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Gulden Draak, One Of The Most Dangerous Drinkable Beers In The World

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Gulden_Draak-1

There are beers.. and then there’s Gulden Draak, a dark brown triple ale that’s been brewed since the 1700s and is steeped in legacy and tradition. My first experience with this heavenly brew was years ago at a Belgian restaurant in Philadelphia called Monk’s Café, and it really blew me away.

For those of you unfamiliar with Gulden Draak, allow me to give you a brief history lesson. The beer first saw the day of light as a one-off brew commissioned to the brewery by the mayor of Evergem. But it was added to the brewery’s regular range due to its popularity with Italian guests of the brewery.

In 1998, Gulden Draak was awarded the best-tasting beer in the world by the American Tasting Institute (now ChefsBest), and today it’s considered one of the most well-known Belgian beers. Thanks to it’s 10.5% ABV (nearly 3X as potent as a regular beer), it’s also regarded as one of the most dangerous. Needless to say, it packs quite a punch, so be careful with this one.

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As for the name, Gulden Draak (Golden Dragon) refers to the gilded statue that sits atop the Belfry in Ghent. Legend says the gilded dragon first featured on the prow of the ship with which the Norwegian king Sigrid Magnusson left on a crusade in 1111. He offered the statue to the emperor of Constantinople to put it on the cupola of the Aya Sophia. Some hundred years later, the Flemish count Baldwin IX had it transported to Bruges in Belgium. After Ghent defeated Bruges on the field of Beverhout in 1382, the inhabitants of Ghent took the dragon as war booty and placed it on top of their Belfry, where it’s lasted for over 6 centuries and has served as the symbol of freedom and might of the city.

Like the other special beers of the Brewery Van Steenberge, Gulden Draak and Gulden Draak 9000 are top fermented ales which are second fermented in both the bottle and the keg! For the secondary fermentation, the brewer uses a Bordeaux yeast, because a mere beer yeast cannot support the high levels of malt used in the brew. The wine yeast gives this ale an amazing, easy drinking finish for a beer of 10.5% ABV.

While I haven’t enjoyed a Gulden Draak in years, just the sight of that unique white bottle, the black banner, the golden dragon and the red lettering instantly brought me back to that fateful night at Monk’s, and I found my mouth watering in anticipation of that first sip.

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Pouring the Gulden Draak into the specially designed glass (which represents a dragon’s egg perched on a rock), I was greeted by a beautiful dark copper color that lets me know I was in for something special, as most Belgian tripels are of a lighter golden color.

As for the taste, it was surprisingly rich and smooth, with hints of caramel, toffee, roasted malt and coffee in combination with a creamy hazel head. The alcohol starts giving you a glow from the moment you swallow that first taste, so this is one beer you’ll want to sip and enjoy slowly. Its sweet flavor makes it easy to forget that its high alcohol content, so be forewarned.

If this sounds like your kind of beer, pick up some Gulden Draak and get ready to #ConquerTheDragon. And if you’d like to be entered into a drawing to win some Gulden Draak swag, make sure you share your photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the #GuldenDraak hashtag and tagging @GuysGab.

For more information on Gulden Draak, including recipes, pairings, events, prizes and more, make sure to follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

Disclosure: This post brought to you by Gulden Draak, but all opinions are 100% mine.

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  1. Philip

    May 20, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    I have actually had this beer at a few of the Belgium bars in NYC. It’s really good!

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Drinks

From Cocktails To Mocktails: 3 Boozy Drinks With Non-Alcoholic Variations

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The summer season is fast approaching, and many people choose to enjoy it by drinking nice, cool cocktails under the warm, summer sun. Of course, there will be days when an alcoholic drink won’t work for any number of reasons. Maybe you want to enjoy the taste of a mimosa but not the late-afternoon hangover or drowsiness. Perhaps you really want that screwdriver at your favorite cocktail house, but you already volunteered to be the designated driver. Or maybe you could choose to avoid alcohol altogether as part of a sober lifestyle.

Even if consuming alcohol is a no-go, the idea of a delicious, mixed drink on a relaxing day or energetic night out still could sound appealing to you or someone else. Mocktails are a safe and healthy alternative to the original concoction.

The term “mocktails” originated during the 1970s and ever since has been a savior for people who want the delightful taste of a mixed drink but with one specific ingredient missing.

