1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Pauwel Kwak - Brouwerij Bosteels

Not Rated.
Pauwel KwakPauwel Kwak

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,453 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,453
Reviews: 655
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 13.53%
Wants: 32
Gots: 167 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Bosteels visit their website

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Pale Ale |  8.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kbub6f on 06-30-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Pauwel Kwak Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,453 | Reviews: 655 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer pours amber in color with a big off-white head sitting on top.

S: Lots of yeast and bread notes up front. Plenty of caramel, toffee, and brown sugar sweetness with a pleasant fruitiness to it as well. Raisins and bananas are the most prominent fruits and there is a mild spiciness to it, too.

T: A similar array of flavors are present. A touch of alcohol warms things up and the dominant malt sweetness is really present throughout. Toffee and caramel work quite nicely with the banana, pear, and raisin flavors.

M: Medium in body with a medium level of carbonation.

O: Really nice smooth feeling on the tongue with nice flavors and aromas.

Photo of MrHassellYaHurd
3.79/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly hazed orange color with a bushy off-white head and a vigorous visual carbonation release.

The smells are of tart and bitter orange peel, and sweet preserved apricots. The earthy yeast, which is so typical for the strong belgian beers, is here, but on the back bench; it's not terribly strong.

The first tastes I detect are an odd combination of sharp apple cider tartness, freshly baked whole-grain breads, and some of the preserved apricots I thought I'd detected in the smell. The acidity of the brew is fairly well balanced by the semi-sweet graininess. The overall texture of the beer is thick and dry.

Photo of Macca
3.51/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This pours a clear amber colour with a large solid head that drops away very quickly. Very little lacing. Looks dead in the glass.

Some dark sugar aromas on the nose. Some medicinal notes. A bit of booze.

Some alcohol warmth on the palate but nowhere near what I was expecting for a 8.1% beer. Getting the dark sugar again. A bit of tropical fruit. Caramel

Medium bodied. Not a lot of carbo.

A lot more drinkable than expected. Looks bloody awful in the glass though.

Photo of AdamBear
4.28/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From the tap, poured in to the classic oddly shaped Kwak glass.

A-nice chestnut and hazy with a foamy white head that stays.

S-caramel and belgian sugars. much like a clean belgian dubbel. very sweet with a good strength

T-wow, this is a good, clean, and light drinking belgian. the belgian sugars and caramel come in so easily with out any alcohol taste. ends with the good sugars and dark roasted malts. there are no bad aspects to this that i can find. i'm impressed. the taste on this is much lighter than the alcohol suggests.

M-creamy carbonation with a good smooth finish

D-this actually goes down a lot better than most belgians. i do love a good belgian, but i find most to be too heavy to be drinkable, some heavier than the ABV suggests...but not this one. it stays great all the way through. i'll be recommending this to others. JUST ONE MORE THING: In no way, is this is a great BSPA. it doesn't remind me of one at all. instead, i think if you're in to dubbels, this is a good beer for you. I'm actually surprised it isn't listed as one.

Photo of atlason
4.77/5  rDev +26.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into a Goose Island chalice. Enjoyed with a Belgian beef stew, made with Kwak.

A: Deep amber brown, half finger of thick, stable head. Lacing is thick and uniform.

S: Spicy yeast and liquorice.

T: Dubbel-like maltiness, caramelly with rich spicy character and prominent liquorice. Very grassy but mild hops. Aftertaste is medium long and very consistent with the main taste.

M: Perfect chewiness but a little bit tiring on the palate due to sweetness.

Overall one of my favorite Belgian beers, perhaps my favorite after Orval.

Photo of stonesean
3.33/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a famous "Kwak" stirrup cup at "The Pegasus" bar in Diest, Belgium.

Appearance: Amber, a big giant head that dissapated slowly, but left almost no lace. Crystal clear, strange for the style as I understand.

Smell: Almost like a vienna lager. Strange. I feel like something's missing, but I can't put my finger on it. Not bad, but not what I expected.

Taste: Malty, the alcohol is clearly there. A bit of a raisin/fruit finish, and sadly, a bit of a metallic tang.

Mouthfeel: Watery, crisp and clean. Certainly not heavy or cloying, but not exciting either. Little carbonation left from that big head.

Overall: A suprise, but not a good one. Michael Jackson raved about this one, and I found it to be average to above average at best. Perhaps the times have caught up to this one, or there was something wrong with my bottle. Slightly above average, but there are dozens of Belgian beers to drink before this one.

Photo of vfgccp
4.01/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Apricot amber color. Off-white head settles into ½ inch of cream.

S - Relatively mellow. Warm malt. Touch of honey.

T - Soft malt. Mildly bitter pine hops. Mellow med-dark honey. The flavors are smooth, well balanced, and well defined.

