Noel des Geants and Gouden Carolus
The Noel is a pretty damned good beer from Brasserie des Legendes (who must have merged with or absorbed Brasserie Ellezelloise since they currently seem to be making the latter's Hercule Stout?).
Highly effervescent; deep amber in color; nice head. The aromas tend toward the fruit-cakey, but it's good fruit cake, you know? Like with subtle spicing and a range of interesting cherry / apple / raisin aromatics. And it doesn't come off as having an overly "cooked" quality. The palate, while malty, is refreshingly dry which is essential to the beer's success, in my view. It is emphatically not cloying even though it has aromas that might momentarily suggest that possibility. Good stuff.
A good bit closer to cloying is the Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van de Kaiser. At 11% a.b.v. it's sort of in a Scaldis vein and needs to be judged accordingly. It's supposed to be a little sweet and a little heavy. A big, heady, syrupy nose leads into a fairly massive palate. If I hadn't had a Dogfish 120 Minute (yikes) the other day this beer would probably bowl me over a little more. It's big though. There's a little numbing effect that's quite pleasant. A dessert beer, in some sense, but nicely made one. I might like to try the Gouden blonde, which was available at Marcy Discount Beverage, where I bought this one.
Yay, beer sampling...