Monday, February 14, 2011

Hello From West Flanders

My trip to Belgium covered two purposes; one was to visit my wife's sister and brother-in-law in Paris and the other was to brew Kate the Great with Urbain at De Struise Brouwers, home of Black Albert.

Paris was a great place to start out mini vacation. We flew into Charles de Gaulle airport and then went into Paris via bus. In addition to our family time, we were able to visit the Musee d'Orsay, which houses large collections of modern painting from Delacroix to the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. The museum is housed in the old Gare d'Orsay train station, a beautiful Beaux Arts structure made obsolete by its short platforms.

After many pain au chocolate, tasse du cafe au creme and croque monsieurs we made our way to the TGV ( high speed train) and up to Lille, France, where Urbain Couttreau picked us up. From there we were off to West Flanders via Wally's Bar and Grill, a Belgo-American road house in Poperinge, the heart of Belgium's hop growing region.  West Flanders is also home to De Struise's ostrich farm.  The farmhouse has about 6 apartments is home to both Urbain and Phil.  From here its about 10 miles to the new Struise brewery/yeast shop/education facility at the "School" and about 15 miles to Deca brewery where all of the De Struise beer is brewed, fermented, conditioned, kegged and bottled.  Urbain plans to augment some of the beer production with the new "School" facilities.

As you saw in the video the Deca brewery is quite old ( pre WW1) and uses the original mash-tun and kettle. The rest of the equipment has been updated...... although there is some "purple snake" hose that looks like it's been around since WW2!! I was able to brew a batch of Belgian-style Kate the Great at Deca with Urbain and he then put in a batch of Black Albert to keep KtG company during the long lonely fermentation!  This video will give you a glimpse at our adventures in Flanders.  We had a blast and the De Struise folks are incredible hosts, though we'll be sure to book our next trip during warmer months.


Tod M.

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