I don’t fully understand how Westoek X came to be.
From what I gather, it was commissioned by a US importer, who asked the Deca brewery in Woesten-Vleteren to create it, who in turn roped in Urbain Coutteau to aid in its conception.
Whether that makes it a De Struise beer I’m not sure, but the label design is aesthetically similar enough to the rest of the range that I’m going to flatly refuse to change the title of this post.
I do know that I’m glad this beer exists.
Straight from the tap, soothing wet straw and damp earth vapours trigger imagined Belgian-farmhouse memories.
Fluffy and white in the head, deep burnt orange in the body, it entices you in.
Subtle, sweet honey greets you. A gentle, refreshing dryness asks if you want to stay the night. And you do.
And you want still more each time that tender caress leaves your mouth.
Situated on Burg, the smaller of the two main squares in Bruges, the De Struise store nestles inconspicuously among the historic buildings that surround it.
As well as almost the entire current De Struise bottle range, it has a tall cooler which chills three rotating taps.
There are a couple of seats outside and the counter serves a makeshift micro-bar. Well, it did for me...
Beautiful, enchanting Brugge.
I feel instantly relaxed here after the relative craziness of the Brussels weekend. I kinda feel like I’ve come home.
No, not quite home.
More special than that. But I’ll save that for another post.
I head straight for the De Struise store as soon as I arrive. No map required.
I order a beer and start chatting to David, the gentleman behind the counter.
He’s instantly friendly and genuine. We talk about nothing but beer for 45 minutes. He speaks about his beyond-incredible bottle collection, but I still manage to impress with my Zwanze exploits.
As we move on to discuss the De Struise range I get a bit depressed – I just do not have the physical capability to carry any more beer home following a number of purchases at Cantillon the previous day.
The Black Damnation range is of particular interest.
To some, De Struise might seem like something of a brewing anomaly in Belgium.
It seems to share more in common with the American craft beer scene than Belgium’s rich heritage.
But the quality of their beer suggests otherwise. It’s not just hype – they combine European history with cutting-edge US style to create a canon of wonderfulness.
Along with this Westoek X, Ardmonnik, Tsjeeses and an intense taste-off between various Pannepot Grand Reservas punctuate this trip with glorious flavours.
De Struise, and fellow innovators like De Dolle, ensure Belgium has a future as well as a past.