Gouden Carolus Ambrio | Brouwerij Het Anker

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Gouden Carolus AmbrioGouden Carolus Ambrio
Very Good
367 Ratings
Gouden Carolus AmbrioGouden Carolus Ambrio

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Het Anker

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by TheLongBeachBum on 09-15-2003

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 367 |  Reviews: 211
Reviews by MojoIRL:
Photo of MojoIRL
4/5  rDev +5.3%

More User Reviews:
Photo of thehyperduck
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330 mL bottle from the LCBO; the last of 4 included in a Het Anker mixed pack. Best before May 26 2019 and served slightly chilled.

Pours a translucent orange-amber colour, supporting one finger of soapy, off white-tinged head that dissipates within the next several minutes. A modest ring of foam around the perimeter survives, along with a soapy film on the surface. The aroma is a bit muted and, frankly, uninteresting - there's light notes of caramel, spice, overripe orchard fruit and toasted bread, but that's all she wrote. It doesn't open up much as it warms, either.

The taste is a bit of an improvement, but not an enormous one - it's still very subtle and sparse for this type of beer. The malts in particular seem almost diluted for the style, offering up only a touch of caramel, plum and vague breadiness, while a one-note candi sugar sweetness is left to fill in the gaps. The hops, too, are barely worth acknowledging, generating only a perfunctory herbal quality that is easy to miss amidst the yeasty back end. Indeed, the yeast tries its best to add some depth, imparting a pleasant spiciness to the finish, but winds up abruptly halting just in time for the lightly sweet aftertaste. Medium in body, with reasonably lively carbonation that prickles the surface of the palate and foams up slightly in the mouth. Definitely not a bad beer, nor is it a great one - though one compliment I will bestow upon it is that it's quite easy to knock back.

Final Grade: 3.75, barely making the cut for a B+. Gouden Carolus is a well-respected name in beer geek circles, but Ambrio is not their most superlative offering. I'll point out that I found the other three brews in this mixed pack (the Classic, Hopsinjoor, and Tripel) to be uniformly excellent, so I think it's safe to say that this bottle of Ambrio wasn't mishandled or otherwise abused. I just wasn't terribly impressed with it - easily the most underwhelming of the four. I'd consider drinking it again, but I wouldn't pay a premium for it, and there are plenty of other BSDAs from Belgium or Quebec that I would seek out again long before I will feel the need to repeat this one. Worth a look, but not a world-class beer.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Never been disappointed by any brews from Brouwerij Het Anker. Naturally I expected great things from the 'amber'. The beer pours an impressive, well headed, rust colored hue, with a mild haze. Firm aromas of caramel malts, heavy bready / yeasty notes, and a firm spicy tartness. Flavors ride a little sweeter than aromas suggest, but keep the fresh bread flavors and textures. Sweetness shows a lot of caramel maltiness with fresh fruits (peaches, cherries, and apricots). The texture is full, but not heavy, very creamy. Finishes with a lot of sweetness, tartness, and a little astringency. Another fine brew.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Map Room in Chicago, IL. Hazy Amber body with orange hues when held to light. Thick white head dissipates to a pretty skim after a minute or so.

Aroma of caramel, pears and apples, and hints of vanilla. Almost citrusy finish.

Taste has lots of caramel and toffee, a touch of banana, oranges, a slice of ripe pear.

Mouthfeel: smooth and creamy. Sugary and full bodied.

Drinkable? Yeah.

Not very exciting but overall a nice drinkable amber ale with some spunk.

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Photo of MadScientist
3.96/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: More foam then beer with 3.5 fingers of sticky, light tan bubbles. Long lasting head leaving thick ropes of lacing on the glass. a dark golden beer with good clarity.

S: A fairly fruit nose with strong aromas of plums and apricots. Light notes of spice and moderate sweetness. Low perfumy alcohol aroma.

T: Medium, honey like sweetness with a flavors of apricots blended with some light notes of black pepper. A low hops bitterness and light earthiness. The balance is somewhat sweet with a fruit and spicy aftertaste a medium sweet finish.

M: A medium to medium-full bodied beer with very strong carbonation. There is some noticable carbonic prickle on the tongue. Light alcohol warmth.

O: A fruity and spicy Strong Dark without any of the subtle dark malt flavors typical for the style. Think of a Belgian Pale done imperial style, if that's what you want to drink I think you enjoy this one.

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Photo of Marc33
1/5  rDev -73.7%

Photo of dieBlume
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of merlin48
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle, pours a slighly hazed, amber orange body. The head is ivory colored, and is huge and billowing, settling down into a rocky, shaving cream coating of the glass. Lacing effect is very impressive.

