Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas
Brouwerij Het Anker

Gouden Carolus Noël / ChristmasGouden Carolus Noël / Christmas
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Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Ranked #54
Ranked #7,156
3.99 | pDev: 15.04%
Brouwerij Het Anker
Very Good
Gouden Carolus Noël / ChristmasGouden Carolus Noël / Christmas
Notes: For more than 35 years we had to miss the Christmas beer but in 2002 the tradition was restored with Gouden Carolus Christmas. It’s a strong, dark ruby red beer with character and contains an alcohol percentage of 10.5 % alc.vol. Brewed in August, the beer rests a few months to reach an optimal balance. Three kinds of hops and 6 different kinds of herbs and spices define the rich taste of this Christmas beer. Top-class!
Reviews: 519 | Ratings: 927 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of emerge077
4.09/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Lots of anise in this one, tiny bit of orange peel and licorice phenolics in the aroma. Dense creamy tan foam with arcs of drippy lace. Bready rich maltiness, touches of spiced cookie and fruitcake. Creamy and smooth, very pleasant texture with a bit of warmth beneath the layer of malt and spice. Overall a nice Belgian Xmas beer, well hidden abv with a nice warmth on a cold winter night.

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Photo of erk0607
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Look: Rosy brown color with a tan head of soft bubbles covering the surface of the beer
Smell: Caramel, dark fruits like cherries and plums and figs, grainy
Taste: Cherry licorice, caramel crisps, malt, sweet belgian yeast phenols, molasses
Feel: Smooth, easy drinking, alcohol is well hidden for 10.5%, soft carbonation, foams up a bit on the palate
Overall: Excellent holiday beer. Good for a snowwy day.

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Photo of FLima
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Brown color with red highlights and a thick thin head with short retention.
Aroma with notes of prunes, cinnamon, figs, caramel, lots of herbs, molasses, star anis and cloves.
Flavor with notes of molasses, lots of anis, raisins, cloves, cinnamon, range of herbs, candied fruits, licorice, nuts, herbal hops and grainy malt. Dry aftertaste with a mild bitterness and a well-hidden alcoholic flavor,
Full body with mild carbonation. Alcohol of 10.5% could not be more hidden.
Sweet Belgian Strong Dark Ale with Christmas complex notes.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.7/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

(750 ml bottle, 17093; purchased in 2017, first stored on shelf, then in 55F fridge on its side... poured into La Trappe goblet)

L: deep garnet-colored liquid, apparent clarity; tight, tan, active foam cap on pour... cap persists (via nucleation), foam laces in broad drapes

S: serious dessert here: licorice, black strap molasses, blackcurrant; bit of toasty-bready grain, soft vinous, plumy booze... enticing expression, considerable intensity

T: dark, dense molasses-y bread, certain but subtle licorice candy, with a brief flash in the finish and lingering, dry leavings of grape soda... second sip is dark fruit-roll-up around a caramel core - really that's just the candy shell... not-so-subtle coffee-cocoa hard candy core?... Elysian Fields of malt, good god

F: can't ask for a more delectably malt-nectary creation... silky-foamy, medium-bodied lusciousness par excellence... booze creeps, distant warmth still approaching from a distance... ooh baby

O: for almost 2 years now, been trying to find a way to open this - they'll never know!... I may have had this once years ago from a 330 ml bottle... what a damn treat to have this all to myself, but I gotta get a replacement - maybe they DO know... a malty Belgian dark after my own heart; fantastic! (1550)

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Photo of flyingpig
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

330ml bottle from Good Spritis Co Wine & Beer, Glasgow (£5.30):
Slightly darker than expected & bordering on black in colour, the beer formed quite a thick & foamy head that was a creamy white & managed to hold quite well given the strength of the beer. There was a pleasant sweetness to the nose with a lot of dark fruits showing, most notably some figs & plum alongside a aniseed aroma & some light spices. Towards the middle I got some caramel & a touch of malt with hints of cinnamon & raisins making an appearance too. The taste was quite a dark & sweet on too with a few more figs this time around & plenty of plum as well, it was also quite rich with a little alcohol showing as expected for the abv. of the beer but it was quickly followed up by some nice spices that were a little stronger than they were with the nose too, mainly some cloves & a few hints of cinnamon showed this time. Overall the beer was a very drinkable one with a full body that was quite rich & smooth with strong carbonation as well; excellent stuff.

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Photo of kemoarps
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 bottle. Poured into a NB tulip.

Dirty brown body like watery coffee. Not much head despite a relatively reckless pour. A lot of sediment at the bottom.

Nose is boozy like a cognac or other brandy, but with a decent amount of molasses almost getting into chocolate. Just a deep rich smootheness. I think this may have benefited from being taken out of the cellar a little bit earlier, but I actually really enjoy the richness to it.

The alcohol is significantly more restrained on the tongue than in the aroma. First steps of dry dark notes that you could look back in its lineage and see plum and tobacco and raisin, but it's evolved beyond those now to be a much more... muted isn't the right word because the flavours aren't weak, it's just much more mulled than acutely spiced. Everything has settled down and all the edges are worn awayenough that it's just kind of mounds that resemble the previous shapes. Some molasses and light spice. Still retains some sweetness, again like a brandy but darker, despite the initial dry impression. Alcohol is nestled away in the back end, kind of folded underneath the final third of the profile like an envelope lid.