M - Soft and smooth with a pleasant carbonation.

O - Keep the gimmicky glassware, just give me the beer :)

Photo of biegaman
3.63/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Kwak's distinctive presentation - an elegantly branded, round-bottomed, hour-glass shaped yard glass that is held upright in a wooden stand - does a great deal for this otherwise ordinary looking beer. In a normal glass, there's nothing catchy about its amber appearance, save maybe the ruby highlights. And without that oddball device rigging things and making pouring so awkward, don't expect much head to form.

The uninitiated might find this aroma to be a little bizarre; indeed, Belgian beer comes standard with some notably different features than those of commercial lager beers. For starters, there's the fruity esters and peppery phenols of the yeast. This one also adds a faint musty quality. Alas the malts are much more robust, tinged with caramel and toast.

The taste offers little else but conventional, unembellished malt and yeast flavours - and there's nothing wrong with that. Its almost nutty-sweet, cookie-like malts and yeast, which is suggestive of over-ripened fruits and a light rash of phenolic spice, don't leave me licking my lips or rubbing my belly in satiation, but they're more than palatable.

Besides, it has a pleasant sweetness that leaves you tempted to go right back in for another sip. Do take heed, however - this ale may be easy-drinking but it is over 8% alcohol! (I feel it's my responsibility to tell you because otherwise you might not sense it.) Although Belgian ales tend to age better than most, this is one best enjoyed fresh.

Kwak is sort of the anatomical skeleton of Belgian ales; its conventional, unvarnished qualities provide a plain, paradigmatic taste of the style and a quintessential, agreeable learning experience for young reviewers, curious drinkers or aficionados alike. Despite being an ale stripped-down to its bare essentials, it's still an enjoyable, social and perfectly acceptable beer worth drinking (or at least trying to pour properly) at least once.

Photo of rsdaugherty
3.67/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap into goblet at Yardhouse downtown Denver
A - a dusky opaque brown/amber/red hue, barely a 1 finger head quickly disappeared to a thin scattered layer 3
S - fruity, toasted malts, mild sweetness, florals, grass 3.5
T - slightly sweet nuts/malts, a flowing structure/flavor throughout the taste, an appealing spicy slightly floral/bitter aftertaste, good balance 4
M - minimal carbonation but what was there were small bubbles and gave a nice smoothness, medium body, light mouth feel 3.5
O - 8% ABV not that much of a factor, a solid good beer but not up to the complexity level I had expected, I would drink it again but I will not seek it out 3.5

Photo of vandemonian
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pauwel Kwak has an amber/red colour and an excellent 2 cm head that lasts. This is a great looking beer, although not exactly pale. The smell is yeasty and a little sour with hints of apple. This beer is lovely and malty with some caramel notes. The alcohol is pretty noticeable. There are some notes of apple toward the end. This beer is thick and foamy in the mouth and really delicious.

Photo of Aiptasia
3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this one with a friend on tap in the authentic Pauwel Kwak mini-yard glass with wooden holder stand at Kickbacks gastropub in Jacksonville, FL. The wooden stand is shaped like a C clamp with the mini yard bulb slipping into it, which became progressively harder and harder to fit into the holder as the alcohol hit us.

The holder and the yard glass does draw attention, as we were asked about it several times by other patrons in the pub. People must have thought we were drinking some kind of hopsanomic science experiment with the number of questions and comments from random strangers we got.

A: A ruby ocre color. No real noticeable head and only traces of a halo lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: Smell was decent, caramel and dried fruit notes so similar to other Belgian darks.

T: Taste was well balanced. Even amounts of fruit hops with mild dry citrus. Not overly sweet with a dry finish.

M: Medium bodied. Drinkable. Micro-carbonation with a very dry finish. Not sweet.

D: High alcohol content means drink it with care. As it isn't as sweet as some Big Belgians, i'd consider it slightly more drinkable.

Photo of argock
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 11.2oz brown bottle into a Duvel tulip. No freshness date. Single purchased at Market Street Wineshop (Charlottesville, VA) for $3.99.

A: Inviting soft brown with short 1/2-finger cap of light beige sticky head with nice foaminess and ample lacing.

S: Mostly phenols and brown sugar/caramel and mild herbal hoppiness

T: Kind of a cross between a dubbel and a BSPA for me with all of the clove-phenol that comes through the middle. Initially a lot of malt sweetness with rum raisin and pears comes through followed by a wave of fruity alcohol and a finish of heavy phenols and pepper with some herbal hoppiness. Sweetness lingers in the aftertaste with more nougat and caramel.

M: Good medium body with brisk carbonation and smooth overall feel.

