Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas | Brouwerij Het Anker

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Gouden Carolus Noël / ChristmasGouden Carolus Noël / Christmas

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Het Anker
Belgium | website

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

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Reviews: 478 | Ratings: 829
Photo of cooler4life
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Forms a 2 finger fluffy off-white head that recedes calmly from a steady pour. Lacing is fantastic and covers the sides of the glass with very fine bubbles. Color is a very dark brown. Carbonation is strong with multiple streams seen around the sides of the glass.

S: I pick up a boozy anise aroma first, followed by a dark fruits, mostly raisin and plum. It smells very sweet, strong traces of toffee and brown sugar.

T: Chocolate, blackberry, cinnamon, nutmeg and molasses. Finishes with a malty nuttiness. The ABV is mostly concealed by the spicy, fruity flavors.

M: Smooth. Tanginess of the strong carbonation and warming of the ABV are really nice. Leaves a thin coating of sweet nuttiness on the palate which contributes to the high drinkability factor.

O: A fantastic example of holiday winter warmer. Who needs a fireplace when you can have a Carolus Noël?

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Photo of capeannbass36
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the Amesbury Ale House. Served in a Boulevard Brewery tulip.

A- A cloudy cocoa brown with slightly red highlights. Small tan head. Minimal lacing.

S- Sweet and spicy. Caramel.

T- Caramel. Sweet malt. Clove and coriander. Dark fruits. Pretty complex for my semi-educated, beer related taste buds.

M- Light carbonation. Slick. Smooth.

O- Definitely a taste bud pleaser. Could not imagine attempting 3 of these. Atleast not if I were driving. YUM!

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Photo of prototypic
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gouden Carolus Noël pours a very dark amber color. It’s a little hazy, but light cuts through and shows nice burgundy highlights. A light tan head sits on top. It only rises to about a finger in height before falling back. It held steady on the surface for a bit. Lacing was sticky and moderate as it descended.

The nose is good. It’s definitely fruity. Dark fruit notes are relatively strong. Plum and raisin easily shine. Other fruit scents of apple, pear, and berries are also notes. It smells sweet and malty. Caramel malts are definitely in the mix. Perhaps a little bit of chocolate as well. There are earthy characteristics that linger throughout. It has light fruit cake-ish scent, but it’s not offensive. Belgian yeast and a host of spices emerge. Spicy notes include clove, ginger, and perhaps a little coriander. Alcohol is more prominent than anticipated. Smells good.

The flavor is excellent. The malt base consists of sweet caramel and cocoa-esque chocolate. It’s flavorful and sturdy. A host of fruit flavors follow – raisin, plum, light berries, and a little apple. Belgian yeast is noted and tastes delicious. Spices quickly follow and complement the fruit flavors extremely well. Ginger, coriander, and clove are the most notable, although there are surely others. It does taste a little like fruit cake, but it’s really not bad. Just very deep and complex. An interesting smoky flavor winds up each sip. It’s nice and really adds something. I like it. Alcohol is there in flavor, but it isn’t warm or hot. Finishes malty and sweet with a host spicy notes.

Gouden Carolus Noël has a medium body. Carbonation seems active, but the bubbles feel light and soft. It is nice and smooth. This 750 is disappearing quickly. Finishing it off will not be a problem.

I’m yet to have anything close to a bad beer from Brouwerij Het Anker. That places brews high quality beer. Gouden Carolus Noël is exactly that. It’s deep, complex, and packed with flavor. It’s impressive. If you see a bottle around, grab one. You’ll thank yourself for it.

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Photo of CHADMC3
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a rich chestnut brown with ruby hues beneath the light tan head that fades quickly but leaves traces of lacing for the duration of the beer.

Generous dark fruit aromas float from the glass such as cherries, grapes, and raisins with hints of winter spices, dark malts, and Belgian yeast to accompany them.

The flavor offers abundant dark fruits similar to the aroma with sweet cherries and vinous grapes. More dark malts in the flavor with spices and woody notes and a fruity finish that offers cherries and plums.

