Belgium's Great Beers
Understanding the styles
(Amber) Belgian Ales
Beers similar to an English Pale Ale or Bitter, but with no direct allusion to Britain, are often made by Belgian brewers. Some are labelled with the English word Ale, others as Special (various spellings), as a simple distinction from standard lager beers. Some of these are spiced (eg Petrus Speciale, with coriander). Others simply derive a spicy taste from the yeasts used. Typical examples, all at around 5.0abv, include the fruity Palm Special; the spicy Horse Ale; the hoppy Op-Ale, dry Ginder Ale (named after a brewer named van Ginderachter; and the sherbety Vieux Temps. The most famous example of all is made by the De Konick brewery, of Antwerp. This is identified as neither ale nor special, but simply as De Koninck. In the Antwerp area, where it is very much the local brew, it is colloquially ordered as a Bolleke, a reference to its curved goblet. The beer has a dense head, a toasty palate, and a spicy, delicate, hop in the finish. Its subtlety is much more evident on draught than in the bottle.
Bars in producing area: The Pelgrim, opposite the brewery,at 8 Boomgaard Straat, Antwerp, is a traditional café. Locals ask for a shot-glass of the brewery yeast with their first or last Bolleke of the evening. De Koninck is widely available. Outlets include Café Den Engel, on the Grote Markt, one Antwerp's main squares; and Quinten Matsijs (17 Moriaan Straat), the city's oldest pub, dating from 1565.