Archive for December, 2014

Amsterdam’s New Beer Scene Episode VI: Pampus

pampuslogoBack in the days when Amsterdam was still the most important harbor in the world, ships that wanted to enter the city had to pass a sandbank. If they ship was too full and therefore too heavy it had a chance of running aground here. The sandbank is now an island with a fort and its name, Pampus, made its way into the Dutch language in the saying ‘to lie before Pampus’. This now means to be so drunk or full of food you can’t move. It is now also the name of the sixth brewery in our Amsterdam series. Pampus has made some great beers so far, including the wonderful Dark Hops with De Eem. An introduction:

The BeerTemple, a new school for beer.

Pampus was started by the two-man team of Timothy Wareman and Nando Servais. If you have been to Amsterdam and went to the great beer places we told you about earlier chances are you have met them already. They got to know each other while working at the Beertemple, yes, that cathedral of beer in downtown Amsterdam that is turning into a school for beer with some of the Oedipus people also ‘graduating’ from here.

Tim then went to that other temple of beer het Arendsnest to become the manager there. After doing this for a long time he returned to the Beertemple where he currently is the manager there. For those who don’t know, both places are owned by the same guy (Peter van den Arend).

Until recently Nando was tending the bar there. Next to working in the wonderful world of beer he is hard at work getting a Masters in Religious Studies after first getting Bachelor degrees in History and Religious Studies. In February he will likely start full time for Pampus.

Their first taste of craft beer started in the Beertemple where they had the privilege of tasting new beers from all over the world and learn about it. This gained knowledge and enthusiasm led to try some home brewing. The results must have been great because only a few months in 2012 Pampus was created.

Connections

Tim and Nando don’t have their own brewery yet so they are forced to brew at different locations. Working at the Arendsnest has its advantages and they got into contact with the Naeckte Brouwers in Amstelveen (city to the south of Amsterdam) who do have their own installation. They chose to brew here because they the capacity and the Naeckte Brouwers gave them the freedom to experiment with styles, flavors and ingredients. Often breweries renting out their equipment have a list of do’s and don’ts, limiting the personal input of the contract brewer. Not so here. Nando mentions that a brewing installation is like a musical instrument with its own quirks, possibilities and shortcomings, things you will only get to know through experience.

Collaborations

One of Pampus’ strong points are their collaborations from Holland like Naeckte, Italy (Birrificio Aurelio) and the United States. Their Dark Hops made with Ruud from De Eem won the prize for best beer from Utrecht at the Utrechts Beerbrewers festival in May (De Eem is located in the province of Utrecht). A big deal in a province abound with great beer. And it is a great beer, one of the best from the country I have had this year.

Collaborating is something they intend to continue for a number of reasons:

  1. It is yet another confirmation that the brewing world is one where the brewers are colleagues and not competitors. They all need each other to give craft beer the credit it deserves and these collaborations help.
  2. They are educational. Brewers teach each other some tricks of the trade the other one doesn’t know yet and that can be used to improve the beer next time. The quality and creativity will only get better this way.

Nando and Timothy keep introducing new beers and with increasing quality. Amsterdam, it’s pretty cool place. Pampus is making it even better.

VandeStreek: The Art of Hops.

The pages on this blog have lately been filled with articles about the burgeoning beer scene in Amsterdam. But we shouldn’t forget that other city that has given the beer geek so much, so today we turn our attention once again to Utrecht and it’s award-winning pair of brewer/brothers VandeStreek. Van de Streek is the last name of brothers Sander and Ronald, and since they burst upon the scene two years ago their rise has been meteoric: from two well received beers to a prestigious medal at the Brussels Beer Challenge this year. The result of talent, experimentation and hard work, and of course tasty beer.

Eight Days A Week

Sander and Ronald do not have a decade long experience with brewing. They are an example of the many who from brewing at home, made the step to commercial brewing. The knowledge came from the Internet and not from classes or workshops. The start was in early 2010 in small, 20 liter batches with one goal: to brew beers that couldn’t be compared to the beers found in the supermarket, to basically let their imagination loose and make something out of nothing. The 20 liter installation expanded to 50 and the hobby became serious. This is completely different from their normal desk-bound day jobs: Sander as a consultant and implementer of CRM software, Ronald as a marketer at an international congressorganisation. Since the commercial start of VandeStreek the number of days working behind the desk has been lowered to four, the rest of the week, nights and the weekend are dedicated to beer. Or as they say: “we say now that we work 4 days for the boss and 4 days for ourselves every week”.