I wish I had a fresh one to compare this to, but I've never had it otherwise. I'm definitely enjoying what I'm drinking now, though, and find it to be deep and rich as there are a lot of things that have fused together here. I do think 7 years may be a little longer than it's ideal, but I'm definitely enjoying the glass I've got in front of me.

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Photo of VABA
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a very dark amber color with a generous head and lacing
A-Generous complex fruity aromas
T-The taste follows the nose with abundant rich and complex fruity flavors
M-A medium bodied well carbonated beer
O-A very well done, very well balanced beer with a lot of character that hides the high alcohol content very well

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Photo of jkblr
4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

11.2oz bottled 7/25/16 (2.5 years old) poured into a teku glass at fridge temp 10.5% ABV. The beer pours slightly murky medium brown in color with big light brown head. The head recedes to a fat ring and leaves plenty of lacing. The aroma reveals slightly sweet bready malt, raisin, and date. The taste is warm, slightly sweet bread with a spicy, fruity, licorice middle and a drying spiced finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and adequately carbonated. This beer could be too sweet for some, but I would say the balance is perfect for a beer of this style. There is some alcohol in the taste, but it fits the style and isn't overbearing. Overall, very good to excellent. Recommended.

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Photo of JamieDuncan
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Blank licorice, if you do not like black licorice then do not purchase this beer. If you are a fan then buy this beer in bunches. Overall I enjoyed the beer.

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Photo of RConrad
3.96/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Deep brown color with thick tan head. Smells Christmassy, taste is rich with a molasses note, there is spice and hints of licorice. Decent Christmas beer.

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Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
4.16/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 750ml bottle into glass. Label is date stamped as '17093 08:28'.
Ruby brown colored body. Light tan head sticks around as full cap and ring. Sheets and spots of lacing all around the glass.
Aroma of candied fruit - date, raisin, prune, red and black licorice, and dark bread. Quite aromatic.
Taste is sweet, similar to a holiday fruit bread. Dark bread with candied prunes and dates. Dark licorice and toffee.
Mouth feel is thick and coating. Very long after taste.
Totally enjoyable holiday beer that is sweet and very remindful of the smells and tastes of holiday treats, including candy and dark fruits. Well suited for extended cellaring.

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Photo of stevoj
4.01/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Prune juice on steroids. Lots of dried fruit in the aroma and taste of this seasonal. High ABV comes through in the small (burns the nose) and taste as acidity/tartness. A sipper for sure, good for the cold, wet months of winter...

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Photo of Psycho13
4.64/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Great dark color and malty aroma. Taste malty that's just a tiny bit on the sweet side. Typical great Belgian ale feel.
As I've purchased and consumed this on several occasions, 4.5 overall.
Bias note - I am particularly fond of Belgian ales.

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Photo of sjrider
4.09/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy mahogany with thick tan head and plenty of lacing into a snifter. Nose is bready and sweet. Taste is sweet and malty with boozy dark fruit and candy sugar.More flavor as it warms.Well done Belgian holiday ale.

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Photo of TheMerle75
4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Nice deep color. Good contrast to the head. Bready aroma with strong malt. First taste is sweet malt with malt follow thru. Light to minimal hops. Medium finish.

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Photo of TooManyGlasses
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml cage and cork - 2017 version - Christmas dinner drinking. Pours a mahogany colour - definite reddish hue - off whitish head. Smells of molasses, bit of licorice (though I am thinking I may oddly interchange those two), boozy dark fruits. Taste of sweet raisins, date, bit of cherry on caramel malt. I still get a bit of licorice and molasses. Boozy smooth mouth feel with warming finish. Certainly a beer that if you start drinking cold, let it warm to suggested temperature/cellar temperture. Very good.

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Photo of djura
3.46/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Found it in beershop, Belgrade, Serbia.
Bottle, 0.33 l
Dark caramel color with two winger brown foam, low carbonation. Cherry chocolate aroma in the nose.
Sweet, medium carbonated, low bitterness, fruity, cocoa in the back.
Strong and aromatic, liquid cake.

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Photo of OlaB
4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep brown color with red sheen and a small top off beige head. Strong aroma off caramel and with figues,dates,raisins,bread,cloves,licorice and anise.Great sweet flavour with a lot off roasted malts in the back. Nice caramel malt flavour in the back while in the front the fruity sweetness linger. Slightly dry in the finish with nice malty aftertaste, and a great lenght. Nice complexity in the flavours. Mouthfeel is silky and creamy and even if it have a high alcohol content is masked quite well.Medium body with a soft carbonation.
This is a great and delicious beer. A real sipper to enjoy.
Would absolutelly drink this one again, and recommend it.

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Photo of damndirtyape
3.93/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle, served in a Tulip glass. Batch number 7077, 09:52.

