Het Anker: Gouden Carolus: Indulgences: Funken (Belgium: Smoked Belgian Strong Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Amber gold clear body. Lots of small bubbled carbonation to the body. Ridiculously large yellow white head that leaves a lot of suds around the glass.

Nose: Meaty. Smoke. Beef broth. Dried, smoked pepperonis to pepperoni pizza. Brown bread. Coriander. Orange peel.

Body: Prickly. Smoke. Charred burnt meat bits. Slightly dry. Brown sugar. Brown bread. Orange skin. Lemon zest. Peat. Some mature cheese.

Finish: Charring. Chalk. Smoke. Dry. Dried beef slices. Slight salt. Malt chocolate. Orange zest. Lemon zest. Brown sugar. Peppery. Slight mature cheese.

Conclusion: Ok, this reminds me of that peated golden ale, Rex Attitude. It seems even with the heavier Gouden Carolous amber beer base that this, like Rex Attitude, cannot put up much to stand in the way of the sheer assault of the peated malt.

Well, initially anyway. Flavours do manage to come out over time, but they are so different from what I would expect from a standard Gouden Carolous Classic that, combined with the beer’s colour, I am fairly sure they didn’t use that one as their base beer when working out the recipe for this.

Initially it is very smoke driven, especially on the aroma, and it uses that smoke alongside a variety of meaty impressions that really hammer home the heavier style. The body after that is pretty much the same, just drier. The aroma had a touch more fatty meat style while the body feels a more attenuated thing that makes the smoke and charring even more potent.

At this point in time it is a not complex, but powerful assault of a beer.

Over time some of the base beer does manage to show itself past the smoke. There is brown sugar on the sweeter side, and orange and lemon zest on the fruitier side of things. Never a heavy set, but it is nice to see the base beer trying to make an impact so the heavy smoke doesn’t ruin you.

Over time the smoke mellows and the richer notes manage to mix with it and control it, allowing a touch of mature cheese character to come out, giving some class to the whole thing.

With the beer tasting nothing like the classic Gouden Carolous I’m guessing either the peat utterly killed it, or they picked a very different recipe for the base beer for this. Which is a pity, as I feel this needs a creamier, dark fruit weighty character that the classic beer shows to really have something to balance and pop against the peat.

As is it is a lovely smoke assault but the base fails to match or balance it, instead just letting out those little orange and brown sugar notes that are ok, but really don’t manage to pull their weight. It means that you get a decent enough beer for utter peat heads but it feels like it falls short of what it could have been.

Background: This came out a while back, being the 2020 Summer release of the (I think yearly) Indulgence series, where Het Anker try something a bit different with their Gouden Carolous series. So, yep this already has a year of ageing under its belt, which is of special note hear as the special trick this year is that it uses peated malt. Now peat tends to fade fast, but that is mostly noticeable in whisky terms while it is in oak, I don’t think a year for a beer in a bottle will have done much to lighten that aspect. As a peat fan this seemed very interesting to me, so I grabbed a bottle from Independent Spirit. Gouden Carolous Classic is one of my old favourite beers, so there was a lot going in this thing’s favour. Went back to some old school punk with Anti Nowhere League: We Are The League. I’m having less and less thematic reasons for my music picks these days, I just felt like some more punk tunes.