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Gulden Draak (Dark Triple) | Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

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1,318 Reviews
Gulden Draak (Dark Triple)Gulden Draak (Dark Triple)

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

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

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Reviews: 1,318 | Ratings: 3,840
Photo of magictacosinus
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 11.2oz bottle into a tulip glass. This bottle is over a year and a half old at this point. I've tried this many times before, but this is the perhaps the oldest that I've had it. This is the last bottle that I've saved from the Van Steenberge gift pack that I purchased in December 2012.

When fresh, this retains a ruby darkish color overall, but the age on this definitely shows this time around, showcasing a garnet brownish color with a typically fluffy off-khaki head. The fluff in particular resembles the same effect as a newly poured root beer float, and while it dies down quickly, it manages to leave behind a strong half finger of head that lasts a good long while. Carbonation shows, with bubbles gliding upwards from the center of the glass, despite minor cloudiness fogging the beer up. This is a classic beer of its kind, and very recognizable among the pack.

While this still smells sweet ever after all this time, the age on this reveals some yeasty and malt nuances I haven't encountered before - funky yeasty phenols resembling a freshly cut green pear, yellow apples, caramelized banana, and, of course, the usual array of raisins, dates, prunes washed in a caramel substance. Toasted toffee finishes it up, alongside a green bell pepper, white peppercorn spiciness that tingles the nostrils each time. Smells sweet at the finish, but the booze is well hidden and the malt and yeasty notes keep things interesting. Far less boozy than their quad (or worse, their Piraat ale), and it's definitely victorious from that perspective.

The flavor comes as a pleasant surprise, especially considering how well cut down the sweetness this time around. Rather than the heavy Port/plum malt profile this beer is typically known of, the apple/pear yeast combo is nice and toasty, and the peppery flavor coats the caramelized dried fruit sweetness nicely, making it an easy beer to drink and hiding the alcohol effectively while striving for complexity. The peppery texture tingles the palate, and warms up the throat, and the caramel, light Sherry note at the finish makes it earthier and nuttier, with a decadent yet restrained sweetness that is approachable. Coats the palate well with a firm viscosity, and finishes lightly yeasty yet bitter, earthy, and spicy.

Not sure if I like it fresh or with age on it, but it still is a classic, even here. This was one of the greats for me when I first started drinking better beer, and revisiting it with age on it was a pleasure indeed. I don't usually drink Belgian beers of this kind anymore, but it works joyfully as a dessert offering even at this point. This is also one of the most recommended offerings to present to people that have a skewed viewpoint on beer. For a monster beer, very drinkable and definitely enjoyable.

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Photo of StJamesGate
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Slightly cloudy ochre with loose honeycombed sandstone froth. Mild gusher.
Toffee, goji berries, spiced apple, granary bread, wax - multi-facteed.
Lots of blonde caramel (candy sugar?), some Japanese plum, hints of cinnamon and cedar, a big whack of clovey spice, and slight noble hop end.
Rock candy, sour cherries, and cocoa dust with numbing booze and herb linger.
Crisp, round, slightly hot.

BSDA, dark tripel, "red strong beer" as the label says - not sure what to expect with this one, in spite of its reputation. Nose is too brown for a tripel but not fully dark. That ends in the taste - it drinks very light. There's not huge complexity to the taste, just a couple of sugar + spice elements playing off each other, yet it's strangely tasty and moreish. Almost play like a cinnamon-herb hard candy or a Christmas ale.

Oddly compelling.

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Photo of Jfapr
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Better than expected. Well balanced strong but smooth, the way I like it.
I do not need 250 characters to review this beer. Bla bla Bla bla bla I just like it , i am not a critic to spend 1 hour writing stuff. Better than expected. Well balanced strong but smooth, the way I like it.
I do not need 250 characters to review this beer. Bla bla Bla bla bla I just like it , i am not a critic to spend 1 hour writing stuff.

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Photo of crwrunner
4.31/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Where to start with this great beer? It pours a big foamy tan head which is the only thing I can say I don't like about this beer because after I pour it I just want to drink it.

It smells of dark fruits (figs, prunes, raisins) and just an overall sweetness.

At 10.5% abv this is a very dangerous and drinkable beer. It taste very sweet at first followed by a fig newton taste and then a bit of caramel on the finish. Afterwards, I find myself licking my lips to still find the wonderful sweetness still there. You can't taste the alcohol hardly at all.

