Brew Review: Gulden Draak Vintage Ale 2008

There's no question that the land of beer is populated by a dizzying array of bizarre mascots. From arrogant bastards to fat tires and even John C. McGinley as commissioner of the "more taste league," beer aisles are stocked with creatures staring at you in the hopes you'll pick them up.

We at Phoenix New Times have found the flashiest of all the beer mascots. Yes, we searched through that chilly aisle evading the feminine wiles of St. Pauily's Girl while going mano-a-mano with that dastardly fellow Samuel Adams to bring back the shimmering golden fantasy beast that is Gulden Draak to our humble offices.

Named after a similar iconic beast atop Ghent's Belfrey, Gulden Draak is a Belgian dream of a beer with a gorgeous ruby color and a taste hinting at chocolate. But we shall leave all discussion of the original Gulden Draak for another occasion and focus instead on Gulden Draak Vintage Ale 2008.

Is the vintage version of this barley wine worthy of the glimmering animal that is its namesake?

Tastes: like the nectar supped by heroes before storming off to slay a nightmarish beast. There are fruity hints of cherry on the front end which mellows out into a bitter hoppy flavor as it rolls over the tongue. There is little to no after taste, but you'd never know because no one would ever want to stop drinking this long enough to find out if this even has an after taste.

Gulden Draak Vintage Ale weighs in at about 7.5% alcohol by volume making it three points lower than the original Gulden Draak. Even with the lowered alcohol content you'll be able to pick it out of the flavor profiles.

I got mine: at AJ's Fine Foods where a 1Pt. 9.4fl.oz bottle will set you back $13.99

Goes with: celebrating. The Van Steenberge Web site describes their creation as "definitely a party beer," remarking also that it "smells of triumph." I'm not going to argue. With a price tag that high, Gulden Draak Vintage Ale is the kind of beer that calls for a brilliant occasion with the best of company to truly enjoy it. Unless, of course, you have money to burn then I suppose every day is worth celebrating. Ferrari anyone?

Verdict: My beer drinking comrades and I consider this one of the finer brews we've tasted over the many weeks of brew reviews. The flavor is something to be appreciated for its complexity while remaining smooth as silk. That being said, my companions added that they would be reluctant to purchase this beer (as good as it is) due to the price tag. Our suggestion: venture into the deepest mountain halls, slay a few winged reptiles and use their hoards of gold to buy a case.

Happy Drinking!


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