Not only did I find excellent German beer during my trip to South Africa, I also found great Belgian beer. But I had to give up my left shoe to drink it!
It was my last night in Cape Town (March 11) and I was walking around the V&A Waterfront after dinner. I found a Belgian restaurant called Den Enker — the bar wasn’t crowded and they offered sampler-sized drafts, so I grabbed a bar stool and explored the beer menu. There were three Belgian brews on draft:
- De Koninck, brewed by Brouwerij De Koninck in Antwerp, Belgium (5%). A light amber ale typical of Antwerp.
- Augustijn, brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge in Ertvelde, Belgium (8%). A golden amber, rich in flavor, hoppy and full-bodied.
- Blanche de Bruxelles, brewed by Brasserie Lefebvre in Quenast, Belgium (4.5%). A refreshing Belgian White.
Unfortunately, they were out of their exclusively brewed house beer, Anker beer, so my four beer sampler included two Augustijns. Having sampled the drafts, I began to look over the bottle menu and this line caught my eye: “Beer drinkers wanting to sample Kwak beer should check the state of their socks.”
Quite curious about the Kwak, I read on: “Kwak is a dark beer, drunk in a traditional glass with a bowl-shaped bottom. These glasses are extremely expensive and difficult to replace, which is why we keep your left shoe until we get our glass back. This is a Belgian custom which we’ve brought to Cape Town. We’ll keep your shoe in the basket hanging from the rafters until you’re done. Don’t worry, we keep air freshener at hand. No shoe. No Kwak.”
So I traded my left shoe for a Belgian beer in Cape Town!
Kwak is a Belgian Strong Ale brewed by Brouwerij Bosteels in Buggenhout, Belgium (8%). Pours brown-gold with a beautiful head. The flavor is complex, with sweet notes of caramel and brown sugar, finishing with malt, spices, and alcohol.
Despite the oddity of drinking a beer in a bar while wearing one shoe, I savored this exceptional and memorable beer to the last drop. And then I got my shoe back!
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I remember drinking this beer in my first year at Stellenbosch (Student town in South Africa) at a pub called the Belgian Beer Pub. Really went to my head fast (after I drank one or two other Belgian beers). Turned out to be one of the greatest nights of my life . . . great beer, great taste . . . just be careful.
In 2006 I was at same restaurant on vacation. I have been telling this story ever since. Any bar i have been since that has Kwak I tell the story. Good stuff
Love Den Anker and the flights of beer, though I missed the chance to shoe trade for Kwak.
It’s a lovely venue – one can even see dolphins in the water outside – and makes up for the sad loss of Paulaner Brauhaus…
Keep up the great work on the blog 🙂