Overall this is an excellent beer. A little pricy when I bought it as a four pack but hey, a Sam Adams at a sports bar would be the same price as one bottle of this at my local craft beer store.

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Photo of JamieDuncan
4.59/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Picked this one up due to ratings and I tend to very much enjoy big Dark Ales and Quads, so figured this was must try. Outstanding looking and smelling beer, nearly perfect. Taste lives up to billing, extremely tasty. Over 10%, no way, not heavy at all. Big bonus points for drinkability. This one is excellent and one I will buy again despite its cost. Very much worth it.

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Photo of MarkoNm
2.76/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours into the glass with a dark red, almost brown color, topped with a decent creamy head.
The aroma is a combination of fruity and roasted smell, together with a strong alcohol note at the end.
The starts is pleasant, sweet and fruity, followed by some yeastiness and a strong alcohol hit in the end.
Not really my favourite, a bit too strong to really enjoy in this one.

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Photo of breakingbland
4.16/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750ml bottle. The one-finger light tan head dissipated quickly to a layer of large and small bubbles. The beer itself is a translucent brown.

The aroma was of rich, roasty, sweet malt. There was some candy and bread.

The taste followed the aroma pretty much but not as sweet as the aroma. There was also some caramel and a slight astringency -- but not at all hoppy. As the beer warmed, the sweetness took-on a character of cherries. The aftertaste was a subtle sweetness. There was no alcohol burn.

This beer has a very nice mouthfeel. The effervescence gives a slight, pleasant tingle. The body is full.

Overall, this is one of my favorites. It might be too sweet for some, however.

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Photo of BradtheGreat7
4.27/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Review taken over the last 3 years multiple experiences. Most recent: December 2013.

11.2 oz( 330ml) Van Steenberge shaped brown bottle with plastic label covering the entire bottle. Van Steenberge's extra security to the liquid inside brings me nothing but confidence as to it being in tip top condition up until its opened. Poured into a Belgian Trappist style goblet.

A - darkest of crimson that's borderline mahogany only with lots of deep red undertones. Somewhat clear though dark with some small pieces of funk barely noticed. Shade of slightly dark white to tan head pours creamy with fluff while lending some pretty impressive size. Settled to a creamy yet still clump like lacing leaving very nice stick.

S - sweet dark fruits. Strawberry, clove spice, Belgian spices, and a flagship worthy Belgian yeast character. Fruity esters all over paired with a hint of bread malt and molasses.

T - dark fruit, prune, fig, and soft chewy raisins. A small hint of clove and a big shot of dark Belgian spices. Some strawberry notes really show up when the Funk of the Belgian yeast notes rise from the middle. A touch of alcohol spice with candied sugar and molasses malt flavors in the finish.

M - big medium bodied with typical but outstanding Belgian feel and texture. Not overly thick but coats the mouth very well. I actually found this to drink a lot easier than it's abv would suggest. But that's just me.

O - Gulden Draak is a classic example of big, dark Belgian beer at its finest. Truly one of the best ales ever created and its traditional recipe paired with that Belgian brilliance makes for one hell of a beer. I have at least one of these every year. Most folks will have tasted its greatness before, but for those who haven't I insist you grab a bottle of Gulden Draak and experience this outstanding ale. Forever a world class creation.

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Photo of JasonLovesBeer
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was THE beer for me back in 2007-2009, which was before I really discovered North American specialty craft beers. I'd always went with craft options since around 2002 but for the really interesting stuff I always went Belgian. Fast-forward to today and most of my Belgian beers in the past year or two have been gueuze. I hadn't had a Gulden Draak in about 2 years.

This one I'd cellared in my wine fridge for about a year. Not enough time to change much, but perhaps took the edge off.

A: Dark crimson red with dense and stubborn off-white head.

S: Raisins, dried fruit, red fruit and stone fruit. Lots of fruit but in a heavy and dark way. Big malt presence, prickle of Belgian yeast.

T: Red fruit maltiness with a slightly tart or bitter finish. The alcohol heat is there though not enormous. Slightly herbal, tiny bit of licorice.

M: Crisp and lighter than the beer calls for, to me. I guess this is where it's a dark triple instead of a quad.

O: A solid beer for sure and much fruitier and sweeter than I'd remembered. Solid complexity though I'd like a bit more substance in the physical body of the beer. I've been spoiled though: this is no Westvleteren.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.8/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

(poured into a snifter)

A: solid standard brown in color, sharp-clear, with a jewel-like glow.... very high stand of foam on the pour, off-white in color, decent lacing and retention.... strange, but you can sort of surmise that it's low on hops and perhaps has a good portion of sugar in the bill.... how do i know? imagination?

S: some spicy aromatics, though weak.... dark candy sugar or demerara.... vague roasted/toasted grain....overall, weak and uninspiring with a touch of hot booze

T: way more expressive on the palate than in the sinuses.... dark sugar comes out more... supple yet mellow maltiness w/o being sweet.... quite dry, dropping off and disappearing by the finish, with little residual flavor outside alcohol aromatics....

M: delicate, slightly silky at first... quick shift mid-sip to a rush of boozy warmth that fans out across the palate.... has sort of a soft flare/burn-out effect (zapping out any sweet flavors in the process).... overall, great feel for a triple

O: I could perhaps agree that you could think of this as a "dark triple"

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Photo of cambabeer
4.49/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown with reddish hues transparent body below a beautiful white head and lace that sticks to the glass. Smells of malt, creamy and alcoholic. Some herbal spices and pepperiness with some sweet fruit to balance it out. Raisins and bubblegum. Very nice mouthfeel, thickness from the malt. Sweeter and fruitier in the beginning, the warming alcohol and a little bit of hops then break through and the aftertaste is toasty and malty with a little bit of dried fruits. Bready from the malt. Honestly, hard to describe as every with every sip I seem to find new characteristics. A great brew and good treat, ABV definitely noticeable.

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Photo of Mdez
4.79/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I tried this because of all the good things I've read about it. Even though it's a tripel and "should be" lighter, the darker appearance was intriguing. Once I tasted it, I decided that I would always have some of this around; it's just too good to pass-up; maybe even too good to share. Now I know one more place to stop when I eventually take that beer/winery trip to Belgium...

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

A: 2.5 to a 3.5 finger head. It pours bubbly, you can hear the bubbles fizzing. The color is dark red with a creamy white head.

S: fruit, dark fruit medley. You can smell the alcohol due to the high abv. Also I picked up an apple aroma?

T: salty caramel and dark sugared fruits. This dark triple was showing its true colors when it warms up. The room temperature brings out a lot more dimensions in my opinion. So let this one warm up a bit.

M: Carbonated balance with a real light syrup mouth feel.

O: After letting this brew warm it was quite enjoyable to taste the different levels of flavor. I will be buying this again.

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Photo of jprock01
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Be careful drinking this beer. It will knock your d.kk into the dirt. I had some in California, then met some Hispanics, with whom I naturally drink tequila. Well shooting tequila and chugging the beer two or three times caused me to lose my coat and get a cut over my eye. I haven't drunk it since.

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Photo of FLima
4.19/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark mahogany color with a huge beige mushroom head with great retention and leaving lots of strong laces.
Nice malty aroma with notes of hay (just initially), dark fruits and caramel.
Bold flavor with strong malty and spicy notes, prunes soaked in liquor, caramel, earthy hops, candied sugar, dried fruits, cloves, bubblegum and cherries. Just a hint of vinous tartness. Dry aftertaste that lingers its predominant flavors.
Medium to full body with good carbonation, somewhat sticky. Alcohol of 10.5% abv is very harmonic with the overall beer.
Big beer, tasty and one of the most condimented beers around, but also quite fruity and with a strong malty base to support it. Recommendable sipper.

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Photo of zeledonia
4.29/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tasted 2 January 2014, reviewed from notes.

Pours a dark amber-brown, apparently clear, but dark enough that I can't really see through it. Two big fingers of yellowish head, quite dense. Head is lasting, with lovely fingers of lacing reaching up the glass.

Smell is rich and sugary and lightly alcoholic. Lots going on in there, brown sugar, balanced by some aromatic twinges that rise up in the nose. It's well balanced, though somewhat split in two, with the deep and the thin, the light and the dark.

Taste is potent. As in the smell, it's sugary, with brown sugar and caramel. A little herbal bitterness, blending into alcoholic bitterness, but they're both smoothly balanced by the sugars.

Feel is a bit over-carbonated. Medium-heavy body, plenty of residual sugars. Carbonation flares up, foamy and eruptive in my mouth. Would be better with 25% less carbs.

