Gulden Draak | Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

1,335 Reviews
Gulden DraakGulden Draak

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: 1,335 | Ratings: 3,904
Photo of MrDell
4.84/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


Gulden Draak
Belgian Strong Dark Ale / Dark Tripel - 10.5% - 330ml Bottle - Best before 08.10.2016

From the Brewery Van Steenberge website:
Gulden Draak is a dark triple, which in itself makes it an exceptional beer. But it is the complex taste with hints of caramel, roasted malt and coffee in combination with the creamy hazel head that makes it unique. It is a beer that is worthy of its name.
Like the other special beers of the Brewery Van Steenberge, Gulden Draak is a high fermentation beer with secondary fermentation. For the secondary fermentation, wine yeast is used. This also contributes to the unparalleled taste.

This also happens to be the beer that started me off on my obsession with Belgian beers, so let’s see if it’s as good as I remember it to be.

Appearance: Pours a lovely deep brown/ruby red colour. With a one finger, tightly packed off white head. Excellent retention at this heigh ABV. With a lot of nice lace work. Loads of fast moving small bubbles. Very nice looking beer.

Aroma: Smells kind of sweet and sour. Definitely picking up caramel along with the wine yeast (aromas not dissimilar to a red). Lots of Horlicks-type sweet malt in the aroma, like but with the astringent element backing it up.

Taste: Malt, loads of caramel and toffee but also with just a slight hint of that wine yeast in the background keeping it balanced, although sweet. Hides it's 10.5% very well. Beautiful.

Mouth feel: It's full bodied and very smooth on the palate. Not at all bitter. Leaves the mouth feeling fresh unlike many other high strength dark beers.

OveralI: As good, if not better than I remember. I can see how this one got me into Belgian beer so much. Will start drinking more one again. 10/10.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.84/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a hazy, dark cherry red with a one-finger, creamy, off-white head. Lots of lacing, no carbonation.
S- Awesome Carmel malt an dark fruit smell.
T- Follows nose. Awesome dark cherry pie! Tons of malt, yeast and funk combines with Dark fruits of cherry, dates, caramel for an amazing triple, A slight slap on the ass on the way out from the alcohol.
F- This is one perfectly smooth beer. There is some age on this one, and I wonder what this would taste like fresh from the brewery in Belgium. One day my friends!
O- I do not have a lot of experience with the Trippel. This is the best I have had.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.83/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Nice apperance...dark mahogoney color/ 1 finger head holds true throughout.

The smell was interesting in that I smelled some sour in the background but overall it was spicey.

Omy the taste leaves no room for improvement...Some warming in the immediate aftertaste then gone...the sour smell was just some lemon to cleanse the palate after every drink. Spices hold true . very complex and beyond my capabilities to put into words but flawless.

High alcohol content is fairly well hidden but at 10.5% its impossible to hide. This one warmed me up good.

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Photo of MisterClean
4.83/5  rDev +15%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap yardhouse in Irvine. Wanted to try a Belgian to end the night and hope I wasn't disappointed.

A - Poured a murky dark, murky, carmel-black color.

S - Sweet perfume of carmelized brown sugar, a bit of honey, and currant.

T - Wow!!! Brown sugar and honey malts with a clean finish. Light notes of sourness from Belgian malts/hops/yeasts.

M - Warm, with only light notes of alcohol.

D - Would pair excellent as an after-dinner or with a cigar.

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Photo of radioscooter
4.83/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is so-far, in 20 years of beer geekitude, my (so far) all time favorite drinking beer. I love it for any time of year and I find myself in an uncomfortably dependent relationship with it. Luckily, I only drink two beers in an evening anymore, and at 10.5%ABV, that suits this brand just fine. It's an ass-kicker and after about 3 minutes, you know you're drinking. Alternate with waters if you're at a pub.

Yes, it is heady and has beautiful Belgian lacing and a strong, rich taste and I suppose there are some fig or plum or fruity overtones, etc. Maybe with some time and effort I'll be able to refer to these attributes with less flippancy and more accuracy.

But so many other more knowledgeable and practiced BAs have reviewed the Draak that I didn't just want to chime in with yet another list of offbeat flavors with which to try to out-obscure this beer's flavor.

