Brewery: Brouwerij Van Steenberge
Gulden Draak was a brewery I found quite early into my journey of beer discovery and I have loved their beers ever since. I still remember drinking my first Gulden Draak and realising that this would be a beer I would like forever. When I read that they were coming out with a limited edition imperial stout, it filled me with joy. The idea of what they could do with a stout set my mind racing and I knew I would have to grab some bottles for the tasting (and myself of course). When I finally tried this though, I was a bit confused. although they have made a lovely beer, it’s just simply not a stout.
It poured very deep brown to black, with a big beige head forming straight away that held well. The beer laced the glass gracefully as it was swirled. The aromas were really delightful, with big sweet candy and dark fruits spring forth from the glass. Although it was enticing, it was not what I would consider to be the atypical stout smell. The notes most associated with stout such as coffee and chocolate were non-existent but in their place were plums and raisins. You could feel the heavy alcohol presence in the aroma, giving a deep warming sensation in the nose. On the tongue, spicy plum was the main taste along with some hazelnut and candy sugar. It was complex on the palate but went down smoothly. It was surprisingly light in body and I really did expect a little most thickness to the beer if I’m honest. The 12% was hidden extremely well, much better indeed than the aroma. The aftertaste was warm brown sugar that lingered on the tongue and was most enjoyable.
I’m quite torn whether this beer is good quite frankly and I’m not sure I would class this as a stout. It’s a lot closer to the usual Gulden Draak quad style with extra sweetness. If you’re going to make a stout, at least make it so it represents the genre well. This is a stout but only in name. The fact that this currently has a rating of 89 out of 100 overall on ratebeer but only 37 out of 100 for style (stout) is quite telling. As a beer, I think this was extremely nice, but it fails completely as a stout. As long as you are aware of this before you drink it, I think you will love it.