Podcast Episode 233: Urbain Coutteau of Struise Brouwers Shares Some “Peasant Intelligence”

Known for their high-gravity beers and irreverent attitude, the Struise Brouwers have injected fresh energy into Belgian beer over the past two decades. Yet the systems they’ve built to brew these big beers are as creative as the beers themselves.

Jamie Bogner , Joe Stange Apr 8, 2022 - 5 min read

Podcast Episode 233: Urbain Coutteau of Struise Brouwers Shares Some “Peasant Intelligence” Primary Image

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Today, the brewery operates with a brewhouse that is as unique as their beers—two mash tuns, with internal vessels and screens that lift and drain the mash, to feed three separate kettles. The team brews four turns per day on the system, filling a fermentor one-quarter full as fermentation starts. Over the following days, subsequent brews fill the tank as the carefully controlled fermentation progresses. By adjusting the mash temperatures of each day’s brews, they’re able to approximate a step-mash regimen without tight temperature control and automation in the brewhouse.

In this episode, cofounder Urbain Coutteau discusses the creative and the technical, including:

  • building a bridge to stout for Belgian beer enthusiasts with Pannepot
  • controlling the use of simple sugars to avoid astringency
  • rebuilding the Pannepot recipe without spices but with a wild Saccharomyces strain
  • the conceptual framework for their unique brewhouse setup
  • designing a brewhouse to achieve specific flavor goals
  • controlling fermentation to allow multi-day tank fills without stressing yeast
  • relying on ingenuity more than investment
  • the brewery’s best-in-class water treatment system that nearly eliminates water waste
  • clever use of automation to create water profiles, reducing staff time
  • using a familiar ale yeast strain to ferment big Belgian beers

And more.

Launched on a shoestring budget, the Struise team has always had to rely on clever problem-solving—what Coutteau refers to as “peasant intelligence.” That spirit is alive and well at the brewery today, scaled to address bigger challenges, in bigger ways.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].