Posts Tagged ‘Gulden Draak Vintage Ale 2008’

12 Beers of X-Mas: Gulden Draak Vintage Ale 2008

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Belfry of Ghent

Belfry of Ghent

Gulden Draak, Flemish for ‘Golden Dragon’, refers to the gold statue atop the cast-iron steeple of the clock tower of the city of Ghent. The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica describes it as, “…a gold dragon which, according to tradition, was brought from Constantinople either by the Varangians or by the emperor Baldwin after the Latin conquest”. The brewers, Brouwerij van Steenberge, go with Emporer Baldwin. They also add that it was originally a gift of Norse king Sigrid Magnusson to the city of Constantinople in 1111, and that the cities of Ghent and Bruges did battle over it. More details are found over at the Global Beer Network page: apparently Brugge stole it from Emperor Boudewijn’s hometown in Flanders shortly after it was retrieved from Constantinople. The citizens of Ghent waited over a hundred years to seek their revenge and take back the statue. Now this all seems a bit fanciful (I’m sure there were really other reasons for the battles) but it sure makes a good story.
Gulden Draak Vintage Ale 2008
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

4.1 (4-7-9-5-16)