Size: 330 ml
ABV: 8.5 %
Hapkin may now be brewed by giant Alken-Maes, but it hasn’t always been this way. The Brouwerij Louwaege was formed in 1877 and lasted five generations until its premature closure in 2002. The 7500 square metre site in Kortemark, West Flanders was eventually demolished after the acquisition and it is hard now to find much information on this sad demise.
The axe truly fell across the head of another community brewery – a fairly apt analogy for a beer symbolised by the weapon of choice of a certain Lord Hapkin of Flanders. Also known as Boudewijn Hapkin/Baldwin VII – the Count of Flanders.
This terrifying figure only ruled Flanders for eight short years, but his contribution in this time was a bloody rebellion against the murderers, thieves and oppressors of the people of his land. A kind of Belgian Robin Hood, seeking a peace for his land by the most ironic means. Often this was at the expense of the nobility who wielded horrific abuses at the hands of the middle classes.
Hapkin was born in 1093, and came to power at a rather unripe 18 years old. He would eventually die on the battlefield in 1119 – legend has it through a resounding cut to the head – a fitting end for a man renowned for his bloody axeplay.
It seems a rather odd choice of hero for a beer, but there is a nice twist to the tale. During his reign over 900 years ago, Lord Hapkin commissioned a strong blond beer at the Abbey Ter Duinen Cistercienzerpaters, a beer which history dictates was the original recipe of the latest Hapkin incarnation. The beer was allegedly so good that it was known country wide, and so strong that it made even the most cowardly soldier feel invincible. It is almost taken for granted now that Lord Hapkin would have bloodily fallen in the name of his people, drunk on his own home-brew.
This is certainly a beer in the mould of its master. Strong and belligerent in appearance and thick and dangerous on the palate. It looks like a proper tripel and with the addition of a sweet back-kick you wouldn’t be disappointed if you inherited a crate of this. It did fade a little near the end, a little bit like the Champions League game I was watching at the time, but definitely a worthy contender for something to knock out your mates with.