Gulden Draak | Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
1,330 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:
1,330
Ratings:
3,894
Avg:
4.2
pDev:
11.43%
 
 
Wants:
304
Gots:
846
For Trade:
3
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,330 | Ratings: 3,894
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

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A deep, dark, burgundy brown color, and a thick, full, rocky, tannish head. Aroma sizzles over with all things good, a sensory overload of hop sensation: fruity notes, earthy notes, hints of leather and lavender, grapes, wines, figs, raisins. One of my all-time favorite aromatic brews. A full pallet-load of hops on the palate (sorry, couldn't resist trying that one out just once!) A flood of brilliant bitterness on first sip, that just keeps giving and giving and giving. Solid malt here, too, holding everything together. Fierce and fiery, like the breath of the beast that graces the label and gives this ale it's name. Hot, substantial, and impressive, the dragon is formidable!
One drawback is the "drinkability" issue. My first time with the Dragon, I shared a750ml with a friend, and still woke up the next AM, moaning and groaning, able only to utter: "Guuuulden Drak...guuuuuulden draaaaak....."
Had a 11.2oz.er for the purpose of this review, and I felt it terribly the next day. How to rate the ease with which one drinks the Dragon, when the Dragon always slays you? "Yes, I'll have another"...some other day....

 1,129 characters

Photo of Raven3464
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: It pours a brownish-red body with a huge three finger head. Retention is incredible.

Smell: The initial pour releases an incredibly inviting aroma of clove and dark fruits like raisins, plums, and cherries. As the beer warms the smell starts to resemble rum with a punch of alcohol and caramel. The booze smell never takes over despite the high ABV. A slight yeast aroma can also be noticed.

Taste: Brown sugar is the first flavor which comes to mind. This is followed by hints of clove, cherries, plume, and caramel. There is a good balance of hops, as the aftertaste is sweet but with a hop bite still lingering in the back of the throat. There is enough alcohol to let you know you are drinking a bold brew but it is never overpowering. Surprisingly, hints of Belgian yeast (i.e the Belgian twang) are not so apparent.

Mouth feel: This is like alcoholic syrup with just the right amount of carbonation. In other words, it is thick and yet still easy to drink.

Overall: This is one of the overall best dark ales I have ever had. I highly recommend it.

 1,073 characters

Photo of DenisKolkin
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 6 of 6 of the Belgian Taster's pack from LCBO. Served cold into an oversized wine glass. Before even revisiting this great beer, I knew it would be my favorite from the six pack once I tried all the others. Another awesome cap and fantastic looking white bottle covering with dragons on it.

Appearance - Dark, amber and mahogany color spills into the glass and gives a tremendous 3 fingers of khaki head resting on top. Head lingers entire duration eventually fading down into a soapy floating cap. Magnificent lacing down the sides too. Wow!

Smell - Rich, bready malts, caramel, butterscotch a little bit of dark fruit, prunes and maybe cherries especially. The booze is present but not outlandish. To me smells like a 7-9% ABV as opposed to the 10.5% so it is somewhat well hidden.

Taste- Big malts like caramel and butterscotch that start sweet but quickly are reigned in so as to not be cloying of obstructive in any manner from beer nirvana. Light smokey undertone and a bit of a burn from the alcohol especially at the conclusion of a sip. Toasted sugars and Belgian yeasts are also present but much more subdued.

Mouthfeel - Slightly dry finish although that's expected given the alcohol level, but before that the beer is rich and velvety, but serious in character and not delicate.

Overall - This is a beer that gets straight to the point does not beat around the bush and try to trick you into what it is: a serious and delicious Belgian Strong Dark Ale that is extremely well crafted and will put you on your ass if you don't respect it. Definitely a sipper. Personally one of my two favorites from the style with the Rochefort 8 yet how they achieve their excellence couldn't be more different. A huge recommendation for anyone wanting to try something in the style.

 1,792 characters

Photo of Lemke10
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Served on-tap in downtown Janesville, WI. This pours a brown color with a light beige head. Not too much of a scent other than a little malt aroma. There is a sweet, malty flavor that erupts with delicious flavors. A little bit of alcohol burn given the A.B.V. but very well made.

 280 characters

Photo of jayhawk73
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark caramel color, w/ a nice three finger head into my gulden draak glass. This looks like a serious beer. The smell is sweet, fruity, w/ a alcohol whiff as well. Really improves the warmer it gets. Some spice, raisins, dates and malt in there as well. I love the taste of this beer- it's definitely one of my favorite tripels. You get a nice sweet, sour, malt, fruit and alcohol taste all combined in a nice package. Nicely balanced. This beer definitely opens up nicely the warmer it gets. I'm thinking almost room temperature is ideal for Gulden Draak. Mouthfeel is nice, velvety- w/ the sweet, sour, and alcohol all in play. Smooths out quite a bit the warmer it gets. Drinkability is great. This beer is a sipper at 10.5% ABV, but it goes down a little too easy, and the alcohol will catch up to you quickly. Gulden Draak is world class- but do yourself a favor and drink it slightly chilled at almost room temperature.

