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: 3,905
Photo of BDTyre
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Typical Belgian appearance: aggressive head followed by a dark chocolate-cola brown. The white bottle is certainly eye-catching.

Belgian yeast and candy-sugar scent. I'm a bit stuffed up, so my scoring on this may be inaccurate. Noticeable alcohol scent. Malts present but not very strong, very little hops.

Dry yeasty taste with a powerful malt and candy sugar backing. A bit bitter and metallic on the finish, maybe due to hops. Good flavour, almost bordering on a triple.

Mouthfeel is very good, with the carbonation spot on. Drinkable, spare for the high ABV. Another very good Belgian!

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Photo of EvilKeith
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one poured into the glass a fairly clear iced tea color with ruby highlights. The head was a finger deep cap of frothy fine tan colored foam. The head had a decidedly Belgian look to it, thick and clingy.
The scent came across as sweet and spicy. It was filled with a vague dark fruitiness, graininess and peppery alcohol. Yeast was present, but not as pronounced as many others of the style. As it warmed to room temperature a sweet maltiness was more readily detected.
The taste was somewhat sweet, not overly so. Black cherries, spicy alcohol, and mild yeast notes were there. There was also a very gentle bittering in the middle.
The blend of a medium body and a fairly light carbonation gave this a red wine-like mouthfeel, but without the dryness.
Gulden Draak was very complex and flavorful. I found it to be one of the best, if not the best, of the Belgian Strong Dark Ales I have tried so far.
It is highly drinkable. The only thing keeping my drinkability number from being higher was the elevated ABV.

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Photo of Osiris9588
4.03/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a 750ml bottle, caged and corked, and painted white, with that really cool golden dragon label. The color is a nearly opaque deep brown with an amber tint around the edges. The tan, 2-finger head is thick and creamy, showing decent retention, with considerable lacing, clinging in fluffy tufts all around the circumference of the tulip.

The aroma consists of rich caramel malts, citrus, a little clove and corriander, and a subtle floral characteristic. The well-balanced flavor profile features light citrus, subtle clove, a touch of hoppy bitterness, berries, rasins, caramel, and some chocolate--and ample, warm alcohol.

The mouth is well-rounded, not overly complex, and smooth. The sweetness nor the alcohol overwhelms the palate--thus resulting in a very drinkable brew, for those who enjoy the style. Very solid overall. And again, the golden dragon on the label is very cool.

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

Pours dark, almost black with some light amber reddish high lights. Nice thick half inch head that doesn't seem to be going any where. Sent is subtle with smells of butterscotch and notes of caramel, cloves and bread. Taste is nice, sweet, mild barley, sweet caramel, bread, little toasted malt, hint of bitterness mixed masterfully with fruit I can't name. The after taste is nothing too crazy, but enough to keep you coming back for more. The burden and blessing with this beer is it's alcohol content. Its great that such an intoxicating beer is so good, but I can only drink so many before I am sauced. All the same I enjoy this beer and its adventures once every other week.

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Photo of fisherman34
3.55/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber in colour with medium carbonation. Aromas of berry fruit, bubblegum, sweet malts, and caremel. More sweet malts in the mouth, along with notes of black pepper, wood, brown sugar, and red grape skin. Heavy in the mouth, but the carbonation level keeps it from getting too cloying. Pretty good, but not as good as I had hoped it would be.

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Photo of allergictomacros
3.58/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Clear dark red with a inch of head. Laces nicely, but the head itself drops quickly to a thing covering sheet.

S - Definitely alcoholic smelling, with some apple-y sweetness, and caramel. Notes of fresh fruit as well, plum, and some hints of grain.

T - I can definitely taste the alcohol in this one. A little on the boozy side. Some caramel and toasted flavours and some fruit as well. A mild bitterness creeps in later with a lingering bitter aftertaste.

M - The body is quite solid, filling the mouth with a slight creaminess. Carbonation is moderate.

D - The first thing that comes to mind is that this is very warming. It has a such a heavy boozy presence that I would have trouble downing many of these in a sitting (never mind the actual abv that would knock me on my ass in a hurry). This isn't a bad brew mind you, but did not meet my expectations. A little rough around the edges.

