2012 saw a unique collaboration between one of Belgium’s newer microbreweries and one of Oregon’s oldest, but smallest microbreweries: De Struise Brouwers and Hair of the Dog Brewing. Urbain Coutteau started De Struise in 2003 in the city of Oostvleteren, Belgium and has quickly become a popular and well rated brewery winning many fan polls and awards. Alan Sprints started Hair of the Dog in 1991 in Portland, Oregon which quickly inspired a rabid following of beer lovers with his unique barrel-aged beers and his quirky style. What makes the beer world truly amazing is that two brewers with such apparently similar desires to create quirky, unique and outstanding beers managed to find each other and decide to make beer together.
Earlier this year, Alan traveled to Belgium to brew, now it was Urbain’s turn to visit Portland and make some beer at Hair of the Dog. On June 28, 2012 Alan turned all 8 of his taps over to Urbain to showcase De Struise’s beers. The list included: Witte, Svea IPA, Elliot Brew, Tsjeeses, XXX Rye Tripel, Pannepeut, Pannepot, and Pannepot Reserva. Fortunately, they were offering everything in both a 3oz taster and a 12oz tulip. I wanted to try them all, so I went with the 3oz tasters.
De Struise Witte – Belgian White 5% ABV
Appearance: Hazy blond
Aroma: subtle citrus, wheat with a touch of spice
Taste: Soft and wheat-y with subtle spicing. Light but gently lingering finish with a touch of coriander. This was a very dry white.
Overall Impression: Some representatives of the style can be a bit cloying. This would be great summer quaffer.
De Struise Svea IPA – 7% ABV
Appearance: Slightly cloudy, amber with brownish highlights. Off white head
Aroma: Light, spicy hoppiness with perhaps a touch of citrus. Touches of caramel and fig from the malts.
Taste: Rich maltiness with brown sugar, dried cherry and a spicy, earthy finish from the hops.
Overall Impression: If you go into this beer expecting an American style IPA, you’ll be disappointed. I could tell from some of the conversations that I overheard that people weren’t getting this beer. The local hop-heads were wanting something in line with Alan’s Blue Dot IPA, which they didn’t get. You’ll be totally happy if you keep an open mind and enjoy this completely Belgian interpretation of the style. It was balanced, rich but clean with a refreshing hop finish. Outstanding.
De Struise Elliot Brew – Double IPA 9% ABV
Appearance: Hazy orange with copper highlights, off white head.
Aroma: Citrus and spicy hoppiness, dried fruit maltiness: raisons, figs.
Taste: Pretty intense hop! Bitter with a spicy, astringent finish. Big Alcohol malt character. Touches of sherry.
Overall Impression: This is the closest a Belgian brewer has come to achieving an American IPA/Double IPA.
De Struise Tsjeeses – Abbey Tripel 10%
Appearance: Orange with Brown highlihgts
Aroma: Peach and candy
Taste: Sweet! Spicy, brown sugar, cinnamon and touch of alcohol.
De Struise XXX Rye Tripel – 10% ABV
Appearance: brown, touch of gold. Creamy tan head.
Aroma: Bread, alcohol, bread pudding
Taste: Brown sugar, spicy with a solid rye “bite.”
Overall Impression: Personally, this was my favorite of the 2 tripels. I liked the dryness and spicy bite that the rye added. This was a much more drinkable tripel. The other was a bit too sweet for any sort of sustained drinking.
De Struise Pannepeut – Quadruple 10%
Aroma: Raisons, prunes, chocolate
Taste: Lightly roasted coffee, medium bitter chocolate, mocha. A touch of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Overall Impression: This is a DANGEROUS beer. It’s very balanced and drinkable and at 10% ABV, could find yourself embarking an interesting evening if you delved too deep into this beer.
De Struise Pannepot – Belgian Strong Ale 10% ABV
Appearance: Murky brown with slight amber highlights
Aroma: Raison, prunes, figs and spice
Taste: Alcohol, esters and brown sugar.
De Struise Pannepot Reserva – Belgian Stronge Ale 10% ABV
Appearance: Black with brown highlights. Tan head
Aroma: Coffee, espresso, light dried fruit notes. Dark Rum.
Taste: Rich, malt bitterness. Very Imperial Stout like.
Overall Impression: This is a lovely beer. For the strength and flavor intensity, it’s got a nice balance that would make it a very enjoyable sipping experience.
It required a lot of concentration to work through 8 intense beers. I only wish I’d had time to sit and get a full glass or two and chat with friends. Perhaps I’ll have to pay Urbain a visit when I’m in Belgium. At the end, I spoke briefly with Urbain and Alan and found out that their collaboration beers might be ready next year or the year after. No rush really…