Medium to full in body with medium carbonation and offering a smooth and warming finish.

Great Belgian Christmas beer. Just the right blend of traditional Belgian Strong Dark characteristics with the woody and spice notes one may expect from a Christmas brew.

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Photo of draheim
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750mL bottle (botteld 9/8/2011) into a chalice. Pours a crystal clear mahogany w/ a minimal off-white head.

Aroma is Belgian yeast, dark sweet malt, brown sugar, fruit and spice.

Taste follows nose. Dark malt, raisins & other dark fruit, spice and nice warming alcohol. Mouthfeel is velvety & luxurious.

Overall a really nice strong dark ale that hits all the right sweet spots on Christmas Eve.

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Photo of ksimons
3.68/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-pours a chestnut brown with light ruby highlights. Half a fingers worth of cream head leaves some bubbly laces on top.

S-rich malts, dark fruits, and orange. Good except I don't feel like the orange smell fits

T-taste is similar to the smell, lots of rich malt, plums and raisins, orange, and a light citrus bitterness. A small bit of alcohol warming

M-medium to full body, moderate carbonation

Overall I like it, but I am not loving the orange taste. I really wanted to like this since I like Het Anker a lot, but this one just isn't grabbing me. After finishing the beer started to grow on me, it is very mellow and has a nice complexity to it.

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Photo of Agent1
4.66/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A brewery with experience. Let's see what this seasonal ale has to offer. With maybe a surprise ending at the end??


Appearance - A very dark, stern ale with amazing head retention. Faint, strong amber/ deep ruby coloration around the edges of my Gouden Carolus glass (when light manages to get through). An off-white, beige head with a slightly brown hue. Very rich and creamy. Thick head.

Smell - Strong notes of cherry, dark malts, light woodsy aroma with possibly even whiskey. Dark fruits with a light hop on the nose. Not much though. Quite spicy and sugary. Without tasting, it hints at being very sweet. Anise (a common trait of almost all Het Anker products) and dark, dried figs.

Taste - Smoke, whiskey/ scotch, ripe cherries, anise (black liquorice flavors), wood and barrel (this beer is definitely casked in something) with plenty of herbs and spices (I cannot seem to figure out which, and it's driving me nuts!). Hints of hops. Maybe traces of cinnamon, although very subtle. The alcohol, sugars and herb notes almost create the impression of cinnamon. This is definitely not as balanced as other Het Anker recipes, but it is still overwhelming delicious and impressive. A tad on the sugary side, but hell, it's Christmas!! This is one to bust out and overload on sweets!

Mouthfeel - The sugars and smokey notes really create a massive PUNCH here. After only one glass I am feeling this. A staunch kick-off to Christmas for sure. This is smooth and sweet. Again, a tad on the sugary side and the alcohol isn't fully hidden. But I am willing to cut this some slack being it's Christmas and the rum and the scotch are a-flowin'.

Overall - If you are not a fan of Christmas treats and toothaches, then perhaps this is not for you. A plethora of sweet notes, whiskey (wood and smoke), brown sugar and cherries with anise. As far as brewing goes, I am fairly confident that this is the Classic aged in wood barrels each year. I am not entirely sure if it is scotch or whiskey, but nonetheless, it is aged and perhaps a few more ingredients are thrown in as well. Amazing and festive. Love this beer!

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


Pours an opaque nutty brown, two inch plus head is off white, dissipates slow, leaves a film.

Smells of champagne grapes, esters, fresh grain malts, and floral resin hops.

Tastes of grapes and fresh grain malts. The hops are almost nonexistent. Bretty yeast as well.

Body is medium to full with soft tingles of carbonation.

Overall a delicious and enjoyable holiday brew, but I've had a few Belgian christmas offerings I'd pick before this. Still, nothing to turn your nose up at.

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Photo of jdense
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

25 cl bottle shared at Twelve Beers of Christmas tasting, 12.18.11.

