Gouden Carolus Classic | Brouwerij Het Anker

883 Ratings
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Gouden Carolus ClassicGouden Carolus Classic

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Het Anker

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-13-2002

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Ratings: 883 |  Reviews: 414
Photo of ksimons
4.42/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-pours a hazy dark chestnut brown with two fingers worth of creamy colored head

S-Really nice smelling, rich malts, dark fruits, yeast, and a bit of a spicy bite.

T-Taste is very complex but subtle, rich in malts, caramel and juicy plums and other dark fruits, there is a bit of tartness also that seems to come from the fruit and finishes with a spicy yeasty flavor. Excellent.

M-medium body, good amount of carbonation, silky and smooth

First had this beer at the Het Anker brewery and it is just as good as I remember. Worth finding.

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Photo of fx20736
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a goblet, served at cellar temp (~60f).

Burnt Umber with orange highlights when backlit. Towering mocha head settle to 2 fingers and eventually leaves a creamy coat of lacing.

Aroma of molasses, alcohol, cloves, plums and other dark fruits such as dates or figs.

Mouthfeel: effortless mousse

Taste: the malt is disguised as Brown sugar sweetness which lays down a bed for a rich prune & plum delightfulness.

Notes: My 2nd Belgian Dark Strong Ale (the other being Chimay Grande Reserve) and I daresay this is a wicked, beguiling style of beer that ranks among the best beers I have had. I guess one either loves the taste profile of molasses & dark fruit or one does not. As a lifelong lover of dark fruitcake I am smitten by these flavors and seek them out as the weather turns colder and the Holiday Season approaches. I will add this beer to my pantheon and eagerly await the next bottle.

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Photo of Squelch
3.76/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Amber colored. Dark. Not cloudy, just dark. Minimal head and lacing.

Smell: Dishwater, followed by honey.

Taste: Extremely complex. Licorace, finishing roasty. I have to take multiple sips to take it all in. Slightly off flavors in the finish or this would be ranked excellent.

Mouthfeel: Syrupy, and hot. Interesting play against the taste.

Overall: A pleasure for the senses, but not my cup of beer...

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Photo of jayhawk73
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at Churchkey:

Review from notes:

Pours a dark brown color w/ excellent lacing on the snifter glass. Smell is dark fruit, malt, brown sugar and yeast. Somewhat sweet nose on this brew. Very well balanced, and none of the characters stand out. Taste profile is about the same as the nose, with some wood and sweetness really coming out. Feel is medium plus, with good carbonation and an underlying bitterness behind the malt. Overall, this is a really nice beer- but there are better in this style. Glad I got to try it on draft! Cheers.

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Photo of IPA35
4.54/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Looks very dark brown with a reddish hue. Off white head.
Looks nice.

Smells is exceptional: dates, dark cherries, slight sour note, dark fruits in general, dark and sweet malts, belgian yeast, prehaps a hint of wood and some hops in the back.

Next, taste.
Again, very good. Sweet malts, dark fruits, belgian yeast and more bitterness than expected. Sour/fruity aftertase as well as a medium dry bitter finish. Sweet but also spicey.

As it warms up it becomes less sour and a tad more robust with the malts becoming more pronounced.

Mouthfeel is quite thin, the carbonation is not huge but it certainly bites in your tongue. The alcohol is very well hidden.

Overal one of my favourite Belgian brews, of the ones I had. Easy to get also. I wonder why I should look out for overpriced and hard to get American brews when I can get this for €1.70?

Fit for an Emperor.

Served in a Kasteel glass.

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Photo of MrIncognito
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Churchkey in DC

A - Dark mahogony with almost a purplish hue in certain lights. Fluffy white head that settles to thin lacing with good lace on the glass

S - Dark fruits and sweet & spicy alcohol. Rum soaked plums, raisins, brown sugar. Enticing aroma.

T&M - Very much like the smell with the dark fruits and alcohol really coming through. Light carbonation and a thinner mouthfeel than expected. Almost a cola type of sweetness that is muted a bit by the spicy alcohol.

O - A very nice sipper that I really enjoyed. Not quite as complex as others I've had like Chimay Reserve but great flavors and aromas overall

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Photo of magictacosinus
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass from a 330ml bottle. Freshness date is "07/04/14."

Apparently this beer can be considered to be a brune or a dubbel, but I think BA's categorization of the style pretty much hits home. Although what's undeniable is how much like a dubbel that *this* looks. With a reddish, darkened color with a decent head slowly shrinks, I can tell that this is probably going to be a malty one. Still, with the carbonation grazing all around the head, and the foam sticking to the glass, it's very beautiful.