Aroma is fruity sweet and spicy. Pears and McIntosh apples comprise the fruitiness, while coriander fruits the spiciness.

Mouthfeel features enormously fizzy, carbonation and a medium body.

Taste is nicely complex. Apples and oranges lend a slightly sweet fruity character. Spicy coriander stays in the background, as does a note of candy sugar. The musty yeast is just right for this. The finish is dry, with a lemony citrus note.

Complex flavors and a fine balance of malts, sugars, hops, and yeast make for very good drinkability.

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Photo of Billolick
4.45/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Small 11.2 ounce bottle, "Ambrio 1471" on the label, expensive stuff at over $14 for a four pack! No freshness or bottled on info offered on the packaging. Pours a glowing dark honey shade of amber, Pretty clear, until the slightly yeasty final pour mixes things up. Lifts an initially huge tan head, this beauty very slowly settles down to meringue and then finally to a thick film and leaves behind all kinds of crazy spotty and knit lacing. Bubbles continue to rise to the top. Alcohol in the nose, also some raisins, confectionary sugars and tropical fruits, yum. Warming and tasty brew, plenty of fruity notes, also moderate rum, raisins, maple sugars, spicy yeasty notes, very nice, plenty of complexity and interest to go around. Well worth seeking out and savoring.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass. Opaque amber-brown, with some reddishness to it. Poured slowly, it still produced an immense, pillowy head (inch and a half). Receded gradually, leaving generous patchy lacing. Looks great.

Sweet pear, tropical fruit, yeast and granny smith apple are the predominant nose notes that I detect.

A nice, dry BPA. Very crisp and smooth. Notes of pear, apricot, yeast, with hops, pepper and spices to the finish, but overall these flavours are a bit hard to detect.

A little over-carbonated for my taste; very stingy up front. Moderate body.

A very enjoyable strong ale, especially if you like them dry and hoppy.

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Photo of ant1
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of Janeinma
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of fionn13
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of stephenlee
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of bpfrush
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of Underrower
2.03/5  rDev -46.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2

750 ml bottle in a goblet

Label says amber-looks amber. Not much head. What there is dissipates quickly.

Smells, sweet, a little funky, maybe over riper fruit and yeast.

Taste- disappointing. Tastes like overripe plums or some other fruit. Later there is a bitterness like you licked an ash tray. I had to go back and lower the taste score. The farther I got into this bottle, the worse it gets. The taste is awful. Rotten plum then ashtray.

Great mouth feel if you can ignore the funky tart taste.

Overall-disappointment. On tap the Gouden Carolus Couvee Van de Kaiser Blau is my favorite beer of all time. The only IPA I like it Gouden Caroulus Hopsinjoor. I was expecting more from this. I really wished this was better. Would not ever want to taste this again.

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Photo of smares2
2.36/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I'll say this, this was an interesting review experience. It's a Belgian Ale that bills itself as an amber, which definitely caught my attention in the store.

This beer is very highly carbonated (it's refermented in the bottle so...). I could only pour less than half in the glass in the first go. Once I was able to get it all poured...

Appearance: Lots of head which clings and ripples up the side of the glass. Some of the head dissipates well along the sides, and the remainder remains thick forming a center crown. It looks like you'd expect a Belgian to look but when you hold it up to light that's when you can see the amber color come out and it's a bit less cloudy than many Belgians.

Smell: nothing real significant about the smell, not the rich experience you'd expect out of an 8% Belgian

Taste: Tries to balance between an amber ale and a strong Belgian, succeeds at neither. Fruity but bland for a Belgian, and not smooth like an amber. Though considering its flavor profile it hides the alcohol taste well.

Mouthfeel: Active on the tongue due to the carbonation

Drinkability: Fine, not what I was hoping

This is not a "bad" beer, but I rate beers relative to their price and their ambition. This one does not live up to what you'd expect out of a high end beer that should lend itself to a single-serving experience. I know I'm one of the few people who isn't at least fairly impressed by this beer, but there are so many Belgian options out there. So for the money or in the Belgian category, I'd recommend other options.

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Photo of amstokesdb9
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of Shovelbum
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a two finger rocky off-white head over a semi-hazy deep red-brown body. The head has excellent staying power, and leaves a web of lace coating the glass. Strong aromas of tart and sweet red berries, light pear and citric fruit, and miscellaneous Belgian yeasty goodness. Significant sweetness carries flavors of caramel, sweet orange and berry fruit. An earthy musty character lurks along with a mild cotton candy and marshmallow. A touch of pepper. Citric and earthy hop flavor and bitterness adds balance. Lively carbonation keeps the beer light on the tongue, yet the mouthfeel is smooth. Full bodied.

