Gulden Draak | Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
3,932 Ratings
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
Ratings:
3,932
Reviews:
1,339
Avg:
4.2
pDev:
11.43%
 
 
Wants:
308
Gots:
862
For Trade:
4
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,932 |  Reviews: 1,339
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.

 2,804 characters

Photo of Joecaddie
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of n2pux
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of DruC4
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

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.

 469 characters

Photo of KG710
4/5  rDev -4.8%

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 beer...it 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.

 447 characters

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

Tan red with brown at the top and towards the center. Cloud of thick off-white foam on top that sticks around for a while. Aroma of rock candy, sugar, dark fruit, grapes, fig, and some bread. Strong flavor of belgian candy sugar, raisins, prunes, cola, echo of spice, malty sweetness, and slight warming booze. Heavy in body with medium carbonation. A thick, sweet drink that is insanely drinkable despite the ABV; it's almost thirst quenching. Rather satisfying for the palate and the belly as well.

 500 characters

Photo of McBraniel
5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of BeastLU
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of adam42381
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 11.2 ounce bottle into a Cigar City snifter.

Appearance: Pours an opaque mahogany brown with ruby highlights and a small 1/2 finger white head which dissipates quickly. Very minimal lacing.

Smell: Dried fruits and alcohol with hints of caramel and Belgian yeast. Nothing spectacular.

Taste: Sweet dried fruit up front followed by sweet caramel malt and spices in the middle and ending with a mix of bitterness and sweetness at the finish. Aftertaste is sweet and mildly phenolic. The flavor is delicious.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a nice amount of carbonation. Quite smooth for a beer of this ABV.

Drinkability: Very high drinkability. You don't really notice the alcohol at all so this one could very well sneak up on you.

Overall: Excellent beer overall. The flavor is near perfect. I would very highly recommend this.

 844 characters

Photo of ackeeper
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of VashonGuy
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%

I've had this beer on tap in Ghent, from a bottle at home, and this time on tap in Boise Idaho. I loved it every time, although never more than the first time in Ghent. The beer is the local favorite there, and is named after the symbol of the town, the golden dragon that sits atop their city hall. When we did our Belgium/Netherlands beer trip, this beer was our favorite of all the beers we had.

It's a wonderful Belgian strong dark ale. I don't have a lot to add to the many excellent descriptions that others have given.

 534 characters

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.43/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From a 750ml bottle.

Pours a beautiful cherywood color. Deep reddish brown. A small tan head. Smells of apples and strong malt. Syrupy sweet and strong.

Tastes of big malt. Sweet and smooth. Apple flavors are evident. The ABV is listed at 10.5% but you would never know it from the taste. There is no alcohol bite. It is amazingly smooth. Finishes with a sweet/sour aftertaste. Big full bodied beer but subtle as well. It doesn't bludgeon you over the head with its strength but takes you down slowly and sweetly. A great brew to end an evening.

 551 characters

Photo of hypnotoad1
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of DavidST
3.7/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a goblet, no bottle date.his pours a reddish brown tea color slightly cloudy with a nice tan head which dissipates down to a thin head. The smells are somewhat good, you get some dark fruit, candied sugar and alcohol. The feel is medium high carbonination. The taste is good but very potent alcohol burn and a level of booziness, the taste is also of candied sugar and dark fruit.

 411 characters

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

Pours a dark brown with hints of amber, decent amount of foam in the snifter that goes away quickly, leaving no lacing. Smell is super sweet, grassy, and slightly herbal. Taste is ultra-malty, slightly fruity, with hints of dark fruits (plums, raisins) and roasted malts. Good mouthfeel, very high carbonation gives this one a nice body. A good BSDA.

 350 characters

Photo of mmilyko
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of ritzkiss
3.68/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

33cl white labeled bottle, pours a dark mahogany with a creamy creamy tan head which has great lasting power, leaving streaks of lacing.

Nose is earthy and bready, candied sugar and dates. Maybe a hint of pumpernickel and plums.

Here is where the beer falters a little, loads of candied sugar, hints of plums and dates, caramel, bread, fruit cake, licorice - seems pretty simple compared to many Belgian darks, maybe more in line with a dubbel but even then, the mouthfeel feels quite thin, especially in light of the sweetness. Creamy but thin mouthfeel.

No hint of the ABV, though the sweetness deters the drinkability. Middle of the pack.

 644 characters

Photo of Benesi88
4/5  rDev -4.8%

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

A:
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!

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

T:
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.

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

O:
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.

 1,119 characters

Photo of mwilbur
4.7/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 330 mL bottle into snifter.
A: Pours a dark coppery brown hue with high carbonation producing a 2-3 inch light tan bubbly head. Excellent retention (lasts many, many minutes). Nice lacing too.
S: Dark dried fruit (especially raisins), sweet bready yeast, and notes of spice (cinnamon, clove, and a hint of white pepper). Aroma aerates the surrounding few feet around the glass.
T: Follows aroma perfectly and yet adds strength (the alcohol note) to augment it even further. Simply tremendous. ABV is high and yet the alcohol is perfecting blended in and hidden. Notes of toffee and caramel emerge with warming.
M: Medium body (feels lighter than the ABV would suggest). Sweet and full feel. Alcohol provides only a gentle, background burn. I don't think I've had a 10.5% beer before that has hidden the alcohol so well. Lingers and matures on the palate for several minutes after the sip.
D: Overall this is a phenomenal brew and an outstanding example of style. Excellent drinkability, especially given the ABV.

 1,024 characters

Photo of Jaisell
3.99/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of Foley67
4.73/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of neonbrown82
3.56/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is one of the first belgian beers I ever had, before I even knew anything about belgian beer. This is the first time I've tried it since I was 16, and it's not nearly as awesome as I remembered it being 6 years ago.

The beer pours magnificent, however. It is a rich brown amber color with a burgundy hue when held to the light. The head is a fluffy inch thick and seems to have flowing currents through it from the carbonation jets that stream all along the edges of the tulip glass, creating a brilliant trail in the beer.

The nose is incredibly candi sugar sweet, bordering on the unpleasant side. Lots of malt, dark berries and fruity esters help to balance it out a bit, but it is quite overwhelming.

The taste is an assault on the palate. I think every inch of my tongue shuddered on contact, especially upon the heavy ethanol finish. Very sweet but also has some sour and bitter in the finish. The dark berries and alcohol are strong in the end. Somewhat barleywine-like.

I most definitely could not drink more than one of the 330 mL bottles of this even if I wanted to.

 1,093 characters

Gulden Draak from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
4.2 out of 5 based on 3,932 ratings.
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