I have a bottle of Kwak beer waiting for me at home. Kwak is a maple-syrup red/brown, with a lovely eggshell-colored, just-off-white head that lasts a while and leaves lovely lace behind. The nose can be nutty and malty, with a hint of tart fruitiness. Its’ very full-bodied, with lots of caramel and malt in the flavor, sweet but not cloyingly so. It is just my kind of beer.
(Pauwel Kwak is made by Brouwerij Bosteels. It’s a Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 8.4% ABV.)
However…Kwak is usually served in a distinctive glass (which you can get in a yard size if you really want). That glass has a distinctive wooden frame to support it. I own one of these glasses and its frame. And the question is, how are you supposed to hold it? Are you supposed to take the glass out of the frame thing – which by the way is not that easy to do – or pick it up by the frame and drink it like it’s some kind of mutant stein?
Historical lore does not help you much. Pauwel Kwak was an innkeeper and brewer at a place called “De Hoorn”. When mail coaches came through – his inn was a regular stop on the route – coachmen weren’t allowed to leave the mail coach to come in for a beer. From the perspective of mail delivery service, that was probably a good regulation. I know if it had been me it’d be easy to lose the entire afternoon hanging out at the inn. Paul Kwak invented this beer glass and holder that could be easily hung on a coach – a little inventiveness that no doubt boosted sales.
Now, a coachman riding away undoubtedly picked the whole thing up by the conveniently dowel-shaped handle. There are a gazillion pictures on the web of guys doing just that. But for those of us who sit comfortably by the fire, I will hereby decree that either is acceptable. Pick up just the glass if a) you can get it out of that frame thing without spilling and b) you think you’re less likely to slosh the whole affair over yourself by doing so. Pick it up by the frame if a) you feel all manly and cool handling the whole thing or b) you’re too drunk to navigate just the glass. Either one works, so either is good. Of course, if you order a yard, for pity’s sake hold it with both hands!
Now, this glass is not a “boot” designed to trap you into beery indiscretion at the end of your drink, spilling all over you, but it does act as a reservoir to hold more beer. Do please keep an eye on it when you get to the end of your glass. I have heard the theory that the beer got its name from the sound it makes rushing out of that bulb – like Kwak said very fast – but I withhold my judgement on that. I try not to drink it that fast.