#170 – Palm Speciale

#170 - Palm Speciale

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 5.4 %

In 1984, the legendary beer guru Michael Jackson was reported as saying “If I could have a beer for breakfast, I would have a Palm.” I can only assume he was severely hungover when he said this, or maybe I am doing the brewery a disservice. One thing is certain though – there is certainly some history!

Palm, or De Hoorn as it was previously known, is so old it’s frightening. They are a Belgian institution and for that certainly deserve some respect. There is evidence that from 1597 on the site opposite the church in the town of Steenhuffel, there was a farmstead named “De Hoorn” (the Horn), which by 1686 was an inn with its own brewery and the same name. In the 1747 census of Steenhuffel there is categoric evidence of the De Hoorn brewery in direct competition with another brewery named “De Valk” (the Falcon).

In 1801 the brewery, which by now contained a malt factory, farm, brandy distillery, and inn with stables, was bought out by Jan Baptist de Mesmaecker. His great-granddaughter Henriette would eventually marry Arthur van Roy who took the production of beer at the brewery in more ways than one into the 20th Century. While the brewing world was beginning to move away from classical hop-fermented beer and choose cheaper pilsner style lagers, Van Roy stuck true to his principles. That was until World War I when the brewery was completely annihilated. Arthur van Roy now had grand ideas for a rebuild far beyond the village environs; but that’s a story for another beer I am afraid.

The Palm Speciale had been sitting in my cellar for quite some time. I had picked it up in a small rural store in Purnode for just 76 cents. It is made with a mixture of English hops, French barley and Belgian yeast – a truly cosmopolitan concoction. I wasn’t expecting great things despite the proclamations from Mr Jackson, and indeed from the website, which goes so far as to suggest that Palm Speciale is “one of the better beers of the 20th Century”, and the “Absolute number one Belgian amber beer”. I would say that for a 5.4 % ‘sensible alcohol content’ beer, that it is reasonable but some of these assertions are just ridiculous. The website also calls it ‘the sociable beer for every day, for everyone’. If you consider that the vast majority of Belgians themselves still choose to drink Jupiler above their craft beers, they may still have a point I suppose!


Filed under 5, Belgian Ale, Horse, Palm

6 responses to “#170 – Palm Speciale

  1. signalman

    You’re bringing them out fast these days !

    Have to say, that I do like Palm. Its readily available in bars here in Amsterdam ( draught & bottle ) and provides a good alternative to the various Pilsners.

    However, given the choice, I would rather drink a Konnick. Probably more due to the fact that I fell in love with it when working in Belgium years ago, but I do think its tastier that Palm, especially when tasted in Antwerp. Luckily, my local has de Konnick !

    Around this time of year Palm Speciale mutates ( or is supported by ? ) Palm Dobbel, which is similar, slightly darker and maybe a touch more sweetness ( and strength @ 6%). I think its just for Christmas.

    Makes a pleasant change and is an enjoyable drink in itself.

    Surprised that Mr Jackson would rate Palm so highly. Maybe it tasted better back then ?

  2. Hmmm…….The Dobbel never worked for me either…
    The only thing I find redeeming about Palm is the Brugge Tripel to be honest.

  3. signalman

    Have to admit, I’ve drunk both Palm and de Konnick over the weekend, and de Konnick is a winner, hands-down ! Added to the mix were a few Steenbrugge dubbel, which I did enjoy 🙂

  4. signalman

    OK, I tried them back-to-back again…Konnick is a winner hands down, far more taste and flavour ! Mind you I was lucky to pick up an American craft-brewed beer – Saranac India Pale Ale – from my local supermarket and it knocks spots of either of the these, with depth of malt and fantastic hop flavour, and was only 1,49 : bargain.

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