A few classic alcoholic recipes can be tinkered with to create non-alcoholic masterpieces. These variations of popular cocktails either replace alcohol with the ideal replacement ingredient or drop the booze altogether. Vodka becomes ginger ale. Champagne becomes grape juice.

In the end, the alcohol might be missing but the taste is nearly identical to, if not better than, the original.

The Mockmosa

The Recovery Village has a useful summary of how to craft the non-alcoholic version of this brunch-time favorite. They also offer treatment for anyone struggling with substance abuse like the Ohio drug rehab. Mimosas are usually created by combining orange juice with champagne or sparkling wine.

This Mockmosa recipe trades the champagne out for some sparkling white grape juice, which makes a perfect non-alcoholic replacement. Look for grape juice brands that are dry in flavor, with little or no sugar or corn syrup, to replicate the champagne taste. Combine them in a champagne flute and, if you want to add a unique touch, garnish the drink with a mint sprig.

Non-Alcoholic Screwdriver

Usually, screwdrivers are made by combining vodka and orange juice. Replacing the alcoholic ingredient with ginger ale doesn’t drop the tastiness level at all. Leaf.Tv shows how to prepare this variation of the simple two-ingredient mixture.

Start with ice cubes, fill half the glass with ginger ale, and then top it off with a pulpy orange juice brand of your choice. Finish the process with a swizzle stick to combine the two liquid ingredients until the colors have swirled together to mimic a screwdriver. Before the ice melts, sit back and drink up.

Virgin Cucumber Mojito

This smooth-tasting drink is a favorite when temperatures rise and the summer season hits its peak. The alcoholic version includes rum, but it’s not really necessary to create the drink’s refreshing taste. A Frugal Chick has a great alternative to this classic, and the only change is dropping the alcoholic ingredient. Combine one lime, some mint leaves, white sugar, two cucumber slices, ice cubes and soda together for another version of perfection.

Cocktails are a staple of American drinking culture, especially at restaurants or bars with a group of friends or on a date. In the summer, they become staples for days spent by the pool or on the beach. But don’t give up — or give in to temptation — if you originally hoped to spend your day or night without any alcohol. These mocktails not only flatter the originals with their imitation, but they sometimes raise the bar even higher.

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Space Beer Is The Final Frontier Of Beer

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Vostok Space Beer

If you’ve ever seen people drink those little travel bottles of booze on an airplane because they are nervous about flying, imagine what you’re going to need when you are flying toward outer space to stay in one of those fancy space hotels.

Space Beer, that’s what you need. It will help you to blast off while you’re blasting off. Hailed as the world’s first beer for space, Vostok Space beer is specially designed to be drunken in space. Is that proper English? You’ll get drunken in space alright.

Anyway, 4 Pines Brewing Company and Saber Astronautics have teamed up to not only create a space beer but also a space beer bottle so people can drink it in space. Why? Because, beer.

These guys know that space travel is our destiny and they want to be ready with the necessary beverages. As they point out on their Indiegogo page, there is now more recreational space flights that have been booked than there have been astronauts in space in the last 57 years.

Vostok Space Beer

Space tourism is happening, and soon. Do you want to take your trip without beer? Of course not. Whether it’s a suborbital flight or a trip to Mars, a beer would be great. You need a space beer bottle because physics are different in space. There’s no gravity for the liquid to pour. They equate it to making a fuel tank for beer.

This is a noble cause. When you are that first tourist on the moon, you’ll stop and say, *BURP* “That’s one small burp for man, one giant burp for mankind.”

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If You’re A Fan Of Jack Daniel’s, You’ve Got To Make The Pilgrimage To Lynchburg

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Jack Daniel's Distillery

Earlier this month, the folks at Jack Daniel’s flew us down to Lynchburg, Tennessee to visit the iconic Jack Daniel’s Distillery, where the world-famous Old No. 7 has been produced for over 150 years, to learn firsthand about how their Tennessee Whiskey is made.

As someone who’s been drinking Jack Daniel’s for the greater part of 20 years, I was excited to learn more about the brand’s history of making whiskey, and the man behind it.

Our journey began in Nashville, about an hour and a half north of Lynchburg. During our ride to the distillery, our guide gave us some history about Jasper Newton Daniel (Jack), and the interesting road that led him to start Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.

Jack Daniel's Distillery

Born in 1849, Jack Daniel was the youngest of 10 children, with his mother dying shortly after his birth (likely due to complications from childbirth). A few years later, his father remarried and had another 3 children with his new wife. Jack leaves home at a very young age and he is taken in by Reverend Dan Call, where he works on the family farm. And on his farm, he had a still, which Jack quickly took interest in it.