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Photo of rousee
3.62/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours thick dark brown with a small head of foam. A good amount remains after the beer has sat for a few minutes.
Smell is rather boozy and vinous. Slighly floral. I am getting a biting sour smell of cherries followed by honey.
Tastes less boozy than it smells. There is a nice maltiness with the familiar belgian floral and fruit combination. Elements of honey and dark cherries with chocolate. It is layered with flavor as these good Belgian ales tend to be.Still does have some strong alcohol bite although it is not in the form of heat.

The mouthfeel is very bubbly and effervescent. Finishes crisp with a lingering barley sugar taste left over. Its not too drinkable with this high of an abv. A good beer to split with a few friends. As far as my overall impression of this one, for its style--it seems there are much better examples. Good but nothing to seek out.

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Photo of geographie
4.34/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A :: Clear redish-amber hued beer with weak, white head. Some signs of lacing.

S :: Coffee, then toffee, then cocoa fill my nasal cavaties. This beer reeks of well-roasted goodness - so unexpected from such a light looking beer.

T :: Very sweet toffee front - this flavor is incredibly apparent, consuming your mind. After comes the raisins in the middle. Malt takes a back seat here and rides on a very sweet wave of unfermented sugars. This finishes with style -- a modest exit with only the tiniest trace of bitterness egging you on to have just one more sip.

M :: Strange, but good. Airy, creamy, and filling my mouth all at once - almost a whole body experience. This begnign seeming ale packs quite the punch!

D :: Whoa - one is enough for me. Overly sweet to continue drinking (unless you've got a sweet-tooth), but darn good!

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Photo of spaced
4.32/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a corked 750mL bottle (no freshness date) into a tulip glass. Pours a dark brown with a big, rocky tan head. Aroma is sweet and fruity, with a hint of pears and a whiff of alcohol. Big, complex, malty sweetness with a bit of caramel dominates the taste. This sweetness is by far the most noticeable thing here, followed by the alcohol, which combines with the carbonation to contribute a nice, spicy character. Hops are there, but the malts and alcohol definitely run the show. The alcohol is less evident as it warms, but it still makes its presence known.

Overall, this is a damn fine beer. I wish the alcohol was hidden a bit more, but this more of a personal preference than a real criticism. I wouldn't hesitate to drink this again. Just watch out for the 10.5% abv, it'll kick your ass if you're not careful!

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Photo of dblinkhorn
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from corked and caged 750ml bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance - Pours a dark ruby, copperish red color, with no haze whatsoever (probably the prettiest brew I've ever seen). There is a lot of carbonation activity inside the beer. A thick and very velvety smooth head forms that is about three and a half fingers thick and slightly tan in color. It takes a long time to dissipate and there is superb lacing on the way down.

Smell - Sweet dark fruits on the nose (prunes and raisins stand out mainly). There is a lighter scent of spice than I had expected, but it is still of medium intensity and easily tracable. There are definite notes of cloves, as per usual with the style. A slight trace of alcohol is noticeable for a 10.5% ABV. There is little hop character, but what is there is very floral and fruity. The malt character is rich and somewhat earthy, but very clean smelling.

Taste - Lots of spice up front, paired nicely with a milder (than in the smell) dark fruit character. The floral hop character shines pretty strong also, and adds some nice complexity to the initial taste. The brew is also suprisingly on the sweeter side compared to most of this style, but it is not overdone. There are obvious (although background) notes of light grain (also has a wet barnyard smell). The malt is very rich and bready, and again with a slight earthiness (barely noticeable in the taste, but there). The 10.5% ABV shows itself quite a bit more than in the smell, but it is not of an objectionable strength.

Mouthfeel - I was not expecting such a fuller-bodied beer as this one for the style. It is extremely smooth and on the highest end of medium-bodied if not full-bodied. The only thing that kept me from giving a perfect score here is the slight carbonation bite that accompanies the initial part of a sip.

Drinkability - The score for this was mainly hurt by the quite noticeable alcohol warmth/burn. It's understandable with a 10.5% ABV, but this does take from a beer's drinkability. Personally, however, I don't find the ABV offensive at all, so I could finish a whole 750ml of this stuff over a night. This stuff will take you to that euphoric feeling of the buzz in no time, so be careful.

