While the large breweries of Belgium stand out from international competitors, local microbreweries deserve a place in this list. Today’s innovative microbreweries are reflective of the race towards better, quicker, more exclusive and pop-up. The Dok Brewing Company is happy to remain a microbrewery and thrives on experimentation. Offering regular shorter runs of exclusive top-fermented beers as it tweaks each product until its public is satisfied, it’s more than likely you’ll be offered something completely unique when you visit their taproom. It’s located in the northern district of Ghent city centre, just a 20 minute walk from Gravensteen, along picture postcard and less picture postcard riversides.
What you won’t get at Dok is a bottled beer. They only produce by the keg or tap-tank. In addition to their own beers you can order brews from other microbreweries located all over the world. If you like the ideal of being taken on a beer-inspired world tour at a single location, make sure you take the much shorter trip to the northern dock district of Ghent.
Tours of Dok’s microbrewery (it calls itself a ‘brewpub’, which is nice and self-explanatory) are available and can be combined with a meal at their huge shared premises which house a baker, grill and pizza restaurants, a bistro and a patisserie. Naturally, you’ll get to taste some of the Dok Brewing Company’s highest rated and experimental beers as you make your way through the relatively small (two floor) site. Don’t bother asking for a popular beer from a long-running brewery; Dok only gets its supplies from other quality microbreweries, not from the big boys.
Address: Hal 16, Dok Noord.
Web link: https://www.dokbrewingcompany.be/en/home-2
Dok Alpha Pale
A very clean, dry beer which can be slightly cloudy. With citrus and lots of hops, this pale ale was one of the first to be put on the production line at Dok and has received lots of positive feedback. Quite carbonated with a medium aftertaste that mixes bitter hops with fruit and yeast, you’ll find Alpha Pale on tap at Dok. It will also be a feature at any beer festival where Dok happens to take part.
An IPA which might or might not be New England (although it is advertised as one), Oatlaw uses oat milk together with oat flake, spelt and wheat malts and four sorts of hop – Amarillo, Falconer’s Flight, Mandarina and Mosaic. To the initiated this is six types of hop, as Falconer’s Flight is itself a blend. With a taste often mentioned as pineapple-like or tropical, Oatlaw starts and remains bitter and dry without much sweetness.
Blond, James Blond
Sometimes you just want to drink a beer because of its name. If that’s you, you’ll be drinking a lot at Dok. The Blond, James Blond strong Belgian golden ale is moderately effervescent and smells like a selection of tropical fruits. This fruitiness doesn’t translate anywhere near as strongly in the taste; the James Blond has a heavy yeasty and boozy flavour with a touch of citrus.
Wisnia With A Cherry On Top
Working in collaboration with Totem microbrewery (who started up the Ghent Beer Festival mentioned later on) just down the road, Dok offers this cherry beer on tap throughout the year. A huge quantity of wisnia – that’s sour cherries in Polish – makes this beer the equivalent of a black forest gateau gose. According to Dok, Wisnia is the liquid version of a sour cherry pie. However, somehow it also manages to feature strong wheat flavours and isn’t too sweet.
Dok’s Overporter is a play on words. Overpoort street is the local Ghent hangout for its huge student population and famous for rowdy crowds which gather well into the early hours of practically any morning. For this reason, the Overpoort might not be the best place to book your hotel room (for some, it might be the perfect spot). Loral hops in combination with Pearl pale ale, black and red crystal malts were used during the experimenting route towards a black beer. On the way, Dok discovered the Overporter, a deep, dark beer which harks back to the porters of Victorian London. This particular tap beer is extremely dark and chocolatey but rather thin, and with a sweet, bitter aftertaste.