I'm sat at East Midlands airport with very little to do; so it's high time I give myself a kick up the arse and start blogging again. There's no better place to start than with the current session topic, hosted this month by Breandán at Belgian Smaak. He asks us to talk about our first Belgian beer. I unfortunately have no recollection of which it was, sampled in my hazy student days almost 9 years ago. It is guaranteed to have been something good however as it was sourced from the ever excellent bitter virtue in Southampton. It was probably Chris, perhaps Ann who led me around the groaning shelves tempting me to part with my student loan in exchange for beery libations to sup at the local punk house whilst watching awesome acoustic bands and sometimes full blown drum laden metal bands with beach dinghy crowd surfing...
Anyway I digress, the point is it could have been any number of excellent beers for which Belgium is rightly famed (though I have a sneaky suspicion it was the fruity balsamic punchy duchesse de Bourgogne). Instead I'll have to dredge through the ancient (3years old) rate beer reviews to settle on my first rated Belgian... De Struisse Pannepot. Not a bad first rate eh?!
Pannepot is a 10% Belgian strong ale which cunningly hides its strength away until you stand up at which point you promptly fall over. I may have made that last part up but it sure wears its strength well. Even in my early rating days I appreciated this scoring the beer a massive 4.5, sitting comfortably in the top 1% of my beers to date.
Here's what I thought:
A richly dark reddish brown beer which pours with a thin head that disappears almost immediately. Molasses and orange peel on the nose. First taste gives a lot of sweetness and some umami with a heavy alcohol presence and quite an abrupt finish, neither malty nor hoppy. Not unlike a bourbon in that it hints at vanilla. Very easy to drink which belies its 10%ABV. (2009 vintage 33cl)
That beer was 2 years old, I've since tried other vintages but 2 years has yet to be surpassed or perhaps 2009 was just an excellent year...more rigorous research is required.
Struisse certainly make some excellent beers with the black Albert beers being particular stand outs,though for me pannepot is the pinnacle of a distinguished line up and should be on your beer bucket list to be dispatched in short shrift.