Palm Ale – a Review

Palm Ale, a product of Palm Breweries in Steenhuffel, in north-central Belgium, is a “special”. This is a modern type of ale broadly comparable to the early 20th-century U.K. and North American sparkling, cream, and dinner ales, and evolved at the same time.

Hence, it pours clear and while top-fermented presents certain traits of lager beers: fizzy, often served cold, rounded in character.

The version pictured is the standard in the line, and newly imported in Ontario. The bottled and some draft have been available for a while.

Palm Breweries is owned by the Dutch brewers Bavaria, of the Swinkels family. Bavaria also owns the famous Belgian Flanders red ale producer, Rodenbach.

Unlike Rodenbach, Palm Ale is not lactic/acetic in character. To me it tastes like a bottled light ale of 1980s Britain. Quite light in palate, seemingly with a non-barley malt component in the mash. There is some sweetness from the toasted malts, trumpeted on the company website as a signature.

The yeast background, also bruited, is quite evident, clove-like in the Belgian way but more subtly than in many other Belgian brews.

All the traits of this beer are more restrained than I recall 10 and 30 years ago. The website claims the use of English Kent hops but they are used with discretion, almost not detectable.

Decades ago I recall a richer, flowery hop character and more of a malty note in the palate.

Perhaps other beers in the Palm range offer more character, the Royal sounds promising for example, but this beer was a disappointment.