Archive for February, 2011

A Small Revolution: The Dutch Cask Ale Days

Social media are changing the world in ways unimaginable at the end of the last century. At this very moment revolutions are spreading throughout Northern Africa with the aid of Facebook, Google and Twitter, toppling dictators who have been in power since the 1970’s.

A revolution on a slightly smaller scale happened in Amsterdam on February the 11th and 12th. The excellent beerpub “In De Wildeman” organized the first Real Dutch Cask Ale days. Judging by the wall of people blocking the entrance on the first night it was a huge success. The idea for the festival started on Facebook when manager Simon Fokkinga challenged Dutch breweries to make some cask ale. The reason for this was that he still had some casks left over from their annual British Cask Ale days. Six brewers jumped at the chance to use them for their own cask ale: Klein Duimpje, De Connectie (Vat No 13, Eem, De Lepelaer), De Snaterende Arend, Ramses, Emelisse and De Molen.

John Brus of De Molen told us that they were one of the very few in the Netherlands with some actual experience brewing cask ale. Because of that they were asked for the festival, and also served as a source of information for the other brewers.

For the brewers it was a great opportunity to learn how to make a style of beer that is almost unknown in the Netherlands; websites were browsed, books were studied and other brewers contacted. Carl Stapelbroek of Vat No. 13 for example told us that the ‘problem’ is in the carbonation which only happens naturally through the fermentation. Not to get too technical, but finding the right yeast for him was the biggest challenge. The brewing itself turned out to be a piece of cake and Carl is very happy with the result. He and Ruud van Moorst from Eem were instantly enthusiastic about the plan and immediately started thinking about a recipe that ended up being an IPA with an American twist which they were able to brew at De Lepelaer in Noord-Holland.

Simon from In De Wildeman was very excited about the festival and there will likely be another one next year. More breweries have shown interest and De Molen and De Connectie can be expected to bring a cask to the next one. As John Brus puts it: “It’s a great development that cask ale is being introduced in the country as a far richer taste experience than the standard, and mostly boring, Dutch draft beer.” The Dutch Beer pages agree, bring on more cask ale!

Participating brewers

To read more about Cask Ale, Check Wikipedia