Gulden Draak | Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
1,325 Reviews
Gulden DraakGulden Draak
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Belgium
vansteenberge.com

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Dark Triple Ale brewed with caramel malt and re-fermented with Bordeaux wine yeast

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-19-2001

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,325
Ratings:
3,872
Avg:
4.2
pDev:
11.43%
 
 
Wants:
305
Gots:
838
For Trade:
3
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,325 | Ratings: 3,872
Photo of JWeldon
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle poured into tulip @ 45F

A: Beautiful, hazy toffee with a lingering finger of silky, light beige head

S: fig and raisin, bready notes with toffee and grass and a hint of tropical fruit

T: much the same as the smell, with a hint of golden syrup, a restrained hoppy finish and noticeable—but gentle booze.

M: medium-bodied and smooth, solid malt with medium-high carb. Well balanced.

O: Loved it! This is a really well-balanced beer with a solid malt backbone, but enough hops to make it a balanced—and, unexpectedly refreshing beer. I’ll definitely be having this again.

 592 characters

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

330 ml bottle 10,5% Abv

Appearance: Gulden Draak pours a beautiful shade of deep red-brown with stunning crimson highlights when held to the light. The beer is almost clear with only a few small yeast particles floating around. As with almost all Belgians I have had to date the head is massive. It is light coffee coloured and lasts pretty well, but unfortunately leaves only patchy lace.

Smell: Wow, what a nose... Sweet caramel malt, fruitiness made up of dark cherries, stewed plums, raisons and dates, some scotch like smokiness and a light dusting of spice - hints of clove and cinnamon-.
The alcohol is very well hidden in the nose and that which does come through as the beer warms adds a "good rum" like quality to the nose.

Taste: Again WOW and I thought the nose was good; I really have no choice but to give this beer full marks for flavour. The flavour profile begins with sweet caramel (almost dark brown sugary) malt, this follows into spiced (cinnamon, cloves and a hint of pepper), rum soaked dark fruits (cherries, plums, raisons and dates). The Scotch smokiness from the nose is there along with a hint of chocolate. The finish is slightly bitter and works perfectly in preventing the beer from becoming overwhelmingly sweet.
There is some warming in the throat and stomach; however the alcohol is generally very well hidden for the Abv.

Mouthfeel: Just a tad lighter than full bodied with lively (albeit very pleasant) carbonation, that drifts towards a perfect level around halfway through the bottle.

Drinkability: Superb, I could have easily finished a 750 and will most certainly have this beer again.

 1,634 characters

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

11.2oz white bottle, served in a tulip glass.

L - clouded, dark red/amber color with a huge beige head that left globs of sticky lacing.

S - sweet, date/fig aroma.

T - sweetness of dark fruit flavors start this one out, balance of hop bitterness kicks in before the caramel sweetness on the finish.

F - medium bodied with plenty good carbonation.

D - easy drinking brew.

 375 characters

Photo of beergeek279
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a 12 oz. glass at Burgh's. The color was a dark brown, with a wispy white head. The smell was an appleish sweetness. The taste was very apply sweet, with lots of candi sugar sweetness, and an alcohol that was present but not in the least overwhelming. Mouthfeel was nice and thick. Drinkability, despite the 10.5%, would be excellent, and I would be happy having quite a few of these.

Amongst the best Belgians brought into the US. Beautifully sweet, and drinking much underneath its ABV, Gulden Draak is simply a fantastic beer, and certainly one that I will have again!

 585 characters

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

11.2oz glass bottle coated with white ceramic, purchased at Jim's Homebrew in Spokane for $5.51.

Poured into a St.Bernardus glass, this beer was a mahogany color that took on an almost burnt-orange color when held up to the light. A good 2 1/2 inches of tan foam perched on top, leaving lots of sticky lace.

Fairly complex nose, with honey, toffee, spices and fruit all present.

The taste is pretty much like the nose, except the toffee becomes a more dominant, caramel-like flavor that is balanced by a more noticeable spiciness. Very tasty.

