They say…

Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
Writer of "Probably the best book about beer in London" - Londonist
"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
"A joy to read" - Roger Protz
"Very authoritative" - Tim Webb.
"One of the top beer writers in the UK" - Mark Dredge.
"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor


Vapeur Saison de Pipaix

A shortened version of this piece appears in the book You Must Try Before You Die (May 2010).

ABV: 6%
Origin: Pipaix, Hainaut, Wallonie
First brewed: 1785
Serving temperature: 8-10°C

de Pipaix

“Born in 1785 with the brewery”, says the publicity for this idiosyncratic speciality, though in truth its history over the two-and-a-bit centuries since has not been uninterrupted. The brewery in question is in the centre of the village of Pipaix, deep in the Wallonian brewing heartland in the west of the province of Hainaut, not far from the French border, also home to the rather bigger Dubuisson of Bush/Scaldis fame. Originally a farmhouse operation, it was expanded in the early 19th century into a typical small industrial brewery of the period and flourished into the postwar period under the name of its owning families Biset-Cuvelier. But it finally fell victim to post-war changes in the industry that saw the big brewing groups rise on a tide of fizzy lager, drowning many smaller concerns. By 1984 it was derelict and up for sale.

Enter local teacher and beer fanatic Jean-Louis Dits, who’d nurtured a dream of brewing since a student visit to nearby Dupont. He bought the brewery and with his then wife Sittelle set about restoring it, renaming it “Steam Brewery” after the vintage machine that provided the motive power. Dits dug into the archives for heritage recipes, interpreting them with his own imaginative flair and redeploying long forgotten spices and flavourings. This, his signature brew, is typical, rejecting the contemporary hoppy saison model for a complex and exotic mélange infused with pepper, ginger, sweet and bitter orange peels and star anise, a reminder that past generations of Belgian brewers raided the spice cupboard even more readily than their successors. The result of this labour of love may be wayward but the world of saisons would be a much duller place without it. Call in on the last Saturday of the month and you may be able to catch it in production. 

Tasting notes

An amber beer with a fluffy, bubbly white head and a toffeeish malt aroma dosed with herbal notes and invitingly dark aniseedy spicing. The distinctive sweetish slightly smoky malt palate has spice and thyme hints, with gently bittering sappy orange fruit and brown sugar on the finish.


1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die

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