You’ll know from previous articles (Here and here) that I and a few of us at are big fans of Lambic and Gueuze style beers. So much so,  it’s a close call if you were to say that if I had to pick between California or Payotenland, the home of this fantastic style of beer, I would really be stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place.


A recent trip to the hard place, to arrange for Gueuze for the site,  Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Oud Beersel, Girardin and De Cam – it’s always a pleasure… kinda… Continue reading



Join me as I take delivery of some extra special beers that I have just bought from
I was overwhelmed with how good the Lost Abbey beers were at Christmas that I was thirsty for more. Of course, the Lost Abbey beers were quick to sell out but the Port Brewing pack is still available – Port Brewing being a sister company to Lost Abbey in California, but specialising in more hoppy IPA style beers….

We really like Steve, always smiling and enjoying beer from whereever, as long as it’s really good!   Thanks so much!

Struise/Mikkeller & De Molen – inc. Cuvee Delphine and Black Damnation

Struise/Mikkeller Collaborative

Struise/Mikkeller Collaborative

An extra special treat for all those Struise and Mikkeller fans, and introducing De Molen.

Not only some of the most sought after and flavoursome beers on planet earth – but some only available now and perhaps never again?

This is the true headonists case of beer – combining the rarest, biggest flavours and examples of modern brewing that you might find around.    The Collaborative brews, of Mikkeller/Struise, and Struise/DeMolen a modern duet of flavours.    The Black Damnation (a selected blend of De Molen’s Hell and Damnation, and Black Albert from Struise) along with the exceptionally rare and sought after Cuvee Delphine – (Batch 0 Black Albert barrel aged in Four Roses Bourbon Casks) – were recent stars of a tasting in Belgium recently, causing great demand for these brews.



A quote from famed Belgian Beer writer – Joris Patyn, of the naming of Cuvee Delphine – “It is a public secret that the now king Albert II fathered a daughter outside matrimonial band. The official name of this daughter is Delphine Boël, and her occupation is conceptive ar with papier maché and the like. She’s living to the best of my knowledge somewhere in Notting Hill, and, since the secret was revealed, excells in rather pointy, hardly veiled sneers at the Belgian Royals. Which is hardly surprising, seen the fact that, despite the secret being a secret de Polichinelle, the royals, Albert in particular, keep spasmodically ignoring her existence.   Seen the fact that “Four Roses” didn’t want to recognise the link of their barrels to the beer, the name imposed itself, as Urbain says…   What makes it all the more poignant, is that somebody in the entourage of Mrs. Boël learned about this beer, and condoned graciously the use of the artwork – which, oh subtility, consists of a Belgian flag, written over by “the truth can set you free” (in the language of Shakespeare)…Ratebeer Link

These beers took a great deal of effort to bring to the UK, so much so Colin actually brought them back himself. We are very pleased to be able to make them available.

This case is strictly limited to one per order, as some of the beers are in very very limited supply.

Enjoy these great beers!

2 Black Damnation 13% ABV 33cl

3 Pannepot 10% ABV 33cl
2 Pannepot Reserva 10% ABV 33cl
2 Pannepot Grand Reserva 10% ABV 33cl
3 Rosse 6% ABV 33cl
2 Cuvee Delphine 13% ABV 25cl

1 Beer Geek Breakfast 7.5% ABV 50cl
2 All Others Pale Ale 6% ABV 50cl
1 Mikkeller Belgian Wild Ale 4.5% ABV 33cl
2 Mikkeller Struise 9% ABV 33cl

Click here

Tardy and busy!

Sometimes I have to look around and just think that wow, haven’t things moved on!   looking back over the last few weeks, months and the life of this blog – wow.   I wish I could just dump my email inbox on to the blog, much of which I am sure that many other bloggers out there get and which I always read, often with my coffee around 11am. Especially some of the bigger UK brewers various PR companies… my comedy moments all to frequently!    I will be editing the Peter Darby interview this week and in my own slightly inept angle of English making the best of it.   Very interesing and something that I should revisit in time…

I also have a big email to reply to from my favourite local micro, which I must do!     I spent a really good friday night at the Planet Thanet BeerFest, with really good friends and great beers!  The down side was waking on Saturday realising I still had £20 of vouchers in my pocket, um, in the modern way, a kinda FAIL!    Saturday of the Bank holiday I went up to see Garrett at the Bull at Horton Kirby.  Interestingly Garrett does a lot of his communications through Facebook – here –  This was an awesome event, despite the weather; The Mussels were some of the best that I have had in years!  They even had bottles of very rare Belgians along with a great selection of draughts.    All in all Kent was a great place to be for beer last weekend!

SO, here we go!

1, The Coach and Horses, Dronfield.

Transformed pub wins Award recognition

After an extensive ballot of its 1050  members the Sheffield and District CAMRA branch, has declared its District  Pub of the Year for 2009 as The Coach & Horses, Sheffield Road,  Dronfield.

This is a remarkable turn around for a pub that  only just over 2 years ago was declared bankrupt and closed by the previous  owners. The pub was in a very poor state of repair. says Simon Webster,  Director of Thornbridge Brewery, who took over the running of the pub in  2007 and much hard work went into its refurbishment before we could reopen  it. The pub has since concentrated on quality beers from not only  Thornbridge (5 hand pumps dispense their beers, which often include one of  the brewery’s one-off experimental specials as well as the award winning  beers such as Jaipur IPA and Kipling) but also lagers and bottled beers from  across the globe.

