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Posts Tagged ‘de Molen’

I am very happy to report that the Haandbryggeriet festival last weekend was a success – and it looked to me that this applied to everyone involved.

Some parts of the concept seemed to work particularly well:

  • Getting to meet the brewers. For most of the dozen breweries attending, there were you actually got to meet several people actually  involved in the brewing process and in developing the brands. We are talking small-scale enterprises here,  meaning you get intelligent conversations, getting to sample various editions of the same brew etc. I think there were the precisely right people to guide the visitors to try beers that were challenging, but not necessarily extreme while also having something for the hardcore geeks.
  • Having the event in the brewery was also a good choice. While it is 15 or 20 minutes by foot from downtown Drammen, they were still able to draw a crowd from near and far. Having the festival within an operating brewery environment added a dimension that would have been absent in a congress centre or in a hotel function room.
  • Diversity – geographically and by style. Breweries from England, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Norway plus bottled stuff from across the pond. Cask session ales. Festival one offs like the Nøgne Ø Oaked Sunturnbrew. Flemish red ales. Barrel aged imperial stouts. Most important: Breweries with splendid beers.
  • Having the breweries present their beers meant you got a proper pour and presentation. Preferable to both enthusiastic CAMRA lads (no offense intended!) and blondes with dirdls (did I really mean that?)
  • Good no-nonsense food – the artisanal sausages I had were splendid value for money.

What do I want next year? More seating and some nice t-shirts, nothing more than that, really.

I’ll get back to you about some of the beers I enjoyed.

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One phenomenon has caught my eye recently, and that is the increased availability of Norwegian beer in various European markets. And by this I mean Norwegian craft beer from small breweries – the major players seem very content with getting their slice of the pale lager market, possibly with some alcopops thrown in.

Brasserie 4:20 in Rome had a Halloween beer festival with more beers from Nøgne Ø and Haandbryggeriet on tap than we have ever seen in Norway. The Nøgne Ø beers are readily available in the best beer bars in London. Haandbryggeriet is cooperating with De Molen, Nøgne Ø brews for Mikkeller. I even got a report from my friend Max in Prague that there are Nøgne Ø beers on tap at the Zubatý Pes pub in the Czech capital.

Add to this a sizeable export to the US, and we are talking serious money. Enough to make it possible for the breweries to slowly expand and pay their taxes and salaries.

I’m not very nationalistic, and I enjoy beers from around the globe. But the “local lads make success” factor has a value, and the fact that there is great beer brewed on our door step means that the threshold for Norwegian restaurants and bars to offer them is getting lower. Journalists and food writers find it more interesting to focus on national craft beers, too.

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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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