Staminee De Gone…?

We visited the delightful city of Bruges last week for a two night, pre Borefts warm up (Borefts report to come soon). As you’d expect we took time out to visit some of our old favourite bars and a couple of new ones too.

One of those bars was the wonderful Staminee De Garre.

We’d tried a few months back in July but found locked doors due to holiday. No such horror this time, we slipped down that dark cobbled alley, stepped into a packed house and found a scarce empty table upstairs. Before too long the barman appeared and we ordered two house triples, the creamy thick-headed speciality which draws in the crowds and one which gave us so much pleasure the last time we’d visited.

After a short time the same chap danced up those old stairs which must have graced a million footsteps once again, balancing a tray with two beers and the usual bowl of cheese. He sheepishly placed the two glasses, Gulden Draak glasses, on the table and explained that they had almost none of the De Garre items left and hoped we understood. Only then, as I looked around the room did I notice that almost every other table too had the same Gulden Draak glassware, a sad sight in this lovely Bruges gem.

The less glass pedantic of you reading this may say “so what”, but in here of all places, with this beer it’s a really important part of the experience. The house triple itself is pleasant enough, no award winner, but watching that goldfish bowl of foam recede and the golden liquid rise makes it what it is, for me at least.


As we left the barman (without any prompting or complaint from us) again apologised, so I took my chance to ask him why, as apart from the disappointment I was on a mission to buy one for a friend. He said “at the start of the season we had four hundred glasses, today we have thirteen, mainly due to theft, some sales and breakages”.

Thirteen from four hundred glasses…

So why am I writing this seemingly small negative point up out of a great few days of beer in Bruges?

Well, because glassware is important to me and it should be to you. When you get a beer served in the correct, or at least a glass specially designed to match the contents, cherish it. Embrace the added enjoyment that the fine, caring detail a bar manager has taken to enhance your drinking experience, remember that place and go back, hopeful it will still be there…


Burslem twinned with Bodegraven?

The brewery in the Windmill

OK so that might be a teensy exaggeration…

Bodegraven is the home of Brouwerij de Molen (or “Brewery the Mill” in English). I think I can safely say they are one of the worlds most respected breweries, if the list of old, new and would be collaborators is anything to go by, not to mention the many guests for their famous Borefts beer festival and stunning beer pedigree.

Being a massive fan after sampling many different beers from their vast range I was really excited to hear them being mentioned as a potential addition to my local pubs foreign beer menu. Of course I heartily recommended them amongst others available and to my deep joy was over the moon to see not one but FIVE arrive.

The venue is The Bull Head in Burslem, Stoke On Trent, the Titanic Brewery Tap. It’s a cozy friendly pub with of course the obligatory selection from the Titanic range, a regular 5-6 pump ever changing cask ale selection and also quite a healthy stock of foreign beers both on the font and in bottled form. Being an antagonistic soul with the latter I’d always thought most of the selections as being a little “safe”. I can understand that of course from a commercial point of view, it’s a standard drinkers pub and not a swanky big city craft beer bar and the clientele reflect that, they are far more likely to go for say a Chimay Blue over a fridge full of completely unrecognisable labels.

That’s why I think this time around management team Bob and Jim at The Bulls have really excelled and perhaps popped their heads above the parapet a little, a brave and most welcome move. What needs to happen now though is for more and more people to go in and support their efforts by trying the beers, taste, chat and tell friends about them to make their arrival a resounding success.

This in turn will hopefully lead to a more and more adventurous customer base willing to try more new and interesting beers from around the world and so the cycle continues and the menu grows.. 😉

So what of the beers themselves? Well I’ve tried all of the De Molen beers on the list and although I’ve not made any tasting notes would recommend each one at the drop of a hat. Amerikaans is  a light and hoppy beer with a taste that defies it’s 4.5% abv, fruity, perhaps slightly floral in flavour and very very fresh on the palate, a spicy bitter finish cleans everything up nicely.

Vuur and Vlaam (or Fire and Flames) is an absolutely stunning IPA and is one of the best beers I’ve had in the last year. First tried from the keg at Port Street Beer House and many times since in bottled form. Loads of citrus and tropical fruit flavours are evident from the first sniff and follow throughout, at 6.2% easy to drink for a dabble in the fridges at any time of day, looking forward to warmer summer sunny days ahead in particular though.

Jaar & Dag is a Saison, pale and hoppy with (from memory) hints of orange spice and banana, it’s been a week or two since sampled this so it’s a little vague, one to revisit at my next session methinks. Going darker we have the Hamer & Sikel, a dark roasty porter coming in at a very easy-going 5.2%. It’s smooth and very drinkable with a good helping of bitter chocolate, espresso and dark boozy winter fruits.

Finally we come to the Daddy, the dark destroyer, Mooi & Meedogenloos. “Some people say it’s served in Mordor on Saurons breakfast serial and that by drinking it you sell your soul to the devil” (unless of course you are ginger and suffer from Gingervitus), “all we know is that it means in English “beautiful and ruthless” and is absolutely gorgeous”. It’s described as a Belgian Strong ale and I’d say it’s almost quad-like, rich malty flavours, sweet caramels, dark chocolate, liquorice, fruitcake and more, there is so much going on in this beer I’m not going any further without any notes or a sample as I simply won’t do it justice. Try one..

As a side note there are a few more additions to the fridges in the Bulls, notably from American brewery Rogue with Juniper Ale, Mocha Porter and Dead Guy Ale, again another welcome sight in the Mother Town, plus these two newbies for me St Fueillien Grand Cru and Gulden Draak 9000 Quaduple.

So what are you waiting for, the Burslem drinking scene looks set for a revival, get down here, support the cause…”POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!” 😉


UK drinkers & pubs, are you happy that price of your pint is up 35% in 4 yrs? No I thought not, so please spare two minutes and sign this online Government e-petition to stop the beer duty escalator: