Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas | Brouwerij Het Anker

BA SCORE
89
very good
498 Reviews
THE BROS
67
poor
Read the review
Gouden Carolus Noël / ChristmasGouden Carolus Noël / Christmas
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Het Anker
Belgium
hetanker.be

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Gusler on 11-24-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
498
Ratings:
866
Avg:
3.97
pDev:
15.37%
 
 
Wants:
38
Gots:
107
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 498 | Ratings: 866
Photo of AgentMunky
4.58/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a footed, cylindrical glass at Michael's Bistro. Bottle 0970. Listed as a 2009 vintage. From notes. Reviewed 7 July 2011.

A: A nice finger of head fades quickly and just coats the surface. The beer is dark brown with ruby edges; orangey in the light. Really nice. Barely translucent.

S: Grapes, brandy/port, grape peels. No alcohol.

T/M: Complex, deep, and scrumptious. Slightly carbonated with a bit of edgy spice. Perhaps the best Christmas ale I've encountered, and the oldest. Tart, tasty, and full of fruit. Yeasty red grapes verge on wineyness. The aftertaste is smooth and bursting with fruit -- strawberry, dried apricot, peach, green apple. Light and spritely throughout...yum. Sweet malts completely dominate the taste, but are moderated by the tartness of fruit. Impeccable.

O: Absolutely delicious; absolutely recommended. I love this beer, and can't wait to drink it again. Quite drinkable, despite the ABV and heaviness.

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Photo of Crosling
4.58/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A fascinating label on this one. Santa riding through the air with Gouden Carolus prominantly displayed in Gold lettering. A definate "eye catcher" in the bottle collection.

Pours with an amazing color. Purple with ascents of yellow, orange and red. Beautiful color, it glows in the light. However, a pretty lousy Belgian head.

Smells like fruit punch.

WOW! Sour red grapes, cherries, red licorice, raisins and caramel up front. Finishes with a somewhat sour, sweet malt and chocolate-caramel combination with a hint of alcohol. Tastes unbelieveable!

Probably my last Belgian Noel for the year (sadness), but what a one to end with! This is one hell of a beer! Can't wait for next year.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.58/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I grabbed this at the sterling Sun Singer. Noel pitches a cloudy brown with ruby trim, topped with three fingers of foamy white head, excellent. The nose is full of fruit, particularly dried fruit, and spices. Lots of berry, plum, raisin, molasses, and cinnamon.

Terrific taste, well balanced with sweet fruit in harmony with dried fruit. Each mouthful brings either or in creamy fashion, doing so much to make this as special as it with an outstanding mouthfeel. This is truly excellent beer. The drinkability suffers slightly only because of the wooziness I felt near the end of the bottle. The high ABV (10.5%) does kick in, but that's more than easy to take.

Tremendous BSDA, one of my favorites.

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Photo of markaberrant
4.57/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - pours clear, deep amber, but hard to keep chunks of yeast out of glass with the bottle still being over 1/3 full. Visible carbonation streams. Light tan head, creamy and persistant. Leaves a sheet of lace.

S - great malty aroma, fresh, very nutty. Some fruit and spice are in the background, but rather faint. Spice more noticable as it warms. Outstanding.

T - rum soaked pears, caramel, unique spice note in the finish - nutmeg perhaps? Also some toasty biscuit in the aftertaste.

M - exceptionally smooth, not heavy bodied, but it does feel a touch sticky and coats the mouth. Alcohol is barely noticable until a warming slowly builds in the throat. Lively carbonation is not prickly, which I think matches the beer perfectly.

D - this is like heaven in a glass. I'm kicking myself for waiting almost a year to finally try it, and for only picking up 1 bottle!

This is a damn near perfect beer. In my opinion, it is everything Maudite wishes it was.. a kick ass strong red belgian. I am drinking this bottle way too fast, but I honestly don't care. It's THAT good. Can't wait to try out the other offerings from this brewer that are lurking in my beer fridge...

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Photo of ypsifly
4.55/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Undated 750 that is corked and caged poured into a chalice.

Deep brown with slight reddish edges and two dense fingers of light tan that has unreal retention and leaves a lumpy sheet of lace that coats the inside of the glass. Beautiful!

Lots of yeast and spices in the nose. Bananas, bubblegum, clove, nutmeg, dark sugars, raw fruitcake dough, and something that smells a bit like a freshly made holiday wreath. Awesome!

Malts and dark fruits upfront with something that tastes like Pepsi, licorice, nutmeg, sweet yeast flavors, and a dash of peppery alcohol in the background. The flavor reminds me of the '96 Anchor OSA, but much bolder with a sweeter finish. I really like this one.

Nice full velvety mouth, no oils left in its wake. Delicious. If it wasn't for the abv I could sip this in front of the fire all night.

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Photo of newton99
4.55/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pouring a very dark brown, black almost, with reddish brown highlights, this beer is capped with a dense, light brown head with excellent retention and very nice lacing. The nose is a spice bomb. A blend of mace, nutmeg and anise, with some eucalyptus, cola, mildly burnt sugar, this is a little too spiced for my liking. The cola notes here bring to mind discount sodas. Alcohol is reasonably well hidden. In addition, there's quite a bit of dark fruit present, with prunes and figs.

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Photo of Lnedrive14
4.52/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2003 Bottle

A: Medium brown with a very thin tan head. It's kind of a weird look for a beer - fairly hazy for such a dark brew.

S/T: People seemed to complain about the alcohol strength, but I think the cellaring mellowed that out quite a bit. The alcohol presence is almost nonexistant. Chock full of spices in this bad larry. Lots of fruity sweetness, mostly from things like cherries and plums. The contrast between the spices and the fruits give the beer a wonderful balance.

M/D: I don't generally expect "hazy" to equal "creamy," but in this case it holds true. Drinkability is INSANELY high, given the beer style and the alcohol content. I definitely think this is a product of the aging. Mild carbonation, and even a bit of a drying effect as the beer leaves the palate.

Quite a nice brew. Would enjoy a younger version to compare.

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Photo of r-m-kaylor
4.52/5  rDev +13.9%
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 beergoot
4.52/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle date: 06/08/2015, ABV 10,5%

Mahogany hued body with a thick, frothy head. Fruits and nuts aroma; pineapple, lemon and orange peel; spicy; citrus and pine. Candied fruits with touches of peppermint and anise in the flavor; caramel. Heavy body; dense and sweet on the palate.

The damn thing smells like a holiday fruitcake and packs in many of the flavors (and none of this is meant in a disparaging way). Wow! For a big, seasonal Belgian dark ale, this beer pretty much nails the classical European sweets available during the winter holidays. There's no way this would be a regular heavy, dark ale treat, but it just seems to the occasion. Yes, its heavy and sweet, but the load of additional smells and flavors that you pickup are truly amazing. A very fitting beer for the start of the winter holidays.

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Photo of Bonhoeffer
4.52/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Utterly fabulous. I poured the first glass of this baby and just inhaled the aroma for a matter of minutes. Without a doubt the best aroma i have yet encountered in a beer. It had me entranced.

Flavor is just a *tad* forward on the alcohol, but still marvelous. Quite drinkable considering the intense flavor, ABV, and complexity. Definitely spiced, but subtly so that nothing jumps out at me. I'm drinking it thinking "this is spiced" but i don't think of one spice in particular, which is how spicing should be. Hops are present on the follow through, but just enough to keep the balance.

World class all the way.

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Photo of whynot44
4.52/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A rich hazy copper/mahogany color with a substantial creamy light tan head that persists and leaves some nice sticky lacing.

The aroma is cloves, plums, figs, brown sugar, malt, yeast, pine and alcohol.

