Gulden Draak Brewmaster’s Reserve.

goudendrakbrewers2Gulden Draak Brewmaster’s Reserve is a special beer created by brewmaster Jeff Versele to celebrate Van Steenberg‘s 230th birthday and honor his grandfather’s memory. It’s been barrel-aged and comes in at a hefty 10.1%. The sample was sent to me by the fine folks at Global Beer Network a week or two back and I spent the intervening time deciding whether it should be opened tonight to celebrate Christmas or held until a week from tonight to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Christmas won.

In many ways, the truly cool thing to do would have been to save it for just any old night down the road and pop the cork Just Because.  Years ago, when a combination of an income drought and the discovery that some of the older bottles in my then extensive beer cellar were reaching the tipping point led to a policy of opening all of the fine old bottles no matter what the meal or the occasion and finding a  guilty but joyful pleasure in so doing. But I was younger then and had all the time in the world; these days impatience is both respectable and perhaps required.

This is quite a marvelous beer, presented in a beautiful 750ml bottle. The experience beings with a fruity nose without a hint of whiskey–that comes later–and a beautiful pour, a two inch, long standing head atop an opaque brownish golden, or should I say Gulden, base. Lots of yeasty, spicy goodness on the palate and a pleasant, almost soft whiskey hit in the finish. Grandpa Versele would definitely be proud.

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