Monday, January 14, 2013

Gulden Draak

I think I have come to a point in my beer drinking experience where I can honestly say a beer like Gulden Draak is "just another really good Belgian Strong Dark Ale." It’s a solid performer all around, but there’s not anything particularly unique or amazing about it. Isn’t being a pretty darn good beer good enough?

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (789) - Albany, New York, USA - JAN 14, 2013
I poured an 11.2oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Opaque dark purple/burgundy color. Forms a huge, cream-colored, tight frothy head which might actually be a bit too big. Leaves lots of lacing and never dissipates.

Smell: If red ripened cherries were covered in caramel, plus alcohol.

Taste: It’s beers like Gulden Draak that make beer enthusiasts geek out over the Belgian beers. It’s robust, it’s complex and it’s actually quite drinkable considering how big it is. Though I can’t say it has any features to it that I haven’t experienced in similar beers. Big dark fruit flavors, especially cherry, plum, prune, and a hint of sour red grape. Through the middle is some sweet, candy-like flavors of caramel and maybe even a hint of dark chocolate at the apex of the palate. A quick, dry bitterness followed by strong, but soft, alcohol warmth and taste. The aftertaste is surprisingly clean, which is a bit of a bummer considering how delectable the central body is - why no encore?

This beer seems to be a little more muted than other Belgians of the general style. No overt spice character, though the alcohol does make it reminiscent of rum. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this palate, but I disagree with those who consider it world class.

Drinkability: Like any good strong Belgian beer, Gulden Draak is bottle-conditioned which makes it spastically effervescent and produces a sharp, intense mouthfeel. Though comfortable, it does have a bit of an edge to it on the tongue and still manages to go down fairly easy despite the alcohol warmth. The 10.5% ABV weight is prominent and makes itself known rather quickly. A fine after dinner or nightcap beverage in single servings.
 Grade: 8/10

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