Tag Archive: Gouden Carolus

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.


Anker Gouden Carolus Cuvee van De Keizer Blue

Anker: Gouden Carolus: Cuvee van De Keizer: Blue (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 11%)

Visual: Dark black cherry to brown. Thin grey-brown head.

Nose: Raisins. Malt chocolate. Sour wine. Light prune juice. Malt loaf. Fresh crusty bread. Glacier cherries.

Body: Big figgy pudding. Brandy cream. Plums. Madeira cake. Christmas pudding. Smooth and creamy. Crusty fresh white bread. Raspberry liqueur. Orange crème centres. White sugar dusting.

Finish: Madeira. Raspberry pavolva. Brandy cream. Raisins. Sugary fruit jelly sweets. Cane sugar.

Conclusion: The big mummy and/or daddy of the Gouden Carolus range. The smooth, creamy, slick granddaddy of deep malt beers. Ok, maybe the family tree is getting a bit inbred there, but you get the point. This is the big one.

This is super smooth and creamy, you can feel an alcohol weight to the flavour, but no burn, no heat, there really is not the tingle you would expect from an 11% abv beer. There is just this vague indication that the beer is far stronger that it seems and you should be taking your time with it.

Flavour wise it is full to bursting with Christmas pudding, plum, dark fruit and brandy cream. Like the ultimate spirit drenched winter dessert. the beer is sweet, but in a very natural feeling way, more fruit sweetness, with only the edges feeling like the more raw, more processed sugars.

While normally beers like this suit aging, I cannot imagine this getting any smoother. Maybe it can benefit from age, I mean I can’t see it ever becoming a bad beer, but this already has most of the elements I would expect to get from an aged beer. The integrated flavours, the smoothness – it is already there. The balance here is exceptional – it even has tiny offsets from the main creaminess – a light fresh bead solidness, a light bitter offset in the nose and finish to package it up nicely.

This is the decadent experience of supreme Belgian beers. It has that smoothness I would associate with American takes, but manages to keep that weight that calls to the rawer Belgian interpretations resulting in flavours big enough to stand out without ever getting sickly.

A masterpiece.

Background: The 2015 bottled edition, drunk in the same year. Gouden Carolus Classic is one of my all time great beers, and I tried this, the brewed up anniversary style of this beer many years ago, but was never able to find it since. I found the, also great, red version of the beer, but kept seeking the blue until it finally turned up in Independent Spirit. Drunk with friends while listening to Against Me!’s 23 Live Sex Acts.

Gouden Carolus: Cuvee Van De Keizer Red (Belgium: Belgium Strong Ale:10.5% ABV)

(2010 Edition: Drunk Early 2011)

Visual: Golden yellow with a solid inch of clear white bubbled head which is solid and long surviving.

Nose: Light and wheaty, mixed with delicate spices. Cumin and cinnamon. Ground up ginger bread, Noticeable alcohol undertow and orange rind. Slightly saison style sourness.

Body: Cane sugar. The alcohol is evident but not fiery, Grapes and slight lemon. Wheat. Orange peel. Saison bitter style. Turmeric and syrup sweetness Banana comes out after a while.

Finish: Gingerbread, spice and wheat. Light cloves. White wine.  Bitter.

Conclusion: I had this once before, as described in the background, and I remembered it as being a bit special. So now I return to see how well the real thing holds up to the version I have in my memory

Still impressive it seems, with delicate spices running through the shining gold body. It’s at points like this that I wish I paid more attention to the spice rack, as there are many and varied flavours that are definitely spices but I can’t quite put a name to.

It’s a very interesting beer, shifting flavours over the bottles life cycle, and often distinct calls to the Saison style whilst still being very identifiable as a strong Belgium style.  Saision Dupont is one I would definitely refer to as being noticeable for having similar notes to the Saison influences in this beer.

Unfortunately the alcohol is a lot more evident in this beer than I remember, and for a beer that trades on crisp subtlety like this one does that does hurt the overall feel.  As you acclimatise to the alcohol it does become much more like the beer I remember. I wonder if the example I’d had before had been aged for a year or so, and if so then this is definitely one that would benefit with some time in the cellar to smooth out.

Overall a fine and idiosyncratic beer that I think would benefit from some time to smooth itself out.

Background: First tried this a year or so ago when I was sharing the bottle with people I had just met who were paying for my beers in exchange for me giving beer advice and improvised tasting notes. This of course put me in a good mind towards the beer so I decided it was worth digging out again.

Gouden Carolus: Classic (Belgium: Belgium Strong Ale: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Dark reddish brown with a lovely thin brown, coffee froth style head.

Nose: Liquorice, black cherry. Bitter chocolate and dark fruit.

Body: Cream, milk chocolate and blackcherry yogurt. Raisins and more dark fruit. Figs. Lots of malt chocolate.

Finish: Brown sugar, blackcherry. Very sweet with a slight dry chocolate and dusty air. Liquorice again. Slight sourness and bitter trails.

Conclusion: One of the Belgium mainstream absolute classics.

Cream rich and full of dark fruits, its got sweet chocolate interwoven into a dark heavy body with silken grace. So well crafted that I cannot deny it is a true gem, rich and with strong flavour dragging you under.

As I reflected in the tasting note of the Christmas ale that it was a challenging beer full of hidden meanings the same applies here, its invites you to dive into its depths and be taken with its charm as the undertow of flavours pulls you under.

A delicious dark genius.

Brouwerij Het Anker: Gouden Carolus Noël (Belgium: Belgium Strong Ale:10.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear but dark burgundy red with a black cherry tint. Light thin creamy head.

Nose: Lots of liquorice , creamy and moreish. Hint of black cherry. Raisins and strong figs.

Body: Still liquorice – butterscotch and plums. Hint of bitter chocolate and sour cherry.

Finish: Sour, overripe fruit, cherry and raspberry. Slightly bitter.

Conclusion: This is a bit different, still obviously a festive beer but very complex with interesting elements from the sour end of the spectrum,

Heavy and feels its weight, this punches with all of its alcohols backed flavour.

Consider this the beer equivalent of an alternative Christmas Day Queens speech when written by Nietzsche. Heavier and full of meaning and forever overcoming, not for everyone but full of wild passion for those who face the challenge.

A beer I would not object to eternal recurrence of.

Gouden Carolus Easter Beer (Belgium: Belgium Strong Ale: 10%)


Visual: Dark mix of deep red and black cherry. A shallow light head over a noticeably thick beer

Nose: Rich slightly over ripe fruit, mildest of hops, milk

Body: Very thick creamy texture; almonds and cream, black forest gateaux

Finish: Air of brandy cream. Almost coats the taste buds with a thick sheen. More nuttiness at the very end

Conclusion: A heavy duty sweet and alcohol heavy beer that perfectly suits its season. Maybe a touch too sweet and heavy, should definitely be shared with friends so not to become sickly. Some savoury snacks to refresh the palette would not go amiss. However still a corker of a beer and feels very luxurious.

Guest Taster Will:

Visual: Dark, slightly red with a thin light brown head

Nose: Sharp at the end and rich

Body: Oh Nice! Round, toffee, lots of honey

Finish: Velvet

%d bloggers like this: