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 #87
Ranked #13,849
3.94 | pDev: 15.23%
Nov 16, 2023
Nov 24, 2002
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!
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Ratings by bark:
Photo of bark
Reviewed by bark from Sweden

4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Best before “09.08.08”, I’ll guess that I have stored this bottle in my larder for one or two years.

The hazy liquid is deep amber-brown; the enormous beige compact foam sinks slowly while making a loud fizzing sound and leaving massive lacing.

The strong smell is drier and more hoppy than expected. Rich, spicy wine-like flavours hits the nose; matured sherry, fresh apricots, alcohol (quite a lot of it, actually), nutmeg, sweet raisins, hazelnuts and almonds and a touch of banana peels.

The first sip is sweet and mild like strawberry syrup, but then an alcoholic bomb explodes in my mouth: Bittersweet matured notes like red apples, peach, treacle, malt vinegar, caraway… The lasting aftertaste is sweet with matured notes of old strong wine and some minerals (a hint of iodine).

The carbonation is medium strong with lots and lots of minimal tickling bubbles. The liquid is smooth and a little bit thick.

Once again I must admit that this is a grand beer indeed. A little less carbonation and alcohol and it would have been perfect.
Jan 24, 2007
More User Ratings:
Rated: 4.74 by Beecham from California

Nov 16, 2023
Rated: 4.24 by Jakepitbull from New York

Nov 07, 2023
Photo of MikeWard
Reviewed by MikeWard from Pennsylvania

4.28/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
750ml bottle into a chalice. 2021 release.

Looks decent enough. Chestnut brown body, small but persistent cream colored head, nice sheet of lacing. Aroma is mostly of licorice with a few mixed spices. Taste follows the nose, but it's incredibly smooth and pleasing. A little clove mixes in. Finish is lightly warming, but seems less than the abv listed. Very good beer.
Oct 10, 2023
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
Photo of CAMRAhardliner
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
Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas from Brouwerij Het Anker
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 960 ratings