Turning around a failed pub can take some  time reports Webster but a major step in the success of the pub he says was  the employment of Kiwi couple Catherine Mueller to manage the pub on a day  to day basis and she has been ably assisted by her partner Kelly Ryan – a  man with a unique insight into the Thornbridge beers as by day he is their  Head Brewer!  Catherine and Kelly have done a magnificent job in  making the pub a success and the CAMRA Award is recognition of this,”  continues Webster and he highlights “not only great beer but freshly cooked,  locally sourced food backed with excellent service as the key to the pub’s  incredible transformation.

The Coach and Horses  will now be entered into the East Midland’s County competition an early  round of the National Pub of the Year award. The pub has a celebration event  planned for Sunday May 24th and Monday May 25th when they will showcase a  number of beers from the Us leading micro brewers alongside a gourmet BBQ  and international live Blues Musicians call 01246 413269 for further information.

To further add to this I’m heading to see Kelly this weekend, with @Terry_Tibbs.     Have a listen to this excellent interview with Kelly on the awesome Brewing Networkhere

2, Struise

If you follow my far more regular waffle, um, microblog on Twitter, Struise beers have arrived at the depot.  They will be available in due course.

read this if you need more waffle

3,  more… but wait.

4, fun in October.

5, Bloggers

We frequently get approached for “free beer” as part of recompense for a promise of traffic and links etc.   We like to send beer to those who are putting the effort in, writing regularly, getting out there, getting to events and generally writing about beer from all aspects in a positive and enlightened fashion, about great beer!   We’ve been picked up by a bunch of bloggers who we all regularly read,  like the Reluctant Scooper, (who we hope will come back with flying colours, ), Knut Albert, and Mark Dredge at Pencil and Spoon.   We’ve also been highlighted by Blog-o-Beer which was very cool, very honest reviews too!

So, all in all a very busy period I just hope I can keep up!

Speak soon and Enjoy Beer!

Whisky Cask Aged beer

pic by Jesse

pic by Jesse - Drakes Imperial Stout

The fashion, taste, interest call it what you will has been progressing this way for some time now.

Started really by Todd Ashman of the Flossmoor brewery, in Flossmoor, Illinois, now of 50/50 brewery in Truckee, California – on a professional basis, having observed homebrewers fermenting their beers in bourbon barrels – a subject that I recently bridged with him when I was in his company.   His early adoption of this technique blazed a trail for a unique style of beer, centred around the region between Detroit and Chicago – noted brewers such as Kuhnenn, Three Floyds, and Bells are keen proponents of this technique.     Sometimes you will see the beer barrel aged for a limited release project – or in somecases blended back into beer to accent everyday releases.   This technique is also starting to emerge in the beer mecca that is Belgium – the Struise brouwers have taken their very impressive Black Albert, and aged it in a Four Roses Bourbon barrel- called Cuvee Delphine – a quick look at beer rating sites like  Ratebeer and their top 50 will give you an insight into just how influencial this has been on many breweries.

Breweries in the UK have been slowly adopting, where as the midwest in the US has the proximity to a source of very expensive barrels – the UK brewer has had to turn to Scotland for similar materials.    Typically the beers tend to be big dark, imperial stouts, those with enough body and strength to carry the concentrated flavour notes rather than swamping them.   To mind one of the early adopters were the now highly regarded Thornbridge Brewery,  others have brought barrel aged beers out – Lovibonds of Henley and Gadds or Ramsgate, and I am sure you’ll have heard of the Paradox beers from BrewDog.    There is a close sense of origin between the Thornbridge Brewery and BrewDog – one of the brewers of Brewdog is once of Thornbridge.

So, here we have a brewery well versed in brewing a good imperial stout, and then they have sourced three different cask flavours – Mortlach, Macallan, and Caol Ila.    The Speyside, Highland and Islay notes will shine through the intense blackness of their beers – a perfect beer for the beer and whisky lover.

This is not a barrel fermentation as the Burton Union system suggests, or what Firestone Walker have adopted  – this is “simply” ageing a beer in a cask from a distillery – capitalising on the residual oak, char, and spirit bound flavours.    Considering that a used bourbon cask can weigh something in the region of 30lb heavier when fresh from the distillery, there are clear indicators just how much the barrels can influence the beer!   When travelling – some brewers aged their beers for 50 days, right through to 300+  some stored ambient, some stored cool to cold.   Some had developed a nose for particular notes that said to the brewer “‘I’m ready”  – this is still a new art form, and some are doing it very well, some come out as tarry alcoholic messes.

This is a great deal of investment for many breweries, making said beer, finding shipping and purchasing said cask – then to top it off – not being able to sell a beer for nearly a year!   I thank you, dear brewer for taking this chance!

I have had the pleasure of sampling some of the greatest (highly sought after) barrel aged imperial stouts, listed on Ratebeer, and I as much as I am not a big whisky lover – I really enjoyed the Highland.    Some might say that the idea of going through this process is a waste of good beer, or good whisky – and these are for the “beergeeks” out there – certainly not, they are a fantastic after dinner drink, contemplative and decadent with it.

They will also age very well.

Thornbridge St.Petersburg Highland, Islay, and Speyside cask aged will be available on – along with anything else I can get my hands on.


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, 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.