Medium bodied, with a slightly tingly, yet creamy mouthfeel.

I was very impressed with this beer, and will happily buy it again. Not my favorite of the style, but fairly close.

 726 characters

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

Appearance: Pours an incredibly dark brown

Overall: Tastes like sweet sweet malts, caramel, slight alcohol tinge and burn, medium finish, pleasant, medium bodied. A really unique, delicious and excellent beer.

 210 characters

Photo of Citadel82
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation Bone white stubby 330ml bottle with the Global Beer Network seal on the label. No date visible.

Smell is sweet rich malt, dried fruit...apples, raisins, dates...vanilla?? and strong aroma of alcohol that fades as one becomes accustomed to it but never leaves entirely.

Taste is sweet malts, pepper, tobacco bitter lemon, orange, with strong hop almost quinine bitterness appearing in a long dry finish. There is so much alcohol it in the palate that it is very nearly overpowering. This is a powerful and complex brew. the spiciness especially the pepper numbs the tongue for a time.

Mouthfeel is thick almost buttery, sticking to the tongue and roof of the mouth and sending waves of hop bitterness cascading around the mouth as you swallow.

This is a beer for the one beer a night plan. I cannot imagine tasting anything after this one. There is nothing subtle about this brew. It assaults your senses and takes no prisoners. Like sipping a fortified wine or a dry cordial. A night cap of a brew if there is a such a class.

 1,050 characters

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

Absolutely delicious. Flavor is intensely malty, which easily hides the 10.5% abv. Nice cherry characteristic, with some yeasty qualities. A rather creamy mouthfeel, and well carbonated. The head clings to glass, frothy on the surface. Really, has to be tasted to be understood.

Overall, fantastic. I love the style, and I've only tried a few of varieties out. Will easily make it amongst my top favorites.

 407 characters

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

Serving type: bottle 33 cl. Poured into a Judas-Big-Tulip

A / dark brown with some red. Around 3 cms of foam nearly white.

S / tangy fruit and alcohol. Intense and nice.

T / liquored and alcoholic and after that a presence of malt and caramel.

M / body between medium and full, in mouth a taste very balanced between liquor, sweet and malt . Medium carbonation.

O / long aftertaste. Excellent and complex belgian ale. One of my favourites.

 445 characters

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

330ml bottle
10.5% ABV

I tried this beer on December 28, 2007 at "Smokeless Joe's" in Toronto. The white bottle caught my eye. This beer poured a dark murky brown with a generous tan coloured head. The aroma was strongly yeasty with a fruit backdrop, possibly plums or raisins. The mouthfeel was medium bodied, and very champagny. The flavour was malty, yeasty, and slightly sour.

 381 characters

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

Darkish, murky, russet brown, with amber edges, topped by a two finger cushion of light khaki head that laces nicely. Nose is tangy and oaky, with caramelized brown sugar, yeast, light fruits, and faint pepper. Intense malt flavors up front: sugary sweet tropical fruits (banana, pineapple juice, kiwi) dominate, but are somewhat tempered by a toasted bitterness. Sweetness easily wins out. Brown sugar and caramel flavors mix with yeast. Light spiciness noticeable near the finish. Finish is sweet, yeasty, and very warming. Full-bodied with a near syrupy consistency toward the finish. Somehow avoids being cloying, but very sweet nonetheless. Oh, and quite good!

 665 characters

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

A - One finger of light brown head on a dark brown body with good clarity. The foam dissipates quickly and leaves moderate lace.

S - Lots of malt and fruity belgian yeast. Notes of caramel and raisins with sweet chocolate and more dark fruit. Some herbal hops in the background.

T - Lots of raisins and dark sugar. Sweet caramel and molasses with figs and plums. Strong note of chocolate and caramelized sugar in the middle, very candy-like. The finish becomes more phenolic with some clove and tobacco notes as well as the pervasive chocolate and caramel notes.