D: A good one to try, but many other Belgians provide more complexity and interesting qualities. Still glad I tried it and may come back to it every once in awhile.

Photo of boss302
4.47/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A orange clear not much head 4

S Lots of fruit and berries, Belgian typical. 4.5 

T Some sweetness. Rich and flavorful.  Apricot, plums. Clean finish. 4.5 

M thick and creamy very smooth mouthfeel. 4.5

D A fine beer, I will be purchasing more of this. 4.5

Photo of Noctilucus
3.36/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear, rather deep orange-amber with a solid slightly beige head.
Definite a nose of hops and somehow spices (even if there aren't any spices used to brew it) and this aroma is also reflected in the taste, though a tiny bit sweeter than the smell led me to expect.
Definitely some alcohol in the mix, not surprising for an 8.4% ABV beer. At a slightly higher temperature than the recommended 5-6°C (41-43°F) it's easier to enjoy the aftertaste that's nicely malty though not overdone.
Quite a strong taste and definitely a brew to try, though over the years this one has sunk in my list from a personal favourite to just a solid, good beer as I now tend more towards dubbels and quads.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.15/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a Kwak Stirrup/Yard glass. 8.4% ABV, Best Before AC/1BB 3.19 06:56.

A - There's no real way to measure the head with how tall and skinny the glass is, so let's suffice it to say there's a lot of it. Watching the turbulent foam battle itself in the slender glass trying to go both up and down is interesting. Great retention, super-thick and clingy lace, and beautiful clear golden amber in color. One hell of a sexy beer in it's original glass.

S - It starts disappointing with a rustic, almost musty American Amber Ale aroma. Toasted, almost roasted amber malts with Willamet-like earthy hops. Notes of dry leaves and buttery popcorn come through. Mineral hints and a pinch of yeast. Not Belgian-like in the least bit.

T - Strong mineral flavor and notes of metal with very earthy hops presenting dry leaves and slight tobacco. Toasted amber malts are a bit bread-like and it's got a dark candi-sugar-like sweetness with hints of yeast. Undertones of caramel and toffee come through. Suggestions of butter on the finish, this gets a little more enjoyable with each sip, but that's not saying much, especially for a Belgian beer.

M - Smooth entry into a medium body, Pauwel has a little carbonation tickle a bit into it and a slightly dry sweetness to the finish. Warming alcohol hides in the background.

D - I had this on one other occasion and enjoyed it much, much more than this. This one is like a bad American attempt at a Belgian amber ale. A lacking of almost all the classic characteristics that make Belgian beer what it is. It's drinkable for the alcohol percent but towards the bottom of the glass, drinker be ware of the air bubble that shoots more than a mouthful your way.

Photo of Daredevil
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

very interesting brew ... right after serving it (chilled) there was some taste of medecine and especially sage (a taste I particularly dislike) ... but once it 'warmed' up to around 12°C or 54F the spicy tastes become more integrated, making the beer rather pleasant .... as it is full bodied with strong taste it would make a great food compagnion .... Shanghai and Peking cuisine would be suited particularly by it .... funny enough it's reputation comes from wagoners ....

Photo of thagr81us
3.55/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served from tap into a sampler shaker. Poured a hazy red-orange with a one finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, dark fruit, and alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, banana, alcohol, and a nutty note. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a decent brew, but was not awe-inspiring in any way. I know that some people swear by this beer, but I just don't see it. Sure it is an okay brew, but there really isn't any complexity or depth to it in my opinion. I would probably buy this just to get the Kwak glass, but that is about it.

Photo of NightINgale
4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

330ml bottle poured into a tulip glass...

A - The body is cloudy and has a nice ruby colour to it. The head is of a light caramel kind of colour. Pretty good head retention and lacing.

S - The aroma is quite robust, dominated by fruit notes and hints of caramel. Yeasty and bready. Not the most intense smell in the world but still good.

T - Starts out very fruity, with hints of red grape, apple, plum, and even strawberry. This beer is very sweet (perhaps even pushing the sweetness limit a little). The sweetness is enhanced by a caramel-like maltiness, which lingers for quite some time. Some bitter hoppiness is also present. The finish is sweet and bready, with hints of butterscotch. Very tasty, though a bit too sweet! Definitely different from an average Belgian Strong ale.

M - Medium-bodied, a little syrupy. At first there is a pretty high level of carbonation, which then decreases and allows the beer to be a little smoother. The alcohol content gives out a warming sensation but does not get in the way of taste all that much.

D - The drinkability is not that high, even for a Belgian ale. The alcohol hints and the intense sweetness make this beer a sipper at max.

