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Archive for the ‘The Netherlands’ Category

The lineup for this year’s event in Drammen (30 minutes from Oslo) is more or less ready.

This year it takes place on Friday, May 24 (16-22) and  Saturday, May 25,  (12-22).

Confirmed participants so far:

  • Aass Bryggeri (N)
  • Bierbrouwerij Emelisse (NL) @Rest_emelisse
  • Birrificio Toccalmatto (IT) @Toccalmatto
  • Brouwerij de Molen (NL) @molenbier
  • De Struise Brouwers (B)
  • Haand (N)
  • Lervig Aktiebryggeri (N)
  • LoverBeer (IT) @LoverBeerBrewer
  • Magic Rock (UK) @MagicRockBrewCo
  • Monks, Stockholm (SE) @Monksevent
  • Naparbier (ES) @Naparbier
  • Närke Kulturbryggeri (SE)
  • Partizan (UK) @partizanbrewing
  • Picobrouwerij Alvinne (B) @alvinnebeer
  • S:t Eriks Bryggeri (SE)
  • Ægir Bryggeri (N)

I particularly look forward to the return of Magic Rock, the new London brewery Partizan and Lervig from Stavanger, Norway. Not to mention Alvinne, Emelisse, de Molen and the rest of the stellar lineup.

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If you look at the global picture, the trend is clear. Beer consumption is going downhill, if you look at the traditional markets (meaning everywhere but China). The global players are doing their best to gain market shares, sometimes with alliances about as cozy as the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

But, frankly, it does not matter. (Well, if you are in China, it probably does).

Because we are getting spoilt for choice. The next wave of the beer revolution is sweeping across Europe.

I torment myself by joining the mailing lists of a selected number of beer retailers, bars and breweries. One of them is the Arendsnest in Amsterdam.

They are having a tasting tonight. This café has long been a promoter of Dutch beers, taking pride in serving craft beers from every corner of the country. But tonight they are staying local, offering beers from seven Amsterdam breweries:

  • Brouwerij de Prael
  • Brouwerij ‘t IJ
  • Brouwerij de 7 deugden
  • Brouwerij de Bekeerde Suster
  • Brouwerij de Snaterende Arend
  • Brouwerij Zeeburg
  • Brouwerij Butcher’s Tears

By this time next year, we’ll be able to hold a similar tasting here in Oslo, with between six and eight breweries in business. Most of them will be exclusively brewpubs, some will possibly bottle some.

There are other European capitals with impressive lists of brewpubs and micros:

  • London must have a few dozen breweries now, up from two or three when Young’s closed down.just a few years ago.
  • Berlin has a fair number, as documented here on this blog.
  • Vienna often escapes the radar for beer tourism, but had a fine selection of brewpubs.

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The Haandbryggeriet beer festival sold 1200 tickets in total on the Friday and Saturday, the budget was 1000. This means a new festival next year, I will keep you posted.

But back to this years event. I have praised the setup, but how were the beers?

First of all, I was only present at the Friday session, meaning I cannot do justice to all breweries present. I did not go through the range of beers from the hosts, for example, as I hope I will be able to taste them later.

Prestesonen is a new porter from the Norwegian Kinn brewery. Not trying to be too pretentious, this dark brown beer has a smoky nose and a fairly light palate. Roasted grain and coffee, fine balance.

The Oaked Sunturnbrew from Nøgne Ø has not been barrel aged, but is a special order that’s been aged with oak chips. I feel there is some extra dryness compared to the regular version, maybe some vanilla, too. This is one of my favourites among the Nøgne Ø beers, but I’m not sure if the extra treatment really lifted it.

A legend in European beer circles is the Stormaktsporter from Närke in Sweden. The version available here was aged in Cognac barrels, adding an intense aroma that was very much to my liking. The Närke stand was probably the hit of the festival, both for the eccentric range of beers and for the great visual presentation.

De Molen from the Netherlands had brought a wide range of brews along, some of the will probably turn up in Copenhagen this week as well. The had a brand new Flemish sour ale in two versions, one aged with cherries. I preferred the variety without the cherries, having a cleaner sour flavour which I really enjoyed. We’re talking Rodenbach territory here.

But the brewery which really made my day was Magic Rock from Huddersfield, England. Lovely keg versions of ales available on cask closer to home. This small-scale operation is inspired by American craft beers, meaning a far more liberal use of hops than the standard British fare.

Their Amber ale, Rapture, had a stong, refreshing herbal bitterness. Low in alcohol, intense in flavour, this would make great drinking for the summer months ahead. Honorable mention for their High Wire and Cannonball beers, too, but my highest praise is reserved for their imperial stout, the Bearded Lady. The regular version come in bottled form, and is a smooth and deceivingly soft tipple with fine chocolate tones. The barrel aged version has a lovely bourbon character, smooth beer given extra dimensions. Sweet and dry, charcoal, some sour smoke in the background. Oak and smoke in the tail. All these served by two friendly brewers.

The rest of my notes are blurry. I hope the good people from Emelisse and Alvinne come back next year, so I can do justice to their beers.

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It is very encouraging to see that the same spirit of cooperation and community I have observed amoung the beer geeks also to a large extent applies to the craft brewers. I don’t follow the North American scene enough to give any intelligent observations, but here in Northern Europe there are new projects all the time.

The best example of this is probably Mikkeller. Mikkel does not have a brewery of his own, so he is totally dependent of finding like-minded breweries where he can brew his beers. Hitting the market right now are variations of the Beer Geek beers aged in Islay and Bourbon barrels. These have been brewed at Nøgne Ø in Norway, while I believe BrewDog have helped them find whisky barrels for the purpose.

Mikkel has also brewed quite a few beers at De Molen in the Netherlands. Menno from De Molen, on the other hand, has visited Haandbryggeriet in Norway, and the first collaboration brew is called Menno and Jens. It was pre-released on cask at Håndverkerstuene in Oslo last week.

This is a historical recreation of beers before hops were widespread, using various herbs instead. An interesting experiment, which I encourage you to try when it turns up in bottes – but on the other hand I think I prefer hoppy beers..

Haandbryggeriet has an impressive list of beers being launched this winter and spring including a Smoked beer, a crowberry beer and two beers brewed on lingonberries and currants fermented with lambic and wild yeasts. And they have started importing rare stuff, too – we can look forward to more De Molen beers, for example.

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De Bierkoning

Family trips are successful if you make compromises. Ice cream for the kids, the right amount of food, drink, shopping and entertainment.

In Amsterdam I can warmly recommend a shoe shop that is just a few blocks away from the Bierkoning. That buys you the ten minutes you need to catch up with the latest stuff from de Molen. Sure, I could have wept over not being able to go through the rest of the inventory. No time to chat with the staff to get an update on the Dutch scene, no chance to see what they have from the rest of the globe..

But I got what I could comfortably carry out, the rest must be for another day.

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I’ve been busy during the Easter break, which amounts to a week around here.

A family holiday, but I managed to fit in some beer as well. Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges – and even a few days in the Norwegian mountains.

Stay tuned for details!

Amsterdam beer delivery

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Beer cruises in the Western hemisphere is nothing new, there are a number of options in various climate zones. Stephen Beaumont offers an alternative, a European beer cruise.

It’s on the Rhine, from Amsterdam to Basel. The preliminary programme ranges from a visit to Amsterdam’s  Brouwerij ‘t Ij to tastings at Belgian, German, French, Luxembourg and Swiss breweries, a pub crawl through Cologne, and even floating tutored beer tastings.

It starts in Amsterdam on October 11.

It’s beyond the capacity of my wallet, but I applaud any efforts to expand quality beer tourism.

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