Archive for the 'Het Anker' category
I mean, seriously, if you call a beer the “Grand Cru of the Emperor”, then it’d better be pretty good, right? I’ve seen some lofty claims on a beer before, not the least of which is “The Champaigne of Beers”. Even so, this big bottle of goodness seems to bear itself in rather high esteem. Also, being a brewery that is rather young (by Belgian standards), I’m impressed that these fellows are willing to make such large claims. However, when all is said and done, I’m happy to say that the folks at Brewery de Ranke turned out one of their best yet with this brew.
This beer pours a very dark brownish-red that is obviously unfiltered. The aroma is reminiscent of an abbey-style ale with just a hint more pizzazz. The aroma carries lots of anise and spice with some dark cherry tossed in for good measure. In the mouth, this beer is packed with flavor. The initial flavor is dark cherry which quickly grabs onto a slight anise bitterness. On through the mouth we taste a barrage of grape flavors, ranging from dark grapes to raisins to a bit of prune. While this sounds a bit bizarre, it makes for a very rich and sweet flavor balanced nicely by that anise bitterness. At the back of the mouth, a raisin sweetness sticks around until the next sip.
This is the first abbey-style ale I’ve had in a while, and it’s good to be back in the saddle. Although I don’t have anything recent to compare this to, I’ll have to say that this tastes like a great offering. Even though the Gouden Carolus beers are a bit pricey in the states, this one might just be worth the $10 pricetag. Very tasty, and fairly heavy at 10% abv.
This offering comes to us from the nice folks at Het Anker in Belgium. These guys have been brewing beer since the 1300′s, so I almost feel bad criticising them. However, I feel it is our job to give equal time to all brewers, whether 5 years old or 700 years old. So, here we go!
This beer pours a bit darker and cloudier than I would expect. It’s a deep brown with ruby red hints around the side of the glass. The aroma of this is very interesting. It is quite pungent and smells of candy. To me, the candy smell is reminiscent of twizzlers – not terribly high in anise aroma, but there is a certain twizzler gelatin characteristic that I sense. In the mouth, this beer is very flavorful on the tip of the tongue. There is a certain burn on the tip of the tongue that is complement by a refined sweetness that sticks with the twizzler like scenario. However, this flavor quickly moves to a tartness that balances the sweetness and makes for quite a party on the tastebuds. It is quite arresting for a few moments before the sweet-tartness diminishes leaving an aftertaste that is reminiscent of the previous flavor-explosion but slightly muted. This aftertaste sticks around for some time. This is a tasty beer. It isn’t what I expect from a Christmas beer, necessarily, but who am I to argue with hundreds of years of tradition. This seems to stem from the abbey-style variety, and I would gladly drink it again during any season. -Ben
This is another of the brews that isn’t indigenious to NC. I found it at the Sonoma Cellar while I was visiting my dad in Wisconsin. It’s kinda weird because we have been able to get the other varieties from Gouden Carolus here in NC. I agree with Ben that this is very reminiscent of an abbey-style ale. It doesn’t have the rich malty back bone I have come to know of the Cristmas ales, rather it boasts a spicy tartness. I appreciate that the aftertaste isn’t bitter and metallic. I would also have to agree that there is a candy-like flavor to this beer. I would say it’s black cherry. The liquid/taste thickens at the back of the throat which adds to the body of this beer. If I had to add one thing to Ben’s review I would say I detected a hint of banana in both the taste and the smell. The 10.5% abv adds to the complexity of this brew, so much alcohol and so many flavors for the tongue to sift through. This is a very tasty beer, but not exactly what I expected from a Christmas ale. Despite this I would gladly drink it again and again. – Matt
Named after the gold coins of of Emperor Charles V, this belgian amber ale is brewed by the Het Anker brewery in Mechelen. It pours a cloudy brown color and smells of bananas, caramel and spice. The initial taste is quite fruity and sweet with a spicy “carbination burn” finish. All in all this is an above average ale but I can’t say it ‘s spectacular. There is a complex aray of flavors but there isn’t anything refreshing about this beer. I can appreciate the strong mouthfeel and body but I wish it would mellow a bit as the taste dissipates. It also thickens at the back of the throat and tonight this is just not what I was looking for. This has been a tough beer to drink for many reasons but I won’t say I don’t recommend it. Instead I’ll say make sure you are ready for a relatively big taste that doesn’t back off at all. You may enjoy it, and you’ll never know unless you try it.
In the past, it’s been a bit tough to find anything from the Gouden Carolus folks around NC. For this reason, I’ve been forced to try to grab a bottle when I’m in the VA area (because the beer is authentic Belgian and usually pretty good). However, I’ve recently noticed a bottle or two of this nectar sneaking around a couple of NC stores, and so I’m quite excited that we may see more in the future. Nevertheless, this particular bottle came from Once Upon a Vine in VA (which is a great beer store that I think you all should go to if you’re ever in Richmond).
We all know how much I like tripels – they’re battling with IPA to be my current favorite variety. That being said, I’m a bit of a stickler for tripels – it’s sort of like how you hold your only child up to a higher standard because you love him so much. That’s how I am with tripels. Now that we’ve established how I feel about the variety, allow me to say that this is an excellent tripel. For sure, there is a difference these days between an American and a Belgian tripel – you can easily taste the difference, and the primary differentiator for me is the anise taste that is more predominant in most Belgian tripels – especially those Belgians that claim to maintain the historical interpretation of the variety. And, to be honest, I usually reach for the American variety – anise isn’t a favorite flavor of mine, and I’ll gladly forsake it for the citrusy-candy-sugary-spice of an American tripel. However, in the case of the Gouden Carolus, they really play out the Belgian take in all the right ways.
The beer pours a slightly more amber color than the usual dark golden that you expect, and there is also more debris in this brew due to it’s (apparently heavy) bottle conditioning. The nose of the beer is also a bit more earthy than most tripels. You can sense the spice and the anise, but there is also an underlying ‘woodsy’ aroma that I can’t quite place. In the mouth, this beer initially carries a heavy carbonation burn. This was expected, as the cork literally shot out of the bottle after I removed the cage – I’m not sure if this is common to the beer or if this is just an extra vivacious bottle. Beyond this carb burn, the beer takes on a heavy spice around the middle of the tongue, mingled with a fairly subtle anise. On through the mouth, the anise breaks down into a sweet malty flavor with obvious hints of the more refined candy sugar addition. The aftertaste is mildly sweet and quickly dissipates. In all, this isn’t TOO complex, which may be a good thing. It has distinct moments of flavor in the mouth, and the tongue is never overwhelmed. It’s a great Belgian tripel, and one that I’d be happy to recommend to any fan of the genre.
If you think that’s an ambitious name for a beer, I’d say that you’re right. Actually, due to the name and the goofy label on this bottle of beer, I probably would never have bought it were it not for a young Scott C. that slipped it into my shopping basket whilst I wasn’t paying attention. But, being a good citizen, I WOULD drink it after accidentally buying it. This is a fair beer. Dark and fairly complex with lots of licorice in the taste. Obviously, this is in the style of an Abbey ale. But, for the Easter season, they throw in an interesting hint of sorghum. All this combines to create a unique flavor that I imagine certain drinkers would enjoy. Unfortunately, I’m not necessarily one of them. A good beer, but not a flavor I’m taken with. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to an adventurous drinker if he could find it – seems to be a difficult beer to procure.