Opening a bottle of beer from a new brewery is always exciting. Will it be bad or a nice first start or will it be something good. In most cases it’s the former: nice enough to find in the good stores but not good enough to try other beers any time soon. Better beers are harder to find, but usually leave me interested enough to try more. And then there are the bottles that knock you back so much you think you just witnessed a miracle. Something similar to hearing the first Weezer or Arcade Fire album for the first time. In books about music you often read how people pull over to stand still and listen to a song they hear from the first time. If that was true the highways of the fifties would be littered with stopped cars alongside it, but that’s another topic for another day. If it was me that was driving and it wasn’t a song but a bottle from Bru’d, I would have stood there too.
For now they only released one beer that is unique already: a highly hopped Kölsch. Yes, you read that correctly. A German style Kölsch with American style hoppiness. A very international brew indeed. Go to their website and you will find that it, like this blog, is in English. And that for mostly the same reason we do: because of the many English (or at least foreign speaking) speakers in Amsterdam. (That a brewery in the middle of the tourist part of the city and with many people interested, it amazes me that the De Prael website is still only available in Dutch, but that rant should probably be left for another time).
The answers we received were for that reason already in English and written so well I took the lazy way and posted them verbatim.
Beerdrinkers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your Heinekens and Buds
Who is behind Bru’d?
Aike is a freelance organisation and management consultant. With a background in information management he does most of his projects in sustainable supply chains (think coffee, cacao, tea, palm oil, cotton). In his spare time he is treasurer of a community supported agriculture initiative with 1300 members near Arnhem.
Chiel is a freelance marketing specialist, having worked previously as a marketing consultant and as a digital marketer at a consultancy company in Amsterdam. Currently, he is starting his third life as an entrepreneur. Currently he is in the start-up phase for a platform that aims to help small local food makers and communities to work together to bring local food to consumers. We can’t divulge much more than that now, but it surfs on the same trends that Bru’d is surfing on too.
How did the start of the release of the first Bru’d go?
Honestly, it went a lot smoother than we expected. We are not planning to make this into anything big, basically we wanted to experience whether we could actually develop and bring a beer to the market. And preferably one that people liked of course. And that seems to have worked quite well. Of course you need to plan ahead and know what you want to do. But we assumed we knew what would be involved, from developing and tweaking the product at home, to finding a partner who could help us boost our production and sell it. I guess the trickiest part is finding the time to actually do it in between the other jobs we both do, which can be quite demanding. But in the end, that fact also lowers the pressure a bit. Fortunately we are not dependent on beer sales to sustain ourselves because we are working other jobs. So the worst scenario was that nobody would like our beer, and we would have had to drink it ourselves. Actually, a bit of a pity that sales are going so well, because we wouldn’t mind having a few more bottles left…
We were quite surprised about the number of positive reactions really. We were fortunate enough to be able to deliver our first beer to the best and most respected beer sellers in Amsterdam. We are currently available at de Bierkoning shop (in Paleisstraat), and we have been (and soon will be again) on draft at Gollem’s Proeflokaal (Overtoom) and at In de Wildeman (Kolksteeg, in bottles). And we’ve passed the city limits recently, and are available at the ABC Beers shop in the Hague as well.
Of course we’ve been luring our own friends and family to these bars to have a taste, and they are really enthusiastic. But hey, we bought them a beer, so that’s not that surprising. But quite a lot of people have rated us favorably on Untappd and Ratebeer as well. So that’s very encouraging to us as newcomers.
When you are on that website you will notice the communist symbolism used. And there is a good reason for this:
The background is that we believe that there is a lot of mass-produced beer out there. Some of them are fine, but for the majority it’s just a bit boring. Luckily over the past decade we have witnessed the surge of craft and microbrews. We feel part of that craft movement. We’re just 2 guys brewing beers in our spare time without a big production facility, we are just passionate about the brews we develop. In the end, there are many more people just like us who are creating original beers in their own garages or kitchens. So it’s sort of like bringing back the means of production in the hands of the people. From there on, a link with a communist theme is quite easy to make.
Why a name like Hoppenheimer and Bru’d?
The communist theme allowed us to go pun-crazy on the label. While there are people that regard puns being the cheapest form of humor, we regard every pun (especially the cringe-worthy kind) as high art. As Hoppenheimer is the first and only beer on the site, it still has the communist allure. However, more themes are coming. No cow is holy enough that we won’t make an udderly ridiculous pun on it. Yes. I went there.
As the previous point on the communist theme might indicate, we are quite immature. And that seems to manifest itself in laborious and cringe-worthy pun-runs. We like to play with words, as we like to play with worts. Bru’d is just a play on words of Brewed. Initially we had a version with an Umlaut, but we decided against that. Truth be told, we had quite a shortlist of different names, which we thought were funny.
Why a highly hopped Kölsch?
Well, to start with, we were shooting to release the beer in springtime. So we wanted something which was a nice thirst-quencher, but yet quite firm and full-bodied. Plus, Aike is originally German, so he has had good experiences with Kölsch beers. And in the end it fits quite well with the Communist theme, because it is ideal after a hard day in the mines…or the office.
And the extra batch of hops: that’s just our own personal taste really. We are both hopheads. We love big hoppy beers, we both like the recent IPAs coming out of the States for example.
Bru’d brews there beer in Amsterdam at De 7 Deugden. Why?
At home we are experimenting with brewing our beers in small batches (up to 40 liters), that’s a great way for us to learn and test out stuff. But when we decided we actually wanted to sell our beers, we knew we had to find a partner, who could help us boost our production and produce it against local rules and regulations. We both live in Amsterdam, and we like the idea of local collaborations. So we quickly came to a shortlist of suitable craft beer makers in Amsterdam, and we decided on de 7 Deugden. Partly because we like the way Garmt produces his beers, but also because de 7 Deugden is a social enterprise which employs people with learning difficulties. That’s a very commendable approach these days, so we were happy to choose de 7 Deugden at a partner. And we are very happy with our choice, Garmt is very knowledgeable and surely credits go to him too for the quality of the product.
A new Bru? (‘d)
There always is! We can’t tell everything yet, but we are developing a Porter-styled beer. Of course, there will be a little twist, but it will be true to the heritage and nature of Porter beers. And of course we will be playing with the political and economic themes a bit…