Overall, this is a much higher quality brew than I expected. The most impressive thing was the outstanding floral character of the hops and the surprisingly full body for the style. It was close to some of the lighter stouts. A must have for certain.

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Photo of Pegasus
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Hazy amber color, with a small off-white head, which retains very well, and thick, glass-coating lace. No carbonation was noted.

Aroma: Very pronounced vinuous and dark fruit aromas, very much like sherry in character, with an underlying base of sweet malt. The aroma is quite superb.

Taste: Opens with a sweet, complex vinuous note, very much like port or sherry, with abundant dark fruit notes, and little hop presence. The alcohol lends a mild spiciness. Later in the taste there are mild chocolate notes, then a vinuos sweetness which brings the taste to a close.

Mouth feel: Seems a touch thin for the style, I would have expected it to be almost syrupy. Still, hard to find fault with.

Drinkability/notes: Remarkably superb, daunting in its complexity, an unwaveringly superb example of the style.

Many thanks to Aaron for sharing this wonderful beer.

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Photo of goschool
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My aggressive pour created a brilliant tan head that eventually faded on top of a ruby-brown body. Alcohol looms over fruit, caramel, and dry hops in the nose. The taste has a ton of caramel to go with anise, and dark fruit. The mouthfeel is full bodied and dry. Fantastic beverage.

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Photo of nortmand
4.88/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours brown with a long-lingering white tan-white head.

Alcohol, candi and caramel dominate the smell.

Sweet and chocolatey up front. Ends with a bitter hit and a tiny bit of skunk.

Luscious and creamy, this is a beer, albeit strong, that I could drink alot of. Fantastic.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: An 11.2 fluid ounce (330ml) “Duvelian-like” stubby coated with a unique looking white paint finish. Black label, with golden bounds has the words “Gulden Draak Ale” in red text over and above a picture of a golden dragon. Listed at 10.5% ABV.

Appearance: *Catalogue princess, apprentice seductress.*
Dirty thick ruddy dark brown body on the pour. Off-white head, the tanned creamy upper crown sits uniformly across the vestige of my Westvleteren goblet. Closer examination reveals a pellucid mahogany body with deep rich ruby tones. Bespoke looks.

Nose: *Fragrant aphrodisiac, the withered tuberose.*
Alcohol – yes, it either fails to mask the pungent ethanolic aromas, or it wants you to know that it may kick your ass later in the night. A nice dry hop aroma in the back end is somewhat spoiled by the vitriolic alcohol at times.

Taste: *Dynamic young Tarzan courts the bed-sit queen.*
A tasty and viscous warm layer of malts lay the foundation. Sharp herbal traits fill the gaps. Thick caramel and burnt sugar mixes with prunes and dates juice.

Mouthfeel: *Playing games with faces in the neon wonderland.*
An enticing rich thick carpet of malts lays down the base of dark fruits and a high temperature catwalk finish. My neck sweats as the warmth induces a satisfying heart attack that I don’t want to break out of. Like shitting yourself in public; it’s embarrassing in the finish but for a short time up front it kind of feels good, warm and comfy.

Drinkability: *Perform to scattered shadows on the shattered cobbled aisles*.
A massive tornado of enticing warm malts and a rich thick globulating warmth of alcohol are the foundation for a serious night cap brew!!! Nevertheless, it may only contain 330ml but I want more. Damn this brew, it is the Devils work indeed.

Overall: *She said she wanted to be an actress or something. Nobody knows where she came from, where she was going. Funny thing was she had a smile on her face. She was smiling. What a waste!*

You know, I *loved* this brew from the very first time I tried it, some 14 or so years ago. Man this is one powerful spicy (yet unspiced!!!) brew. One sip returns me to care free times in Belgian; it can transport me from the bustling Grand Place, the busy yet cosmopolitan Brugge to the quiet of the De Gans, Huise farmhouse café in the rustic East Flanders countryside. Van Steenberge is unfortunately renowned for many of their “sump” brews, but the Gulden Draak is most certainly a first generation creation that demands respect, and it always gets it from me.

Gulden Draak almost begs to pronounced with a thick Romanian accent such as the original name of Bram Stokers Whitby legend Vlad Drăculea, or rather better still as Vlad the Impaler. Either way, **don’t dare** turn you’re back on this one for it WILL come back to get you, either in the daylight, or worse, later at night when you sleep.