Half finger light brown head, quick dissipation resulting in thin broken layer of head on top of dark brown body, several streams of slow rising bubbles visible around edge of glass. Stone fruit dominated nose, plums and currants, big dose of dark candi sugar, floral hops. Taste mirrors nose, more plums than currants or raisins, sweetness from the formidable dose of candi sugar, a bit of spice vanilla, floral hops not bitter. Mouthfeel is medium, decent effervescence. Wondering if this taste a bit more full in the big bottle, I preferred the St. Bernardus to this, might benefit from some aging.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by jayhawk73. Thanks Jeff.

The beer appears dark chestnut brown with a formidable khaki head. Ample lacing and lasting head retention. The aroma offers malt, sweet spice, brown sugar, dark fruit, alcohol. Sweet breads, dark fruit, spices, malt, brown sugar, and Christmas cookies in the flavor. Quite sweet throughout - I am glad to be splitting this bottle. Licorice, candies, decadent holiday sweets, fruitcake. Complex and well done, though a bit cloying for my taste. The feel is thin to medium bodied with adequate carbonation. Overall, a bit too sweet, though well done and enjoyable. Best in small quantities.

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Photo of jlindros
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Armsby Abbey Ho-Ho Belgian Christmas.

Light creamy head, little lacing, dark molasses brown ruby color.

Nose complex and weird, holiday spices cinnamon, clove, nutmeg maybe, hints of citrus, booze, light coffee, creamy malts and caramel, molasses, candi sugar, OK but just all over the place.

Taste malty, caramel malts and reddish malts galore, semi sweet, light candi sugar and molasses, light biscuit, vanilla, spices with more holiday spices, little creamy, earthy and herbal little tannic flavor probably from the spices or barely detectable hops. Light estery booze. Finishes a bit boozy, drier but sticky syrupy feel, more spices and caramel reddish malts, hint of dark fruits finally.

Mouth is a bit heavier bodied, decent carb, warming almost tingly booze.

Overall nice except the earthy herbal tannic taste I'm not a fan of. Decent spices held in check, great almost barleywine malt profile, tasty and decent booze profile.

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Photo of ryanonline
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

updated. my last review was two years ago. also my tastes have changed and i have had many different beers and even homebrewed my own.

pours a beautiful dark dark brown with some slight ruby highlights and a thin off white head that dissipates quickly leaving sheets of lacing.

the smell is very strong of spices, peppermint and spearmint sort of mingled together along with a touch of clove. the malt aroma is very strong as well. heavy on the bran and toffee. only a light flowery hop aroma in the nose.

The spices are all over on this one, along with a HUGE alcohol heat. Anise and peppermint with a light touch of spearmint or wintergreen. it has a slightly sweet and sour malt bill, the spice and alcohol just dominate any sense of anything else.

the mouthfeel is thick and syrupy with a touch of soft carbonation. the finish is dry and lasting.

drinkability is pretty low on this one, it is super complex and really filling.

there is just a bit too much heat on this one, and the minty spice is just overbearing, but damn is it something else.

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Photo of karait95
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: very nice dark color, with some reddish when against light but in general dark brown almost not transparent, the carbonation is rich forming a big head over the beer that dissipates not too fast leaving a permanent well formed layer on top of the beer, the color of the head is a light brown formed of small condensed bubbles.

S: Fruity aroma, specifically prunes can be sensed at once, a back support of toasted malts can also be tested and at the end a little strong alcohol presence can also be smelt.

T: Taste is pretty good also a complex combination of fruits, toasted malts, hops (but not too much, just enough for little flavor) and of course the alcohol of a strong ale.

M: Even the alcohol is high in this beer the sensation is not bad, it start with some sweetness and changes slowly and smoothly into a little bittersweetness with a pronounced ending that remains long in the back of the mouth.

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Photo of spinrsx
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml Bottle - thanks to iguenard for this one

Appearance - The beer pours a dark brown colour with a huge size frothy dark beige coloured head. I can't see much carbonation due the darkness of the beer and there is some really good lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for 7 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, raisins, all spice, licorice

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a low amount of carbonation and it feels very creamy on the tongue. I can taste malts, raisins and licorice. There is also an earthiness and some notes of all spice. It ends with a malty dark fruit aftertaste.

