I can remember the first time I drank a Pauwel Kwak. I was at Bierodrome in Islington, I was in my mid-20s and I think I was on a date. I don’t recall the girl, but I do remember the amazing test tube-like contraption in which my Kwak was served.
Typically, Kwak is served in a uniquely shaped glass which consists of a bulb and a long, horn-like neck, held in place by a wooden frame. I also remember thinking the Kwak tasted damn fine, although – probably due to its price point in the UK – I’ve not really drank it since, excepting once in my review of De Hems Dutch bar in Soho.
So, here I am in the beer desert that is France, with only the Belgian masters to save me: I have bought myself a Kwak. It is without question my favourite of the European beers and one of my top ten favourites of all time. Behold the rich caramel depth with its gentle streams of bubbles! Marvel at the perfumed toffee nose and sink into ecstasy at the very first sip when your tongue comes alive as a cacophony of flavour burst upon it! There a nuts, berries, rich maltiness fighting to get through, all dressed in the sweet caramel full-bodiedness that is Kwak.
Keep your Tintin and your Poirot! The best thing to come from Belgium – whether real or fictitious – is Pauwel Kwak.
Now I remember the girl. She was called Rachel.
Look: Deep caramel, amber
Smell: Perfumed toffee
Taste: Sweet, full bodied
Our verdict: One of the greatest beers on the world stage. Definitely only to be treated in isolation and with utmost respect.