Beer lovers of all shapes and sizes increasingly share their love for beer online. We like to see what others drink, so we regularly check social media. On the Belgian Beer Board group we came across a photo that triggered our curiosity, a US Marine with an obvious passion for Belgian beer. We reached out to him and moments later we got ourselves an interview.
Who is the man behind the photo of a cellar full of Belgian beers?
My name is Scott Patchcowski, a man of 49.9 🙂 in a month I turn 50, from Doylestown Pennsylvania. Former Marine and currently employed by the US Census Bureau.
You stood out with an online picture of your beercollection, how would you describe your collection?
The collection is my attempt to try every Belgian beer I can get my hands on. It started as a way to decorate the basement, but has taken over. Most are empty bottles, but I do have the St Bernardus Collectors Editions Magnums (every year except 2016), and 3L 2015 Corsendonk Dubbel on display. I also have an extensive glass collection, as required to properly enjoy a Belgian Beer! In addition, I also have started buying a 12 pack of Orval every few months, drinking half, and stashing the other half in the basement to forget about for a couple years.
How big is your collection currently?
According to my Excel Spreadsheet (and I have a few in the beer fridge that haven’t made the list), I have 697 different beers.
What made you start collecting Belgian beer?
I met a beautiful lady at a local drinking establishment in 2011 that I started dating in 2012. No one could (and still can’t) figure out where her accent is from… well it turned out to be Brussels, Belgium! We celebrated our 5th anniversary in January.
She took me home to Belgium for the first time in 2013. I had always been a fan of craft beers and preferred stronger beers to the “Miller Lite” scene. From my first beer in Belgium ( I believe it was a Waterloo Tripel at the restaurant next to the Waterloo Battlefield), I was hooked.
She is not even a beer drinker (can get her to sip a framboise lambic on occasion, but that is about all), but we visited both Orval and Chimay on that trip to visit the Abbeys. We were at The Lambic Expo in Beersel and found out it happened to be the day of the Open Door reopening of ‘3 Fonteinen’. I met Armand (the Master Brewer) and was introduced to lambic beers and loved them as well. She and her father also took me to Brugge and Ghent. It was in Brugge that her father bought me “All Belgian Beers”, which at that time was a 1200 page encyclopedia attempting to list and describe every beer brewed in Belgium… The old US Marine in me considered that a challenge, and the collection began!
I have been to Belgium 4 times to date and always come back with as many bottles as I can carry. My father in law visits once or twice a year (just got the devastating news his flight for next month is cancelled) and always brings new beers for the collection. I keep my Excel spreadsheet up to date for him and any friends that may be coming to visit us from Belgium. My wife’s friends have been absolutely great to me. For a wedding we attended in 2018 the groom gifted me 4 Westvleteren XIIs! They are aging comfortably in the basement…
Where do you purchase your beers?
It is obviously getting difficult to find new beers for the collection, but I’m always on the lookout. I get down to Monks Café in Philadelphia (about an hour away) a few times a year to enjoy harder to find beers and can usually find something new. Occasionally I’ll find a restaurant in the US with a good beer list.
What is the best place to buy your beer?
The best place I’ve found to order beer is online. I have ordered beers several times in Europe and often they charge Belgian prices. Despite the high shipping costs to the US, I think it is no more expensive than the price you pay at a specialty beer store. Moreover, Belgian beer is really difficult to obtain.
Do you have a favorite brewer/ favorite beer, both domestic as international?
My favorites are the traditional Trappist and abbey style Dubbels and Tripels, with a properly aged Westvleteren XII at the top of the list (shocker, I’m sure). For something more obscure, I love the Pannepot Fisherman’s Ales (the more age, the better).
I mostly drink Belgiums, but I’m from Michigan, and enjoy a good stout such as CBS or KBS from Founders in Grand Rapids Michigan.
Which beer is on the top of your wishlist?
A rare Cantillon.
With whom would you like to drink a bottle of beer and why?
I’ve tried to think of someone, but I’m not a starchaser… I just like drinking with friends or drinking with and where people are having fun!
What is the showpiece of your collection and why?
I’ll go with my 20+ Brasserie De La Senne beers. Not only were most of them fantastic, memorable beers, but the artwork is very cool as well. For full beer, it’s a a 25.03.18 Wesvleteren XII that is about to be enjoyed for my 50th birthday a few days after its 5th!
What would you give as advice to someone just starting to collect beers?
Try everything you can… Share what you love.
What do you think is the beertrend of 2020?
I’ve heard that sours are “The next IPA”… I hope that’s true… I sure know I can’t understand the IPA craze here in the USA.
Dear reader, if you know someone or if you have a Cantillon yourself, please send us an email to email@example.com and we can put you in touch with Scott Patchcowski. It will undoubtedly get a nice place in his collection!