The smell here is absolutely excellent, releasing malty notes but plenty of brown sugary aromas. There's substantial caramel with a big, bready scent. Honey is definitely prevalent, and there are notes of tamarind as well. Definitely leans more towards a candy-sweetened side than a fruity side, which makes me hope that this thing isn't too sugary.

With one sip, I'm instantly proven wrong! Not nearly as sweet as it smells, the beer instantly grabs your tongue with heavy malts and spiciness aided by the hops. While it is strong in ABV, it's not noticeable at all until you finish your sip. As this thing warms up, the malts become more present, but so do fruity esters such as cherries and blackcurrent. (Or blackberries? You decide.) It's far creamier than I'd expect it to be, and the flavor is extremely nice and toasty.

As this warms up, the difficulty to categorize this beer is revealed. It's malty like a dubbel, but it's got the roasted flavor of a strong dark ale. No matter what, though, it's a great beer to drink. You get introduced with the malty notes, then immediately swoon by the fruity, toasty, and hoppy flavors, and then completely warmed up by the high ABV. It may smell sweet, but the sugar and alcohol is nearly absent from the flavor as a whole until it warms up. This is an extremely well balanced ale that I would champion in its beer style. Definitely worth buying more of, despite its obvious strength that doesn't make it too "sessionable." Whatever, that's not the point of this brew, so drink away and enjoy the crap out of it!

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Photo of nickhiller
3.58/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: coppery brown, healthy head with the telltale Belgian lacing.

S: potpourri, perfume, cherries.

T: maple syrup, brown sugar and candy--sugar plain and simple.

M: syrupy, coats your entire mouth. Carbonation is mellow but present.

O: drinkable beer but I think I might need schedule an appointment with a dentist now.

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Photo of cdkrenz
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured into a large snifter the beer is the color of prunes except a bit more on the brown side. The head started out frothy with a thin layer (1/4") covering the entire surface. Rather quickly that faded and now a foamy head that resembles bath bubbles covers most of the top.

S - Anise, plums, boozy, and all are somewhat pungent.

T - Aggressive and fermented plum flavor right from the get go. There's a mildness to the flavor that overcomes each pull. It seems to begin pungent but end mild with a caramel malt flavor. The finish leaves a caramel and mild plum residue as well.

M - Very smooth as if there is no carbonation. The brew is wet and may go down a bit too easy.

~ This is a fantastic beer. I will seek out this beer again and when I find it I will by at least two. One to enjoy on a cold winter night in front of a fire and another to cellar for a few years. I bet this brew cellars very well... and I intend to find out.

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Photo of jnn4v
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Chestnut brown, with slight to moderate level of haze. Foamy light tan head filled about 40% of the glass. No visible sediment.

S: Figs, dates, molasses, brown sugar, caramel, spices, mulled cider, caramel apples. Smells absolutely delicious - almost like a winter / holiday version of a traditional quad.

T: Much like the scent, but is unfortunately much more subdued and muted. I didn't get any of the apple flavors that I noted in the scent, though. It's much more like a dubbel or quad - almost halfway between the two. Dark malts, Belgian yeast, etc.

M: Good body, although not quite as dense as I'd hoped. Ample carbonation, although it did fade off about 15 minutes in.

O: I really enjoyed this beer, although unlike most belgian darks, it seemed to deteriorate as it warmed, rather than improving. If you're good at consuming your brews quickly, or if you're sharing with someone else, don't hesitate to try this beer.

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Photo of cbbjr
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap in a snifter at Churchkey. Appearance is very dark brown with a creamy head (although it was pretty dark in the bar, so take this with a grain of salt). Smell and taste is dominated by fig, brown sugar, raisin, and very slight nutty and faint alcohol taste. Fairly sweet, without being over the top. Mouthfeel is solid, low carbonation and silky smooth.

I'm a big fan of this style, and this is an outstanding example. I'd rank it above Chimay Blue and it gives Rochefort 8 a run for its money (although I have only had those from the bottle). If you see it on a draft list, I highly recommend you go for it.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.85/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from the bottle into an official Gouden Carolus glass.

A super creamy head can be formed of light brown toffee on the slow pour. Looks whipped up and frothy. Body is a gorgeous chestnut dark brown and red hues.

Bouquet is a candy store treat. Sweet plump raisins and brown sugar. Malt dense and hint of small quinine like tonic. In one short word, fabulous.

