I organised something this weekend that I’d been meaning to do for for a couple of years which was to visit the Belgian bar “Den Engel” in nearby Leek. God only knows why it’s taken that long it isn’t THAT far (Leek is around 10 miles away), I think it just seems it, as it’s a bit of a rural route and I’ve always thought too costly for a cab. Anyways turns out I was wrong and an 8 seater working out at about £22 from Stoke. Needless to say we’d been depriving ourselves unnecessarily for far too long…
Even from the outside Den Engel already has a bit of a Belgian feel, quite old styling with a big glass frontage that lets you see how the place is laid out and what’s on offer. Once inside they have a three page menu featuring the 100 plus beers available both in bottle and on the changing bank of brews on tap, from memory they were on the night, St Feuillien Dubbel & Tripel, Mc Chouffe, De Koninck, Floreffe Bruin, a Kriek of some description and Den Engel Lager (or Pilsner, can’t remember which). They also have a selection of flavoured Jenevers and a small food menu featuring Belgian style dishes often with a beer influence, these are served in a room upstairs.
The staff were friendly and knowledgable and the place itself had a great atmosphere, it was busy and had that “good night” buzz about the place, but without the rowdy element probably put off because they don’t sell Carling etc.. Be warned it is pricey, but it’s not your run of the mill bar and you get what you pay for which is a great selection of good quality beers, well kept and served.
The bar itself is split into two rooms, with a large central bar area dominating the space (there is a table service available), not sure if the room upstairs had a separate bar but if not service applies. Now I wouldn’t normally mention toilet facilities apart from the fact that in this instance you get a quick look at the cellar through a window on route which is a nice touch and shows the confidence that the landlord is happy with what goes on downstairs….
So what of the beers themselves, well I have to be honest in saying that they are a bit of a blur now a few days have passed, I remember starting on a Mc Chouffe which is a delicious Scotch style ale, a St Feuillien Dubbel, Rochefort 10, De Koninck Amber, Westmalle Dubbel and many many more…
To finish the evening off suitably, I opted for a grand finale in the form of a large bottle of “Val-Dieu Grand Cru” which was shared with fellow Belgian beer loving pal Lee Farrington, landlord of “The Greyhound” pub in Newcastle- U-Lyme and was one of the many stars of the recent SIBA video. The Val-Dieu was the star beer of the night for me and although expensive at over £10 for a 750ml bottle, it capped a fabulous evening off with suitable grandeur. It is a Belgian Abbey Quadrupel ale which is dark, rich and spicy, it has tastes of lovely roasted malts with chocolate and port, but it’s how it delivers the flavours to you that sets it apart from the rest. It’s just so smooooooth….
All in all a cracking evening and one that will be repeated again and again now we realise how accessible the place is. For reference the address and contact details are: Address: 11 Stanley St, Leek, ST13 5HG Telephone: 01538 373 751
‘Op uw gezondheid’ or as they say in French ‘A votre sante’
Sounds good! You must’ve ticked off a few more of the 100 beers that night!? There’s a bar in Ramsgate that does lots of Belgian beers and it’s great fun – it’s where I learned a lot about beers as we’d each buy a bottle and then pass the glasses around. I did have a nasty experience after a few pints, a cigar and then a bottle of Delerium Tremens… Nasty!
I hadn’t realised that the Val-Dieu was on the list so actually that was a bonus, it was listed under another name, 36 down 64 to go..