Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas
Brouwerij Het Anker

Gouden Carolus Noël / ChristmasGouden Carolus Noël / Christmas
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Brouwerij Het Anker
Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Ranked #89
Ranked #14,072
3.94 | pDev: 15.23%
Mar 20, 2023
Nov 24, 2002
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!
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Photo of Brutaltruth
Reviewed by Brutaltruth from Ohio

4.18/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
From the big bottle in a snifter. This excellent brew pours a dark and
muddled red tinged brown with a nice head of khaki foam that settles to
a thick ring, thick clumping layer, and sports some nice lacing. Nose of
candy sugars, cinnamon, orange peel, clove, and dark sweet breaded malts
with touches of dates and figs. Flavors hit their mark with cinnamon, ginger,
nutmeg, clove, orange peel, touches of coriander, and a healthy dose of
dark candy sugar over top dark raisin / date bread. Mouthfeel is medium,
smooth, warming booze, medium light soft carbonation, and a sweet
spiced finish.

Overall---not much to say other than WOW. Love this brewery!

Mar 20, 2023
Rated: 3.83 by rpmello81 from California

Mar 18, 2023
Photo of BGDrock
Reviewed by BGDrock from Canada (ON)

3.99/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Aggressively frothy on the pour, though the head lasts a minute or so, colour of coffee crema; the body is a deep dark brown, almost clear.
Overripe, unctuous aromas of sundried tropical or fleshy fruit - sundried apricot, mango, banana, even persimmon; mild, rye-like spice; dark caramel.
The flavour carries more of the warming spice - dashes of cinnamon, cardamom - but even more so sugary root beer, and mild anise liqueur; the fruitiness is well-aged and mellow, like a rum; medium-light carbonation, soft, velvety, syrupy feel, a touch cloying with it's sugary finish.

A lovely dessert beer, warm and sweet, just right for Christmas. Though it would be even better with a heftier dose of spice and some alcohol heat.
Jan 01, 2023
Photo of hopsputin
Reviewed by hopsputin from New Jersey

4.24/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
a: dark, murky brown and mahogany color. a hint of muddy ruby red as well. 1/2 finger tan head

s: huge hit of raisins, plums and fig upfront. leather, earthy wood. big molasses note as well as just a kiss of licorice. dark berries, and a huge fruit bread note. crusty bread and crackers as well. candi sugar and some clove. awesomely complex aroma

t: fig, fruit bread, and absolutely huge raisins notes. candi sugar and molasses behind that. a rich bready dough note and a large caramel presence as well. clove and slight coriander. crackers and dates to close it out

m: full mouthfeel with moderately strong carbonation

o: this seems like an above-average representation of the style to me. complex, yet harmonized. sweet, yet balanced
Dec 28, 2022
Photo of Cramshawbar
Reviewed by Cramshawbar from Canada (ON)

4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Looks and smells like the others in this realm, so no real surprises. It is however silkier. The taste is quite good, with figs, raisin, licorice and maybe clove. Quite boozy aftertaste. Note however that the ABV is 10%, not 10.5% as indicated here.
I think this may be better than St. Bernardus' Xmas beer, but that is obviously just the recency bias talking. It's not better. Still....decent.
Buy this while you can this year.
Dec 24, 2022
Photo of scott451
Reviewed by scott451 from Canada (ON)

3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
Poured a 330ml bottle into a pint glass. An extremely dark, almost black clear ruby with a thin tan head that sticks around to the end.
Dark fruit esters in the nose.
Date and fig flavours.
Moderate body and carbonation.
A bit of a stretch to call this a Dark Strong. Moving into Quad territory here. Well worth a try.
Dec 19, 2022
Photo of EmperorBevis
Reviewed by EmperorBevis from England

3.96/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
Bottled and poured like it is bottle conditioned and purchased from Beermoth in Manchester City centre
Pours a dark dark brown body with neat tight off white head
Aroma is candied raisin peely
Flavour is seaside rock
Dec 15, 2022
Rated: 5 by wcampbell69 from Massachusetts

Dec 07, 2022
Photo of taxandbeerguy
Reviewed by taxandbeerguy from Canada (ON)

4.58/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
330 ml bottle served cold into a pint glass. LCBO purchase for $3.95 CDN. Best before 2025. Listed at 10.0% ABV.

