From the Het Anker brewery in Belgium comes a real gem. As translated, this beer from Gouden Carolus is the “Grand Cru of the Emperor” and should be considered worthy of the finest and most distinguished of palates. The “blauw” is for blue, as in the color of the label across the bottle. The bottle has a blue label draped diagonally across it with the name of the beer on it, but there is also a red variety. This I have yet to try.

Imagine taking an interesting array of fruit flavors – banana, citrus, plum, raisin, – and mixing it with caramel, toffee and a touch of chocolate then tossing in a pinch of brown sugar and some Granny Smith apples. This is what you would get out of this beer. From the moment I uncorked this bad boy I knew this was going to be a treat. The smell is one that will wake you right up. Brown sugar, vanilla, cloves, apples, some dark fruit and the alcohol burn really set your nostrils into a frenzy, preparing you for the big dance in the old town square.

Its appearance is one that will make you stand up and notice. Upon pouring this into a weissen glass, I could see the cloudy deep amber/brown had plenty of business going on as it built upon itself in the glass. Plenty of roasted malts in this one, as demonstrated by its deep color. To be honest, within the murkiness of the deep brown ocean below, there was a whole lot going on inside. At finish, I looked into it and noticed a thick three-finger beige head that sat there staring back at me defiantly as if to say “I’m not going anywhere pal.” A good amount of carbonation was demonstrated by the thin stream of bubbles that continued to race to the top of the glass.

The first sip hit me in the face like a Mike Tyson left hook. This huge variety of flavor told me I had just thrown caramel, brown sugar, plum, raisins and apples into a blender and hit frappe, only to sweeten the deal at the end with a squirt of lemon and orange. The head did diminish at a fairly decent rate after each pull, but probably due to my consuming it with the beer more so than by natural dissipation. I couldn’t help but notice the mouthfeel on this that was silky smooth, almost velvet-like.

I know a review like this would make you want to go and grab a bottle right away and pound it, but as the back of the bottle states, this thing was made for the long haul. Its ingredients were hand selected by a most discriminating bunch that allowed only the best to enter the race. This is one that can be cellared for years at a time, much like a fine wine that will only improve with age. I mentioned the red label variety before. I’ll definitely have to find that one to see if it is anywhere near as good as this one was. Note to self – Get some. Response? – You don’t need to tell me twice. Go get this one. This powerhouse from the heart of Belgium is one that I will definitely drink again.