From a small festival at and around the brewery/windmill, the Borefts festival at Brouwerij De Molen has turned into an international beer festival showcasing the best Europe has to offer. Brewers from 9 different countries came, including pleasant surprises from Spain and France. The festival brought the best of Europe together in one place, and also brought people from all over Europe to Bodegraven. Some people planned beer vacations in the lowlands around their visit to Borefts. Besides the European languages I heard Japanese, Chinese, Australians and Americans. They went back with great memories.
Great organization and some really good luck
The festival was helped by a few strokes of very good luck. The huge gardening store near the brewery has gone out of business and the parking lot was available for extra space for tables, tents, food and brewers. The actual mill where the festival was held previously was not used for the festival, making it possible for their already impressive beer store quality wise to double its size for the festival visitors. The local producers of meat and cheese had room to sell their great cheese and awesome burgers. A +++ for the organizers was the deal with a local play garden where visitors could let their kids play while they were out sampling beers.
Another unplanned success was the perfect weather with temperatures hovering above 20 degrees and a blue sky. The wind picked up a little on Saturday, but not fierce enough to blow our wonderful glasses of double IPA’s off the table. Being from this country I know that weather like this in late September is unusual. It made the festival better than it already was.
With a 28 page booklet you know there is a lot to try, and not all the beer made it into the booklet. The price of 20 Euros for the booklet, a glass, a bottle of water and 7 coins is also not a reason not to go. It really felt like a two or three day music festival. The atmosphere was similar. Some will come for the hip-hop acts, some for the indie bands while others paid to see the metalbands. There were beers in so many styles you were bound to try something good. They even had a special stand for brewery t-shirts!
Back to the beer.
Apart from De Molen the Netherlands were represented by that other giant of Dutch brewing: Emelisse. Jopen and De Rooie Dop were the other two so Holland really showcased its best. De Struise and Alvinne took the short trip from Belgium and Scandinavia was well represented with Närke, Mikkeller, TO Ol and Amager. Classic beer countries like Britain had Thornbridge, The Kernel and Fyne from Scotland.
It was the appearance of more southern brewing that showcased the ongoing trend of the last few years of great beer coming out of countries where the winters are much more pleasant than here. That (northern) Italy has great breweries is no breaking news for the beer geeks, but maybe not yet known for those readers not into beer as most visitors of the festival . Brewfist and Toccalmatto did more than enough to represent Italian brewing.
That Spain and France also have good ones was more surprising, even for me although the simple fact that they were at the festival is reason enough to believe they are more than decent.
Laugar from Spain brought some excellent Imperial Russian Stouts aged in Port, Jura, Bordeaux or Calvados barrels. Ok, I know it is easy to score with an IRS but the results of this were good. The Port I had expected to be more sweet, but it was well balanced. They also had a saison that was great.
Mont Salève from France may not yet have reached the high quality of its neighbors but in a few years France could also be a country you could actually go to for the beer and not the wine and cheese. Well, maybe for all of that.
The quality of the beer was as expected: world class. People seemed to be talking mostly about Emelisse’s Crème Brulee Stout. This excellent beer sold so well Emelisse posted a message on social media to be there quick on the second day before it would have been all gone. Emelisse and De Molen made a beer barrel aged in Balsemic Vinegar barrels. Interesting experiments that came out great. Another theme shared by many more brewers was the bringing of a braggot, a mead like, hopped honey beer.
Some other personal favorites besides the Emelisse Crème Brulee Stout were:
Amager’s Hr. Frederiksen, an almost perfect Imperial Russian Stout.
Mikkeler Black. A heavy 17,5 percent alcohol but full of flavor.
Brewist 2Late DIPA. I just live good Double IPA’s
Mont Saleve Tzarine, 13. One of the IRS’s that has nothing that adds extra flavors to the beer, but it was just well made.
Borefts in only a few years has turned into the event of the year on the brewing festival calendar. It is almost like South by Southwest, a showcase of the best that is around right now. Again it seemed to have grown and I wonder what next year will be. I, and friends from all over the world, will again be looking forward to it well in advance.