no. 198

In 2008, RateBeer’s annual poll declared De Struise Brouwers the best brewery in the world. The news received a mixed response. Some were delighted that such an innovative brewery was being acknowledged while others pointed to their lack of a brewing facility—at the time—as a reason they should be excluded from the honor.

“De Struise Brouwers” translates literally as “the sturdy brewers,” but “Struise” in Flemish also has a meaning that translates to "ostrich." Which is fitting, since there’s an ostrich farm in a village near where they first started brewing. Ostriches even made their way onto the brewery's logo.

De Struise’s story began in Africa, where Belgian photographer, Urbain Coutteau, was working as an engineer. He took up brewing on the weekends as a hobby. And when he returned home in 1997 after 10 years abroad, he teamed up with his friends Carlo Grootaert, Phil Driessens, and Peter Braem. De Struise started in earnest in 2001.

“Some will find us eccentric,” Coutteau says. “But that's how all artists are. Please forgive us.”

—Breandán Kearney