Archive for July, 2013

Berghoeve – making local normal

If my blog is the only thing you read about Dutch beer you would almost think that Utrecht and Amsterdam are the only places where good beer is made. These two cities have high concentrations of new breweries but Twente is a region that should not be ignored. Twente is part of the Overijssel province located in the middle of the eastern part of the country, bordering Germany. Its most famous beer by far is Grolsch whose iconic fliptop bottles are known all over the world. But Twente has a lot more to offer these days. A look at a map of breweries and specialty beer café’s will make you notice a cluster in this area too.

Berghoeve is one of the breweries from Twente and so far their beers have pleased me. A lot actually, and I was happy to see the closest store to me (De Schans in Uithoorn) was selling a variety of Berghoeve beers. Time for a chat with Jurgen and Geralda.

The Brewery in Den Ham

The Brewery in Den Ham

Local – yet International

On the right side of this blog you will see links to all the Dutch breweries. To make it easier for the non-Dutch speaking reader I made a special list of websites both in English and in Dutch. For Berghoeve I might have to make a completely new category since their website is also translated into the local dialect.

This was chosen because these days having a local base is important. It is here where you can generate the most income through tours, tastings and workshops. These also bring in extra income with a larger profit margin than just bottles of beer. And like most brewers they see it more as an instrument to make the range of Berghoeve beers more known to a bigger audience. Berghoeve beers are available in a few good beer stores so the distribution is fine and you don’t necessarily have to be in the region to buy their beers. The region might be too small to make a decent living from the beer, but owner Jurgen realizes that he needs the region just as much.

With their own brewery and the many events going on there you might almost be tempted to think that running Berghoeve is a fulltime job. This is not the case. Jurgen works 3 to 4 days a week in the food industry and Geralda spends about 3-4 days in the brewery next to taking care of the family.

berghoeve1 Berghoeve Beer

The local attention is the  reason why they started out making your ‘regular’ specialty beers like a tripel, dubbel, white or bock. Styles most people not that much into beer will at least know. When these are established beers they hope to develop the really special beers who are not so known in Twente. They have already made some interesting brews like a Chili Porter, a Scotch Ale and a Black IPA.

De Molen

Until recently their blonde beers, the IPA (Khoppig) and the Belgian Ale Vuurdoop were mainly brewed at De Molen. De rest is from their own kettles. Last June a new 750 liter installation started producing beer and now all their beer is made in Den Ham.

Brett

One of the newer beers they made was a onetime experiment with the Brett yeast for the festival in In De Wildeman a few weeks ago. This was a very exciting enterprise. Jurgen:

“you never know what Brett will do. Besides that bringing Brett into your brewery poses a risk because it might infect your other beers. That is why we only worked with disposable materials. The reactions have been very positive and ask for another attempt, but I am not sure we will do that. We want to develop our beers and not break down the others. But time will tell..”

The future of Berghoeve

Jurgen is very excited about the future of the brewery, even asking how much space I have to write about it. Here a short list of plans and actual things that will happen in the near future:

  1. Berghoeve will soon be selling beer in kegs
  2. Keeping all the beers available; because sales are doing very well some beers can be sold out.
  3. The release of two new beers: An Imperial Black IPA called “Tjuster” and an Orange Pale Ale called “Tevreden Oordeel” (meaning as much as a “satisfying judgement”) that only a few people have tasted so far.
  4. A new line of beerlabels in the fall
  5. Brewing a new beer after that! It will have been more than four months after the last new one. They are now contemplating which one because there are many to choose from.
  6. Maybe a collaboration brew…?

The future looks good and on this hot day I am going out now to hunt some refreshing Berghoeve beer.

Links:

Berghoeve Site

Berghoeve on Facebook

Berghoeve on Twitter

De Pelgrim – Thanks for giving us beer (and fondue)

pelgrim2Rotterdam,  a city with a skyline that would fit an American city. Tall buildings rise up on the banks of the river Maas. Thanks mostly to the influence of the German art collective Die Luftwaffe who cleared much of the downtown area about 70 years ago. Clearing it took one day, rebuilding a bit longer. And it is outside of downtown where you can still find the cityscape most resembling the Dutch cities of centuries ago. Three subway stops away is Delfshaven, a separate town once but now a neighborhood of the city. It was from here that the Pilgrims left on the vessel  Speedwell on the first leg of their voyage to Virginia. They didn’t end up there but got off the boat earlier in what is now Plymouth. The reason? They had ran out of beer…

If they had stuck around for four centuries they would have thought twice about leaving from the shores of Holland after sampling beers from the local brewery appropriately called De Pelgrim. Human history would have looked somewhat different if they had because then in 1996 they would have witnessed the start of the brewery.

pelgrim1The brewery/restaurant is located in the old city hall in the historic part, right on a canal. The building is the old city hall from 1580, and most buildings in the neighborhood are from that same period according to the many information signs. It really is a beautiful building. When you get inside there is a brewing installation to the left and the restaurant to the right. You can also sit outside in the garden. The tasting room itself has bottles of many different breweries, and glassware, pictures and similar things. Walking around are the two house cats Stout and Mout (Malt).

