Ok, cards on the table – I have many failings, one of which is that I have a brewery not to far from where I type, now. I am sat on the beach, a mere moments walk from my house looking at the near french coastline. Blue skies above, it’s a pretty nice day and a great change to the cold, dank misty crap we’ve had here over the last few weeks.
Getting back to the point, looking left from where I sit at say 10/11 o’clock angle – Belgium is just on the horizon. If I go to the cliffs behind where I am, I can see the windmills of Dunkerque. Not toooooo far from there is a little farm, that I have driven past on a number of occasions over the last few years, and more so recently – yet never popped in. In my frequent mad dashes back and forth across Belgium, I haven’t been able to stop by and say Hi!
This is no ordinary farm. This is the Struise Farm.
The word Struise will ring bells in many of the hardened beer geeks imagination. I have seen more Struise beers on sale in the US than here, or Belgium! My first encounter with Struise Struisellensis, a fantastic sour ale, was in the Maproom, Chicago! I must admit tho I am fortunate enough to have spent time over the years in their company, I say they as they are but 4 people, Urbain, Carlo, Phil and Peter. At a risk of over simplifing everything – they split their duties around their own full time jobs. Urbain though is the brewer.
I was first introduced to Struise, by Carlo. We met a few years ago, in the T’Brugs Beertij. The little brugge bear – Daisy’s place – call it what you will, that legendary bar of Brugge. Pannepot was the beer and Carlo gave me one to take away. Incredible stuff. We still bump into each other around the place, as one does, memorably at the Ratebeer Low Countries Meetings – where once upon a time you could share a table an a beer with luminaries of the beer industry such as Mikkel and various Americans on their Belgian beer imersion tours. It was from memory – which I must admit is a little hazy – I think there are pictures somewhere.
I still have a 75cl bottle of Aardmonk that sits no more than 10′ from where I sit, with the De Struise glass – gifted at a second Low Countries Ratebeer Gathering – which by that time since our previous meeting a couple of years previous Struise beer had become so much more sought after.
Things have come on over the last few years, brewing 4 times the beer every year on year. Beers such as the legendary Black Albert, various guises of Pannepot (reserved in barrels, ex of wine, and Calvados in one instance), they are producing some of the most desirable brews in the world.
Recently a friend from Chicago has started interning at the farm for the next few months – you can catch his blog on the Struise Site –
Why am I writing this, well of course they are coming to beermerchants.com, but really I just wanted to make a note of the fact that I haven’t been to the Farm, even though I am 55 miles from there as the crow flies, and a good 30 of that is water… and then see how long it takes to get my ass there.