 933 characters

Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A classic belgian dark triple, this has everything you look for in this style, dark fruits mainly figs, plums and dates, some candy sweetness, pretty highly carbonated but a great mouthfeel. A legendary beer.

 208 characters

Photo of gfanikf
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The light color can throw you off at first, but once you get past the first taste, you get an incredibly rich and flavorful drink that doesn't feel heavy or oppressive to the tounge like many other high abv beers.

 213 characters

Photo of Blakaeris
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours creamy mahogany with ruby highlights and a huge frothy tan head.

The smell is amazing. I get a comples aroma of dark fruits, cherries, and slight spice notes.

The taste is of sweet caramel, dark chocolate, plums, and bit of spiciness. I'm thinking peppery, with coriander. This starts off with sweet malts and ends with a sharp and surprisingly bitter finish. The alcohol is well concealed.

Mouthfeel is amazingly full and creamy.

If I could get my hands on it, I would drink this brew quite often. Very nice.

 527 characters

Photo of DIM
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: This was a clear, dark coppery amber color. It poured with a massive, uneven, airy head that faded to large lumps of lace. The head never did fully dissipate even though I left the beer alone for twenty minutes.

s: Lots of candi sugar and some caramel with hints of dark fruit, apple, and gentle, well incorporated alcohol. There is something else kind of soft and earthy that I can't find a word for.

t: This does indeed taste like a dark tripel. Very sweet throughout without being heavy or cloying. Candi sugar from start to finish that does have a "darker" caramel note to it. Dark fruit up front getting faintly boozy toward the middle with a bit of earthy tart... something at the end. I'm not doing this one justice damn it.

m: Very soft, active carbonation. Seems to float over the tongue.

o: Just a wonderfully unique beer. I'm glad I finally got around to trying this classic.

 893 characters

Photo of Hunter
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearance: Pillowy, thick head of dense bubbles atop a dark, nearly black-red ruby brew. Proper lacing all around.

smell: Heady notes of alcohol, sweet malt, smoke, and spice.

taste: Holy crap, the heat of alcohol blends with a fruity, floral, peppery tongue that'll set you up and knock you back. 10.5% ABV I would expect nothing less. THIS is what a winter warmer should be about and rarely is - warming, smooth, and clean.

mouthfeel: scouring on the initial taste, then mellowing to a smoothness akin to a fine brandy. Can you tell I'm pleased?

drinkability: This is something I'd almost recommend a brandy glass for. Lovely.

 633 characters

Photo of ronniebruner
4.54/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I had a pint of this on tap at The Yardhouse. This is very, very strong beer. The aroma is crisp and strong, the beer itself sweet and tarty. The beer is definitely not smooth or for the faint of heart, but this is a great beer. High ABV and a strong sugary taste, not too sweet, not too bitter, but will definitely leave a strong aroma in your mouth

 350 characters

Photo of lackenhauser
4.54/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

WOW!!!Pours a deep ruddy brown color.Great aroma with hints of malt,chocolate,fruits.An extremely smooth taste-again notes of chocolate and fruits-figs and currants.A minimal hop bite-great overall malty flavor.Absolutely no hint of the 10.5% abv.A wonderfully smooth beer-full bodied.A great beer-goes down perfectly whether its your first or last of the day.THE BEST Belgian I have had in ages by far!!! I have wanted to try this one for ages and was not let down in the least bit.Wish I had another.

 502 characters

Photo of birderbeerer
4.54/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown. Held to the light it's a deep amber/rust. Medium head. Laces well but doesn't last long.

S: Whoa. A lot there. Raisins, fruit, chocolate. Like a dessert bread about to go in the oven. As it warms, it really takes on a strong yeast nose. Some toasted toffee. Every inhalation is a little different.

T: Big malty sweetness. Chocolate and caramel. Raisins. Licorice. Rich, sweet bread. A little herbal with a bit of a brothy overtone. A little alcohol in the finish but that is offset well by both the the sweetness and breadiness.

M: Thick and creamy but not syrupy. Goes down easy.

D: For a big and super sweet beer, this is remarkably light to drink. The alcohol is hidden very well and for all its chewy breadiness it actually fairly light in body.

This reminds me more of the quads I've had than other tripels.

 834 characters

Photo of Ginger-tipple
4.54/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I drank it a bit early on a Sunday morning, but it is a magnificent brew. The whiskey flavour could have been a bit stronger and the aftertaste was a bit weak.

 159 characters

Photo of DraconusDesanctus666
4.55/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle,into a Funky Buddha snifter.

Frothy,off white / light khaki,2 finger head with nice retention.Hazy light brown in color,with minimal,distorted light showing through the glass.Medium / heavy carbonation.

The nose starts off with some bright / dark fruit notes...Mostly grape with some orange zest.Also getting some sweet malt,and bread notes.A little bit of caramel and some hidden spices as well.

