Gulden Draak, or Gilded Dragon in English, is a strong dark ale from Belgium. It’s won Double Gold in the 2020 European Beer Challenge London, and Bronze in the 2021 New York International Beer Competition.
A dark tripel with a deep ruby color and caramel-colored foam, the Van Steenberge Gulden Draak Classic gives aromas of roasted malt and coffee. It has a full-bodied flavor, with notes of chocolate and caramel, and a long, bittersweet finish.
The Gulden Draak is also a “living beer,” which means it has a unique, long-term flavor evolution. The older the beer gets, the more aroma it gives, and the fuller the flavor becomes.
This is a great beer for aperitifs, dessert, or really, for any time of the day you’re craving a good drink. Pair with cheeses like Comte, cured meats like jamon serrano, and cornichons. For heavier fare, it’s perfect to enjoy with hearty stews, red meat dishes like steak, or a roast lamb. End your meal with another bottle, and pair with some squares of dark chocolate—very simple, but such a great combination.
The legend of the Gulden Draak or the Gilded Dragon is a journey, one that spans centuries, countries, and cultures.
It begins on the prow of the ship of the Norse king, Sigrid Magnusson, in 1111 during his crusade. It stays there as he battles the Moors in Spain, the Balearic Islands, and many others. Following his victory, he gifts the golden beast to the Emperor of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), and it finds a throne atop the dome of the Hagia Sophia.
It resides there until, less than a hundred years later, Boudewijn IX, the Flemish count, transfers it onto Flemish shores. This is how the dragon of Norse origins finds itself in the hands of the people of Bruges.
And in 1382, succeeding the Battle of Beverhoutsveld, it was taken as a spoil of war by the people of Ghent and placed at the top of their Belfry, where it will stay hence. For nearly 700 years, the Gilded Dragon has sat there—a symbol of freedom, power, and independence.
Store beer bottles upright to prevent yeast rings from appearing. They must be kept in a cool, dark place at approximately 13°C. Don’t allow beer to be caught in bright light for long periods of time to prevent it from attaining a “skunky” taste.