When we started our business relationship BrewViewing beers from BELGIAN-STYLE ALES in April 2016, we immediately noticed that they carried DE STRUISE BROUWERS PANNEPOT OLD FISHERMAN’S ALE in their online retail portfolio. It was sold out at the time, and we were told subsequent availability was uncertain.
Since watching the first video from the Belgian TV series TOURNÉE GÉNÉRALE on You Tube in 2010, we very much wanted to get our hands on Pannepot:
Eventually, it did become available through Belgian-Style Ales again. Thus, we had them send us a bottle of the Vintage 2016 in October 2016 to BrewView.
A very short time after that, our good friend Stu Stuart of BELGIAN BEER ME! BEER TOURS OF BELGIUM sent us bottle of the Vintage 2015 to enjoy. The timing could not have been more perfect; now we had the chance to do a side-by-side taste comparison of the two vintages! It had been a long time coming. Between the two samples, there were some differences…
ABOUT DE STRUISE BROUWERS
Owners of a nearby ostrich-raising farm in Lo-Reninge with accommodations for vacationers, Urbain Coutteau and Philippe Driessens developed an interest in making distinctive regional beers to serve to their guests. In 2001, they began doing so with help from local winemaker Carlo Grootaert, and this project eventually developed into its own independent commercial concern.
Upon its inception in 2003, Struise produced beers at the Caulier brewery in northern Hainaut. Since 2006, they have been made at the Deca brewing facility in Woesten-Vleteren in West Flanders till 2014, after beers were exclusively brewed at their own brewhouse. The firm has their own microbrewery and tasting room in a renovated school building in Oostvleteren, and is currently open and operational.
The company takes its name from the historic Flemish word for ostrich, which also is a contemporary slang term meaning “tough”. They render the name into English as “The Sturdy Brewers”, and many of their labels feature ostriches, a trait they share with Dutch microbrewery Brouwerij ‘t IJ.
Following current industry trends made popular by American craft brewers, the brewery ventured into stronger, more flavorful beers and also barrel-aging.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
Ratebeer selected beers from De Struise Brouwers for 9 of their Top 100 Best Beers of Belgium in 2009. Struise was edged out for the #1 slot only by the venerable Trappist brewers of Westvleteren.
In 2008, RateBeer declared Struise to be the best brewers in the world per their annual members’ poll. De Struise Brouwers also received 7 separate awards from Ratebeer in 2007, including accolades for the Aardmonnik and Pannepot.
BEER STYLE AND COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
Style category: Belgian Strong Ale / Gruit / Quadrupel / Export Stout
At Struise, we love all the beers we make. However, if there should be only one that we should call our ‘flagship’ with right and reason, it’s Pannepot. After a lifetime of brewing tasty, but ‘safer’ beers, this was our first venture into a world of extremities and has a great deal of responsibility in making us into what we are today.
In the early 1900s, the village of De Panne, close to the French border, was famous for two things — the ‘Pannepots,’ or fishing boats, that could be seen along the coast, and the unique dark ale enjoyed by the local fishermen.
This ‘Old Fisherman’s Ale’, named after the fishing trawlers on which men would risk life and limb to feed their families, sits somewhere in between a Belgian strong dark ale and a stout. It is a tribute to these hardy sailors and their rich, flavorful brew. It pours a luscious dark brown with a creamy tan head. Each sip hits you with complex flavors of toasty bitterness and deep caramel sweetness. With all its dark and strong complexity, this beer lends itself perfectly to all types of barrel-aging, which is exactly what we’ve done. We’ve aged it on various different barrels, including bourbon and calvados. Don’t miss out and try it soon! Unfiltered. Unpasteurized. Bottle-conditioned in 33cl and 75cl.
OUR BREWVIEW ON DE STRUISE BROUWERS PANNEPOT OLD FISHERMAN’S ALE – 2015 & 2016 VINTAGES
10% ABV, deep brown color with a creamy, dense, tan colored head.
The aromas are full of dark fruits- figs dates, raisins. You also get burnt toast, with a hint of cherry stone / cigar humidor with cherry cigars. There is also dark leather, and super deep caramel malts.
The aromas definitely carry over into the taste, with a flavor profile akin to an Imperial Stout.
Medium bodied, bordering on heavy bodied, it is oily, sticky, and very viscous. It coats the entire mouth with its richness, and doesn’t hide its 10% strength.
10% ABV, deep brown color with a creamy, dense, tan colored head.
Somewhat similar to the 2015 vintage, the aromas in the 2016 version have notes of cacao / dark baker’s chocolate, molasses, deep toffee, burnt sugared raisins.
Rummy, biscuity, burnt toast. There is also leather, and super deep caramel malts and spices. The flavors this time are more like a classic Quadrupel with a gentle hop bitterness.
Not oily as the 2015 vintage, and a bit softer on the palate. The 2016 vintage drinks like a beer half of its ABV strength.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS
(Cheeses) Rich, Blue veined, Trappist or Washed Rind cheeses would go very well- many to choose from. The classic charcuterie platter with rich, salty meats.
Wide open, but our suggestions would be beef or venison. Steak tartare, Filet américain, or Boudin / Pensen would be classic pairings.
Anything chocolate of course! Too many dishes to mention here.
Both versions of Pannepot were excellent, however it was quite amazing to see the difference between the two vintages. Both were quite intense to drink, however we’re huge fans of big, tasty, aggressive beers like Pannepot.
Our suggestion: find as many vintages as you can (3-4 different years is recommended for a good vertical tasting) and then age all of them for a year (if you have the will power) before tasting any of them! You will be richly rewarded for your patience.
Pannepot is a world class product for sure- seek it out. It’s one of those beers you must try.
Our sincerest thanks go out to:
Stu Stuart of BELGIAN BEER ME! BEER TOURS OF BELGIUM for sending us the VINTAGE 2015 PANNEPOT at the time you did! You seem to send us great beers with great timing.
BrewView author GORDON A. PONCE is the main driving force behind Belgian Beer Journal.com. Since 1983, Gordon recognized that beers from Belgium were special, set apart from the typical craft beer.
He views beers from Belgium (plus Belgian-style and Belgian Inspired beers from other countries) great examples of the brewer’s art. Gordon and his wife live in beautiful Northern California- a great place to enjoy Belgian beer! Ecclesiastes 8:15