Time for a Belgian treat! This time it’s Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw (2011 vintage) brewed by Brouwerij Het Anker. The commercial description of this beer reads:
Every year on the 24th of February, the birthday of “Charles the fifth”, the Brewery brews the Gouden Carolus “Cuvee of the Emperor” in a limited quantity and with an eye on the highest quality and tradition. This unique brewing, with only extra fine Belgian hops and with a higher alcohol level, guarantees a better evolution in the time, than the already known Gouden Carolus. This beer, as all our beers, is 100 % natural, with no preservatives, no adjuncts and no chemicals. We bottle it in bottles of 75 cl and closed with a quality cork. Excellent to store several years. Every year the public is invited to assist to the brewing process.
I love beers brewed in this fashion and I really applaud breweries inviting their customers to take part of the brewing. I also love beers that can be aged for quite a while, so I can stick more bottles in the back if my cellar and do my best to forget about them.
Enough talk, lets try it out!
Lovely dark brown/red color with a fizzy head that quickly disappears. There is very little lacing on the glass. Beers with higher ABV usually tends to have lower retention on the head.
Caramel sweet aroma with some hints of raisins. There are some typical Belgian yeast characteristics in the aroma as well, such as the presence of banana.
There is also a bit of alcohol in the aroma, as is usually the case with Belgian strong ales.
Initially pretty sweet (caramel) with some alcohol. The carbonation is a bit sharp which I really like in beers as strong as this one (11% ABV). There are also some hints of raisins and figs. After a while I’m getting some small hints of almonds as well.
The mouth feel is very smooth and the beer has a good warming feeling to it.
There is a lot going on in this beer. I started drinking it around 8°C, which, in my opinion, is a tad bit too cold. The beer probably held around 18°C when I finished it. For me the beer peaked around 14°C.
There is no golden rule regarding at which temperature the beer is best, but one thing is certain, don’t serve this beer straight from the fridge. Let it heat up to around 10°C and let your guests savor it while it heats up some more.
The finish is quite long and sweet. There is a sting from the alcohol as well but it blends right in with all the other flavors.
It’s not very often I drink beers of this style ((dark) Belgian strong ale) but when I do I usually think: “Why don’t I enjoy this more often?”. This particular beer made me think that on almost each sip. Score: 5/5.
Beers such as this one really develops after a year or more in the bottle so you can expect reviews of the 2011 vintage from time to time on the years to come. I will of course try to get my hands on some other vintages of the same beer and do a vertical review some tome.