So. Tonight I am having a Gulden Draak Vintage Ale 2008. This pours an opal deep auburn with some rust. The head is pillowy and thick, and the color peach-yellow. The nose is light and dry, with bit of clean roast malt aroma. I also note a hint of autolysis coming through as soy sauce. This is consistent with its classification as a barley wine, a style that often sees a bit of yeast autolysis. As the beer opens up more aromas emerge: mango fruit and a light alcoholic tinge.
The flavor is dry and spicy. The alcohol is noticeable right at first but never is unpleasant. Brown malt flavor predominates: caramel and toast, biscuits, even some chocolate. Some spices such as coriander, and a bit of a herbal character (hops?). I also am getting a bit of a musty cider flavor that reminds me of Brettanomyces wild yeast. I’m not sure if that’s other things confusing me or if they actually age this in wood or something (Van Steenberge has a very modern facility, almost everything’s been rebuilt since 1993, so I doubt it’s unintentional). There is just a bit of hop bitterness. The palate is playful and light. A teasing impression of sweetness and a strong effervescence create a lively sensation. It is a treat to drink and invites me to continue. At 7.5% alcohol that is dangerously easy.
I am surprised at how impressed I am by this beer. I would suggest this as a good beer to cellar; a few years would do great things for it.
Gulden Draak Vintage Ale 2008