What you need to know is fairly simple. If you like dark, strong Belgian triples - this is one of the best. But then - if you already know you like these types of beers, then you've probably already tried this one. It's one of the prominent Belgians in just about every self-respecting alehouse that serves them that I've visited.

I find that served cold from the fridge, or right off a tap - as with many strong ales, its flavor is really masked by the temp. My usual trick is to pour, let sit for 7-10 min. and then sip it slowly over the next 15 minutes. This allows the full flavor experience, which is what separates this beer from other similar styles.

To perhaps bring something new to the discussion, I can discuss the difference between the 11oz bottles, the 750 and the on-tap offerings, as I've experienced all three within the past week.

These conditions may affect many beers similarly, or they may not. Your mileage may vary, obviously. I find that of the three ways I've had it - the larger 750 bottle is my favorite. This beer isn't served by more carbonation, and the big bottle has the least, while the tap version seems to have more. That may be dependent on the bar's system, but Jeff at the legendary Sharp Edge in Pittsburgh knows what he's doing there and it is consistent. The differences are subtle, but the smaller bottle is the lessor of the three. Sadly, we cannot buy the 750's in PA. I just bought a case of the 11's and that wasn't easy either.

For clarity - On tap I usually drink it at the Sharp Edge in Pittsburgh. (in a true GD goblet) I had my last one at the new Bistro 922 version of the Edge which, on the day I was there, had recently opened and was hosting a bevy of Furries from the convention a block away.

I ordered my case of 11's from a local distributor whose usual most exotic is "any beer that has the lime built-in" but he's a friend of mine and likes to tell his other customers about the idiot that pays $90 for a case of beer. I drink this at home poured into my Chimay goblets (shhh don't tell anyone, it's the only glassware I own. But my birthday approaches. Hint, hint)

I found and tried the 750's for the first time on vacation in Virginia and was so excited, I drank a whole one every night for the week we were there. (poured into some rental property wine goblets that were on hand) For the record - the Fredericksburg, VA Wegman's has a punishingly great beer and wine selection for being a freaking supermarket. Represent.

I did read somewhere to pair it with chocolate cake. I never understand the idea of pairing an already-sweet beer with a rich dessert. But all in the effort of science, I tried a small handful of bittersweet chocolate with a sip last night - and whaddya know - bliss.

I'll be cellaring some (if I can bare it) to see how it does over time.

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Photo of JISurfer
4.83/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The main reason I gave the appearance such a high rating was the massive, impressive head that it had. This head was sooo thick and sooo creamy, it is the best head I have ever experienced(jokes aside). The color was a very nice brownish-red, kind of like georgia mud water. The taste was beefy, just like most strong belgians. I really enjoyed this one, but it would have been even better in the dead of winter.

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Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.83/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look : Two finger volumes white-brown head, hazy red-brown body.

Smell : Plums, pear, and caramel mainly.

Taste : Sweet brown sugar, caramel, plum, nutmeg, cinnamon.

Feel : High carbonation, medium body, sweet, warming alcohol.

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Photo of Giggy
4.82/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown color with a slight garnet hue. Was amazed to find it so dark since most Trippels are more golden. Large tan head that stayed.

S: Wow! Toffee, caramel and malt. Also the scent of the most loveliest yeast.

T: Very sweet at first but the alcohol comes in and takes it away slightly. Pepper, anise, red grapes, honey and herbs

M: Medium body, creamy and smooth.

O: A must try and a must have for any Belgian lover. This is one you want to recomend and share with friends.

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Photo of acoatley
4.82/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Characteristic thick Belgian head, moderate retention, reddish brow but crystal clear

Aroma: Caramel and vanilla no hops just a hint of sweet malt and butterscotch it’s like a candy factory

Flavor: Delivers maple syrup, butterscotch, definitely some characteristics of that Belgian yeast dark cherries

Mouthfeel: moderate to low carbonation silky smooth full body definitely makes my top 10

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Photo of ChrisCage
4.81/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Interesting little stubby bottle that is Hugglemonster white in color....the beer?...well its a rich dark ruby/brown color and is yeast hazed in a very creamy way....the head is caramel colored, densely built, and retains very well, leaving behind a thick-ish layer over the beer itself! The lacing is excellent with a nice uneven bubble grid all around, however, it doesn't cling very well after movement, and is slightly oily on the side of the glasses' surface....still, a very impressive look!

S- Deep, rich caramel notes, with yeasty, malty molasses and brown sugar/sugar cane....nearly mapled aromas. Milk chocolate, dark fruits such as honeyed prunes, hints of boozy banana, and slight malted booziness. The finish is long and cloying....intense all throughout!

T- There is an entire medley of exploding flavors on the palate....most likely too many to analyze! Deep toffee/caramel/molasses, slight maple, autumn/pumpkin pie spices,(think nutmeg), light cinnamon notes, dried dark fruits such as plum, figs, raisins, black cherry....even apples.....Slightly rummy! Yeasty cake like sweetness that could be taken as ginger bread/cake...semi sweet, with a finish that reminds me of milk chocolate blended with a small amount of freshly brewed coffee....the finish on the plate is surprisingly clean, yet there is a lingering sticky depth that makes me want the next sip immediately!

M/O- Overall, this is an incredible brew that I cannot believe I have not had up until this point! I can only imagine this on tap and can only imagine even more how this would be aged! Tight carbonation, buttery smooth and this is probably the most well hidden alcohol that I have ever experienced within a beer, especially for 10.5%! I need a case of this on hand at all times and look forward to a trip to Belgium because of this lovely nectar! Most recommended......

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Photo of MattyG85
4.8/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 11.2 oz bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a very dark and hazy brownish amber with some ruby red. Pours with a huge off white head that easily takes up the entire space of the tulip. Head slowly fades into a bubbly patchy layer leaving a good amount of lace on the glass.

Smell: Some spicy Belgian yeast and a huge aroma of dark fruits. Big hints of prune juice, raisins, and cherries with some brown sugar, banana, and clove. Also some hints of sweet roasted caramel malts. Alcohol aroma is actually fairly mild.

Taste: Upfront is some Belgian yeast and clove spice. Then comes a big taste of dark fruits with notes of prunes, cherry, and raisins. Also some brown sugar and a hint of banana. A nice taste of roasted caramel malts towards the finish give a bready aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Creamy, juicy, and somewhat prickly. Very smooth with no noticeable alcohol heat.

Overall: A great Belgian ale. Vibrant dark fruits and complex.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.8/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This a beer that I order when I bring people to try good beers at the Sharp Edge for the first time. Most people are impressed by the 20oz. tulip shaped glass with the golden dragon on it, plus I know that the imbiber is going to get happy real quick. Appearance: Deep mahogany huge velvety tan light brown head extravagant fine lacing very detailed and webbed. Aroma: Deep mulilayered with fruit and fusel alcohol contains a nice balance between sweetness and the herbal hop profile. Taste: Mild chocolate notes with raisin and apple tones that come out slightly caramelized ripened fruit with a toasted nut edge to it all with a slight spiciness that brings the mouth a full orgy of flavors. Mouthfeel: Medium bodied effervescent a true gem in the realm of Belgian beer. Drinkability: Dangerously easy to consume try to keep it to just one of these bad boys in a sitting, definitely one of my all time favorite Belgians.

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Photo of Jemonster
4.8/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A golden amber looking color with almost no head, however, a light lacing is left behing in the glass.

S: Sweet, strong, slightly alcoholic... candylike.

T: Again, very sweet like the smell, reminds me of mead. I taste honey and some earthiness.

M: Sort of flat, good, but definately the lacking aspect in this one.

D: Very smooth and could be a session beer if judged on taste alone, but the 10.5% ABV could cause some problems.

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Photo of dbell23
4.8/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a wire and cork 750 ml bottle into a tulip glass. Mahogany color with a huge foamy off white head that lingers and settles into fluffy cloud on a small dense head. Lacing is really nice.

Smell is dark Belgian classic. Candied fruit,maybe brandied fruit, sweet malt, light phenols, yeasty goodness.

Taste is spectacular. Sweet malt with practically no hop. Candied fruit maybe stewed prunes. Raises, slight banana. Great dark Belgian tastes. The alcohol is hidden but definitely there.

Mouthfeel starts with maybe too much carbonation but, one might imagine, it smoothes out as it warms. Really nice.

