Beer: Gulden Draak Ale
Brewery: Brouwer Van Steenberge
Style: Dark Tripel
Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: NJ Transit: NJ Coastline Train
Primary Consumer: Jason**, polyinstrumental Washington Heights resident extraordinaire
Guest Reviewer Qualifications: An avid beer drinker (albeit, champion of the macro-lager)
**FOR THE RECORD THIS PHOTOGRAPH IS NOT OF JASON. IT IS, HOWEVER, A PHOTO OF A YOUNG SATYR ON NEW JERSEY TRANSIT DRINKING A BEER. (THANKS, GOOGLE IMAGES, YOU RULE.)
Sight: Since I was drinking on the train, I opted for the straight-out-of-the-bottle approach. This bottle is dark brown with an all-over white label to shield it from the light. I tried to look down inside through the opening but then realized how strange I probably appeared to the other passengers and ceased my investigation. It is a dark beer in a very dark bottle.
Scent: Strong alcohol scent. Not good for inconspicuous train drinking. In my estimation I attracted more suspicious and/or disapproving glances than usual but there may have been other contributing factors.
Flavor: Compared to other Tripels that I have had, the Golden Dragon (named for the statue on the top of the Belfry of Ghent) has a strong and enjoyable flavor. I confess to having been unable to isolate any of the “notes” in this beer, or most other beers for that matter. I can vaguely attest to a “spicy” finish but that may just be the high ABV messing with me. I never really taste flowers or fruits or anything like that when I’m drinking. While this may be viewed as an admission of an unsophisticated taste and might conceivably be perceived as ignorance in terms of beer connoisseurship, I prefer to think that my own sensory experience is one that is completely integrated and exists on such a level that language proves to be inadequate to explain my own subjective taste experience (there is only one word for love cliché, etc.). If you think that I am trying to compensate for a lack of appropriate beer-snobbishness with philosophically pretentious rhetoric, you are probably correct. Guilty–and so what? I propose that if you drink one of these beers before continuing reading that you will hate my review far less.
Feel: Smooth and warm.
Concluding remarks: Speaking of love…my review can be summed up as follows: “I love this beer.” This was my first experience with the Dragon, but it will certainly not be my last. My problem with a lot of these kinds of beers is that I like to drink one and then move on to something else.
When I finished this beer I wished that I had another with me. I could drink this instead of an ice tea or something, perhaps even out of a water bottle while jogging in the winter. This beer is going to get considerable rotation in the future playlist of my drinking.
Some practical considerations: In the context of train drinking, this beer had some significant positive attributes. First, it made the kids screaming behind me way less annoying. I didn’t quite find their screams cute or anything, but
it became progressively more tolerable as the beer was consumed and I didn’t change seats. Secondly, although I don’t usually get hassled about drinking on the train, the white label and foreign language on it make me think that it could conceivably be passed off as an energy drink. Lastly, due to it’s higher alcohol percentage in less volume than my normal train ride companions (2 tall boys of Budweiser bought in Penn station), I did not have to make the precarious journey to the NJ transit restroom facility. For those of you who are unfamiliar with such a journey, it consists of airplane style toilets, nonfunctioning sinks, and lines that always seem to move at a pace of one passenger per stop. Inside the bathroom while the train moves on past where I get off? Not today.
THANK YOU, JASON! I’m sure our doting fan base welcomes a day without descriptions of sugarplums, fluffy clouds, tulips, or other trite beerspeak adjectives.
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