If you’ve been following The Brew Club lately, you’ll know I’ve been on something of a Belgian Christmas Ale kick. It started with the wonderful Delirium Noel, followed by the ‘not- bad-at-all’ Corsendonk Christmas Ale, and finally, we have the Gouden Carolus Noel!
The beer comes from Belgium’s Het Anker brewery which has been making beer since the year 1369. That’s amazing if you think about it. Anyway – on to the beer!
Het Anker’s Gouden Carolus Noel weighs in at a very respectable 10.5%ABV. Like the two other Christmas Ales I mentioned, this beer is a dark brown ale, but if you read the Het Anker website, its considered a ‘strong dark ruby red’. In addition, I’ve learned that this beer… “is brewed at the end of August. Then it rests for several months to obtain a optimal balance in taste and flavours. Specific herbs are added in the different stages of the brewing process. Three different kinds of hops, and 6 different kind of herbs and spices make this Christmas beer a ‘special class’.”
Interesting. I wish they let us know what kind of herbs, hops and spices they actually use. I guess its a secret!
The Gouden Carolus created a nice foamy beige head similar to that of the Corsendonk Christmas Ale. It took a bit to go down and by the time I could take the picture you see the beer was in the glass close to five minutes! Needless to say, there was good head retention and decent lacing.
The aroma of the Gouden Carolus was very similar to that of the Corsendonk Christmas Ale – subtly candy sweet, fruity sweet, a touch spicy and malty. Compared to the other two, I thought there was a bit more of a spicy character, and in addition you can pick up on the alcohol a little more than the other Belgians which isn’t surprising I suppose.
The flavor of this beer was more similar to the Corsendonk Christmas Ale than the Delirium Noel. For starters, the alcohol flavor came through a bit more than either of the other Belgian Christmas Ales. At 10.5% ABV, I suppose that’s to be expected! It wasn’t a big thing though, it wasn’t ‘boozy’ or anything – just a little more warming than the others. There was a subdued sugary sweetness, some combination of fruity sweetness and that odd yet enjoyable plum/raisin flavor in the background as well. To sum it up, the flavor really followed the aroma nicely.
This beer went down smoothly, and as I mentioned the alcohol comes through a bit more. Its still well hidden and harmonizes nicely with the other sweet and spicy flavors. Yum! This beer had great body – not too thin and not too heavy, and unlike the Delirium Noel, it didn’t leave a sticky feeling in my mouth. Perhaps a little more ‘grown up’ than the Delirium Noel.
Of the three Belgian Christmas Ales I’ve tired recently, I think I like this one just a bit less than the Delirium Noel, but a little more than the Corsendonk Christmas Ale although it was an excellent addition to my Christmas Eve dinner! With a 3.5 star rating, I’d definitely get it again.
What’s your favorite Belgian Christmas Ale? Or, what’s your favorite Christmas beer in general? Do you have something that’s a personal tradition, or dot you try something new year to year like I do?