Overall – You'd never know this beer had 10% alcohol. My bottle was best before Nov 2011, so I'm assuming it's been aged to some extent. It's so smooth and delicious. It's a perfect sipping beer for the holidays/colder weather.

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Photo of PintOHops
4.06/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glass - Tulip

A - A nice mahogany color with a 2-finger tan head. Head retention seems decent. I can't really make out much C02 by looking at the brew. I got some splotches left here and there on my glass.

S - The first thing I get is that Belgian yeast, sweet, brown sugar, clove, and soft banana. I also get a decently strong presence of alcohol. Soft spices in the way of cinnamon are noticeable as well. As it warmed I began to pick up orange peel and ginger, pretty nice.

T - The first thing I picked up is soft spices in the way of ginger and clove. Quickly following is brown sugar, vanilla and dates. What I get next is a bright slam of alcohol. It floods the palate and practically washes away the soft flavor profile. I don't pick up any hop characteristics, and bitterness is so mild it's practically absent.

M - Soft crispness, smooth and creamy with a medium body.

O - Overall I think it could use some aging, as the alcohol is pretty noticeable and seems to wash away the flavors off your tongue. I think the beer looks fantastic, and although the alcohol is a bit strong for my liking, I would buy this again and age it just a bit. Definitely recommended to Belgian brew fans. Cheers!

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Photo of JosiahS
3.81/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

glass: Tulip

A very dark brown, muddy looking at times but mahogany-colored at others. semi-find bubbles on the head, about 2 fingers, off-white.

Aroma is strong on the alcohol but blends nicely with a spicy almost woody aroma. There's also a fair amount of sourness, or what i like to call "fermented veg" along with bubblegum from the yeast. Underneath i get hints of caramel, dates, fig, brown sugar and cherry.

Flavors are not what i expected, its sweet but not overly so. Its alcoholic but blends so nicely i almost welcome the flavor. It's thick but juicy in the mouth with medium bubbles. Its packed with Belgian yeast characteristics alongside deep fruits, like date and fig.

at 10% ABV, i like this more than i thought i would but it's, end the end, still a bit boozy for my preferences.

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Photo of jayhawk73
4.62/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Gouden Carolus Noel pours a dark mahagony color w/ a one finger perfect cocoa head. Great lacing on my snifter glass as well. Even when held to light, you can't really see anything other than orange highlights. The smell is fantastic. Fig, prune, raisin, licorice, and some spices are the main things I get. This beer smells like a holiday beer should. It's super complex, and just keeps getting better w/ every whiff. The taste is great too, just not to the same level- I'm nitpicking here. Huge malt backbone, w/ just the right amount of fruit, yeast, and spices. All melded into a giant cyclone of Christmas cheer. The only thing I can ding it on is that I'd like to have it be a little less sweet. Otherwise it's where the smell score is. Feel is decadent. Amazingly complex, smooth, silky w/ a bite at the end. I imagine this beer would age really nicely. I don't really get any of the 10.5% ABV in this either. Maybe a lingering note in the aftertaste if anything. All in all, a world class brew. I will buy this whenever I find it. Cheers.

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Photo of xmorgan
5/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer in this instance is better in bottle then on draft. Many will say Belgians are that way, that is what I got from people recently in Belgium (I was recently there).

I have seen it both ways, I had the draft version of the same in Oakland at a really excellent Belgium beer bar called "The Trappist". They love Belgiums and treat them like a parent lovingly treats a new born. So I don't believe they or the importer really did wrong by the draft version. It was certinally tasty, however I would say the 750ml Bottle was better.

The powerful yeasty (like bread just starting to bake yeasty bread smell is pleasant and warming.

The Appearance brownish rusty color is inviting.

The taste is rich, warming and a slight current fruit taste. Carmel comes through on the finish and it is so good to sip and enjoy.

Hours of time can be spent with this Wonderful Christmas Beer, contemplating the end of the free world, or enjoying an Episode of Southpark.

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Photo of Chaney
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first Christmas beer of the season. Merry Christmas everyone! ....but let us all celebrate Thanksgiving first.

Vintage 2010 (aged for a year).

A: Poured a dark, dark, brown/maroon color, with a half inch head that melted down to a healthy ring around the brew... with added benefits on the side of the glass.

S: Faint/moderate licorice first, much like their Easter entry, but I also got a bit of fruity figness for sure.

T: Licorice, with fresh filtered water, and dark fruit: figs, prunes, and Christmas spices that should be familiar to the novice - pro beer peep... The Belgian character of this one was there, but wasn't in-your-face.

M: Ridiculous lacing that was in the shape of bats on my glass. The carbonation was fine for this style.

O: If it's Christmas time, you know an unbecoming beer geek, who is just getting into the hobby, and Belgian beers are his/her thing... direct them to this beer.

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Photo of taigor
4.65/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into chalice glass.

A - Poured dark mahogany almost black non-transparent color with huge head that dissipated very slowly leaving lots of lacing around the glass.

S - Spices predominate with slightly fruity and yesty scent.

T - Sweet dark fruits and bready yeast to start with spices, caramel, and honey to follow.

M - Medium bodied with above average carbonation.

O - Excellent Noel and in my opinion one of the best. I highly recommend it.

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Photo of airlift
4.89/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I visited my family in Germany early september. took a trip to Belgian beer weekend in Brussels. My son and I were tasting for about 3 hrs. I'm 63, think of myself as one who enjoys good microbrews,never wrote a review before now so, I really can't get "descriptive" in my review. I will tell you this.After tasting many the only one that really sticks in my mind is the Gouden carolus noel/ christmas. It had a deep dark and heavy fruit bread flavor. I beleive the Alc. was 10.5 I hope I hope can find it at home in MA.

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Photo of Cheesemoose
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Not sure on vintage. 750ml served into my St. Feullien chalice.

A murky brown brew with a lovely fine khaki head, and even though it recedes quickly. does leave a nice edge.

Sweet, luscious, rum soaked dark fruits dominates the nose. Some cherry, vanilla, and oak remnants, though the malt base is on the rather extreme side of things. Some notes of brown sugar, clove and cinnamon. A bit boozy, though approachable nonetheless.

Approaches with such a fruit filled boquot your mouth starts watering even before your lips reach the glass. The experience really plays off the mid palate, dancing between the rum soaked raisins that dominate the malts to the spice notes that trickle down your throat. Well spiced. Excellent flavors, lovely balance and a nice warming kick that says this is a winter beer through.

A bit sticky, though not thick. Well balanced. Fine, fine compliment to the style though out of place with the majority of the BSDA's you see out there today. Looking forward to my next.

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.85/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle of 2007 vintage at Brouwer's Cafe in Seattle.

A: 3/8" mocha coloured head that left a nice lacing over dark mahogany coloured liquid.

S: Cloves, cinnamon, apples and cherries.

T: Peppermint, cinnamon, apple and malt. A beautiful taste.

M: Medium viscosity with a medium level of fine carbonation.

O: This beer fast-forwarded me to Christmas with its spices and other flavours. A beautiful and smooth beer.

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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 fastd03
5/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Through my extensive beer sampling over the past decade, the tap version of this beer remains the single best beer I have ever had. While the bottled version has slightly less vibrant color and isn't quite as flavorful, the tap version I had several years ago at The Brickskeller in Washington D.C. remains the only beer I have ever gone back and ordered a second time the The Brickskeller. It has a beautiful color, and more importantly, the warm, rich flavor of a Belgian winter ale, topped off with a hint of sweetness. Fresh off the tap, served in a thick goblet, this beer is truly unequalled.

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Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas from Brouwerij Het Anker
3.97 out of 5 based on 829 ratings.
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