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Beer #11 – January 11 ,2010: Gouden Carolus Noel

January 11, 2010

Beer: Gouden Carolus Noël

Brewery: Brouwerij Het Anker, Mechelen, Belgium

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Serving Type: Bottle

Price: Unknown (part of a mixed gift pack)

Availability: Seasonal

Glassware: Brandy Snifter (large enough to get the nose in for aroma, bulbous to allow hands to warm the beer)

Strength: 10.5% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: At this strength, and this complexity, this is a slow-sipper and an excellent night-cap.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Pours a deep, dark brick-red-brown, with a billowy off-white head that dissipates quickly.

Aroma: Unusual… spices, deep dark fruit, a little musty, sharp, and yeasty with an alcohol presence.

Mouthfeel: Medium, slightly syrupy body with a moderately low carbonation.

Taste: There is a completely unique and unusual dominant flavor in this beer that I just can’t place.  Leave it to those Belgians to stump me!  Beyond this, there is a blackstrap molasses sweetness accompanied by rich and full dark fruit flavors of black cherry and raisin which are contrasted with tangy flavors of balsamic vinegar and funky yeast.  Notes of cognac come through, along with subtle spices such as anise and clove.  I even taste a little baker’s chocolate in there as it warms.  This is an interesting and complex brew that changes as the beer warms, and as you progress through your glass.  There are flavors in here beyond my vocabulary.

Pairing: There’s so much going on here in one glass, it really should be enjoyed all on its own.

Trivia: Like many Belgian beers, this bottle is “bottle conditioned”, or as it says on the label “refermented in the bottle”.  Beer is a naturally carbonated beverage.  However, most commercially produced beer is filtered to remove the living yeast, and then force-carbonated in the bottle or keg.  If, instead, a little yeast is allowed to remain when bottling, and a little sugar or other fermentable is added to the beer at bottling time, the live yeast will produce their own carbon-dioxide in the bottle (a by-product of their production of alcohol) to naturally carbonate the beer.  Since the yeast is alive, the beer will continue to change and develop over time in the bottle, meaning such beers are typically suitable for cellar aging.

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