M - Medium-thick body, high carbonation, and a semi-sweet finish.

D - Very drinkable, it never shows its alcohol or becomes cloying. The malt character is complex and spectacular. I really can't come up with anything critical to say about it. A very nice example of the style and much more drinkable than most.

 877 characters

Photo of DPJ3322
4.51/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a snifter to enjoy this guy.

Appearance - I had no idea what the color would be, I expected a trippel for some reason, came out rich but not dark brown, very pretty. However, the head bubbled away very fast.

Smell - Boozy initially in the smell followed by a very subtle and nice fruit sweetness.

Taste - Boozy up front again, I get hints of fruit and raisins followed by a kind of muted sweetness, with apples lingering on my tongue for the aftertaste. Very complex and subtle, I like it.

Mouthfeel - Heavy carbonated fizz up front and it gets kind of viscous as it sits on the tongue.

Overall - I really like this beer and I am savoring my bottle, it was well worth the money spent on it. I like the complex layering present in taste, smell and mouthfeel. Once again, a great beer, very European.

 816 characters

Photo of thehyperduck
4.51/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

330 mL bottle included in a sampler picked up at the LCBO; best before June 16 2016. Served at cellar temperature.

Pours a cloudy, effervescent ruby-copper colour, topped with an inch of fluffy, pillowy light beige-coloured head. Good retention; it takes more than a few minutes for the froth to dissipate into a denser, creamier cap and collar, with a modest amount of lace. The aroma is very rich and sweet; dominated by boozy caramel and molasses sweetness, as well as notes of raisin, dates, ripe pear and black cherry. I am getting light hints of strawberry and banana, too, and perhaps even a note of port wine.

The taste falls much along the same lines, with sugary caramel sweetness, molasses and cherry blending nicely with dark fruit notes that include plum, raisin, fig and grape. Banana and ripe pear are next, followed by some herbal, earthy hop bitterness that leads into a warming, boozy-rum finish accented with vanilla, clove and anise. Full-bodied, with moderate carbonation levels that gently prickle the tongue, and provide a generally smooth, fulfilling feel on the palate. The alcohol is not masked particularly well, which limits drinkability - but it works quite nicely in conjunction with the flavour profile.

Final Grade: 4.51, an A grade. Gulden Draak is an excellent strong Belgian dark ale that is guaranteed to put some hair on your chest. Rich-flavoured is almost an understatement, as the dark fruit and sugary, boozy flavours make this feel like a dessert in and of itself. Easily one of the better examples of this style that I have tried - worth seeking out, worth the price, and any Belgian dark ale fan worth his or her salt should consider this one a must-try.

 1,702 characters

Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
4.51/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Pours a clear dark brown red color. Has a huge head that sticks around a long time, and lots of lacing.

Smell – A sweet malty alcohol scent. With a little spice.

Taste – A slightly spicy very malty flavor. Kind of simple, but very tasty.

Mouthfeel – Super smooth and creamy, with good carbonation. Super easy drinking for 10.5% abv.

Drinkability – To me, this beer was much better than expected based on its rating. I really enjoyed this, and will look for it again.

 493 characters

Photo of bwesthoven
4.51/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

10.5%, what's not to like? Pours a thick off-white head. Deep oak color, smell was faint. Was very smooth and mellow. Very good Belgium, wish it didn't cost as much as it does!

 178 characters

Photo of TheStig
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Golden Dragon indeed!

Aggressive is a good place to start with this. Popping the top resulted in a louder "crack" than I was expecting, and a substantial tongue of fog licked out of the top. I liken it to opening a bottle of ginger kombucha-- thankfully, the contents of the bottle didn't spill all over the floor (like kombucha sometimes does) but even my most gentle of pours produced a violent three finger head that threatened to creep over the top of the glass. I waited five minutes for the head to subside, and it left a sticky trail of lacing that resembled a cross between spiderwebs and Swiss cheese.

Color was a foggy, rich amber.

Scents that jumped out at me were black grapes, spicy wine notes (think Shiraz), grapefruit, pomegranate and cherry.

They do a very good job of taming the alcohol burn, folding it into layers of spice that compliment the heavier fruity sweetness.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly less aggressive than it would appear, but it still has a healthy carbonated bite. Sip gently.

Very impressive.

 1,034 characters

Photo of SPLITGRIN
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A quick pour easily achieves a three finger head that is full of biscuity light brown bubbles. The bubbles crackle away in a matter of minutes and leave dots of lace behind. Body is a deep mahogany brown tone.

Nose is nicely complex in its own right with hints of sweet bread, vanilla, graham cracker and a malty spicy backbone. Really a lot going on here in just the smell.

Slightly tart as it glides across the tongue with first sip. Really rich and sweet but not overly so. Lots of dark fruit with tones of plum, raisin, and prune play here. Once again the sweet breads and crackers come through in a big way. The alcohol is noticeable but not harsh. This beer would age wonderfully for many years. Very complex brew.

Mouthfeel is rich and thick but not to heavy. This beer is a pure joy to drink. A true classic.

 819 characters

Photo of PatrickJR
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into red wine glass.

A - Nearly clear, rust colored red/brown. A finger of off white head rises with moderate retention before falling to a thin cap. Minimal lacing.

S - Blackberries upfront with a huge aroma of sweet, dark, banana bread and hints of caramel. Clove-like, phenolic character appears on the back end. Some nuttiness, chocolate, and vanilla appear as well.

T - Expansion of the nose. More sweet banana bread laden with vanilla and caramel. Sweetness is high early on but begins to dry out mid palate. Sourish berries hit with a vanilla-like background. Late palate yeilds a bitter aspect akin to pumpernickel and semi-dark chocolate. A fair bitter of phenolic character blends with the sour cherries and dark bread creating a very interesting flavor reminiscent of a cough syrup that actually tastes good. Bitterness is low to moderate with mild notes of char and bitter chocolate. Aftertaste specifically reminds me of a bittersweet chocolate covered underripe strawberry with a smidge of stale coffee. Not a hint of alcohol.

M - Awesome. Medium to medium full with a soft but noticable carbonation. Velvety. Body and lack of carbonation really allow the darker, sweeter flavors to pull through.

D - Very good stuff. All the sweetness and breadiness make for an extremely complex flavor profile, and the mouthfeel accentuates this fact in addition to making the brew go down ultra smooth. Another top notch beer from our friends in Belgium.

 1,490 characters

Photo of champ103
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Have had this many times over the years, and surprised I have not reviewed it yet. Most recently on tap at a neighborhood bar close to me that is not known to have a good beer selection. Poured into the proper Gulden Draak tulip.

A: Pours a dark ruby/brown with a dense two finger white head that forms. Which has excellent retention, and beautiful lace all the way down the tulip glass.
S: Peppery yeast and fruity easters are the show up front. Banana, cloves and light bubblegum aromas. Sweet malts, and dark dried fruits of raisins. Fantastic.
T: Like the nose, peppery, clove like yeast up front. The fruity esters are to die for here. Banana, apples. Dried dark fruits of raisins and figs. A toffee sweetness, and candied sugar, that gives this almost a fruitcake like flavor. Outstanding, and complex as hell. I am not doing justice here.
M/O: A big full body that is creamy and smooth. Beautifully crisp carbonation that becomes so smooth this is otherworldly in that regard. Light warming alcohol, but other than that, something I can keep coming back to over and over again. Superlative drinkability (yes I used that word).

A fantastic example of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. While sipping on this at the bar, some of my friends had been raving about a wine they were drinking at the moment. I know it is hard to compare these two beverages, but having some of the wine I could tell it was flabby, week and nowhere near the depth of this. Which shows some beers, and this one in particular can compete in every respect to its grape based companion. Fantastic all around.