Overall, this may be my favorite dark Belgian. Great beer.

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Photo of GreatLeo
4.8/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: Poured from the 330ml bottle into a Judas glass with best before date of 24/05/09.
Body is a deep amber color with a strong sticky, foamy head that hangs around for while. Aroma of sweet, bready malt, raisin, and a hint of spicy hops and pepper. Taste is mildly sweet up front, then becomes richer and maltier as it goes down. Finish is smooth one with a small hint of lingering heat from the alcohol content. Considering the high ABV this brew has its hidden extremely well which makes this a beer very drinkable.
Body is very rich and creamy, just what you want for a dessert beer. I've had quite a few light tripel style brews over the years but this is a first in the dark tripel category and I must say I am quite impressed. I'm definately putting a few of these beauties away for cellaring one could only wonder the improvements this beer will make over a year or two.

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Photo of ZAP
4.8/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Maroon colored...nice fluffy white head...sweet aroma of caramel drenched black cherries..a bit yeasty on the nose with a very faint barn yard like smell....taste is big time sweet...doppelbock like sweetness...Big sweet dark fruits, also some tropical fruits....rum...caramel, molasses, cotton candy, this is an awesome tasting beer....body is medium...carbonation about medium...drinkability sky high for me..High ABV is nowhere to be found in the taste...this one could be dangerous if I had a lot of it in the house...

What a fucking treat this one was....I must have more of this...I must move to Belgium soon.

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Photo of burring
4.8/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I haven't been able to have any type of alcohol for two weeks since I was on antibiotics. Bought this at the beginning of my stint so I had something to look forward to.

Appearance: pours a beautiful auburn color. Slightly cloudy when held up to a CFL. I may even go far as to say it's beautiful? Maybe not but it is a pretty auburn color.

Smell: I can smell the malt and alcohol. It smells fruity. Like putting your nose into a bottle of cran-grape juice. It's pleasant. Inviting.

Taste: malty and sweet. It's a pleasant sweetness. Definitely not a make-your-teeth-hurt-sweet. It's very nice. I taste various berries but I am unable to pinpoint what type of berries I taste. It's reminiscent to the cherries from a cherry tree that used to grow in the backyard where I grew up. I'm not sure if cherries are berries. If not, then go with me. I really enjoy this. I hate to give it a five but I feel like I would be lying to you all if I didn't.

Mouthfeel: smooth, smooth, smooth. From this point on, for mouthfeel, I will plug my nose and really pay attention to the taste. (I'd rather not get into my semantic and lexical knit-picking when it comes to the words taste and flavor.) It's a bit viscus, but not to the point where it feels like molasses on my tongue but to a degree where it feels as it simply rolls over it with deliberateness.

Drinkability: difficult not to drink quickly. It's very tasty. Like, to the point where I want to take the bottle straight to the face. This may sound exaggerated but it's not. Don't believe me? Try it. If you don't like it, well, sorry. We all perceive these things differently. I just would be hard-pressed to find many people who really disliked this beer.

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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 Czequershuus
4.79/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This beer pours a dark ruby color with a large sustaining head. The aroma hits me with fresh dark fruit, red currant, plum, black cherry, as well as bubblegum and rose hip. The flavor starts with red currant and black cherry, with a nice tart-sweet balance, as well as bubblegum, subtle banana, and a rich candy flavor at the end. The mouthfeel is full but wonderfully fizzy. Overall this is a spectacular beer providing waves of flavor that crash over my tongue, each proving a new level to examine.

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

Dark and hazy brown with a red tint. Super active upon pouring. 3-4 finger head with a slower pour than I normally perform. Very Dark!! Very active and remains so - the head never really dissipates. Nice retention / bubble replenishment. Nice lacing everywhere the brew touches.

Smells of dark sun ripened fruit. Prunes and raisins. Rich and sweet smelling. Quite aromatic. Definitely can smell the Belgian yeast.