De Pelgrim is one of the few places I have been to in the country that offers a tasting paddle of their beers. Five in this case and though the glasses are very tiny it still gives you a good idea of what they offer. The best beers on offer in my opinion are their triple and a stout made with coffee which is nice and sticky. Other beers on offer were a Kuit, a Springbock and a disappointing IPA.

For a starter we had the bitterballen with beermustard and cheese with beersyrup. The syrup was very good, but a little too liquid. Would have liked to have more of it stay on the block of cheese.

For dinner we had the cheese fondue with different cheeses, including their own beer, and their triple beer called Mayflower triple. It was better than the Swiss fondues we had, in fact it was one of the better fondues ever. Besides bread there were different kinds of veggies too. Would have loved to have had more bread, it was that good. All the recipes were made with a Pelgrim beer.

If you are ever in Rotterdam, Pelgrim is worth it.

Links

Pelgrim Website

 

Salzburg: Three Beer Suggestions

After toasting with a glass of Duits & Lauret Stout in May we went on our honeymoon to the Alps. Yes, not a trip where you would expect the best beer in the world but every country had its highlight. Zürich had the amazing Fork & Bottle, Liechtenstein has two good local breweries and Verona had one interesting brewpub called Terzo Grado. Our final stop was Salzburg, they city that gave us the most beer pleasure. Here a review of three of places we went to: Stiegl, Augustiner and Die Weisse.

Stiegl

Salzburg’s Heineken and one of the major breweries in Austria with an old-fashioned logo that dominates the gables of many bars. It is a decent lager, yet nothing extraordinary. What is extraordinary, is their brewery / museum:  the Stiegl Brauwelt.

Located a fair bit outside of the city so a cab or bus is needed, or someone willing not to drink who can drive. Sidenote: if you enjoy fast machines a visit to Red Bull’s Hanger 7 is nice: Formula 1 cars, motors, planes and more is on show for free. The Stiegl museum is in an older part of the brewery and is huge. They claim to be the biggest beermuseum in Europe. Big installations show how the process of brewing works. When you finally get through these halls there are more halls dedicated to the long history of Stiegl.

Attached to the ticket are three coupons for a sample of one of their beers in the adjoining restaurant/beer hall. The 0.2 liter glass is the right size to try different ones. Stiegl serves mostly the beers that you would expect in Austria: a Pilsner, a Zwickl, a Weizen, a couple of Radlers and an alcohol free beer. They also have a beer of the month which now was a Pale Ale. It is a shame that this beer probably won’t sell that well in the region because it was by far the best beer on offer. It reeks of the commercialism of the Heineken experience in Amsterdam, but we have to admit it was good fun.

Garden at the Stiegl Keller

Garden at the Stiegl Keller

Stiegl Keller

In downtown Salzburg, at the foot of one of the mountains is the Stiegl Keller, a gigantic beerhall with multiple rooms and a garden. They serve most of the beers you can get in the Brauwelt. We didn’t see it by night so only the garden was open. It did have the best schnitzel we had the entire trip and the Austrian food in general has been good.

Augustiner

The Stone Mugs

The Stone Mugs

It was a rainy day when we went to check out the Augustiner brewery on the eastern edge of the city centre. We were there 15 minutes before it opened and some tourists were standing outside waiting to get in. When the door opened we went inside and through hallways and up and down stairways we came to the middle of the building. First a corridor with food stalls and a door leading to a huge room with tables. Inside we noticed that there were more people already inside than were standing with us. The building had more entrances. Most of these either walked towards a door through where people were already coming with stone mugs filled with beer. Seemed to be a self service, though some waiters were walking around.

I followed the people walking through the door and what I say there was something I have

A stone mug filled with beer

A stone mug filled with beer

not seen before. On shelves stood the stone mugs, both half liter and liter sized. I took the half liter mug and walked towards a little booth where a guy took my order and gave me receipt. With that receipt I walked to the bar where two dudes were tapping the beer from huge barrels I handed over my receipt and they poured my mug full of lovely liquid and walked back. They only serve one beerstyle, a Märzen. A lovely creamy brew with lots of banana notes. It was time for some food as well so I strolled through the food corridor. Schnitzel, fries, cheeses, different sausages and pork products and the like. If you didn’t want the food for sale there you were more than welcome to bring your own and eat it there.  There are three big halls of which one was for smokers. This is something we still had to get used too. Augustiner is definitely an unique beerdrinking experience.

Die Weisse

The iconic Die Weisse bottle

The iconic Die Weisse bottle

In Salzburgs ‘Newtown’ you can find Die Weisse, a brewery that most resembles an American style brewpub. As any place here it is huge, has a beer garden and food. Different from other brewpubs they offer quite a selection of beer. Their standard beer is a Weizen but you can get a pilsner, a bock and more. They also serve different combinations of beer with soda drinks. Admitted, the beer is not of the greatest quality but it’s a worthy stop for either lunch or dinner. The barstaff speaks English and the prices are reasonable. Nicely decorated too and it has a great garden too. It seems to be a very popular place for locals to go since most tables were reserved.

Would we suggest Salzburg as a beer destination? No, Münich and northern Italy are more interesting and have better beer. But when you are there, you should definitely visit at least the three places mentioned here.

Martyn Buisman with help from Wendy Buisman-Bos