Appearance - Dark chesnut brown with the darkest amber hues mixed in for good measure. A small half finger of off-white head is poured but stays the entire duration of the glass. Great lacing too.

Smell - To my nose an incredible blend of dark fruits, boozy cake, spices namely clove and coriander with a little cinnamon and nutmeg and a healthy dose of licorice. Some light powdery bready notes underneath, a steady sweetness that is incredibly inviting. Perfection in my opinion.

Taste - The taste is not quite as great, but still a delicious blend of some dark fruits, figs and dates with some booze soaked cake, lots of spices with nutmeg and corainder being prevalent and of course the clove and licorice combo. Deliciously Christmas-y. Booziness is only dialed up to 8.

Mouthfeel - Full bodied with a dry finish, the alcohol is definitely perceptible but matches with the flavor well. Carbonation is fairly expressive.

Overall - Not just one of the best Christmas beers ever, but one of the best beers ever. I now realize I need to revisited the St. Bernardus Christmas brew to see where that stacks up against probably my favorite beer of the year so far (and it is November). Great balance, flavors and the licorice and clove combo just draws me in personally like a moth to a flame.
Besides that there is balance and a cacophony of other flavors to dive into, I wouldn't be surprised if a number of different reviewers honed in on rather different flavors for this one.
Nov 08, 2022
Rated: 4.35 by irishkyle21 from Canada (ON)

Oct 31, 2022
Rated: 4.27 by CRObighit2 from Canada (ON)

Oct 31, 2022
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Reviewed by CAMRAhardliner from Canada (ON)

3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
Pours dark brown cola colored with a wispy small head. Raisins, cocoa, rum pudding, licorice in the nose. Stewed fruit in addition in the taste. The mouthfeel is light bodied with prickly carbonation. Lots of malty, rye notes in the finish.

This is a nice high ABV dark malts bomb. On the sweet side but complex. Worth a try if you like maltier bieers.
Oct 30, 2022
Rated: 4.03 by loganburgh from Michigan

Apr 04, 2022
Rated: 3.59 by TMoney2591 from Illinois

Jan 29, 2022
Photo of Craig-er
Reviewed by Craig-er from New Hampshire

4.15/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Brewed in Sept 2021. Poured into a Duvel glass. The head kicked up into a lovely creamy 1”. Full bodied, dark brown look. Smell of fennel/anise, raisins. Taste consisted of a complex sweet caramel, raisin and fig with Christmas spices interwoven. Overall, a festive Holiday season brew to enjoy.
Jan 06, 2022
Photo of LeRose
Reviewed by LeRose from Massachusetts

4.09/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
I would guess this is a 2018 vintage. It pours a murky reddish brown with a tight beige head that lands as a thin layer of foam, but sticks to the glass with tenacity.

The smell is muted but it is Christmas BSDA all the way. Dark malts, fruity dark like plums and dark sweet cherries. A little mixture of seasonal spices and cinnamon and nutmeg, I think, anise and clove for sure as it warms a bit.

The taste is layered and pretty tame. Big dark malts up front, followed with lots of plum prune sweet cherry taste. Spices are fairly vague and more of a general sensation, but cloves and anise are definite participants. It is reminding me of a cross between Dr. Pepper and root beer. The fruit flavors linger, devolving into mostly seasonally-spiced cherry. As it warms, that spice note gets more prevalent, then dominated the aftertaste. Still puts me in mind of the soda flavors but amped up with the spices and phenolic bite.

The feel is somewhat creamy but medium bodied. There a spicy and phenolic tingle, but no sensation of alcohol.

Even though this bottle is on in years, it remains a fantastic brew. I would try a fresh bottle in a heartbeat. It doesn't displace St. Bernardus as my holiday favorite, but it is pretty close and freshness may make that even closer.
Jan 03, 2022
Photo of MNAle
Reviewed by MNAle from Minnesota

3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
Cloudy-clear dark red through the backlight, with ample visible carbonation. Short tan head fading within a few minutes to a splotchy cap.

Aroma has elements of dark fruits and sweet mint candy.

Taste repeats the aroma: mint candy, figs, and raisins. Licorice, bready fruitcake. Very much a Christmas drink. Enjoyable, but seems to lack a certain gravitas. No obvious alcohol present in the flavor. Very slight warming in the lingering aftertaste.

The body is on the thin side of medium. Feel is smooth and creamy.