But for now it’s just another Chelsea Monday,
Sweet Chelsea Monday.

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Photo of Iguana
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Finally found a bottle of this to try at The Beir Stein in Eugene, Oregon.

A: Poured a deep dark brown/ruby with a creamy 3/4 inch head that dwindled to a nice 1/4 inch head that lasted throughout the beer.

S: I get smells or raisin's, plum's, spices, and alcohol. Smells really nice.

T: Wow, just wow. Dark fruit, dark sugars, really rich and sweet. Really didnt get much hints of the yeast but got lots of sweetness.

M: Silky smooth going down with a nice alcohol burn in the finish. I dont think it could be any better than that.

D: I could try and drink a few of these in a night and it would be a grand night indeed but at 10.5% abv I would prolly end up sleeping on the floor. I will buy this one whenever I can find it.

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

Came in sexy white bottle, poured a deep amber, left a thick rich, meringue type head, that retained all the way through, lots of bubbles.
smell was of dark fruits, sweet smelling, complex,whiff of molasses.
taste was INCREDIBLE! sweet and tart, fair amount of hop taste, but brilliantly blended into the dark & fruity melange'..some cherry notes..
mouthfeel is excellent as well, full rich, slightly tart, finishes smooth as silk....
This was recommended to me by my friend "cypressbob", who just recently returned from Amsterdam, where he had tried it. This turned out to be spot on!...thanks mate!...highly recommended!

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Photo of GClarkage
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

08/11/06- Purchased at Beverages and More in San Mateo, CA.

Presentation- 11.2oz stubby bottle. No freshness info, but there is a small stamped code at the bottom of the label. Poured into an oversized wine glass that looks remarkable like a St. Bernardus chalice.

Appearance- Liquified caramel coloring. One maybe 1 1/2 inch larger bubbled head forms upon the pour. Remains at a good 1/5th inch thick and creamy head. Minute yeasties float around. Spalltered lacing all around. It was a crapshoot between a 4.5 and a 5. Did a coin flip.

Smell- This is a caramel/fruit cocktail. Doesn't fume out like you would hope, which is the only strike against the smell. Melted fresh made carnival caramel like the kind you would dip an apple into. Dark fruits galore. Figs, plums, prunes, raisins, plus some licorice.

Taste- Big and bold as you would expect from a 11% or so brew. Taste mirrors the scent to presice pinpoint. Like a liquid Caramello bar. Anise and liquorice jump out after the caramel coats your tongue. The dark fruits follow. Prunes and figs are predominant. Plums and raisins meld in nicely.

Mouthfeel- Slightly drying. Full and thick...even a bit vinous mouthfeel. Medium carbonation (just about right). Really makes you crave another sip.

Drinkability- This dude is strong. Drank this on an empty stomach right before lunch (may regret that, but I still have a bottle of Beatification and Stone 2006 Old Gaurdian to consume before the day is over). Quite the tasteful one and worthy of considerable praise. Will have to find a large bottle of this. Still trying to figure out what bottle I am going to break open once my child is born in March...this ain't a bad prospect. Again, will have to steal the Rachel Ray catch phrase..."YUMMO"!

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Photo of kmo1030
4.01/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

deep dark brown with ruby highlights and a good sized tan head that has some staying power.
sweet and spicy aroma, with some peppery citrus, and some dark fruitiness.
the taste has lots of dark fruit, but also a surprising amount of spicy citrus, like lemon pepper. red grape juice mingles with the other flavors. makes me think this would be a great marinade with all the tang. there is also some light brown sugar in there that is tied to a pretty strong boozy component. there's some powdered cocoa type flavors and it's got a little toffee with hints of butter in there too. it's also got a light candied flavor that maintains a strong sweetness without being overpowering. very sweet but avoids being grossly sweet.
the mouthfeel is lighter than expected. i find it hard to tell though if this is actually a little on the light side or if it is due to it's active airy carbonation.
reasonably light with strong sweetness but also pretty boozy, good drinkability, but not great.

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Photo of Cresant
3.16/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured this undated 11.2 oz bottle into a Duvel tulip glass. Created a very tall off-white creamy head. A cap of foam remained throughout the entire leisurely session. Body was a nearly opaque burgandy/brown color.