I really like this beer. It's rare to encounter such a big beer that's so well-balanced. It definitely tilts toward malty, but for me it has just the right amount of counter-weight in the lightness and bitterness.

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

11.2oz bottle, no date, but did see a “14CM” laser printed on one side of the label. Poured into a Karmeliet tulip glass.

Appearance: Very dark amber with lots of carbonation coming up through the beer when held up to the light. Big thick rocky light tan head with lots of chunks, sheets, and strands of lacing all over the glass.

Smell: Fruit, just a hint of mustiness, yeast, toffee and raisins with a swirl. Maybe just a hint of orange peel in there as well. Lovely.

Taste: Lots of sweetness with caramelized malt, candi sugars, and fruit notes. Mild bitter finish; I’m not getting any phenolic character, but there is some spiciness to it at the end. Rich and deep in sweetness, but balanced and not cloying would be a good way to describe the flavor of this beer. Very nice.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation, nicely slick and thick at the same time – a bit chewy as well. Definitely sticks to the teeth.

Overall / Drinkability: A definite treat of a beer, worth savoring slowly after a meal, but I think I could pair this with the right meal and/or desert and it would go equally well. Alcohol is dangerously hidden, as I know if I had another one of these I would be in trouble. So one is enough per evening, but it is so tasty I would not mind a bigger glass / bottle to enjoy slowly over an evening.

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Photo of BethanyB
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: A clear dark gold, with a massive, moussey white head. Leaves lots of lacing on the glass. A good looking example of a darker version of the Tripel style.

Smell: Very boozey! The various smells are unexpected, yet appetizing. Pineapple, hay, and a clove/banana mixture one would expect more from a Hefeweizen. Gives the impression that this is a big beer, but with lighter and brighter flavors.

Taste: Melanoidins not present in the smell are prominent in the taste. Toffee, caramel and dates are surprisingly good when combined with a pina colada flavor. Lightly toasted malt and soft spices bring balance to the mix. A slightly medicinal aftertaste reminds me of a beer that hasn't been completely fermented, but it doesn't take away from the fact that this is one delicious drink.

Mouthfeel: Medium mouthfeel with high carbonation.

Overall: It. Is. So. Good. Slightly green, and a little too alcohol-forward perhaps, but no matter. Give me more of this delectable sipper.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.96/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A 330ml bottle with a BB of Feb 2013, so it's well out of date. Picked up ages ago as part of a Belgian six-pack and stashed in my garage. Hopefully the high ABV will have helped to preserve it. Nice bottle, though I wish they still coated them with ceramic....

Poured into a Duvel tulip. Bottle conditioned. A dark reddish-brown hue that appears almost black in the glass. Intense carbonation is just visible, along with chunky floating sediment. Yields a large head of creamy beige foam that lasts for a few minutes before reducing to a thick surface layer. Aroma of sweet, fruity malt with hints of prunes, dried fruit, sherry, fruitcake, brown sugar/caramel, mild oxidation and a warming whiff of booze. Impressive but faintly cloying.

Tastes of rich, fruity malt with a sweet character and a lingering finish. Notes of prunes, raisins, dried fruit, sherry, fruitcake, brown sugar, caramel, subtle oxidation, a twinge of vanilla, stewed leaves and faint earthiness. Pretty sweet, with a hint of warming alcohol in the background. A mild, leafy bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with good body and perhaps a shade too much carbonation. An aftertaste of sweet, fruity malt, dark sugar and booze.

A Belgian classic, though sweeter than I remember it. Perhaps the age of the bottle has resulted in a touch too much oxidation? Looks decent, with a superbly rich aroma and flavour of dried fruit and booze. Body is OK, though the carbonation could be toned down a tad. An excellent beer, particularly for winter, but one to be savoured at leisure. Add this one to your must-try list.

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Photo of TheDoctor
4.26/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a fairly cloudy amber-honey color with a big three fingers of tan head (intense carbonation overflowed immediately on opening it) that settles like a frothy honeycomb to a couple inches of perfection. Great retention; nice thorough lacing. Fantabulous!

Pretty flat chalky yeast smell. Some sweet notes and bubblegum, but barely there.

Round and warm with some nuttier flavors at the beginning settling into fruity tastes and a slight lingering aftertaste of dark fruits. Nuts, chocolate, cherries, candi sugar, deliciousness.

Rich and full-bodied with great carbonation and a creamy, soft texture that makes it a very enjoyable beer to drink.

