De Struise Brouwers: Pannepot Real Ale

De Struise Brouwers: Pannepot Real Ale

10% ABV | Belgian | 750ml | De Struise Brouwers | Oostvleteren, Belgium

There are beers. And then there are beers. These are not the casual sort of beer you put in your basket at the market without a second thought – beers like these are sought, collected and revered. The kind of beer that transcends this plane of existence, is often accompanied with rays of light and a choir of angels when you open it – you know, that sort of thing.

De Struise’s Pannepot Real Ale is one of those beers.

Praised by beer fanatics since its debut a few years ago, the admiration for this brew and its valiant brewers is not some casual opinion – in 2008, they were voted best brewery in the world. Beyond that, both appear frequently on worldwide Top 10 lists by professionals and enthusiasts alike. Not too bad for a brewery started by three men and a name that comes from an old flemish word meaning “ostrich” (or, The Sturdy Brewery as it is officially translated, but that’s not as fun).

The brewery is yet another splendid participant in the old-meets-new phenomenon of modern craft brewing, marrying the beliefs established by the past with the conventions of today’s tastes, including stronger flavors, higher alcohol content and increased emphasis on barrel aging. The brewers moved their operation from region to region for a couple of years before finally settling in Oostvleteren, Belgium, where they opened their own established brewery and tasting room in a, what else, renovated school house. Since they’ve set up shop, they’ve been quite busy, churning out an impressive collection of beers (numbering over 100, according to De Struise themselves).

A humble beer with a humble origin, Pannepot’s namesake harks back to the name given to fishing boats in the De Panne villag. It is also the name of a beer enjoyed by the fishermen there – a hearty dark ale brewed with spices. Pannepot makes the most of its Belgian heritage, featuring all of the beloved staples of the Belgian brewing pantheon. Notably, dark fruit flavors and a pleasant caramelly sweetness live comfortably along a host of darker flavors, including notes of roast and chocolate. All of this adds up to a truly decadent beer that, despite its hefty ABV, manages to be surprisingly drinkable and filled to the brim with charming character. It’s no surprise it’s De Struise’s most popular beer.

Unfiltered, unpasteurized, and bottle-conditioned, Pannepot is an unpretentious beer that nevertheless demands the utmost of your attention.