Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Eighth Beer Of Christmas

Happy Epiphany! The Magi brought Christ gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, gifts befitting a king.

Gouden Carolus, named after the gold coins of the Emperor Charles V, is brewed by the Anker brewery, established in Mechelen since 1369 and one of the classic Belgian breweries.

This very special Belgian ale is brewed using traditional methods and a recipe with top fermentation. Its high gravity gives this ale its warmth and body. It improves with age and will charm you with its warm, coppery colour and its rich bouquet.

Through the combination of caramel and aromatic malts, and with the traditional high fermentation we get a special beer that combines the warmness of wine and the freshness of beer.

When you hear words like "high fermentation" and "high gravity", these are beer terms meaning "high alcohol content". Unlike lesser fare, a traditional Belgian brown ale is one place where high gravity is not out of place. Gouden Carolus' 8.5% ABV is no exception.

To properly appreciate a complex and malty ale, it is important that your beer not be too cold. That's right, you need to let your beer warm a little. This releases more of the aromatics and lets the true flavor come out. (Don't try this with pilsners and American lagers -- that's just nasty.)

Although the official color listed for Gouden Carolus is ruby red, it really pours a cola brown with just a hint of ruby. The head is a finger's width and dissolves quickly with minimal lacing on the glass (although this may have been a result of being too cold when poured).

The caramel malts are clearly on display and can be tasted readily along with the characteristic concentrated sweetness of Belgian dubbel ale and with notes of dark fruits and spices; quite complex. The relative high gravity allows this beer to be warming but without seeming overly hot. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth with good body.

This is a classic Belgian brown ale from one of the oldest Belgian breweries (since 1369). Well worth a long, slow, tasting for discriminating paletes.

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