Utrecht, or turning beer drinkers into beer lovers

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At work during the Dutch Beer Festival in Den Haag

The two brothers are both true Utrechters and proud of the local beer culture. But it isn’t being from Utrecht that got them this far, that is still hard work and dedication. Of course they make sure that their beer is widely available in the city but it’s already being sold all over the country. And all over the country you can run into them at festivals or tap takeovers. They enjoy doing this: going to events where the public consists more of beer geeks who want to try anything that is new and where they can talk about beer a little more in depth. But the tastings for people who have no clue there’s a revolution happening in Holland right now are great too. It’s great to tell people the story behind the beer and surprise them. People who usually drink pilsners can enjoy and appreciate stouts or Double IPA’s when they know what it is and if they are carefully guided towards trying these new beers. “We love to turn beer drinkers into beer lovers.”

Brothers and coffee.

The first two commercial beers were called Broeders and Dark Roast. Both exemplify what VandeStreek is. Broeders means Brothers, and VandeStreek is very much a brotherly effort. Being brothers is something they definitely see as a positive element in their identity. They started brewing because they loved to create, like any other brewery. But as they say, you can choose your friends, not your family. They have been challenging each other since they were kids and still do these day when they are brewing. This constant challenging keeps them sharp and inventive, and the results of that we can taste.

The other beer they started out with is the aforementioned Dark Roast. This turns out to be their second experiment of the many they did before putting anything on the market. It was a coffee stout and was already called Dark Roast during the experimental phase. The term coffee stout was something they weren’t really familiar with, but they were brewing a stout and decided to add coffee. The result was great and they used this recipe for one of the two beers they made their debut with. Until recently the Dark Roast was made with coffee from a major coffee producer, but since mid-2014 they started a partnership with Het Koffielab. On the day before they brew the Dark Roast, Het Koffielab roasts fresh Kenian coffeebeans and they now use this for the beer. This has made the balance between coffee and the stout even better than it already was.  

Hop Art #5 and #6

Hop Art #5 and #6

The Hop Art Series

It is not unusual for a brewery to have a special series of beers. Emelisse has their White Labels, Het Uiltje has a range of barrel ages Meneer De Uil beers and VandeStreek has their Hop Art series. This is not just a series of one-time beers but a beer made with the help of artists in other fields. Every beer is different and has special artwork designed for it.

The Hop Art series started by accident. When the brothers were still brewing by themselves they never really made the same recipe twice, meaning all 60 brewers were different. When CasCo, an Utrecht art institute, asked them to teach another artist to brew for the How To Live Together Project they agreed immediately. There have now been 6 different Hop Arts, ranging from a Saisons to a Pale Ale or a Black I.P.A.’s. Like their beginnings, every brew is different.

They, like me, believe that brewing is an art form, both made by creative people to make something to be enjoyed by others. Painters and sculptors make things to look at, brewers make things to taste. The partnership between artists and brewers is therefor only natural.

Medal Winner

Their fifth Hop Art won a prestigious prize at the Brussels Beer Challenge in Belgium. A festival where Dutch brewers raked in a number of awards this year. The brothers sent in their beer, a Black IPA, mainly to get feedback from a professional jury. In their category the Hop Art #5 immediately won the bronze medal, a confirmation that they can make world class beer.

Contractbrewers

VandeStreek beer isn’t made in their own brewery (yet?) but at several locations. A few of the Hop Arts were made at the 7 Deugden (), a brewery that has been host to a rising number of great brews. The Dark Roast is now made here as well. Most of the brewing is still done at De Leckere, and occasionally Maximus.

2015 will see an expansion of the range of Vandestreek beers, plus the usual seasonal and a few specials and collaborations. What that will be they don’t know, they will just see what happens to cross their path. The brothers are true beer artists.

Links

VandeStreek website

On Facebook

On Twitter

On the Radio!