 1,601 characters

Photo of haz77
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark chesnut with a tight tan head that sit a finger deep. Looks to have very little carbonation.

S - Sweet spicy alcohol. Some plums and other fruit in there too. Smells utterly delicious.

T - Doesn't dissapoint. Not quite as good as the smell, but very very nice. Big mouthful of sweet malts and fruit up front and moves onto brown sugar. Finishes up with some alcohol warmth, but not as much as the smell would have suggested.

M - Heavy, smooth and lightly carbonated.

D - A bit too heavy to have more than 2 or 3.

 541 characters

Photo of gkunkle
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 330ml bottle to my duvel tulip. Body of the beer is a hazy red-brown color. The pour yields a tan head about 2 fingers tall, carbonation can be seen rising in the beer. Retention isn't spectacular, but that is to be expected when this registers at 10.5 ABV. It recedes to a ring and an island of foam in the center of my glass. The smell is of rich sweet barley malt, some caramel, apple, Belgian yeast. In the taste I get a hint of apples up front as well as an acute candy sweetness. Towards the middle I notice more dark fruit, sweet heavy malts. I also detect some alcohol in the taste. Mouthfeel is on the thicker side, but some assertive carbonation livens it up. This is a really interesting beer, I like the idea of a dark triple, and this one is put together really well.

 794 characters

Photo of marburg
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is review #100 for me. I was going to pull out my last bottle of Rodenbach Alexander and have that, but I decided that I'd rather save that for now. So Gulden Draak it is!

This superb brew pours a deep brownish-red akin to a dark, stained wood. A fabulous redolence -- complex and multi-faceted to say the least -- featuring red wine, grape soda, ripe fruits, and brown sugar. The gustatory sense delights as the flavors are primarily the same -- very sweet and delicious, ambrosial even. The mouthfeel is marked by a clear alcohol presence and a lively tango between the tongue and the natural carbonation. A gentle suggestion of dark plum skin graces the mouth as the sip is finished. From its handsome bottle through its delightful finish, this is simply excellent.

 776 characters

Photo of Crosling
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Hazy orange when held up to the light. A very odd color to say the least. Perfect belgian head, frothy dense and magical. Thick sticky lacing. Ahhh...Belgians.

Incredible nose on this one!!! Sugars, raisins, alcohol, bright apples, sour cherries, yeast, pine and more sugars. Wow!

Slightly disappointed with the flavor but this still was pretty damn tasty. Strawberries, raisins, alcohol, prunes, yeast, sour cherries dipped into sugar and a hard to notice tart undetone. Alcohol is hidden very well. Mid palate seemed to be struggling a bit but a nice lingering finish. Very smooth which makes this really drinkable.

Nice beer that I'll be sure to sample on tap when I am in Belgium this summer.

 706 characters

Photo of woosterbill
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Prime 16 into its proper branded tulip. Cheers to matching glassware!

A: Clear, radiant ruby body under a half-inch of fine off-white foam that quickly recedes into a ring. Lovely color, and adequate carbonation for the strength.

S: Craziness! Sherry, molasses, creme brulee, brown sugar, rum-soaked raisins, caramel apple. Very sweet, rich, and decadent. Intoxicating in the extreme.

T: Sherry really jumps out, backed up by burned sugar, toffee, dark fruit, vanilla, and fruity alcohol. THe booze is a major component of the finish, but isn't quite overbearing. Delicious.

M: Thick, viscous, and lusciously carbonated. Luxurious.

O: What a beer. I was expecting something big and tasty, but was utterly unprepared for a flavor explosion that reminds me much more of a terrific, fruity barleywine than anything explicitly Belgian. The dessert wine overtones were unmistakable and amazing, while the fruitiness gave enough complexity to keep the sweetness from getting cloying. I might have to pick up a bottle or two to age for a while.

Cheers!

 1,062 characters

Gulden Draak from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
4.2 out of 5 based on 3,872 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.

    Subscribe