Feb 14

Pannepot Tasting

There are a few beers in Belgium that some folk like to age and then sell at a wildly inflated price. One of those beers is Pannepot, made by De Struise brewers (amazing brewery, highly experimental, I’m a big fan). I was fortunate enough to be invited to a friend’s place where he had acquired an impressive array of aged Pannepots. There was everything from a 2006 Grand Reserva to a straight up 2012 Pannepot.

We went from youngest to oldest starting with regular Pannepots followed by a couple of Resevas and one Grand Reserva. And there was definitely a big difference in the flavour, with the older ones being much better, less sweet more complex – just all round more delicious.

There were also a couple from the same year but clearly from different batches which tasted surprisingly different – it is more likely that this is due to the way they were stored than the base beer being very different, but it is interesting all the same.

We all agreed the best ones were a 2008 Pannepot and the 2006 Grand Reserva. The big surprise there was that the Reservas didn’t stand out from a good aged Pannepot (the difference between them is that the Reserva is aged on oak for 14 months, while the Grand Reserva is aged for 8 months on Calvados Barrels after the oak aging).

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Jan 14

Delta – new Belgian beer

Some amazing new beer just released after a vote on the best of five prototypes. Very hoppy for a Belgian beer (mildly hoppy for an IPA). Nice body, golden ale, distinctly Belgian.

Jan 14

OBER Christmas beer festival Essen

The booty that came home with me (since I was driving): Emelisse, creme brulee stout; De Struise, tjeesus I; To-Ol (Danish), Snowball Saison; De Dolle, Stille Nacht; De Struise, tjeesus II; Mikkeller (also Danish), Til Fra (To From); Hof ten Doormal, christmas (port and sherry barrel aged); Emelisse part II.

This festival is amazing. Its in the middle of nowhere, but worth the trip. Organised by the ‘Objective Beer Drinkers of the Essen Region’ which means by beer drinkers, not beer makers. This is a good thing, the selection is incredible, a lot of beer that is hard to find in Belgium, a lot of beer that is really good.

Reviews of my favourites will follow over the next few weeks/months on instagram.

If you can go to this festival (and you know a bit about Belgian beer), go.

Oct 13

A Guest Post: Home Invasion

So, a guest post from the wife: an attempt to spend her evening on a new hobby rather than watching terrible teen TV shows.


I am a huge fan of the blog Hyperbole and a Half. HUGE FAN. This is totally inspired by her.

Visit her blog. She’s amazing.

After a story-sharing-car-ride today, I thought this would be funny in a blog like Hyperbole. I have zero artistic ability, so bear with me. Also, iPad sketching is harder than I thought.

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Oct 13

Zwanze Day

It was pretty damn good. A nice blend of the two styles.

Jul 13

Rambling in West Flanders

The month of May has only one five day week in Belgium, that means it is the perfect time to meander around the country drinking. And luckily for me (and you dear readers) my good friend Patrick saw this opportunity and leapt on it by booking two nights in West Flanders where we could both enjoy some of Belgium’s best beer, and brush up on our WWI history.

Hop field at the B&B

Our first night was spent at the St Bernadus brewery in Watou. Which as it turns out is in the middle of nowhere. But not to worry, the B+B is connected to the brewery, and best of all it comes with three fully stocked fridges so you can really get to know the brewery’s goods (and only a token payment is expected). But I am getting ahead of myself, because before we can empty the fridges have a 10km bike ride to go on – to one of the most revered places in the Belgian brewing world.

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Jun 13

Zythos Bier Festival 2013

Round two at my favourite beer festival. Stupid amounts of choice, well organised, plenty of space. What’s not to like?

Unfortunately the photo uploader isn’t working today, so no photos in this post, I will try again later. 

Getting straight to it, these are the beers I tried.

Beer Goggles

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May 13

Toer de Geuze

For those of you that don’t speak amazing French like me, that means ‘Tour of Geuze’ or Geuze tour perhaps, if you want to get all fancy and get your syntax right (is that syntax, I can’t remember, I just remember getting taught about it in English class and immediately forgetting exactly what it meant).

Anyway, for the uninitiated, Geuze is an ancient style of beer, made with only the yeast in the air – ok, there is water and malt and hops too. The Senne (or Zenne in Dutch) river valley is the only place it is made these days (certainly in Belgium, and possibly in the world), for some reason there is just the right kind of yeast in the air. Being all ancient it is not what most people think of when they think beer. It gets tainted by the air and basically turns into vinegar. But then after a few years chillin in barrels, and a mix of older beer with younger beer (to give it carbonation), it becomes delicious – still a hell of a lot more sour than any other beer, but once you’ve acquired a taste for it, you can’t get enough. There are lots of technicalities (lambic = unblended beer, oude geuze = no sugar added) but if you really want to get your beer geek on this is not the place. Go do some googling. Sugar added to geuze is stupid in my opinion, the sourness is awesome, embrace it.

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Mar 13

De Struise Brewers – 2011 Sint Amatus 12 (10.5%)

De Struise is legendary in these here parts, a very small brewery that pumps out different versions of their brews, then they (or others) age them and sell them for an inflated price. In any case they do what they do well so I was excited to try this puppy.

It is brewed with Irish Moss, not sure what that is supposed to bring to the party, but certainly sounds interesting to me.

The smell is sweet, with a hint of lime … perhaps. It has a fluffy beige head that doesn’t stick around. Flavours are sweet, slightly chocolate malt, followed by quite a lot of alcohol and bitterness, with the latter two really sticking around after swallowing. There is a little hint of sourness and a subtle earthiness (moss anyone?).

Overall it is good; a rich beer with some balance between sweet and bitter, but for me, there is too much alcohol for it to be a top drop, 7.9/10

Side note – one of the best beers I have ever had was from De Struise, a Black Albert (can’t remember which version). Oh man, I can taste it now, so rich and flavoursome, dark as the night and crazy strong without tasting like alcohol. Buy it if you see it!

Feb 13

International Belgians Part Trois

Hoegaarden – 4.9%

A classic Belgian wheat beer brewed since 1445! I suspect it didn’t actually taste like it does now in 1445, but who knows …

Hoegaarden was one of my first Belgian loves (and Wifey’s only first Belgian love).

In Belgium, it is cheap and mainstream – oh how I wish I could buy Hoegaarden for the price of a Tui in New Zealand (if not a New Zealander, insert generic lager from your home country here). Wheat beer is just better as a basic thirst quencher, and clearly it isn’t that difficult or expensive to brew, so why isn’t it more readily available; why!

It smells yeasty and spicy. Drink time … hey, where did the head go, honestly I look away for one minute and there’s none left.  

My first thought when I swallow, is simply ‘delicious’. It is a little bit sweet and a little bit sour; not too fizzy. The yeast is complimented beautifully by hints of citrus (it is brewed with Curacao orange peel as well as coriander seed). It is really refreshing and pares really well with food (fish, chicken, veges).

While it is just a simple wheat beer, somehow it is more than ‘just a wheat beer’ it is a finely tuned simple recipe, and sometimes simple can be the hardest thing to do well. I will miss it being so accessible when I leave Belgium.   

And just for the record Belgians don’t put lemon in wheat beer, and if it is a good beer it really doesn’t need it. The Germans put lemon in wheat beer, possibly because their beer rules don’t let them add spices which are so important to the awesomness of Hoegaarden. 9/10.