Considering how close it is to my house, how youthful, winsome and alluring the staff are, and that it’s one of South London’s very few genuine brewpubs, I really don’t spend enough time at The Florence.
Still, a recent visit afforded the chance to watch brewer Peter Haydon at work, and to try this, a 5.4% Belgian ale. Perhaps this is not the most appropriate thing to drink just feet from where a fresh batch of Weasel or Bonobo is being boiled up, but the 300 Beers project is a harsh mistress. The choice is out of my hands.
Squinting through The Florence’s mood lighting, I can just make out that Palm Spéciale is a warm amber colour with a thick, foamy layer of froth on top. There isn’t a great deal of aroma beyond a few unmistakably Belgian esters.
The mouthfeel is dense and rich, if a little sticky, while the flavour is all caramel and toffee, and is reminiscent of Werther’s Originals. Interestingly, Palm Spéciale numbers corn among its ingredients. I’ve no idea how prevalent corn is among Belgian beers, but it does seem to add a certain complexity to proceedings.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Palm Spéciale is similar to De Koninck, but combined with the thick sweetness of Manns Original Brown Ale. In fact, this is another Belgian beer that manages to seem sweet at first, yet leaves a lingering, dry finish that lasts some time. That may well be the corn at work, now I think about it.
This is also another Belgian beer that I can’t help thinking needs a heftier dose of alcohol in it, say 6% or more, to make it really special. It’s a pleasant enough beer all the same, but I’m not sure it’s the sort of thing I’d go out of my way to find again.
That’s not a problem, since the aromas of malted barley and fresh hops in here have got me in the mood for a pint of something altogether more local.
Facts and Figures
|Palm Breweries, Steenhuffel, Belgium
|The Florence, Dulwich Road, London SE24