Wow! Not what I expected. I saw this brew listed as a Dark Tripel? But see its in the Belgian Dark Strong category. Not much like a tripel at all. Only a hint of bitterness at first sip. Then there is a sweet blast of malt and caramel that overpowers. Sweet and rich fruit flavors swirl around. There's grape/raisin, plum/prune, fig, molasses, caramel, and more. It only dries out slightly as the rush of alcohol cuts through. It gets pretty boozy for a few seconds, but slowly fades out. Not too overpowering. A bit of spice and yeast. Quite complex and like a really strong Quad.

Full-bodied and very fizzy. Stays active and very interesting.

Awesome beer!! Will definitely buy in the future. Really surprised with this one. There are so many flavors in this bottle. Quite strong (high ABV). Rich, fruity, and caramelly.

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Photo of Jon
4.78/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Gulden Draak -- now I know. Out of the white bottle comes a dark mahogany chestnut color with an enormous, incredibly durable and creamy khaki head. It laces well down the chalice. Very impressive looking. The bouquet is nutty and sweet, with notes of chocolate, mild alcohol, and, surprisingly, herbal hops. The taste of this beer is ever-evolving as the brew warms. I detected sweet, nutty malt, candy sugar, moderate alcohol, dark chocolate, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, a bit of pepper and twangy hops. The finish has somewhat of a warming alcohol and spicy, twangy hop character. The variety of flavors this beer possesses is incredible. The mouthfeel is velvety smooth with a very mild, subdued carbonation that fits perfectly. The potent alcoholic strength of this brew is hard to detect if you don't read the label first. This is an outstanding ale and is HIGHLY recommended!

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Photo of luvND
4.78/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: 330 ml white bottle, attractive package, golden dragon on label

Appearance: Best, thickest head retention that I have ever seen. Beautiful dark brown color.

Smell: Sweet, brown sugar, caramel, some ripe fruit and a hint of the alcohol.

Taste: I drank this first on its own and it was very nice, sweet, nice malt, all Belgian. Then I had it with some turkey sausage and what a pairing, sweetness complemented the spice so well. Finally, I finished it with desert, coffee ice cream and hot fudge and I think it was the best match of the evening. The slightly bitter coffe ice cream with the rich hot fudge brought out flavors in the beer that I hadn' t yet tasted.

Mouthfeel: As smooth and rich as possible. Not too thick though.

Drinkability: Scary at 10+%

Overall: A friend gave me this one. Never heard of it. Now I will confidently rank it as one of the best beers that I have ever tasted, Belgian or other.

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Photo of Suds
4.78/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is an experience in itself. It's a beautiful dark brown beer with a full, thick and creamy head. Heavily carbonated: If you hold it to the light, you'll see a constant billowing of bubbles from the scorings on the bottom of a belgain beer glass. Spicy, complex aroma. Pleasing warming sensation from the first sip. Full, creamy, and very malty beer. I loved it.

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Photo of golffan8
4.78/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had the beer on tap with a Chilean Sea Bass topped with a miso sauce...great paring! This is a slow drinking, sipping beer that is meant to be appreciated and savored.

A - Appearance was a gold.

S - Smell was dried fruit and alcohol.

T - Initial taste was: molasses, oak and alcohol. It finished with dry fruit and notes of pear and plumb.

This is a great example of an excellent Strong Belgian Ale. It is a beer that should be appreciated with a great dinner and should be paired with a meal with strong flavors (gamey meats, meat or fish topped with a sweet sauce or smoky flavors).

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Photo of MBPChead
4.78/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Definitely one of my all time favorite beers and I had plenty of it while I was in France.

Deep brown in color with amber, orange, and caramel hues with a thick creamy head in both texture and color.

Smell; caramel, wheat, brown sugar, slight hints of pepper.

Taste; quite sweet overall with the apparent and forefront flavors of caramel, brown sugar, wheat, rye grains, and black pepper accompanied by plum and prune flavors, slight hits of cinnamon and cloves, with orange and whiskey hints on occasional sips making the level of alcohol present as a reminder, very complex all in all.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy with the same density as water but with medium carbonation giving it a slightly prickly sensation on the tongue.

Drinkability: The flavor of this bier allows it to easily slip over the drinker's taste buds and down the throat I could easily drain several of these, but the level of alcohol in this brew deters that idea quite a bit.

All in all truly an excellently brewed BIER!

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Gulden Draak from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
4.2 out of 5 based on 3,904 ratings.
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