Photo of AaronRed
4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was recommended to me by the waiter at Waterzooi.. with my mussels. He picked this one our for me given what I was eating and though it would go well, which it undoubtedly did. It was served in small yard style glass in a wooden holder. Very crisp, almost grassy aromas- reminiscent of hayfields or being out somewhere on a meadow. Taste was fresh and somewhat bitter, with some subtle tartness in the back of the sip. The beer has strength, but you can't really tell when eating. Goes great with food, especially with mussels in a creamy bacon sauce. I have to say the experience was great and this beer added to it.

Photo of TheBrewo
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

We pour an entirely translucent brew of deep orange. It creates a head of thick tan foam that recedes at a medium speed. No lace appears throughout the sitting. Carbonation looks to be standard, and no sediment or haze is present. The aroma is naturally malty, with inclusions from sweet browned apples, bubblegum esters, and a fine metallic twinge. There is also a bit of spicy nutmeg high up on the nose, riding alongside a splash of booze. As we sip, the metallic aspects from the aroma hit the tongue at its tip. Fruity esters envelope the remainder of the mouth, but they are light enough to let the alcohol shine through, right from the start, with a bitter pepperiness. There is also a bitterness of yeast observed here. The flavoring calms down significantly through the middle, with sweetened malts washing the palate clean. The beer comes full circle in the end, with sweet and fruity esters and malts, and a generous boozing, to be the last things to leave the mouth. The aftertaste breathes with light malts, simple sweetness, and ethanol. The body is medium, as is the carbonation, fizzing out on the tongue. The mouth is left more satiated than dried, and there is a reasonable frothiness to each sip. The abv is within range, but due to the highly alcoholic flavoring, the beer sips a bit more slowly.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this brew was how much flavor was up front. Stronger brews can tend to save all of their punch for the very last drop, with an explosion of flavoring and alcohol at the back. Here, however, everything robust about it is laid out in the start of the sip, which is certainly interesting. Although we were not able to enjoy this brew out of its traditional glass, it provided a fine tasting, but was a bit cumbersome.

Photo of DoktorZee
3.63/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Sam Adams Lager glass (not quite the traditional shape, but close)

A - brown-red and highly carbonated, fluffy head that resolves after a few minutes with little lacing

S - very yeasty, bready with no other notes

T - very sweet; surprisningly so. Lots of bread and yeast, with a bit of caramel

M - less carbonation that the appearance, slight warming booziness and still quite light

D - goes down very easy, but actually lacks a little character

Decent drink, but the sweetness is pretty unusual. Probably wouldn't drink it again.

Photo of bventure
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Ornage/brown, very slightly hazy, pale head dissipates quickly, never entirely disappears.
Smell; Lots of caramel, candied fruits, toffee apple.
Taste: Lots of caramel, russett apples, some alcohol. Maybe rather too sweet, more noticable towards the bottom of the glass.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and smooth, low carbonation
Drinkability: Enjoyable if drunk fairly quickly, gets a bit sweet and stodgy if left in glass too long.

Not one I'd drink all the time, but very nice when in the mood for alcoholic caramel.

Photo of PorterLambic
3.4/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours somewhat hazy with a big, light tan head. That head dissipates rather quickly for a 2" high pile of foam and not quietly either. No lace.
Smell is malty with notes of cardboard and light spice.
Taste is malty and spicy with citrus and hops notes. Alcohol present but not heavy. Grape note present as well.
Slightly warming with a somewhat sharp effervescence bite at the front. Mellows nicely, leaving a malty, spicy grape aftertaste. Medium/full body. A decent brew but not great.

Photo of fourplayed
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mild hazy orange and golden color with 1 finger off white head.

Smells of sweet pears, peaches, apricots and some funky belgian yeasts.

Tastes, at first a pretty big alcohol presense with some apples coming through. a mild bitter hop bite, yeasts and bread/grains come thru in the finish for a nice complexity.

Lite to Med body with big fizzy carbonation, big alcohol warmth, a little bitter and dry in the finish.

Very nice blend of Fruits, malts, yeasts, some hops and a big alcohol kick kept this brew interesting and enjoyable.

Photo of Ochsenblut
3.26/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a mini-yard at a local pub in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

A- Reddish-brown and opaque with a finger of fine off-white head that faded to very sticky lacing.

S- My recent cold prevented me from getting everything out of it, but I smell sweet candy and something floral I couldn't place my finger on.

T- This beer hit me, even closed up and sick as I am with a medicinal and licorice taste. The alcohol is not very well hidden and there is no real hops presence to speak of.

M- Medium to heavy mouthfeel with a small amount of carbonation.

D- This beer lacks complexity. But if you like black licorice and an alcoholic sting in the back of your throat whilst a cold is on, Kwak does the job nicely.

Pauwel Kwak from Brouwerij Bosteels
85 out of 100 based on 1,453 ratings.