The taste is the same with some additional hints of dates, coriander and chocolate with some herbal notes as well. Every sip seems to turn up something new, licorice?, cherries?, ginger?. mint? There's no end to the complexity on this one. Brandy/wine flavors creep in.

Full bodied, creamy smooth, easy to drink, but this one is for sipping and savoring. Finishes still sweet but offset by the spices and substantial alcohol warmth. This one doesn't sneak up on you like some Belgian strong ales. You know the alcohol is there but it is just so smooth. Not an everyday beer but would be great after dinner on a cold winter day.

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Photo of rye726
4.51/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark mahogany with a thick tan head. Excellent lacing. The nose has spices, Belgian yeasts, dark malts, ripe fruits and candy. The taste is again a delicious blend of sweet fruity malts and Christmas spices. Full body holds a delicate carbonation. Another great brew from Het Anker.

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Photo of ordybill
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the tap at the Taco Mac in Cumberland, GA. The appearance is a dark reddish-brown color with a small off-white head. The aroma is fruit and cinnamon with some black licorice. Has a very nice flavor of licorice and the alcohol blends in well.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a deep burgundy brown color ale with a huge foamy head with great retention and good lacing. Aroma of sweet candy and anis is dominating and quite enjoyable and almost reminiscent of Rochefort. Taste is a nice mix between strong Belgian malt, sweet candy and anis. There is some sweetness but it never goes overboard and provides great balance with some light typical Belgian yeast. It appears that this brewery just won’t stop to amaze me with all those great beers.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Gouden Carolus Noel has a thin, cream-colored or beige head, a medium-brown, appearance, fierce bubble streams, and some thin lacing left behind. The aroma is sharp- sweet, rich, spiced bread, licorice, alligator pepper, fruit, and other assorted herbs and spices, which I can’t pin down. Taste is similar, with an overriding licorice aspect. There is even a menthol note upon inhalation and exhalation. Mouthfeel is medium to thick and somewhat prickly, and Gouden Carolus Noel finishes mostly dry and decently drinkable. Alcohol is not picked up, except faintly in the background. Overall, this is a super beer!

RJT

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Photo of DaveJanssen
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Slpit a 750mL two ways, poured into Russian River globes.

Ar: Super fruity an floral, plum, rich fruit dark heavy grape, *licorice, rummy spice, alcohol, raisin, caramel and toffee, spice, chocolate, overall a rich, sweet and full aroma

Ap: Low light tan head, hints of lace, good retention, clear brown with red highlights

T: Rummy, heavy toffee, plum and raisin, sweet and fruity, caramel, light whiskey spice/oak, dried fruit, light herbal hop in aftertaste, complex, chocolate, a rum and coke like sweet and spice quality, unique

M: Full wet and sweet, alc warmth but clean alcohol and appropriate, low/medium carbonation

O: great sipping beer, very rich and sweet, nice spiciness, complex, very quad-like

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Photo of dyoung3
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured in goblet glass at Thirsty Monk in Asheville, NC.

Appearance: Ever so slight reddish hue when held up to the light but otherwise black. I can't remember the head retention or any other qualities based on sight.

Smell: Again, the subtleties of the nose have escaped me but I do remember classic dried fruits, some Belgian-yeast presence, and some spice.

Taste: LICORICE! I HATE licorice as a food in itself, but man did I enjoy it in this beer. Incredibly flavorful for me and exactly what I was looking for at the time. I REALLY enjoyed this beer's flavor even though the rating on BA has been on the low side.

Mouthfeel: As expected for a 10.5% ABV. Pleasant and warming on a cold evening.

Overall: Highly recommend. My favorite style is Christmas beers so perhaps I am biased, but this is definitely one of my favorite beers overall. Wam, Bam, thank you Ma'am.

