5 Dec 2011

De Struise Westoek X and the De Struise store

The beer

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.

The store

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...

The match

Ahhh, Bruges.

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.


  1. My mate Tim is all about De Struise at the mo. This might lead to us seeing some at mason & taylor with a bit of luck!

  2. Let's hope so! Don't understand why more of their beer isn't readily available over here.

  3. I have to say that Aardmonnik has never done it for me at all but I have enjoyed most of the other Struise beers I have come across.

  4. I really liked Aardmonnik. Appealing dark ruby red in colour with port, chocolate and apple flavours.

    However, I was five beers deep when I drank it at
    't Brugs Beertje, so may have to revisit with a clean palate and a clear mind...