Home Beer What’s in a name?: Gulden Draak

What’s in a name?: Gulden Draak


What do the Crusades, a Norwegian king and this beer have in common? According to Brewery Van Steenberge’s Jeff Versale, more than you might think. Flip the calendar back to a time when religious wars were as common as English rain. Early on in the Crusades, which lasted from the 11th to the 13th century, Norwegian King Sigrid Magnusson sailed to the center of the Christian world, Constantinople (today, Istanbul, Turkey), on his way home from the Middle East. During his stay, Magnusson showed his gratitude to the emperor of Constantinople with the gift of a golden dragon statue. It stayed in the city for 100 years until Baldwin IX, a Flemish count and Constantinople’s then-emperor, decided the dragon belonged in his home village just outside Ghent, Belgium. Predictably, not everyone in Belgium was pleased with the gesture, and a bold band of Bruges residents stole the statue under the cover of night. Sometimes revenge travels slowly: More than 100 years later, Ghent invaded its thieving neighbors and reclaimed the statue. While this may sound like historical myth, the golden dragon, or gulden draak, still ornaments Ghent’s belfry tower, guarding its precious treasures, like this rich Belgian dark strong ale.  –Christopher Staten


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.

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