Appearance: Ruby red to dark amber when held up to the light - clear. Very thick off white head that died back to a 1/4" foam across the top. Thick strands and sheets of persistent lacing.

Smell: Fruity esters, hint of alcohol soaked prune/plum, tiny bit of sweet breadiness with a swirl.

Taste: Lots going on. Roasted malt, licorice, dark fruits, and maybe just a bit of cinnamon spiciness. Finish has a mix of noble hops, licorice, and just a bit of a metallic note. Very complex.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, nicely thick with some just right carbonation. A little bit warming and dry at the finish.

Overall / Drinkability: A slow sipping beer to savor on Christmas eve. Alcohol well hidden in this one under all the malt and other flavors. I think though, that this would be better to pair with a meal, as all the strong flavors going on would pair nicely with a hearty main dish, maybe a steak or a roast of some sort. I think that the other food would temper the metallic finish of this beer, which is probably the only downside to this beer, otherwise it's a good representation of the style.

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Photo of SpongeHop
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L - red-ish mahogany brown, voluptuous creamy foam on top
S - raisins up front, honey sweetness, toast bread maltiness, lingering beautiful christmas spices of clove and a very prominent note of anise seed
T - see smell, with the gorgeous raisins and star anise being most prominent
F - nice body, without being overpoweringly fizzy

O - my favorite christmassy beer. puts a smile on my face, and full disclaimer, this is coming from someone who does not like the ordinary gouden carolus classic. In fact, this is the beer that inspired my first homebrew. That probably says something...

I absolutely recommend this one.

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Photo of r-m-kaylor
4.52/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml Bottle dated 09 August 2011 - pours a deep, clear, effervescent red into a Gouden Carolus Challis with a tight off-white head which settles into a thin ring. On the nose, caramel and classic Gouden Carolus yeast/water - one looks forward to this - mouthfeel is full with bright cleansing up front, middle and back with a soothing caramel aftertase - again, classic Gouden Carolus taste- IMHO this is the quintessential Belgian Biere de Hiver en Terre et Terrior. Prost!

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Photo of Libeertarian
4.26/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

From notes taken 02/02/17:

I have two of these, and the second one I bought was marked down about 50%, so that’s nice. Will probably re-review the other next year.

Fairly clear, a brown along the lines of cola or dark spiced rum. Large, thick, tannish-brown, fine foamy and almost creamy head of moderate retention. Before even pouring it, get an aroma of anise/licorice. Much the same in the glass. Whiffing deeper, it is hard to get anything else, but I detect, faintly, some alcohol and some vinegar or other tartness. Letting it sit for a few minutes, these are all still present but weaken and expose a banana quality. That’s good. As much as I appreciate anise, etc., it can be a little overwhelming in large quantities, so heres hoping the palate isn’t so strong with it. To taste, anise still strongest flavor, too strong but I can take it. Also heavy with rum- and brandy- and liqueur-like booze flavors. And then an abundance of dark fruit, berries, but still somewhat subdued by everything else. It tastes like an attempt at a mixed drink more than a beer, mouthfeel notwithstanding. Full-bodied, pure cream, it practically soaks in, little need to gulp. Plenty of heat, as 10.5% ABV would indicate. Take the time to enjoy this.

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Photo of The_Bujon
4.69/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This Christmas beer is an absolute belter! What can I say other than pure velvet to drink, with a combination of caramel and liquorice in aroma. I prefer to have this lightly chilled then aired a touch. Super creamy head which remains providing you are consuming from a suitable delivery system. If you're not a liquorice fan, then you may find it a bit too much....thank the lucky stars I am!
The BA reviews here do not do justice to this epic brew at all, it's still the highest rated beer I have scored thus far, truly hard to beat....The Bro's got this one MASSIVELY wrong with a poor rating, and I suspect that has influenced a fair few reveiwers.....mark my words this is as good a beer as you will find.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.01/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

the whole here is better than its elements on the score sheet, but thats the way it goes sometimes. this is a 2011 vintage, mostly cellared by little liquor on downing, been in my cellar about a year, the time was now. its murky auburn colored with a nice white belgian head on it, maybe the cloudiness is a product of its age somehow, i dont remember this being cloudy in the past. the aroma and flavor are great though, no oxidation or old beer flavor at all, it has matured really nicely. lots going on here, rich grain at the heart of it, notes of chestnut, dried cherry, clove, anise, brown sugar, and and a cool fruity belgian yeast, pears and apple cider hints to it. there is a lot of sugar here still, especially in the finish, but what there isnt, is too much alcohol. its warming and cozy, but it doesnt burn and it doesnt slow me down at all. gingerbready spice in the finish here, the malt has held up well too. very holiday in overall vibe, but not as belgian yeast driven as a lot of others in this family. id love to do a side by side with a freshy, but this 2011 has to be near its prime. quality beer, better than its ratings!

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
4.21/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

As other reviews has stated, there is a strong presence of anise going on in this beer. I personally like it, even preferring it over Chimay blue in a side-by-side. I did notice that as the beer warmed, the flavors seems to get awkward; thus, I prefer it cold.

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Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas from Brouwerij Het Anker
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 927 ratings