Besides being a mouthfull to say, the Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw is, at its heart, a Belgian Dark Ale. What is a Belgian Dark Ale you ask? The term is essentially a catch-all phrase for all strong Belgian Ales, including Dubbels or Tripels, but also includes those who make no such claim to being a Dubbel or Tripel. In other words, to be considered a Belgian Dark Strong Ale, you essentially have to be a ale made in Belgium that is both dark in color and strong in alcohol content (which means any where between 8-11% ABV).
Pretty nifty how that works, eh?
Or more to the point, all of the gorgeous Belgian Ales I’ve reviewed on this site recently, what with the Rochefort 10 and the Westlevern 12, have been Belgian Dark Strong Ales. These have been my favorite types of beers of late.
The reason for my interest in these beers is fairly straightforward. These beers are complex, and they have an aspect about them that many other varieties do not: they have nuance. While many beers have a flavor profile that works (and often works well) on one level, these Belgian Dark Ales work on at least two levels, sometimes three or four. In other words, these beers demonstrate a complexity that your basic pilsner does not. Think of these beers as the red wines of the world and light lagers as a simple white, and you’ll have a good idea on where to go with this.
At any rate, the review:
Appearance: Pours a with a dark brown color with a garnet tint to it, looking sort of like an iced tea that’s been oversteeped. There’s a haze in the beer, but this is expected, in fact wanted in Belgian Darks. For a head it has a full amount of a light tan foam that retains itself for what seems like weeks. When it does dissipate, we’re left with beautiful Belgian Lace.
Aroma: Three words dominate this beer: Deep, rich, and malty. No hop aroma to speak of, again, this is a feature, not a bug. There is a bit of a toffee undercurrent here.
Taste: Again with the malt, the beer is full and sweet, with hints of raisin and toffee, and of course, malt. There’s an ever so slight bitter/sweet taste near the start of the finish, but it supports the beer, rather than detracts from it. Surprisingly it ends somewhat dry.
Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied, and a nice carbonation to add zip. My tongue was very, very happy.
Overall: A vrey, very good beer, not as great as the Westvleteren 12, but still an amazing drink. Bonus point due to the fact that I don’t have to go to Belgium to drink it (I picked it up at the local QFC – that’s Krogers for the rest of you non-Seattle residents).