Taste is, just joy. So incredibly light but with a dense coating. Faint bitter chocolate in the palate mixes with an almost roasty dark malt, giving to brown sugar and figs. Stupidly velvet texture coats everywhere. Just a hint of carbonation and sting. No sense of boozy alcohol not even a hint!

This beer never fails me i've had it so many times for years. It's just nearly perfect.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Churchkey yesterday. Served in a mini-snifter.

Pours a fairly-dark brown color with some crimson highlights. The nose brings forward a hefty amount of dark fruits along with some brown-sugar character. Dark fruits galore. Cherry and grape there as well. Flavor is lightly-sweet with plenty of fruit character and a creamy feel to back it all up. Chewy with moderate carbonation. Really well-done version of the style.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.65/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

OK, not the usual review. This is a 24 year-old bottle of the Gouden Carolus (Carolus d'Or) from 1987 which had been cellared at Kulminator in Antwerp. Awesome old screen-printed bottle covered in dust, with some corrosion of the lid—hand-labelled "1987" but the Kulminator folks.

Pours... with carbonation! I almost couldn't believe it. It's a deep and quite clear red colour, with a head solid enough, formed of fine beige film. Minimal lacing, but the body looks like it's thick, and has time to thicken over the years. Holding up quite well, it seems.

Nose is definitely a little oxidised, with dust and cardboard aromas masking the smooth spice and vanilla aged characters. Quite sweet, but still with that estery spice. I'm surprised to still find it. It is extremely old, and I love that you can smell the age, but there are certainly signs that it's past its prime.

Taste is similar. Light spice, masked by a flat grape character, with a slight coppery character, and oxidised notes of leather and wet paper. Finish is quite tannic, but muffled—the light astringency has been tames over the years. Everything is muddled and blended nicely—but we're past its peak, so the characters are also flattened.

The age on this is truly fascinating, but unfortunately, this much is to the detriment of the beer. Still, it's a wonderful thing to have tried, and I'm very pleased I got the opportunity.

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Photo of Meerkey
4.53/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: huge, foamy beige head. Rich, slightly hazy mahogany. A few bubbles. Very attractive.

S: Honey. Fruit. Malts. Some herbs and spices. Delicious.

T: I love it. Heavy, sweet, and fruity. Figs, apples. Brown sugar, cinnamon. Faint alcohol. Very sweet without being cloying; faintly tart. Amazing.

M: Heavy, sweet, fully and smooth. Very sweet without being sticky.

O: One of my top 5 beers. I can't believe I haven't reviewed it yet. I almost wish it were a little less sweet, but even so, it still works. Magnificently. Have one. Now.

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Photo of rvdoorn
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: the beer pours a caramel brown color with a nice head.
Smell: Roasted malts, caramel, toffee, nuts, caramel and herbal
Taste: Sweet malts, caramel and molasses, herbal and clove. Nice bitter crisp aftertaste
Mouthfeel: medium carbonation and a medium body
Overall: a true classic

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The brew pours a deep mahogany hue and is capped with a frothy tan head which recedes to a wispy film. The aroma is potent; detectable from more than an arm's length away. Notes of dark dried fruit, oxidized port wine and funky Belgian yeast are observed in the nose. The flavor adds a tea-like nuance to the aroma's descriptors and shows great balance. The brew has an especially rich and creamy texture. Overall, a very nice beer, though not as nice as the Cuvee Van De Kaiser Blauw.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No time for a clever introduction, Red Eye is coming up. On to the beer:

Dark ruby brown in color with a slightly tanned and persistent head. Lots of spotty lace sticks around the glass. There's a lot of grape in the nose, and a little alcohol. Pretty sweet, but aromic and likable.

This is nice. Mellow and packed with taste. We still have red grape domminant, but it seems softer in the taste. A little yeasty, accents of toffee. The alcohol is minor in character, which overall makes this beer a good one.

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Photo of SFLpunk
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Part of a Variety 4pk purchased at Beverage Warehouse, Winooski, VT. 11.2oz brown glass pry-top bottle.

Pours super dark brown with hints of red and thin off-white head. Nose is full of raisin-y fruits, leather and the suggestion of banana. Palate is sharp with some alcohol burn at first, but this mellows with warmth. Flavors of deep dark plum, passion fruit and figs. Caramel malt and sheep's wool also come to mind. Finish is long yet finessed.

Like a petite version of the Grand Cru Blue. Love it.

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Photo of SmokinSmyth
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown in color, poured into a straight sided pint glass. Small head that doesn't linger, but good lacing along the side of the glass.

Smell of malt and caramel with a hint of chocolate.

Tastes on the sweet side, reminds me of molasses. No bitterness at all.