Smell was primarily of sweet malts. Grains. Dried fruits and alcohol.

Taste reflected the aromas. Sweet. Raisins. Alcohol.

Mouthfilling creaminess.

High alcohol ensures that I do not drink this one too quickly. However. for the high ABV it is quite drinkable. There are too many excellent Belgians available for me to return to this one for a long time.

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Photo of BabaJohn
4.23/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is effectively a joint review I did with my friend westvleteren21 a few nights ago. At the beginning of the summer we each purchased this beverage as a birthday gift for the other, however my friend became sick after a very suspicious Japanese steak house meal and we were unable to enjoy our delicious beverages. As it turns out, he moved from MA back to MD so they’ve been sitting in my fridge all summer, taunting me. At last, he came back to visit, the beers have been consumed, and the wait was well worth it!

A light brown head formed but faded relatively fast. The coloration was a very nice chocolate brown with some pleasing gradations, looking a bit like cider and sometimes wine. Some vinegar-like sourness found it’s way into the nose, which was also reminiscent of cider and cherries. The taste was, well, absolutely fantastic! A nice balance of malts and alcohol persisted, with caramel, cider, apples, rum, and maple tastes. In some ways, this reminded us of Chimay. The mouthfeel was thick and delicious; carbonation just right. Of course, this is a fairly heavy, alcoholic, dessert-like beer and so a bit less ‘drinkable,’ but let me tell you that, aint stoppin’ me. My buddy suggested warm apple-pie a la mode as a pairing, and I think that sounds great. Van Steenberge once again ladies and gentlemen!

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Photo of atigerlife
4.38/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've reached for this bottle in the store many, many times. Always figured I'd get it next time. Finally had it in a bar. Wow!

Pours a dark brown with a big, brown head. Good lacing.

Aroma was of dark fruits, alcohol with some bread. Hard to smell in a bar.

Taste was sweet with dark fruits and roasted malts. Also some spicy alcohol and I detected some hints of citrus in the background. Delicious.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied and creamy.

Overall, a very impressive brew. I will definitely have this again very soon to see what else I can add to this review. Amazingly drinkable given the ABV. Certainly one of the best in this style.

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Photo of supercolter
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is quite delightful. Three finger head that dissapates slowly and excellent lacing on the sides. Dark brown in color.
Smell is fantastic as well. Sweet malt greets your nose followed by both citrus and dark fruit (apricot, and plum are most noticable)
Taste is good as well. The taste is a bit drier than the smell led me to believe it would be. A lot of wheat and oat taste, but there is a hint of fruit.
Mouthfeel is nice and frothy but still drinkable.

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Photo of MichaelMeister
3.41/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice tan head on this beer. Malt aroma hits you hard after pouring. The first sip smacked of the 10.5% abv right off the bat, but seemed to settle down after several more (sips), but the warming feeling as it flows down the esophagus is actually nice. The taste is slightly sweet and pleasant. It's a decent beer, but I've always felt that higher OG beers detract from the flavor a bit. No different with this one, but still a very drinkable beer.

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

Aroma: Slight spice, maybe gingerbread, and hints of alcohol. Always hard to nail aroma in a bar.

Appearance: Ruby amber and very clear. Long lasting dirty white head left tidemarks of joy.

Flavor: Rich. Dark. Trappist yeast. Chocolate, burnt sugar, and roasted grain. Words, just words, they don’t capture the essence.

Mouthfeel: Velvety! Low carbonation makes it hard to resist chugging like a college freshman.

Overall Impression: Fantastic! Served on tap at the Staminee De Garre with a side of mild cheese, simply heaven on earth. One of the best beers of my Belgian trip!

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Photo of aforbes10
2.58/5  rDev -38.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Crimson, with a big white head. not much odor, some alcohol noticeable. ethanol is the main flavor of this hangs out in your mouth along with a sweet flavor like unfermented malts. alcohol hits hard with this sucker. it is a real bastard. mouthfeel quite thick. not easy to drink because of the alkee-hol. unfortunately it packs a punch without any real desireable flavor to go with it. an experience but not necessarily a delicious one.

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Gulden Draak from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
4.2 out of 5 based on 3,905 ratings.
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