cloning Gulden Draak Ale, and I've reviewed Gulden Draak 9000 Quadruple, and even compared Gulden Draak to Gulden Fraug from Hoppin' Frog, it took several web searches to realize that I've never actually reviewed Gulden Draak itself. This is an omission that requires immediate correction...
Despite its name (which is Dutch for Golden Dragon), Gulden Draak is a Belgian beer. It's produced by the Van Steenberge brewery in Flanders, Belgium. It's named after the gilded dragon statues found in the belfry of a church in Ghent.
Van Steenberge describes Gulden Draak as a "dark triple" that can be drunk as an aperitif or dessert. They claim it's also good in stews, sauces for red meat, or in combination with dark chocolate. (I'll have to try that last combo someday.)
As you can see in the photo, it pours a somewhat coppery brown with thick beige head that lingers a while.
The aroma is a combination of brown sugar, Belgian spices, and dark fruit.
At colder temperatures, it starts a touch hoppy with a hint of red wine tannins (probably because it's partially fermented with wine yeast). This gives way to malty sweetness, dark fruit, cherry sourness, and spice. As it warms up, the bitterness fades a bit, letting the fruit and spice flavors take center stage. Gulden Draak Ale was named "the best-tasting beer in the world" in 1998 by the American Tasting Institute (now called ChefsBest). I'm inclined to agree with those folks. Without question, this is one of the best beers I've ever had - and quite likely the very best.
If you won't take my word for it, consider that Rate Beer gives this a 99 out of 100, and that's with over 2,300 ratings. Beer Advocate gives it a 98 out of 100, describing it as world-class. In case it wasn't obvious already, I give it a solid, unflinching 10 out of 10. I absolutely love this beer.
The only bad thing about Gulden Draak is the price. Four 11.2 ounce bottles like the one pictured above will set you back about $19.99 and tax. A 25-ounce bomber, the last time I saw one, was $13.99 plus tax. This is a beer I'd happily drink every day, but at the price can't justify. (Hence my desire to learn to brew an acceptable clone myself.)
I can pretty consistently find Gulden Draak at The Andersons General Store in Dublin. I've also seen it somewhat less consistently at The Hills Market in Worthington, Whole Foods in Dublin, Weiland's Gourmet Market, and other local retailers.