Emblematic beer of Antwerp with a cereal taste, the hopping being subtle and not very present. Its copper colour reminds of other beers of the same style. It is a Spéciale Belge style of beer. The beer is known by two names as the Koninck APA, but most famously the beer is called “het Bolleke''. The initials APA are there for Antwerpse Pale Ale.
The Bolleke is the taste of Antwerp. It represents the full terraces, cargo bikes and summer evenings near the river bank. In Antwerp, every cafe and terrace has a Bolleke to offer. It is the whole Antwerp in a bottle and the people of Antwerp strongly love their beer.
This classic beer was launched in 1913 and is not only popular in Antwerp, but all around the world. The beer has been the iconic beer of Antwerp since 1952.
The Bolleke has an amber-coloured body that is topped with a beautiful cream-coloured head.
On the nose, you’ll get slightly malty and hoppy aromas with a hint of caramel. The aroma profile is complex. The drinker will also notice hints of chestnut, toffee and slight smokiness. These aromas are balanced out with some fruitiness and spiciness coming from the hop used. If you pay attention, you can also get hints of almonds and speculoos.
The beer flavour profile is pleasantly soft with some nutty notes on the tongue. The taste is also rather bitter and the finale is creamy. The bitterness is balanced out with the sweetness of toffee. When drinking, you’ll also notice some notes of cinnamon and caramel.
How De Koninck APA became the Bolleke
Before the name Bolleke took off, the beer was called De Koninck Antwerpse Pale Ale. The Koninck brewery served their beer in a spherical beer glass, the bolleke. This became the nickname for the beer and soon enough people called it the Bolleke instead of the original name.
Bolleke is a word that comes from the Brabant dialect meaning a small ball. This word has now been used by beer drinkers in Antwerp for so long, that they can’t even remember using the original name ever. The name Bolleke is also much catchier than De Koninck, which is why it might have caught on so well.
This nickname became the official name of the beer in 2019 with the opening day of the Antwerp city festival the Bollekesfeest. It’s a beer rich event where countless Bollekes are served.
The brewers of De Koninck brewery decided to start using the nickname officially to avoid any confusion among inexperienced staff in bars when people order a Bolleke.
Learn more about the Bolleke beer by De Koninck:
Where is De Koninck’ Bolleke brewed?
De Koninck beers have been brewed on Mexhelsesteenweg in Antwerp city centre since 1833. It is the oldest active brewery in Antwerp and also has the second oldest commercial register number in the city.
What are De Koninck Bolleke ingredients?
De Bolleke beer contains water, malted barley, hops and yeast. The Saaz-Saaz hops were used to brew this beer.
How to serve Bolleke beer by De Koninck?
Of course, you must use the special spherical glass where the name of the beer comes from! If you are pouring from a bottle, use chilled bottles that are between 4 to 6 degrees celsius. The beer can be poured vigorously and there is no need to be shy.
For bartenders, or anyone serving the beer from the tap, place the bulb beer glass directly under the faucet. You can then fill the glass until the foam is about 1 centimetre from the rim. Then set the beer aside and wait for about ten seconds. Lastly, you can top up the Bolleke until it’s filled.
How much alcohol does De Bolleke contain?
The Bolleke is not a strong beer and has an alcohol level of 5.2%. It is an easy to drink beer.
What food or dishes go well with De Bolleke?
This beer is good next to stews.
What are some other beers by De Koninck brewery?
If you like the Bolleke beer, then you should also try Triple d’Anvers and Wild Jo.
Photo: De Koninck
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