It’s here where Jack learns the art of whiskey making from the preacher and his head distiller, Nathan “Nearest” Green. In 1866, Call decides to focus on his calling as a minister, selling his whiskey business to Jack. Jack in turn hires Nearest as his Master Distiller. A few years later, they open the now-famous distillery in Lynchburg, and the rest is history.

Jack Daniel's Assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher

A short while later, we arrived at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, and gathered together for a VIP tour hosted by none other than Assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher! As you can imagine, he’s got extensive knowledge of the whiskey making process, which he shared with us in great detail as he took us through the entire facility.

Not only that, but Fletcher is actually the grandson of retired Master Distiller Frank Bobo, the distillery’s fifth master distiller from 1966-89. Needless to say, whiskey is in his blood.

Jack Daniel's Distillery

The first stop on our tour was Cave Spring Hollow, which houses Lynchburg’s greatest natural resource – clean, pure, spring water. The cave’s layers of limestone naturally impart a variety of minerals to the water which contribute to Jack Daniel’s character. More importantly, the limestone also removes iron (which is bad if you are making whiskey) from the water.

Did you know that every bottle of Jack Daniel’s sold around the world is made with water from this source? I actually got to take a drink from the spring, and it was perhaps the purest water that I’ve ever tasted.

Jack Daniel's Distillery

From here, we made our way to the Rickyard, where they stack 5-foot tall pallets of hard super maple, douse them in raw, unaged whiskey, before setting the wood ablaze. The inferno peaks at over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit before burning down into smoldering embers. The resulting charcoal is used in the charcoal mellowing process.

We got to take part in this process, and it was pretty wild, the heat getting so intense that you had to walk away after awhile or risk getting burned. How these guys manage to keep cool in the hot Tennessee summers is beyond me, but my hats off to them.

Jack Daniel's Distillery

Afterwards, we walked down to the Distillery Building, where we got to learn more about the whiskey making process including the whiskey stills, the fermenting tanks and the charcoal-mellowing vats. That last part is perhaps the most important, filtering the 140-proof, unaged whiskey drop by drop through 10 feet of handcrafted charcoal.

It’s this extra step that imparts the distinctive smoothness you have come to expect from Jack Daniel’s, and it’s what makes this a Tennessee Whiskey and not a bourbon.

Jack Daniel's Distillery

Next, this whiskey goes into American White Oak barrels that are hand-built at Jack Daniel’s Cooperage. Once assembled, the barrel’s interior is toasted and charred using a proprietary method to coax the wood’s natural sugars out and caramelize them. The whiskey enters the barrel colorless and raw, but during the maturation process, the whiskey draws all of its rich amber color and much of its distinctive flavor from the barrels.

As you can imagine, if Jack Daniel’s were to reuse their barrels, they’d get diminishing returns, as the first batch of whiskey already draws out most of the flavor from the barrel. That’s why they only use a barrel once, after which they sell them off to third-parties.

Jack Daniel's Distillery

Interestingly enough, a number of variables determine how long a barrel of whiskey stays in the barrelhouse, including the barrel itself and where it’s located in the barrelhouse. Barrels located on the upper floors (where temperature changes are more extreme) tend to mature faster than barrels on the lower floors, where it’s generally cooler.

So rather than rely on age, a team of whiskey tasters sample each and every barrel to decide when they’re ready for bottling. Master Distiller Jeff Arnett showed us this process by bringing us to one of the barrelhouses and taking us up to the 6th floor, where he tapped into a couple of barrels and let us sample them right from the source. In a word.. incredible!

Jack Daniel's Distillery

If that wasn’t enough, they also set up a tasting for us, where we got to sample every product in their portfolio, including Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, Gentleman Jack, Single Barrel Select, Rye, Honey, Fire, and more. I really enjoyed the Single Barrel Select, but Honey and Fire were also standouts for me, and I definitely need to pick up a few bottles of these for myself.

Overall, I had a great time visiting the Jack Daniel’s Distillery and seeing everything that they have to offer, and I’d highly recommend taking the tour if you’re coming through Tennessee, even if you’re not a whiskey drinker. There’s a ton of history here, and it’s sure to give you a newfound respect for Jack Daniel’s, and the man who started it all.

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