Overall, a good Christmas ale. Good holiday fruitcake and spices flavors.
Dec 31, 2021
Photo of jzeilinger
Reviewed by jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
A - Pours a dark ruby color with a two finger solid creamy head of caramel cream colored foam. Carbonation is vibrant and steady.

S - Breadcrust, light hints of dark fruit, anise, and some spicy herbal character.

T - Warm breadcrust caramel malt, anise, plum, cherry, and ends on the sweeter side with a perfect blend between the sweet malt and spices. Some lingering plumb and cherry on the back side.

M - Silky body with a velvety texture on the palate. The ABV is completely hidden with no warming on the way down.

O - This is a fantastic beer and I'm scratching my head why I've never tried this before. 'Will be going back for more, this is expertly done and is really impressive.
Dec 27, 2021
Photo of crazyspicychef
Rated by crazyspicychef from Pennsylvania

5/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
Amazing holiday offering.
Dec 25, 2021
Rated: 4 by Noelito76 from New York

Dec 23, 2021
Photo of ChrisCage
Reviewed by ChrisCage from Canada (AB)

4.66/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
A- The head is incredible on this one! Pours a tan color, and starts out about two fingers thick before settling down to one finger in thickness....super dense and when the various sized bubbles do pop, they create craters! The beer itself, is semi opaque, dark brown in color with reddish hues in front of light, and doesn't appear to have heavy carbonation. The lacing is decent, with some small foamy shapes clinging to the inside of the glass.

S- I am getting sweet fruitcake, with rummy nuances. Plenty of creamy yeast, cola and/or root beer richness, heavy in dark malt varieties, Belgian candy sugar, piney notes and a slightly boozy finish. Everything is mellow, yet rich and well balanced at the same time.

T- Ultra heavy buttered rum....WOW! The butteriness lingers well after the initial taste too......vanilla, heavy cream, dark or burnt toffee sweetness, creamy cola flavors, hints of spearmint, deep dark dried fruits, such as raisins, figs, Medjool honeyed dates.....this is simply what Christmas and winter is all about on the palate!

M/O- Santa says "Carolus Please!". This is an exceptional Belgian Dark, that lingers between other styles too....Winter Warmer and Belgian Quad.....this is robust, smooth, creamy, and is a luxurious liqueur like brew! Alcohol is well hidden, and drinkability wise, its not a slammer for sure, but I can see myself enjoying one of these over the course of an evening, perhaps with a piece of cake on the side. Excellent!!!
Oct 01, 2021
Photo of elNopalero
Reviewed by elNopalero from California

3.67/5  rDev -6.9%
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
Rated: 4.41 by brutalist from Pennsylvania

Jan 06, 2021
Rated: 4.28 by ptarmigan98 from Alaska

Dec 25, 2020
Photo of FBarber
Reviewed by FBarber from Illinois

3.77/5  rDev -4.3%
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
Rated: 4 by Peaches13 from Pennsylvania

Dec 21, 2020
Photo of Jack_14
Reviewed by Jack_14 from Italy

3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
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
Photo of JonnoWillsteed
Reviewed by JonnoWillsteed from England

2.78/5  rDev -29.4%
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
Rated: 4.29 by Humanusfermentum from Virginia

Oct 18, 2020
Rated: 4.1 by Cpmitchno1 from Virginia

Oct 12, 2020
Photo of stortore
Reviewed by stortore from Illinois

4.33/5  rDev +9.9%
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
Photo of jjholmes
Rated by jjholmes from Australia

2.77/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75
Love a rich, slow-sipping Christmas/quad, but this is just cloying. I struggled to finish it. Too sweet.
Jan 11, 2020
Rated: 4.58 by arzt from Germany

Jan 04, 2020
Rated: 3.8 by Skabiski from Maryland

Dec 28, 2019
Rated: 4.19 by GuitarIPA from Connecticut

Dec 28, 2019
Rated: 4.38 by _Adam_ from Maryland

Dec 28, 2019
Rated: 3.73 by Beerjawn8 from New Jersey

Dec 24, 2019
Rated: 3.99 by Spaceman_Jer from Colorado

Dec 23, 2019
Photo of emerge077
Reviewed by emerge077 from Illinois

4.09/5  rDev +3.8%
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
Photo of erk0607
Reviewed by erk0607 from Colorado

4.38/5  rDev +11.2%
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
Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas from Brouwerij Het Anker
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 957 ratings