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Day #18 – Pauwel Kwak

January 19, 2011

Belgium. To many beer aficionados this is Mecca, the motherland. Belgium is dripping with beer and packed with breweries. Most people think of Germany when they think of a beer loving country, and while Germans do know how to enjoy a stein or two, Belgium is right up there with them.

Belgian beer (no that’s not a misspelling) falls within it’s own respective category; several in fact. Belgian yeast strains have their own quite distinctive flavors and aromas that greatly affect the beer. They are known for being fairly light bodied, very fruity with banana and clove flavors with medium to high alcohol. They also have very unique glassware, which I’ll cover in a moment.

This will be my first review of a Belgian beer on this blog, as well as the first time I’ve had this beer in real life. I had to take a trip to the Addison Flying Saucer for this one, although it is available all over DFW. The reason I came here however, is for the glass that they offered for purchase with it. And being the beer enthusiast/glassware collector that I am just couldn’t pass it up!

Pauwel Kwak

This beer is brewed in Belgium by a family owned Brewery Bosteels. They make several well known Belgian beers that are distributed here, Kwak being but one of them. (Deus Brut and Tripel Karmeliet being the others).

This beer is classified as a Belgian Strong Ale which are usually fairly high in alcohol with dark fruit flavors and aromas to match.

Before I get into the beer, it is only fair that I discuss the glass. This glass is in a word, badass. That would explain why I drove across DFW to drink a beer I could readily get down the street from me. I have never seen these glasses for sell anywhere else, sans the Internet. This glass is called a mini-yard glass, or a yard of ale. It is rumored that Mr. Kwak himself designed this glass back in the early 19th century. A full yard of ale is a glass that is literally a meter in length and was so designed to cater to the coach drivers of old. These extra tall glasses would be handed up to the drivers while they sat on their perch, eliminating the need to dismount. This “mini-yard” style has been scaled down but still maintains the original ratio and scale. Due to it’s rounded base, it cannot stand on it’s own and comes with a wooden stand. This is without a doubt the coolest glass I now own.

By the way, keep a lookout for a new page strictly covering glassware to be published fairly soon.

This beer pours a fairly clear amber-orange aroma with a very tall head response. Creamy looking and foamy. It looks superb in this glass as well.

The aroma on this is fairly dusty, like when you blow on a math textbook a week before finals. Yeah, smells like that. Dry grains and faint fruit are coming through in this. Some very light clove and leafy notes are coming through. It is however lacking the fruity overtones which I was hoping for.

The flavor however is another thing altogether. Slightly sweet in a sugary sense with a dry grain flavor to balance it out. Dark fruit flavors fill in towards the back, like dark grapes or aged plum. The aftertaste is similar to this, leaving a bit of alcohol burn on the back of the throat. This feeling lingers for awhile.

All in all, this is strong; especially if you are not accustomed to drinking beers of this magnitude. This comes in at 8% even and you can feel all 8 points. The flavor isn’t necessarily overbearing but the ABV isn’t so well hidden. Perhaps they didn’t mean to hide it, but either way, if you see the chap next to you at the bar drinking out of a glass like this and it happens to be a Kwak, ask for a sip. Tell him I said it’s ok.

Cheers!

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