 2017
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thehyperduck from Canada (ON)

4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330 mL bottle from a mixed 4-pack picked up at the LCBO late last year. Best before May 18 2019 and served slightly chilled.

Pours a deep-hued mahogany brown with brick red highlights; meanwhile, seated atop is a half-centimeter of smooth, soapy, light beige-tinted head that weakens and wilts within a matter of minutes. A thin collar remains, but not much else. Sponge toffee, treacle and figgy, raisin-y fruit cake on the nose, with hints of prune, chocolate and some herbal anise, with some spicy notes that I can't quite put my finger on.

The first sip reveals this brew's true character - it's bold and flavourful, with a rich, dark malt sweetness that is somewhat reminiscent of a German bock. Sweet flavours of molasses and toffee are immediately apparent, with dark fruit flavours sweeping across the palate soon after - there's fig, prune, raisin, and even some black cherry and brown pear. Subtle notes of cocoa and cola are interrupted by a yeasty, herbal finish with hints of licorice and clove; lingering herbal, bittersweet aftertaste with a light brushing of alcohol warmth. Fairly saccharine overall, but that's par for the style (and the finish does keep things at least kinda balanced). Full-bodied, or at least in that neighbourhood; the carbonation is restrained and just about perfect for this style IMO, providing a moderately crisp bite.

FInal Grade: 4.28, a very solid A-. It's always a pleasure to sip a strong Belgian dark ale that is as well-made as Gouden Carolus Classic. The molasses, toffee and dark fruit flavours are both rich, satisfying sensations on the palate, while the presence of chocolate and herbal notes ensure an additional layer of complexity. An excellent beer - not necessarily the pinnacle of the style, but still highly recommended to all BAs with an appreciation for Belgian darks and quads. Wish this one was as easy to find in Ontario as, say, Chimay Blue or Rochefort 8.

Mar 15, 2017
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Yoann from France

3.97/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle to a snifter
A - Brown with a light foam
S - Some roasty malts with herbal and spicy hops
T - Perfect balance of the aromas
M - Correctly carbonated
O - A good example of a Belgian dark ale, nothing is out of place, this can be used as a reference.

Mar 11, 2017
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EmperorBevis from England

4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled and possibly bottle conditioned
Pours a dark brown cola body with decent enough tan head
Big molasses and treacle aroma.
Chocolate and pear flavour
Solid amazing dark beer

Mar 09, 2017
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Zet from Netherlands

3.81/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Brown colour with an amber hue and a decent and steady head of foam. The smell is very promising: buttery, with flavours like caramel, chocolate, malt, alcohol, liquorice and hops. The taste however does not deliver: it is not bad, but it is too sweet in my opinion, and with that masking a lot of flavours. I taste chocolate, malt and caramel, but mostly molasses. Mouth feel is smooth, heavy bodied and easy too drink. Would have been a great beer, if it wasn't for the sweetness...

Jan 28, 2017
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taxandbeerguy from Canada (ON)

4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

330 ml bottle served at cellar temperature into a chalice. Been hanging onto this bottle for about 3 months.

Appearance - dark brown, opaque and pours a glorious finger and a half of tan head. The head retention is impressive and leaves behind a giant swath of lacing,

Smell - sweet all the way with hint of molasses and caramel with a giant fruit addition. Cherries, apples and especially pears stand out here.

Taste - quite sweet again with cherries and pears dominating. Slight malt flavors of marshmallows and caramel. Belgian yeast and the booze content isn't too much.

Mouthfeel - smooth, chewy and heavy bodied with soft carbonation and surprisingly easy drinking.

Overall - a really good Strong Belgian Dark Ale. One of the better ones on the market, and certainly worth a try and even more so if you like orchard and dark fruits in the taste of your strong Belgians.

Jan 23, 2017
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Bruno74200 from France

4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think this beer is underrated here. It's really a great beer. It has the complexity of a quadrupel but it's much more drinkable. It's o lot on caramel, dark fruits (prunes and figs mostly), spices and esters. Great beer

Dec 23, 2016
Gouden Carolus Classic from Brouwerij Het Anker
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 939 ratings