Last week I wrote about Carl Stapelbroek and his transfer to De Prael in the first of the two-part series of ‘where-are-they-now’.
The second article I wrote was about Wispe, a cacao blonde beer from the town of Weesp near Amsterdam. Back then Wispe was just up and running for about one year and I am happy to report that the Wispe guys are still making beer! I again sent some questions to see how the business was going.
4 years and counting
Wispe started in almost exactly four years ago in July of 2009.In this period many brewers / breweries have started but sadly also fold. Why is Wispe still around? Remko gave the 4 main ingredients for a successful brewery.
Ingredient #1: Passion
This goes without saying. The passion of the brothers behind Wispe is brewing but also running their own business. Lots of passion and fun goes into inventing new beers and selling those to a new public.
Add #2 Belief
Besides passion they have belief in what they are doing. Therefore they run it like a business: setting goals and trying to achieve those. Keeping positive is their best motivation when things aren’t going as planned but those who keep positive will prevail.
With some #3 Time and Energy
When talking about this Remko mentions a saying: ‘een brouwerij is een sjouwerij’, meaning that having a brewery is a lot of hard (physical) work. He says that because they are brothers they complement each other’s weaknesses. In this way they are a strong team with a good synergy where things go automatically.
And finally some #4: Luck
Wispe started at just the right time. In the four years that they started the interest in locally produced food and beer has only increased. Dutch beer is getting more and more attention and Wispe being in the market is good for those seeking this new way of consuming.
Tales of the unexpected
A brewery is a lot of dragging stuff from A to B. The logistical side takes up a lot of time as does the taking care of bottles, the promotion, glassware, the website etc. It is however what makes the beer a brand. Because the profit margins on beer are small they have to continuously keep an eye on the costs. But then again, that is also a creative challenge. Remko gave me more great answers on the economics of brewing, but I will save that for a later article about that side of the business.
A local success
People in Weesp are enjoying Wispe a lot: the locals drink it, the bars and restaurants serve it and the local media are giving them a fair share of attention. Wispe have just released a new beer (more about that later) and that again led to more orders and attention on social media and other media outlets. The Weesp county stimulates initiatives like this and even orders some of the beer from time to time. The mayor of Weesp mister Horseling received the first bottles of Wispe back in 2009.
Wispe is being served in an iconic Dutch building: the Muiderslot in Muiden, next to Weesp and is the only specialty beer on the menu. Tourists come here from all over the country so it is a great way to introduce people to the beer. They are still waiting for greater successes but stories in the national media, both newspapers and radio are of course always fun. They are most satisfied with the local attention and the media that target special groups like beer lovers. Remko also mentions the Dutch Beer Pages ;).
Wispe’s production has been steadily rising. At the start they made 40 hectoliters and this year they expect to produce between 120 and 140 liters.
Wispe’s New Beer
As written earlier Wispe just released a new beer next to their blond. It will be a White called Wispe Wit. They call themselves a specialty brewery and feel that they need to have more than one style, even if it is only one for every season. It has taken so long because they first wanted to see how the first beer would do. After it became clear that Wispe (Blond) was a success and different enough from other regional beers they started to develop a new beer but with the taste they wanted. The new beer took four years to develop and release, but a third one won’t take that long. It might even be released at the end of this year. They are cautious businessmen, but I think that they are taking the right steps.
Where are they now?
The brothers now have a better idea of what Wispe is and where they want to go. I can only applaud their efforts. Wispe shows that making beer entails more than just brewing and their meticulous way of looking at the business of brewing might make Wispe a brewery that will stay for a very long time.
– Martijn Buisman