Pauwel Kwak | Brouwerij Bosteels

very good
1,760 Ratings
Read the review
Pauwel KwakPauwel Kwak

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Bosteels

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 06-30-2001

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,760 |  Reviews: 715
Photo of beerpirates
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

33 cl bottel

Aroma: Candi sweetness with various fruits, caramelly malt, and a little bit of alcohol.
Appearance: Clear reddish-brown with a diminishing white head, but it does retain a ring around the edge throughout.
Flavor: Malty, light Belgian-like fruitiness, slightly spicy. Moderately sweet overall with a spicy finish. Strong alcohol, but not hot or astringent.
Palate: Medium body, smooth, well carbonated (but not overly so).
Overall: Balanced flavors and very little bitterness. True to style and quite good.

 520 characters

Photo of Durge
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another nice discovery at The Grill Next Door in Haverhill, MA this one shows a deep and cloudy rusty amber color with a fairly scant white tuft on top and very little lacing left on the snifter. The aroma brings mild cherry nougat and mild apple raisin. Not very strong but not concerning. The flavor includes a mild apple pie a la mode sort of idea. There’s a fair touch of licorice and sweet scone. It’s medium to light bodied with a very fine, subtle carbonation. It feels a bit watery but that doesn’t ruin it. The clove/spice idea dominates the fruit introduction as it works over your taste buds, but it finishes weakly with an odd, sweet but watery licorice summary. Not my favorite but not bad if you like licorice somewhat unbalanced in your beers. Moderate drinkability.

 787 characters

Photo of CwrwAmByth
3.86/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Chimay goblet.

Pours a beautiful looking deep ruby red colour with a head that settles down quickly.

Not much of a scent apart from alcohol and a slight fruitiness.

This is a noticably strong beer which lets it down as the taste of the alcohol almost overpowers the fruitiness and hoppiness of the beer.

Overall quite good, i'd have this again.

 382 characters

Photo of Rifugium
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: bottle at Eulogy, Philly, PA

Pretty good. Pours into that funky glass with the wood frame, a orange-amber color with a fluffy white head that retains well. Bready aroma loaded with Belgian yeast. Some light sugar and banana as well. Bready taste, light sugar, bananas and apricots, toasted malts, and a dry bitter hop finish. Medium mouthfeel and quite drinkable.

 375 characters

Photo of Knapp85
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew was poured into it's signature glass. It has a good head to start off that settles into a white ring around the top. The color is a very nice amber color. The taste is a little spicy and had a great caramel flavor to it. The mouthfeel is pretty light but had enough body to be flavorful and pleasing. Overall this beer has some elements of a Belgian Quad. I really enjoy the flavor and the look of the brew. Very cool brew.

 433 characters

Photo of BeerNemesis
4.29/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pauwel Kwak | 330 ml. on-tap | 8.4 % ABV | May 2011

Brewer: Brouwerij Bosteels
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale (BSPA)
Glass: Pauwel Kwak "Coachman's glass"

The glassware really makes Kwak impressive to behold. My friend was skeptical that BXL East would serve it in the proper glassware. It's a good thing they did because it's shimmering amber body and creamy crown have never looked better. In this case, presentation makes a huge difference.

Sweet apricots, cherries, toffee malt, rose water, Belgian candi sugar, grassy herbs.

Apricots, banana, toffee, caramel, and bready malts come forth first. Then spices and grassy herbs alternate in waves, washing over rocks of Belgian candi sugar in a delightful gustatory symphony. A touch of warming alcohol on the finish seals the deal.

Chewy and supple but not too heavy. The cascades of carbonation massage my tongue. Clean and herbal on the finish.

I didn't know what to expect and had actually been avoiding this beer because of negative reviews. I was wrong. It's a blast to drink.

Would I get it again?:
Oh Yeah!

Bottled: on-tap May 2011
Served: May 19, 2011

Price = $9.00 at BXL East (NYC)

 1,205 characters

Photo of 51mmz0rz
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle into a bierpassion tasting glass.

A: Nice tight off white head atop a fairly clear medium brown body. Head retention is quite good.

S: Very yeasty, but in a bready sense, not a Belgian sense.

T: Nice balance of sweetness, bitterness and alcohol. Yeast flavors are dominant and damn tasty. There is a distinct fruitiness on the finish.

M: Carbonation is good, beer is thick but doesn't seem to sit on the tongue.

O: This feels like somewhere between a Belgian dark and Belgian pale, and it preforms really well there, with enough complexity to make it great.

 593 characters

Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

 656 characters

Photo of MrHassellYaHurd
3.79/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

 627 characters

Photo of Macca
3.51/5  rDev -6.4%
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.

 471 characters

Photo of AdamBear
4.28/5  rDev +14.1%
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.

 1,056 characters

Photo of atlason
4.77/5  rDev +27.2%
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.

 550 characters

Photo of stonesean
3.33/5  rDev -11.2%
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.

 927 characters

Photo of vfgccp
4.01/5  rDev +6.9%
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 :)

 351 characters

Photo of biegaman
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

 1,927 characters

Photo of rsdaugherty
3.67/5  rDev -2.1%
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

 654 characters

Photo of vandemonian
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
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.

 389 characters

Photo of Aiptasia
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

 1,127 characters

Photo of argock
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

 927 characters

Photo of boss302
4.47/5  rDev +19.2%
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

 262 characters

Photo of Noctilucus
3.36/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

 689 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.15/5  rDev -16%
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.

 1,719 characters

Photo of Daredevil
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
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 ....

 477 characters

Photo of thagr81us
3.55/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

 683 characters

Photo of NightINgale
4.05/5  rDev +8%
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.

 1,185 characters

Pauwel Kwak from Brouwerij Bosteels
3.75 out of 5 based on 1,760 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.