Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas
Brouwerij Het Anker

Gouden Carolus Noël / ChristmasGouden Carolus Noël / Christmas
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Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
Ranked #53
Ranked #8,431
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: 525 | Ratings: 936 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of elNopalero
elNopalero from California

3.67/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle of unknown age, L0870 date stamp.

The pour has minimal foam. Ruddy, raisin colored liquid. Boozy alcoholic punch hits the olfactory senses, obscuring and dominating the fig and raisin and leather notes. This is gentler on the palate, with the delicate quad notes able to come across, more jammy fig and plum, some fruitcake and bread pudding, brown sugar.

May 11, 2021
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FBarber from Illinois

3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown color. Completely opaque, with some particulate matter floating in the glass. Two finger tan head dissipates until just a thin layer of velvety foam remains on top of the beer. Foam layer is thicker around the edges.

Aroma has notes of candied sugars, dark fruits - plums, prunes, raisins - with this bright licorice note on the back end.

Taste follows the nose with notes of dark bread, candied sugars, brown sugar, dark fruits and licorice. No alcohol notes comes through in this one. There is a slight spiciness from the yeast.

Feel is medium bodied, very smooth with mild carbonation. Semi-drier on the finish with a slight warming character to it.

Overall its a nice holiday Belgian ale.

Dec 24, 2020
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Jack_14 from Italy

3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2020 version.
Already on the nose malty notes, panettone and a warm note of alcohol content.
Very abundant and soft foam that gradually decreases in level without ever disappearing completely.
Dark, impenetrable brown color.
In the mouth, spicy and candied fruit notes with a gustatory path that starts with notes of panettone / pandoro, candied fruit, cane sugar molasses, spice (ginger, star anise), licorice, anise, to finish with light toasted notes and hops to dry out the many "Christmas" scents that emerge in this full-bodied and enveloping beer.
I also notice a slight "ferrous" tip that doesn't hurt.
Long, warm and full beer.
Perfect example of strong winter beer.
While it's not my favorite kind of beer, I have to admit it's in great shape and complexity that finds a truly high-end balance.
The profile that I liked the most is the final hint of anise that closes the initial abundant sweetness, just before the toasted (almost charred) scent of the malts and the contribution of the hops appear on the tongue.
Perfect example of Christmas beer: full body, warm, overwhelming sweetness on the palate and finish that gives a dryness to the taste buds while the sweet hints of panettone, candied fruit and Christmas spices remain on the palate.

Dec 19, 2020
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JonnoWillsteed from England

2.78/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

L- Deep chestnut brown with a red glint. Pours clear, filtered as there is zero sediment in the glass or bottle. 2mm pale tan cap. Forms lacing on the sides as I work my way down...
S- It has some richness to it + deep cooked fruit notes. Reminds me of British Xmas pudding.
T- Sweeter than expected, notably so. Plus I don't get much depth/pungency of taste here at all, and that's despite getting some ABV% zing in my stomach (seriously, is that like a post-finish finish of the extended tasting experience?).
F- I'm noticing a little zing on my palate but am unsure if it's bright hops or spice. It's rich, but crosses a line into sweetness for me. I'm glad I chilled it well plus I shan't linger
O- I'd hight expectations for this one but nope, not a +ve experience for me. The flavour lacks depth and it's waaay to sweet for me. Shame.
330ml bottle BB: 18/08/2023. ABV is marked in gold text on a small round black over-sticker at the bottom right of the front lable 'alc 10.5% vol'. Bought from TremblingMadness/York as part of a home delivery to London.

Dec 01, 2020
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stortore from Illinois

4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into a tulip snifter. Bottled 7/12/16, had 6/28/20.

Pours a semi opaque copper color, with a one and a half inch head of creamy foam with decent retention and a good amount of foamy lacing. Aromas of Belgian yeast, malt, anise, some cloves, other spices, some chocolate, light herbal hops. Flavors of malt, Belgian yeast, chocolate, anise, cloves, other spices, some herbal hops. Smooth, a little creamy, a solid medium body, well carbonated.

This is excellent four years down the road. The spices, herbs and hops are tempered, but powerful, and work well with the typically solid base beer. Great flavor and aroma. Much better than expected. Well worth a purchase.

Jul 14, 2020
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emerge077 from Illinois

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.

Dec 15, 2019
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erk0607 from Colorado

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.

Nov 30, 2019
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FLima from Brazil

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.

Oct 08, 2019
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

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)

Oct 08, 2019
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flyingpig from Scotland

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.

Feb 21, 2019
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kemoarps from Washington

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.

Dec 25, 2018
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VABA from Virginia

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

Dec 24, 2018
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jkblr from Indiana

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.

Dec 14, 2018
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JamieDuncan from Maryland

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.

Dec 03, 2018
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RConrad from Kansas

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.

Nov 03, 2018
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

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.

Apr 26, 2018
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stevoj from Idaho

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...

Apr 11, 2018
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Psycho13 from Minnesota

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.

Mar 17, 2018
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sjrider from California

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.

Feb 08, 2018
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TheMerle75 from Texas

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.

Jan 12, 2018
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TooManyGlasses from Canada (AB)

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.

Dec 26, 2017
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djura from Serbia

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.

Dec 26, 2017
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OlaB from Norway

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.

Dec 25, 2017
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damndirtyape from Ohio

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.

Dec 25, 2017
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SpongeHop from Belgium

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.

Jun 09, 2017
Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas from Brouwerij Het Anker
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 936 ratings