Longing for a short, relaxing holiday in our own country we decided to travel to Texel, the largest of the so-called ‘Waddeneilanden’, a collection of islands that stretches from Texel in the west all the way to Denmark. Maybe not the best time of the year to visit an island considering the sad weather and cold winds but autumn has its own charms. Besides enjoying the countryside, the sea and beach which we had almost entirely for ourselves, we wanted to experience local food and drink. When you are visiting this 170 km2 of land you have to eat lamb (in almost every meadow you can see grazing sheep). You can have it in a stew, on a sandwich or covered with sauce. In every way it’s delicious. Texel benefits from the sea too. In Oudeschild, an old fisherman village on the east side of the island, we ate some fresh mussels and fried cod in the Oude Vismarkt.
And what is the best drink you can combine with all that delicious food…? Yes, that’s beer. You can’t avoid beer even if you want to. Of course we heard of the Texels brewery and as soon as it was possible we went here. For € 8 you will get a short talk from the guide, a film and a small tour through the brewery. After the tour the guide will supply all the guests with four tasting glasses with De Goudkoppe, Skuumkoppe, Tripel and the Bock. The Skuumkoppe (named after the frothy tops of the waves) is their bestselling beer. The movie is interesting, yet somewhat unfulfilling since you can already watch it in its entirety on their website.
The brewery started in 1999 as a hobby but when the former owner quit because it didn’t make any profit it was taken over by someone who realized that you need a financial and commercial wizard to take the brewery to another level. Things really started to become professional. Nowadays many tourists decide to visit the brewery. They have a large tasting room including a little shop. Even on a sad autumn day we saw many fellow tourists enjoying a beer.
Texels is not a brewery that brews only for the islanders. Their ambitions has taken them to the mainland where they are promoting their beers and you can buy it in lot of shops. No effects of the economic crisis so far, in fact the brewery is doing well. They are proud of making beer with Texels water, renowned for its softness, and proud of using grains grown on the island. Their yeast is the secret ingredient and is patented. If it was possible to grow hops on the island, they would have certainly used it but the soil is not good for this. Being an island the winds are also a problem for a plant that grows quite a few meters. The islanders seems proud drinking ‘their’ beer and the brewery is a part of the community. Texels brews according to the German purity laws and you could label their brewery German in that they rely heavily on their wheat beers, even though they have a dubbel and triple as well. It is also German in that a beer from them will always be good, but never earth shatteringly awesome.
If you had enough Texels beer than you can get a Mikeller or a De Molen if you like in ‘De 12 Balcken’, an ABT café and number 66 in the cafe top 100 (that announcement came at the day we were visiting). You can find De 12 Balcken in the centre of Den Burg. The food, especially the sateh, is great but their knowledge of beer unfortunately is limited. There were a few small things that we noticed: Using the wrong glass for a Mariage parfait, a Flying dog became a Brewdog on the menu and said menu was not up to date. We can forgive the glass and rest is only unfortunate but the ambiance and food still makes a perfect evening. If you want to be sure you will choose the right beer than pick one yourself from the fridge and tell them which glass you prefer. But these are just minor inconveniences for an otherwise wide range of choices.
Another place on the island where they brew beer was closed, but we were lucky to find a Windkracht 8, one of the last bottles ina local liquor store. This beer was better than we expected. Spicy notes and again that soft Texels water. The estate ‘De Bonte belevenis’ nearby Den Hoorn is opened from February till mid-November. The brewery is just a small part of this estate which also includes a candlemaker, soapmaker and bakery. Maybe next time we will be able to visit at least we could try their beer.
Texel isn’t the only island with a brewery and a good beercafé but its size means there is enough to do for a week, even if it is just beer you are interesting in. And lamb.
Wendy Buisman & Martijn Buisman