Re: Tastes like coal, what the hell?
From what I've heard, the Goldens are much like the 3 Kings, though some say they have better behaved ash. Either way, I think they're likely both at the pinnacle of QL coals. None of the other brands I've tried I would consider smokable.
The biggest thing is simply to remember that a 40mm QL puts out quite a bit of heat. As suggested, try either half a coal at once, or two halves opposite each other on the bowl.
Also, make sure you're rotating the coals every ten minutes or so. I find ten minutes to be about the golden number when using 3Ks on my hookah, any longer than that and the coals start scorching whatever is beneath them.