Feels very good in the mouth, goes down smooth, a nice thickness too it, not watery.

All in all a very nice dark belgian ale.

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.73/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this at the Alibi Room in Vancouver.

A: Mahogany coloration and 1/3" head that disappeared within about a minute.

S: Alcohol, cherries and cocoa.

T: Cherries and alcohol. A boozy yet smooth finish.

M: Medium thickness with a high level of fine carbonation.

O: World class, an excellent beer I would have again in a heartbeat. Very well balanced. If Gulden Draak and Chimay Blue popped each others cherries and had a lovechild it would be this beer.

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Photo of CwrwAmByth
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 330ml glass bottle into a Gulden Draak Tulip glass.

Pours with quite a lovely head which settles down into a small, 3-4mm head that remains throughout, leaving a good amount of lacing.

Smell-wise i'm getting quite a bit of alcohol as well as malts and toffee, quite nice on this cold night. Some dark fruits too as the drink begins to warm, quite reminiscent of a nice port.

Alcohol is the first thing tasted, followed by a nice toffee/molasses dark sweetness, with some malts and hops also, ending with a mild bitter tang. This is good as it makes the beer more balanced: without the sweetness I have a feeling the bitterness would be much more pronounced. As the beer warms up the alcohol becomes more pronounced though, so I would say I prefer it after an hour or so out of the fridge.

The carbonation also helps balance the beer because it is very light, but remains just enough to give the beer an overall bit of kick.

Overall a lovely beer. I wouldn't mind drinking this again at all, and even that's a bit of an understatement...

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Photo of impending
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

33cl into a tulip. Pours a deep bronze garnet, nice dense head, ok lacing.

Aroma has pleasant vinous overtones, port. The dark fruits have begun to rot. Superb

Taste is exactly as expected from the nose. The figs are turning. Zero bitter. The aftertaste begins with a phenolic kick then fades quietly. Warms most excellent. Medium bodied prickly yet creamy mouthfeel.

Very much of the flavor profile of their Keizer blue and the noël.

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Photo of flipper2gv
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Awesome three finger beige head. Typical type of foam: semi creamy and semi soapy. Retention is pretty good and lacing is ok. The beer is a perfectly translucent deep brown. Really good looking beer.

S: There is a distinct metallic smell to this beer (that disappeared with the beer warming up). Spiced bread is definitely there with cinnamon, toffee, molasses and bread. Raisins, plums and black cherries. Quite strong with maple syrup, brown sugar and vanilla. Good, but nothing to be overly excited on.

T: This shit tastes GREAT. WOW, I'm very very impressed by this. Very sweet but never cloying. Maple syrup is all over the place. There is a lot brown sugar and vanilla. The plums are really strong too with the raisins, toffee, cinnamon and bread. Black cherries are still there but much stronger. It's just like smell but much stronger and with every tastes balanced much better.

M: With all the sweetness, I'm not surprised on how smooth and creamy this beer is. It also is quite sticky. Mouthfeel is a little bit heavy for a Belgian but it fits the beer ok.

O: This was a very pleasurable beer. I really like it and for the 2.75 I paid (including tax) it's fantastic. And with every Belgian beers, this is really drinkable.

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Photo of machostacos
4.52/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my favorite tulip glass.

A: Muddy, murky brown with a thick and creamy tan head. Good retention with thick, sticky lacing.

S: Very sweet - molasses, caramel, rum cake, brown sugar, toasted almonds, peppery booziness, and a hint of earth. The alcohol is noticeable, but melds very nicely with the rest of the aromas.

T: Much like the nose - molasses and rich sticky caramel, butterscotch, buttered rum cake / fruitcake, brown sugar, nuttiness, and a kick from the alcohol. This is a very rich, sweet, and warming brew. One of the best Belgian darks I've had.

M: Very rich and chewy, smooth and decadent. Medium-low carbonation lends a soft, almost velvety texture with a very mild tingliness to even things out.

O: A fantastic "Belgian Brown Ale" as it's described on the bottle. Somewhere between a Dubbel and a strong dark ale (with my benchmark being the Gulden Draak), this brew goes down smooth and warms you right up. The 8.5% ABV is evident in this beer, but only to add another dimension to the whole experience. I'm definitely feeling it toward the end of the 750ml bottle. This is a fantastic beer to chill and serve colder than typical for the style to just sit back and enjoy in an overstuffed chair with a good book and let all its wonderful nuances and flavors blossom and evolve as you slowly sip it and reflect on your day.

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Gouden Carolus Classic from Brouwerij Het Anker
4.11 out of 5 based on 883 ratings.
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