Fabulous beer.
This is a fine looking (both in the bottle and in the glass) and fine tasting brew that should not be missed. The only off thing that I found was the nose. I tried repeatedly but could not detect much of an aroma to speak of. I'm not even congested, so who knows. Anyway, it doesn't much matter because the flavors, feel, and looks of the beer more than make up for it.
Will have again without a doubt; worth clamoring to get ahold of.

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Photo of Dope
4.21/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

No date that I can see.

A: Pours a very, very dark brown. Very tall and frothy light brown head. Head fizzes out very quickly initially, then slows to a crawl. Great retention. I swear at times the head is getting bigger as it sits. Almost no lacing at all, just a few fluffy specks here and there.

S: Dark bready aroma with quite a bit of brown sugar. Some cloves and some dark fruits. Indistinct dark fruits that I can't quite put my finger on. Dates and raisins? Smells reminds me of fruitcake, oddly enough.

T: Sticky, sugary candi sugar and brown sugar to boot. Rich, dense dark bread. Lots of spices join it, like a heavy spicecake now. Decent amount of dark fruits in here, again with the dates and raisin I'd say. Lots of cloves, particularly on the back end. No real sign of alcohol, maybe just a hint in the aftertaste.

M: High carbonation but heavy, sticky body. The carbonation is important to prevent this from becoming a mess. Prickly but sticky. Interesting combination.

O: A very intriguing brew. Bottle states that this is a "dark tripel" and I kinda agree. It has that high carbonation and big bright fruity crispness of a tripel but with lots of brown sugar and dark bread flavors. It's like a cross between a tripel and a quad. Very unique and very tasty.

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Photo of BeerStoreTop10
3.86/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

This beer was superb. After years of drinking craft ales and lagers it was nice to get back to my drinking roots and try a European flavour. It reminded me of a hobo's butthole but in a good way. Would read again.

When I held it up to the light and saw how beautifully red it was I knew how I drunk I must have been to be thinking it was beautiful.

Seriously though, shit was so cash.

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Photo of Auraan
4.47/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep ruby red, semi-opaque, with a one finger off-white head that receded to a white ring rather quickly. While the head was nothing to write home about, the body color was fantastic. Scents of bubblegum, apple, pear, banana, fruity esters of a less describable sort, Belgian yeast, candi sugar and faint hints of alcohol. A good, fruity, yeasty, sweet and complex Belgian aroma. Taste begins with candi sugar, notes of apple and pear and some yeasty dark bread, moves into raisin, prune, sweet bready malts, caramel and some earthy Belgian yeast. Finishes with more bready malt and just a touch of alcohol. Quite nice, rather sweet, but not overly so and very complex. Mouthfeel is medium-heavy bodied, with moderate carbonation, a slight alcohol burn, and a drying finish. Very nice sipping mouthfeel. Overall this is an excellent Belgian Strong Dark. Its got the complexity in both aroma and flavor that defines the style, and a very nice profile to both to boot.

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Photo of pmarlowe
3.97/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Tulip glass.

A: Pours a deep, burgundy-rust color with a finger of fluffy off-white head. Superb, thick retention and some decent lacing. There’s a couple centimeter cap of head for as long as you care to drink this.

S: Booze-soaked fruit (plum, grape), jelly doughnut (?!), caramel, butterscotch, some cherry, and fresh bready malts.

T: Light fruit (dried cherry and raisin), bready malts, slight booze (though not bad considering the ABV), and a mild sweetness on the finish. Contains a slight mouthwatering quality. Rich and full flavor, well balanced, and not overly sweet.

M: A little warming alcohol, though belying the 10 percent ABV. Creamy mouthfeel, with slightly sharp carbonation (which mellows out considerably with some time) and medium-full bodied.

O: A tasty tripel, quite good esp. given that I’m not a huge fan of the style.

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Photo of brureview
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a light chocolate color with a 2F head in a tulip glass.

The aroma: light vanilla, chocolate and very spicy with a strong clove presence. The clove is different than other beers in the style.

The mouth feel is very carbonated and transitions well to the taste.

The taste is exceptionally complex: spice, chocolate, clove and a strong alcoholic finish. The chocolate is more prominent with warming.

Overall a great beer- especially for the cold winter months.

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Gulden Draak (Dark Triple) from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
4.2 out of 5 based on 3,840 ratings.
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