Saturday, August 2, 2014

Gulden Draak vs. Gulden Fraug

Hoppin’ Frog released a beer this year called Gulden Fraug.  From the moment I saw it, I got the impression that Hoppin’ Frog was inviting comparison to the Belgian beer with the similar name… Brouwerij van Steenberge’s Gulden Draak.  So I decided to do it.

Gulden Draak pours a dark brown with finger-and-a-half thick beige head that lasts a very long time.  Gulden Fraug pours a coppery amber color with a thin head that vanishes almost immediately.  Gulden Draak leaves behind thick lacing.  Gulden Fraug leaves none.

Gulden Fraug has a sweet, caramel, malty aroma with some dark fruit.  Gulden Draak has a more intense aroma of dark fruit with spice and a slight wine-like note.  Gulden Fraug’s aroma is sweeter than Gulden Draak's.

Gulden Fraug starts carmel malty and sweet.  Some clove-like notes and mild hops kick in after that.  Finish is malty and very mildly bitter.  Despite the alcohol content, it’s warming but not burning.  Gulden Draak starts with sweet dark malt, dark fruit, and spice.  This is followed by a perfectly balanced combination of hops, malt, dark fruit, and spice.  The finish is mildly bitter, a bit more bitter than Gulden Fraug.

These are both great beers.  They’re both Belgian in style (and Gulden Draak is Belgian in origin as well).  Gulden Fraug is smoother, less-expensive, and made here in Ohio.  At approximately $8 a bottle, it’s about half the price of Gulden Draak.  On the other hand, Gulden Draak’s flavor and aroma are more complex and nuanced.  In my mind, it’s definitely better than Gulden Fraug – but not by a lot.  When you compare the price of a bomber of Gulden Draak (around $13.99 these days) and a bottle of Gulden Fraug ($7.99), it’s tough to say there’s a clear “winner” here.  So we’re going to have two winners in this face-off.

Gulden Fraug is a great beer.  It’s smooth, delicious, and easy to drink.  It’s definitely the winner on value and taste.

Gulden Draak is also a great beer.  Its flavors are exactly what I want and expect in a Belgian beer.  You’d be hard-pressed to find something better.  But its price makes it a beer you’re probably not going to drink every day.

If you’re listening, Hoppin’ Frog, please keep making Gulden Fraug.  It’s a delicious beer and I look forward to adding it to my regular rotation.

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