Brouwerij Palm - Estaminet Premium Pils
- ABV: 5.2%
- Serving Temperature: 40-45° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pilsner Glass, Flute
When Belgium was occupied by Spain in the 1500s, Spanish soldiers referred to the best inns and watering holes as “esta minetta” – “there are girls.” Comically to us, Palm derived the name for their new pilsner from this codeword. Brewed as a Belgian interpretation of a Czech pilsner, Palm brews Estaminet with Czech Saaz hops and lagers the beer for six weeks. On the pour, it provides the classic Czech pils golden straw color with a fluffy white foam cap that drops plenty of lace. Expect an aromatic and quite lovely nose, as soft pils malts offer a bit of a mild biscuity impression and the hops present a pungently herbal and quite earthy profile with some grassy hay-like notes. We found Estaminet dry, crisp, and smooth on the palate as it delivers a light bready quality punctuated by a fairly pronounced hop bite. There’s a mild touch of fruit (which is not typical of Pilsners, but is intentional in this brew) and while the malt offers a bit of sweetness, the hops are more than enough to counter, presenting the noble Saaz archetypical spicy herbalness in a delightfully forward way. This brew remains very soft on the palate, though prickly carbonation helps add to the hop bite. Awarded the highest score in the “Lager” category at the Brewing Industry International Awards 2011 in the U.K., Estaminet represents a branching out for Palm, a traditional ale brewer, and we think they did a great job! Beating lager brewers at their own game? We think even Arthur and Alfred would be proud! Enjoy this with a host of Asian-themed cuisines from spicy curried Thai to freshly rolled sushi. Or, try it with a hunk of aged cheddar or other sharp cheese. Cheers!
Documentary evidence of a farmstead in Steenhuffel, Belgium called De Hoorn (the horn) has been found dating back to at least 1597, and there’s evidence of a farmhouse brewery on the property by 1686. But it’s 1747 that appears on Palm’s labels because it was in that year that a census shows commercial brewing at the De Hoorn brewery (known today as Palm), owned by a Jean-Baptiste De Mesmaecker. In 1908 a direct descendant, Henriette De Mesmaecker, married brewer Arthur Van Roy and brewing operations at De Hoorn flourished. Despite the growing popularity of pilsner beer at that time, Arthur was dedicated to the Belgian ale tradition and refused to embrace the ease of following the modern trend. Sadly, Brouwerij De Hoorn was destroyed in WWI, but Van Roy rebuilt it – bigger and better.
In the late ‘20s, Arthur’s son Alfred learned to brew from his father and studied brewing at brewing school in Brussels. In 1929, Alfred renamed their most popular beer “Speciale Palm,” a reference to a palm leaf crown as a symbol of a victory of top-fermented ale over the still growing bottom-fermenting lager segment. When Arthur died in 1952 Alfred assumed control, and over succeeding decades instituted a variety of upgrades including two new brewhouses boasting traditional copper kettles.
After Alfred’s first wife passed away, he married Aline Verleyen in 1968. Like Alfred’s first wife, Aline was also from a brewing family and in 1974 her nephew Jan Toye took over brewery management. Known primarily as the brewers of Palm branded beer, De Hoorn officially changed its name to Palm a year later. Since that time, Palm has been very active in the Belgian beer world. They acquired Brouwerij De Gouden Boom and the license to brew the Steenbrugge abbey beers, as well as the landmark sour ale brewery, Rodenbach, in which they invested much capital on massive renovations to the whole brewery premises surrounding Rodenbach’s hundreds of huge oak foudre aging vessels. Palm also entered into a joint venture with Brouwerij Boon to make high quality Gueuze. To this day, Jan remains at the helm of Brouwerij Palm. Alfred Van Roy remained active in the business for 75 years until passing away at age 96 in 2009. To learn more about the Palm family of beers, visit them (in English) at www.palm.be/en.
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