Yet another excellent example of the under-recognized Belgian ambree style. Wonderful complexity that as usual defies my ability to do it justice with words.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1471 on bottle
(Served in a chalice)

A- This beer pours a slightly hazy garnet red body with a light beige head that is bubble with a gentle carbonation supporting it. The head sticks to the glass in a light film.

S- The woody oxidized aroma has a dry candy note and a vinous hint in the finish. There is a fruit punch ester note that comes through as the beer opens.

T- The dry flavor has some light toasted malt sweetness in the finish with candy sugar notes that turn more like cider as it opens. There is a woody finish with hints of wine tannins.

M- The medium-light mouthfeel has no alcohol heat and some tight light fizz in the finish.

O- This beer has a nice flavor and a bit of candy sugar grows but it seems like it is showing some oxidation and other signs of too much age.

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Photo of AdrianMendez
4.75/5  rDev +25%

Photo of biboergosum
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another souvenir from LCBO-land...

This beer pours a murky orange-tinged brown colour, with more foamy white head than I know what to do with (brava, refermentation en bouteille), which leaves a thin painting of lace as it slowly, slowly recedes. It smells of banana esters, booze, and a bit of funky yeast. The taste is barley malt, mild candy sugar, soft banana, tropical fruit, and a soft metallic alcohol edge. The carbonation is on the low side, the body well weighted, smooth, and a bit sticky, and it finishes sweet and sugary.

A very approachable, and drinkable strong Belgian ale, once you get past the onslaught of blocking foam from even the gentlest of pours...

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Photo of mintjellie
3.91/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Burnt orange in colour and very hazy. It's billowy beige head is massive and retentive, sticky to my glass in thick patches as it very slowly recedes. I can see lots of really tiny bubbles making their way up through the beer. It smells of bread and caramel, over ripe banana and apple, and booze. There's a notable alcohol presence in its aroma. Solid caramel malt base flavour, fruity esters taste like apple and raisin, with orange coming forward as it warms. There's very little of the banana that the nose hints at. Alcohol gives it a peppery kick. Feels quite light and dry, it's abundant carbonation is very fine and soft in the mouth. It's well crafted and balanced, and goes down pretty easy in spite of it's strength. I like the less balanced Gouden Carolus Classic better, but this is still a fine beer. I've been very impressed with the Het Anker offerings I've tried so far.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Updated label form what is shown here. No mention of 1471 until you read the back label.

Stamped 90/04/11. Didn't realize the Belgian April had so many days!

Served cool into a chalice. Ambrio has color that ranges from orange to red to brown as I look at it in the glass. The head is very thick and that's after a very careful pour down the side of the glass. It settles slowly and leaves a nice sheet of lace behind. Simply a great looking beer.

The aroma is very pleasant and, most likely seems to foreshadow the tastes to come. Rich malty sweetness, caramel, orchard fruits, a little musk and damp wood.

Flavor is indeed much the same. Dark dried fruits are added to the mix as are common in darker Belgian styles. Many layers of flavor but not all completely integrated. The alcohol seems stronger than 8% just based on the drying finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and fully carbonated. Maybe a little too much for the style.

And that brings me to my last point: I'm surprised this isn't considered a strong dark or dubbel. The color, aroma, and flavor all point to this being a darker style. Blind taste tested, I would've said it's a dubbel. Either way, it's a very good beer.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.23/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep glowing fiery, coppery red color, with a dirty-white head of foam that lasts and lasts...and lasts.

This has many traits of a Belgian holiday ale in the aroma. That's not a specific style, of course, more of a vibe, and this has all the orange, molasses, candi sugar and spice elements so many of those great Xmas ales have. An unsubtle nip of alcohol gives this a sherry-like twist.

Flavor is a complex and colorful melange of this and that: orange marmalade; heavily-steeped herbal/fruit tea; cinnamon; clove; black cherry; white pepper; cola; mint; subtle wood; ginger snap cookie dough.

Lots of tiny bubbles make this sing on the tongue, somewhat airy but plenty substantial, while just the right amount of stickiness makes the fruit/mint/spice/yeast finish ride through a long while.

Every now and then I wonder whether I'm ignoring the Belgian classics in favor of the more numerous new beers constantly being released in the States. I used to be all about Belgians and hardly anything else. I'm glad I'm no longer so narrow, but Gouden Carolus Ambrio 1471 is another reminder that nobody does it like the Belgians. I'm glad to have rediscovered the magic of this country's ales yet again.

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Gouden Carolus Ambrio from Brouwerij Het Anker
Beer rating: 3.8 out of 5 with 367 ratings