Vignette #14: Carlo Grootaert (De Struise Brouwers)
On the origins of Pannepot, the brewery's flagship.
“I heard that in my family, there were homebrewers at the time—100 years ago. The women were the brewers because the men were at sea to catch herrings. The women made beer in the wintertime on the stove.”
Here Grootaert interjected with a story about the name. It refers in part to the village of De Panne and the boats the fishermen there use, a flat-bottomed vessel able to land on sandy beaches. That is not, however, the boat you see on the label. That is the second half of the homage, which he went on to describe:
“The label is actually my great-granddad’s boat, the B-50. He died in 1918. He went to France in WWI. The war was finished November 11, 1918. And he came in his boat back to Belgium—but he came in a storm and on the 18th of November he fell overboard and drowned. So he didn’t make it. It’s a sad story.”
He continued on with the story behind Pannepot, Struise's thick, jammy beer.
“Anyway, the women made beer on the stove at the time. It was so strong and sweet and very alcoholic so they kept in a little cask in the cellar. If they wanted some beer, they went down with the jug and tapped off some beer—it was flat. But they didn’t like cold beer. So they had to heat it up: they put the metal poker in the fire and it was glowing red, and when they put it in the thick beer (it didn’t have a name, it was called “thick beer”) with lots of sugars in it and the sugars instantly caramelized. It gave it a roasted, caramelized flavor.”
Brewer vignettes feature quotes from brewers I picked up in my travels around the world.