Archive for August, 2011

Botermarkt Beerfestival in Haarlem, 7 August 2011

As part of the “Haarlem Culinair” festival the city’s Botermarkt was the site for a nice small beerfestival. 7 Dutch brewers, mostly from the region, and Belgium’s Scheldebrouwerij showed up on an afternoon that was pleasant weather wise; A dry day in an otherwise rainy summer.

Engine behind the festival was Haarlem’s own Jopen whose brewery is located a few hundred meters away from the market. Besides their regular beers they showcased some special beers like a Trinitas from a wooden barrel, a rye pale ale called Jacobus and the Ippon Weiss. Jopen understands the true nature of the beerfestival; to give the drinkers something they cannot easily get or have never had.  Our Jopen choice was the Fokkerbeer, a decent Dunkel Weizen.

Breugems was there with their beers including the debut of their Stout. So far my experience with Breugems beers was slightly disappointing but their Stoutert has give me new hope for their future.

Klein Duimpje

Klein Duimpje's stand

Other brewers there were Klein Duimpje, who deserve kudos on naming on of their beers Ouwe Gespikkelde Kip which translates exactly into Old Speckled Hen.  SNAB  had their honeybeer with Canadian and Sicilian honey, nice but not the proclaimed King of Honeybeers and premiered their 1410.

Texelse and Emelisse also had a stand at the festival. Unfortunately they didn’t bring anything really special to the festival. Texels’ Skuumkoppe and Eyerlander are fairly easy to find. Emelisse had some beers and tap, but since we prefer having beers we had never had before we left those for what they were, though the bottle of Black IPA on our shelf will be opened quite soon considering the usually high quality.

The Brouwerij De Molen stand

Giants De Molen are on every festival it seems. After some start-up problems you could see the lines forming in front of their stand. The dryhopped ‘Blond met een Pond Amarillo’ was nice but the most exciting beertasting experience we had in a very long time was the Hot & Spicy, an Imperial Stout to which the Surinamese Pepper Madame Jeanette (Scotch Bonnet) was added. Fortunately having some experience with Surinam and Indonesian food helped making the heat somewhat bearable. A Madame Jeanette pepper scores a hefty 150.000 – 325.000 on the Scoville scale. A bit of the foam was like biting right into a jalapeno. A unique experience, the pepper infused beers from Rogue and Mikkeler we have had are nothing compared to this intense heat.

The Botermarkt beerfestival is a nice festival. It needs some help from the weather but the open character led some people to go to a festival where they otherwise would never have gone, and that can be the biggest pluspoint. Well done!

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De 7 Deugden – Beer with a social Mission 2

Recently Just outside of Amsterdam a new brewery opened up, expanding the number of Amsterdam breweries yet again. The name of the brewery is “De 7 Deugden”: The 7 Virtues. Just like the earlier described De Prael from Amsterdam this one also has a mission that goes well beyond the brewing of fine beer. We asked brewer and owner Garmt some questions.

Start

The idea for this brewery started in an earlier career. He had some work for an autistic employee who needed extra help. Garmt: “I thought I had a well structured task for this employee. However it turned out that he needed even more structure and guidance than we could offer. Therefore I did not extend his contract after nine months. This hurt me so much that I decided to start a company where people like him could work: on a  small scale and predictable.” Lucky for us Garmt started a brewery.

He started it because he felt that people like this should work in normal businesses and not in the mailing room or as an errand boy. He also stresses that his is a company and not a foundation. With the economy as it is at the moment they can do less to help. Garmt: “What the government should do is to not put any obstacles in front of employers who want to give these people a purposeful place in society.”

 Why breweries work

By our count De 7 Deugden is the fourth brewery in the country that uses people who are far from the ‘normal’ work environment. Why do breweries seem to work for this Group? Garmt names a few reasons: “First of all it is all very small scale so there can be a lot of guidance. Secondly many of the manual tasks in the brewing process are repetitive: labeling, bottling, cleaning etc. Thirdly the government hands out subsidies for projects like this so small breweries can make a relatively cheap start.”

 Theology?

Garmt studied theology but the religious background is not something that is a big part of the brewery, apart from some of the names of beers. The social ideas that he has are more from a clear idea about the place of people in society. It has given him a task of doing something for society, that life is not just there for your own fun.

Thyme?

So far he made the following beers. The words in the beer are separate words that have a special meaning, but it’s also a pun because both words combined mean something else again. Unfortunately much gets lost in translation

  • Arm + Zalig – an Amber Ale
  • Dubbel + Dik – a Double
  • Scheepsrecht – a triple
  • Scherm + Zinnig – Pilsner
  • Stout + Moedig – a dry stout
  • Wijs + Neuzig – a dunkelweizen
  • Zomer + Hooi
  • Spring + Tijm.

This last beer was surprising because of the use of thyme but Garmt enjoys experimenting. These 8 beers might not be the first ones a new brewery might start with. Considering he only really started brewing his own recipes since the end of 2008 the overall quality of 7 Deugden beer can be considered quite good.

More than beer

The 7 Deugden didn’t just with brewing beer and then trying to sell it. Besides the aforementioned workplace there are tours, tasting nights and even special events for high school classes. The latter is something we have never seen before. Garmt:
“a chemistry/biology teacher asked me about this. He and the economics teacher wanted take a few school classes (around 15 years old) and show them some biology/chemistry and action and also show what all the things are you have to when you start your own company. Of course the subject of youth and alcohol was discussed. Both teachers and classes were enthusiastic about it and will definitely come again next year. Reason enough for me to add this to the things on offer at the brewery. “

 

Having your own company also means that you have to look for more ways to generate income and the tasting nights are one of those ways.  And there is time for that anyway since brewing isn’t an eight hour, six day a week job.

Get it where?

You can find more about the brewery, including some pictures of the opening on http://www.de7deugden.nl/index.html. They sell beers at the brewery itself and they do mail-order in the country. It’s for sale in a few good beerstores including De Bierkoning, Melger’s in Haarlem en Bert’s Bierhuis in Utrecht. Visit http://www.de7deugden.nl/bier_kopen.html for more addresses.