Spéciale Belge from Palm Brewery: “The slogan 'What Brabant is proud of' still applies”

Placed by Pamela De Groote op

The Brabant draft horse and Palm are inextricably linked. You will hardly find a better definition of a regional product. Despite the diversification in recent decades, the brewery in Steenhuffel is still proud of its Palm. The golden years may be behind us, but the Spéciale Belge beer is still the showpiece of Palm Breweries.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Belgian brewers organized a competition to improve Belgian beer. This was supposed to help in the competition against the low fermentation beer that came from the Czech Pilsner. A clear blond beer was unseen in the Low Countries, where high fermentation beers were the norm. “The brewery took part in the competition and came up with a Spéciale Belge come up to say no to you, ”says Palm Breweries PR manager Peter Buelens. "With an alcohol content of 5,4 percent, top fermentation, amber-colored and filtered, it was a drinkable beer like lager, but more aromatic."


From 1929 the beer was given the name 'Special Palm', where 'palm' stands for the victory wreath in a sports competition. Appropriate given the success and also visible on the logo, next to the Brabant draft horse. In 1958, the great brand awareness came. “By lottery, the then brewer Alfred Van Roy was awarded the best place at the Expo in Brussels. He built an impressive 'Palmhof' on it. This immediately gave Palm national fame and an unmatchable increased demand for 'Special Palm'. ” 

The success was so great that in 1974 Van Roy changed the then company name Brouwerij De Hoorn into Brouwerij Palm. A year later the Brabant draft horse came to the fore in the logo. “With this, the brewery wanted to emphasize and symbolize the roots and tradition of the Spéciale Belge,” Buelens explains.


Palm was at its peak in the late 80s and 90s. Lager, Palm and Hoegaarden can be found in every café. “We have warmed up the consumer's taste with our specialty beer Palm, as it were. We were the 'most special' beer at the time. The consumer has then taken a step further and that is why more and more special beers have been added. We have, in a sense, been pioneering and somewhat opened up the market for our colleagues. After all, we have built a bridge between lager and special beer ”, Buelens laughs.


But what's in Palm? Brewmaster Jan de Cock can tell us that best. “First and foremost, special malt, which we ourselves compile. Furthermore, hops - sixty kilograms per brew - come from Poperinge and of course also from our own hop field. The yeast is also grown ourselves and we even use water from our own deep wells. We have twenty wells on the domain and around Diepensteyn Castle. We pump up that water ourselves and purify it. Of course it will strictly checked and tasted. Brewing itself takes eight hours, followed by a week of fermentation, and finally the Palm continues to ripen for another three weeks at low temperatures, so that the beer becomes softer. It is filtered before bottling. Palm is amber in color and has the same clarity and alcohol content as lager. ”

Growth markets

However, the role of Palm is far from over. “Not in Belgium, where more than ten million 'Palmkes' are still sold every year, and not even abroad. There is still a lot of potential in markets where consumers have not yet moved towards heavy specialty beers. I am thinking of Asia and South Africa. But Palm still has its place with us too. The slogan 'What Brabant is proud of' has always worked well and is still applicable. Even if you are sitting by the sea for example.

Het Laatste Nieuws, in collaboration with Vlam, is looking for the Best Regional Product in Flanders. A regional product is handcrafted, in the own region, with a tradition of at least 25 years and… is of course known to the public. You can vote for your favorite regional product via the HLN app. Download the new HLN app for free on iOS or Android, discover all regional products that compete for the title Het Streekproduct 2019 at In De Buurt and vote for your favorite. All information about our competition can be found at www.hln.be/streekproduct.

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