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Photo of kegerator
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured out a deep bronw with a mild head that dissipated but not too quickly.
Smell was malty goodness with hints of dried fruits and spices, nutmeg, clove.
Taste was about the same as the smell, nice mild spiciness followed by the dried fruits and malts very nice. The only downfall on this one was the alcohol became quite apparent as this one warmed up a bit. It was very warming and still quite pleasant and drinkable just a little too up front in the end.
Still a very nice and drinkable belgium that I would buy again.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In true Gouden Carolus brand fashion, the namesake carries a breath of flavor that's equally as succulent, rich, and drinkable as their Cuvee van der Kiaser- exceeding expectations.

Upon the pour, the beer revealed a deep brown, solid ruby hue, with a mild murky translucency. The head retention was uncanny, with a great ability to lace.

Aromas are big, plump character of malt, berries, fruit, earthyness, and mustiness. Flavors are sweetly malty, toasty, tart, sweet, fruity (plumbs, dates, figs, grapes...) woody, nutty....I could go on for hours. The beer just has a tremendous amount of complexity and well balanced to boot.

The texture is a soothing, alcoholiclly thinned, mildly tart, rich, mouth filling roundness. Finishes with a balanced dryness and sweetness and a lingering grape, malt flavor.

This one is certainly a classic. Possibly even better than the Kaiser.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Classic looking 750ml brown glass bottle, tall dark and handsome with a very nice looking colorful label that invited me to pick this one up, its looks really classy, the dark black label, gold lettering and a lovely colorful Xmas scene, slightly different label to tat shown in the BA avatar. Thumbed cork is restrained in an all black steel wire & flat cap cage, the black flat cap has the Het Anker Coat of Arms in gold, the cork is also imprinted with this, which adds to the quality presentation. A small black paper neck label chokes the bulbous bottle top and just has a miniature version of the main neck label. The main black & gold label covers 270° of the circumference of the bottles body; apart from the colorful Xmas scene it includes information on the beer to the left and the importer to the right. Listed as Alc. 10% Vol. Excellent high quality presentation all round.

Appearance: I poured this into a freshly cleaned and rinsed Duvel Goblet. Immediately this poured it looked mightily impressive. A lovely smooth headed quickly but carefully from the controlled pour. Light tan brown it rested high in the glass. The body was a dark coppery brown with some ruby hints when artificially lit. Clear at first, only the last top-up introduced some of the sedimentary yeast, but I really didn’t care, it looked fantastic in the Duvel Goblet. Head remains throughout but slowly rescinds in depth, lacing is awesome.

Nose: Immediately as the cork came out, there was a strong whiff of liquorice at my desk. Instantly recognized, I love liquorice too….but once poured the nose developed a more complex character. Alcoholic malts, some anise bitterness, dark fruits, dates, plums, figs and brown sugar all help to create a beautifully enticing aroma. Superb!

Taste: Polished black liquorice underlies the thick carpet like entrance of malts and alcohol fill the entrance hallway and invites you to come in with a cheeky yet irresistible charm. I want to take the Stairs and get straight into the bedroom with this one! Sweetish malts at first, the alcohol acts as a solvent to deliver more liquorice again, figs and dark fruits with some peppery spices. Warming on the throat during the swallow, this is a real belly warmer once ingested. Has a dry alcohol warming liquorice finish that is a little raw at times.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly smooth, yet the alcohol adds some raw power to the feel in the finish. Even so, this leaves a luxurious Axminster Shagpile feel on the tongue as you sink into this as you would a waterbed. Solid yet controlled and finely dispersed carbonation give yet more body. Thick and fruity with a very Port like presence, an easy 4.5.

Drinkability: Well, I had the 750ml for a while, a phone call or two interrupted me, but yet I still managed to slowly sip and drink this one throughout the night.

Overall: Superb, excellent value for money Christmas Ale from Belgium and definitely worth picking some up for the Cellar, I suspect a year will take a little off of the alcoholic edge that it displays right now. Powerful and Fruity right now but I’m sure this will mellow into a beautifully smooth mature monster with 12 months cellaring under the belt.

