Posts Tagged ‘amsterdam noord’

Oedipus International Beer Festival: More than beer indeed

That the people over at Oedipus were organizing a beer festival was hard to miss. They promoted it well online and used Untappd for further promotion and discounts on tickets.

Not that Oedipus needs it. The last few years has seen them from hobbyists turn into a major Dutch brewery. They are present at festivals everywhere in the country and abroad. Their bottles  can be bought in the major supermarkets now. And most importantly they have done so by maintaining their own identity and philosophy, something that can be found in their unique beers.

Their quality has resulted in an invitation to the annual Oregon Brewers Festival. Something I wrote about a few years ago. This lead to a movie, a lot of great Holland-Oregon collaboration beers and now some of these breweries made their way to this festival. Upright, The Commons and Cascade for example offered their beers. The quality of Dutch brewing is great and still improving, but the festival got a massive boost through these American breweries and likeminded European ones like Lervig, Brew by Numbers and Omnipollo.

These breweries in turn provided a beer list that made any self respecting beer lover salivate. From session IPA’s in the 3% range to Russian Stouts of 11% and over, there was something for everyone. The wide variety also meant that you could have beers in your favorite style for most of the day.

Twice a day you could go on a tour and have 5 glasses of beer within a separate theme. Barrel-Aged beers were one of the 4, sours the other. And if you liked sours boy did you have a great time. The festival brought together old world sours from Boon and new world sours from for example Cascade. Sour ales have been the darlings of the beer geeks, and this festival showed why.

oedipus1More than beer

But as advertised the festival was indeed about more than beer. The OIBF is a festival that is worth going to even if you don’t drink a drop of alcohol. For one the food was exceptional. Many festivals still have one or two stands with mediocre food but here it was a small food truck festival. Kim Chi, Burgers, Oysters, Noodles and Hot Dogs to name some of the options. The sausages were made by Brandt & Levie and if you never had their sausages before run to any good food store to get some. They do for sausage and meats what Oedipus does for beer, no-borders sausage making. The smells of good food hung over the festival and with the dwindling number of cigarette smokers this is a huge improvement.

Children could come, and though there wasn’t an entire playpen they could drink lemonade just like their parents drank beer. The public was mixed between old and young, beer aficionados and beer novices. Walking beer labels walked around for extra atmosphere and the music wasn’t bad either, though at times a little too loud.

First timers

You might guessed by now that I loved being at this festival. In fact the day after I had an overwhelming urge to return for day two. When I write this on Tuesday I still wish I was back. There is room for improvement, sure, but they got significantly more things right than wrong.

The comparisons with Borefts cannot be ignored, and they have beat them on a few points: One, it is held on Saturday and Sunday, although my guess is Borefts is a Friday, Saturday festival because of the religious nature of Bodegraven. Two it is easy to reach. Bodegraven is easy to reach from the 4 major cities, but a little harder from farther away. Amsterdam Centraal is easy to reach for most.

What remains are memories of a great festival, a festival that makes the first weekend of July worth looking forward to. With the Brettfest and Borefts Holland has a third unique and international festival, one that has plenty of room to grow and improve. I will be planning my vacation next year around the Oedipus International Beer Festival.

Amsterdam’s New Craft Beer Scene. Episode I: De Vriendschap

For a while the beer scene in Amsterdam was remarkably uneventful. Het IJ en De Prael were quite visible but for interesting craft beer you had to go somewhere else. But things are looking up and the number of new brewers from the capital is rising steadily. In this new series we will discuss a few of these brewers, and will look at what challenges they face.

Friendship

Of the Amsterdam brewers in this series De Vriendschap has been around for a little while longer. De Vriendschap means ‘The Friendship’ and is the result of the long comradery between Aart van Bergen and Peter Harms who have known each other for more than half of their lives. In yet another convergence between beer and good music they first played in their own rock band and music still plays a big part in their lives.

Peter was the DIY guy and had made wine with grapes from their own garden before. In late 2011 they were drinking Belgian beers and above his head an imaginary lightbulb shone bright: “One day I want to make my own beer.” Aart replied affirmatively and a few weeks they were stirring in a pot in their first attempt to make beer.

Release

This stirring led to small batches out of which now three recipes got a wider release. The commercial start of the brewery was in early 2013. They have now released The Hop-Blond, Puike Pale Ale and latest brew De Zwoele Stad. The connection with music remained in the design of the labels: A CD-sticker on the bottle.

Friends with cafe’s wanted to start selling the beer. This led to a start as contract brewers, but there are plans for their own brewery in Amsterdam-North soon.

De Vriendschap uses social media like Facebook and Twitter to get out the word and they also used Untappd. Distribution of the beer is done by the pair themselves mostly.

Local interest

The general public’s interest in new flavors helps. The local bars also recognize this trend: fed up with the big brewers, they now want something new to drink. But, the contracts some establishments have can be a hindrance, some have contracts that only allow beer from one brewery with no room for other, smaller, brewers.

Their location in Amsterdam-North means that for now they are the only ones there. North is a part of the city that can be easily reached by ferry or tunnel and will be even more part of the city when the subway line will be finished. But for most people on the other side there is no reason to visit this part. This is changing however. The North now has a filmmuseum, music venue Paradiso has a location there called the Tolhuistuin and the NDSM wharf is attracting people too. This attracts new businesses who are eager to sell local things, and Vriendschap beer is just that.

Peter and Aart

Time is not on their side

The biggest stumbling block while setting up your own brewery for Aart and Peter is time. Aart is still a jazz musician (in the band Crescent Double Quartet) and Peter works as a brewer at De Bierfabriek. It costs a lot of time to produce, distribute and promote the beer. Administration, events all costs a lot of time, so it’s hard work to get a start.

Contract brewers now, own brewery later

Aart and Peter now brew their beer at the Sallandse brewery from recipes they design at home. The first batch was a daunting 1000 liters. There was fear that this would be too much. It took 12 days and it was all gone. Since then they brew multiple times a month.

They are hard at work to start their own brewing location in North. At the city farming project NoordOogst (North Harvest) (http://noordoogst.org/). Now it’s still refurbishing an old canteen of a soccer club and getting the right permits. Hopefully this summer they hope to start brewing already. It will be a very small installation so that the guys can experiment a lot with new ingredients and ideas.

 

De Vriendschap website

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