The palate is very sweet,with tons of bright citrus flavor.Backed up by some sweet bread,and malts.It almost tastes more like a wine,or a Saison.Once it started to warm the caramel,and spice flavors came out beautifully.

The body is medium,with a dry finish.

This is my first time trying a dark tripel,and I'm not sure how to feel about it....Tastes and smells great,bit its almost like I'm not drinking a beer.But overall I would say it is very good.

 876 characters

Photo of Nesued
4.55/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Sampled on-tap at the Brick Store Pub in Decatur, Georgia.

This review is a long time coming. Gulden Draak was my "gateway beer" into the world of Belgian beers several years ago. To those ends, I have sampled more than a few, but have yet to review my "first love".

Appearance - Clear brown/dark brown pour with a vibrant, but not overblown, head provided the by barmaid. Carbonation is present and provides support to a finger or two of head that is maintained.

Smell - Malty sweet with a grassy presence as well. A nutty almost spicy tone is there as well, but the malt sugar nose is predominant. Lovey aroma that draws you into the glass

Taste - Caramel in the initial presentation with a fruity mouth as well. As it warms the smoothness of this offering is to be admired, with a warming comfort of malt making itself known. The hops are comfortably providing a supporting role in this offering.

Mouthfeel - Did not sense the alcohol content at all. The carbonation provided ample transport for a medium-bodied beer. Carbonation was well balanced and did not have to work at filling a void.

Drinkability - I was lucky that this was my "gateway beer" to Belgians back in the day. This brew rammed home all the variety that is present in many Belgian Strong Dark Ale offerings. This is not for the faint of heart nor is it for someone who is expecting a typical "beer". This will make you a believer in the value of going beyond the water, malt, hops doctrine.

 1,472 characters

Photo of Rhettbuck
4.55/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer is really quite amazing, but unless you are a large bear should only be consumed in moderation. I had it with a big giant burger and wedge fries. The pairing was nice, but it can easily overpower whatever you are eating with it. Definitely a beer that every dark beer drinker should have, but look for a good price. I paid five dollars just for one!

When I drank it, there was little to no head when poured. The taste is strong, and somewhat sweet. Color is dark, more so than a brown ale, but not quite what you'd get from an Imperial Stout.

 553 characters

Photo of jdubjacket
4.55/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After Georgia popped the cap in 2004, this was one of the first Belgians I picked up. I thought it was good then, and I think it's great now. Pours a deep brown with a strong head. Very bubbly. Smells like dried fruit and prunes. Taste is sweet fruit, sugar, alcohol, raisins, and prunes. The taste is very complex, but it comes together and is absolutely delicious. Mouthfeel is rather effervescent, but it's a Belgian brew, so that's expected. One of my favorite Belgians and brews.

 484 characters

Photo of jeranbrews
4.55/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A soft beige head with a healthy 2 fingers to it. A dark colored beer, like tea stains and soy sauce. Visible yeasty wisps scurrying at the bottom. The head faded a little quickly on my glass probably due to improper washing, but it left great lacing like a Rorschach diagram all over the place. The painted bottle prevents all sunlight degradation, and if you go to their website there's an interesting story behind the beer's namesake.

S - The appearance and color of this beer were nice, but the smell is even better. Initial smells include caramel, chocolate, and crystal malts. This moves along into some sweet fructose smells that are easy to pick up even with the glass 3 feet away. Caramel flavors, and spicy hops are punctuated with orange peel (also indicated on the label ingredients).

T - The experience improves even further when you take the first sip. The first word that popped into my head was 'divine'. Initially you get a wave of tastes that seem unlikely in a beer. Sweet fruity, candies, then incense-like spices like flavored tobacco from a traditional Arabic hookah. This quickly moves to a malty sensation that cools the palate while warming the heart. There are yeasty tones too, but not dominate. The final after taste of this beer is that of orange peel and a tang of yeast.

M - The weakest point of this beer is that the alcohol does throw the balance of flavor off a bit. You notice that with the mouthfeel. There is a strong smooth body with a bit of an alcoholic fusil sting. It crawls down the throat after coating the mouth.

D - The alcohol of this beer does kill some of the exotic flavors you find. The first gulp was magically delicious, a real candy store of smells and tastes, however the last few sips were not as good. However this is a beer that stands out among most.

 1,818 characters

Photo of ericj551
4.55/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Gulden Draak pours a hazy red brown with a beautiful fluffy, foamy off white head that doesn't quit. The aroma is sweet, with tons of ripe fruit and estery, slightly chalky yeast. Sweet, syrupy malt hits upfront in the flavor, dying down just a bit as the esters fade. The fruitiness in there, with some nice, slightly burnt caramel. There is some bitterness in the finish, and the fruity esters linger. Dark malty flavor lingers in the aftertaste. The alcohol is present, but light considering the strength. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, with plenty of fizzy carbonation.

 578 characters

Gulden Draak from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
4.2 out of 5 based on 3,894 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

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Subscribe