Struise: Pannepot: Vintage 2020 (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to almost black. Thin off white dash of a head. No visible carbonation bubbles.

Nose: Raisins. Plums. Very rich. Cocoa dust. Licorice. Brandy cream. Slightly dry fudge.

Body: Smooth. Brown bread. Cake sponge. Sherry soaked raisins. Bitter red wine. Bourbon whiskey. Warming alcohol. Licorice touch. Bourbon biscuits.

Finish: Dry fruitcake to Christmas cake. Glacier cherries. Raisins. Vanilla cake sponge. Watered down bourbon whiskey. Bitter red wine.

Conclusion: Shortly after finally doing notes on Chimay Blue, I return to talk about another big Belgian beer that is in the “how have I never done notes on this before” camp. It is a surprisingly well populated camp. I did do notes on the barrel aged Reserve version, but not the standard

So, having had this many a time before, I return to it, with no surprise that it turns out it is great. It opens with full on dark fruit, spirity notes, and with drier takes on what would normally be sweet flavours. The body hides the 10% abv very well. It feels heavy, sure, but always far from feeling boozy. In fact, one of my few minor complaints with this is that it can feel just slightly light early on, leaning into a smoother take on the mouthfeel in a way I associate with the USA take on the style. Now, this is only in the mouthfeel side of things, the flavours always have those delicious edges and the texture does build up over time allowing it to come up to its proper potency by the end.

The body is heavy into the fruit cake, sherry and bourbon, with a mix of other vinous and spirity touches really making it feel like a treat. Not a simple, sweet beer for that pleasure, but a rewarding mix of heavy flavours. In fact, considering the complete lack of any fancy barrel ageing going on here, this somehow manages to taste oak smoothed and spirit aged. Such an impressive feat.

The only off flavour is a liquorice light touch, which isn’t even that bad, it is just liquorice isn’t my favourite flavour in most beers – so with this being well integrated it is just the fact it isn’t 100% my thing, and that is the worst I can say here.

This is complex and rewarding in a huge way – it never takes the easy road to get there, but rewards you with an intoxicating (literally considering the abv) mix of flavours that it restrains just enough to not be overwhelming.

A wonderful, worthy, beer

Background: I tried Pannepot many a year ago, pretty early into my beer exploring days. Think I may have started the blog around that time, or maybe just before. I’d grabbed a batch of beers from a now closed shop in the Netherlands – Which, back then was one of the few ways I could get some of the hard to find beers I wanted. Things are so much easier these days, I am spoiled. Anyway on their website they mentioned De Struise and Pannepot in particular as getting a real buzz about it. Of course they were trying to sell me stuff so they would say that, but I grabbed a bottle anyway and that is how I found De Struise beers. Amazing stuff. I did a set of notes on the barrel aged Reserve edition shortly after, but never actually returned to do notes on the standard beer, though I drank it many a time. So here is me, grabbing a bottle from Independent Spirit and actually pulling my thumb out and doing notes on it. Needed some happier tunes at the time, so went with Andrew WK: You’re Not Alone. It is cheesy, and a lot of the self help sounding sentiments in the spoken pieces are bollocks, but it is such a fun rock album that I adore it.

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