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Photo of noslenwerd
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Brownish Magenta color, typical creamy looking head.

S: Spicey and sweet

T: Wow... this is a great noel beer. Might be a little sweet for some but just perfect for me. Lots of brown sugar/molasses taste, with light christmas spices. Reminds me a lot of Kasteel Donker, but not as sweet.

M: Typical Belgian Dark Ale Mouthfeel. Creamy and smooth.

Summary: One of my top three winter warmers. I will undoubtedly be drinking this one again.

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Photo of oelergud
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Corked and caged bomber. The label says 10% abv, not 10.50.
Very dark almost opaque brownish red body. Light brown head mostly medium bubbles. Great retention and clumpy lace.
Sweet caramel and molasses. Lots of spice and butter.
Soft sweet and round malts with just abit of hops. Quite strong but not overwhelming. The alcohol is only faintly noticeable. Shortlived aftertaste of sweet toffee malts and spice.
Full body smooth yet not much coating.
Highly drinkable winter brew.

-Oelergud

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Photo of BeerBuilder
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mahogany in color with a creamy tan head. Nice lacing after each sip. The aroma is malty sweet and spicy. It has a anise and nutmeg aroma, along with a bit of mint. It has some oily, resiny aromas as well. The flavor is malty with the nutmeg and anise. It has a hidden Anchor OSA flavor to it. Kinda resiny and piney. It is smooth and creamy. It is medium-full in body and very easy drinking for its strength. Very nice.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Everything about this beer seems to be black - color is a super blackened ruby oil capped by a tall, softly whipped yet lumpy, cinnamon dusted, light tan head. Settles off to a thin, uneven skim and the lacing is whimsically placed in thin and webby broken sheeting.

Aroma is airy and pleasantly soft yet robust of black licorice, dirt, and the blackest of black malts without much sweetness at all. Cindering hints of bright pepper phenols and anise percolate right over the top.

Taste nearly mirrors the aroma with a tender sweet black malt, fainter dark fruity nuances, and cola sryup masked in a ever present black licorice spice. Finishes with shadowy cinnamon, anise, ginger, minty skoal tobacco juice, earthy pine needles; quick, yet muffled, phenol laced alcoholic heat, some leftover cola sweetness and a drying of light throat burning sweetness.

Complexly characterized in girth that sits just above a medium body but somehow keeps a general softer sweetness and spice that's magnificently handled. Lots of subtle spicy layering and a finely heated throat burn, belly warming, and mind-boggling play between sweet and dark; and, warm and spicy. Fun stuff. It really grows on ya as you engage in its presence.

Even with all its finely set warming and spice this makes for a really nice drinker and an even finer treat. I'm becoming more of fan to these Noel/Winter Warmer-type brews and I'm thinking Winter isn't really that bad here in MN as long as I have this kind of beer around to keep me company.

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Photo of beerogre
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Even though tonight is as far away from Christmas as it is possible to be, I decided in the beer store that this was to be the main beer highlight of the weekend that I would be trying for the first time (well, this and the Ommegang Hennepin Saison I had last night).

Well, it's pretty good and quite naturally improves as one works ones way down the goblet, as the beer warms. I think I prefer Gouden Carolus Carolus D'Or - Cuvée Van De Keizer, from the same stable, but still, this a fine offering and not far behind at all.

Having that Licorice element in there definitely helps bribe this judge when it comes to holding up the scoring cards, as does the warming strength and very well balanced sweetness.

Overall an excellent beer, whether you pull it out of your Christmas stocking or pop the cork outside on your deck to celebrate Midsummer's night.

Updated August 19, 2013 - In the intervening seven years since I first reviewed this beer, my palate has gravitated more towards IPAs, than the darker, sweeter beers which I was formally so fond of, but even so, this beer is every bit as good as I remember it and definitely a classic.

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Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas from Brouwerij Het Anker
3.97 out of 5 based on 866 ratings.
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