Moon under Water

Good beers, in great places, since forever.

The rise and rise of Dutch beers

16 Nov 2011, 00:32 -- John

De Bierkoning has recently increased their range adding beers from several Dutch breweries that they didn't have before. The Dutch section of the shop is taking up more and more space as time goes on, and not without reason. The number of breweries is increasing year on year(*), as is the diversity of type of beer. So after the last saddening post about the dominance of the Big Four in bars it seemed a good time to trek to the shop and come back fully laden with beer from small breweries in the Netherlands. Some new, some new to De Bierkoning, some just new to me.

I started with a frankly delicious uplifting light hoppy IPA, Khoppig, from Berghoeve. The brewery is really new. They started brewing in 2010, at De Molen, and according to their website weren't expecting to be ready to brew on site in Den Ham till 2012. They got agreement in August 2011 from the local authority to open the brewery; ratebeer at least claims several as being brewed on site already, but I don't know. I also had Hammer Schout which I could tell should have been a delicious hoppy stout, but at the time I was a bit overwhelmed by that taste that I over notice; so I'm looking forward to come back to a different bottle of that one. I'll let you know what I think the next time. The Vuurdoop on the other hand wasn't outstanding - at first - then the slowly growing lingering sort of dry bitterness hit and made it dangerously drinkable at 8.5%. I want another bottle. The brewery is already on its 13th different beer, and it sounds like they want to keep experimenting. You can arrange to visit the Den Ham location to have a beer tasting.

The Berghoeve beers were available at the shop of Burg Bieren in Ermelo before they made it as far as 't Arendsnest and de Bierkoning in Amsterdam. Burg also have their own brewery. Somehow I seem to have missed trying their beer, despite them brewing since 2005. They brew with self built equipment, the photo story of building the new (2009) brewery is impressive. The Burg Gulle that I got was a classic Belgian, sort of candy sugar flavour reminiscent of some of the brews 't Smisje used to make - in a good way. I'm now even more gutted that we copped out of cycling to their August beer festival. That's what you get for believing the weather forecast - next year.

Brouwerij Rodenburg, Bronckhorst. Honestly, don't worry this wasn't all in the same evening! This is another relatively new brewery. Set up in Rha, the owner who originates from Richmond, North Yorkshire, was also till 2009 brewing at De Molen. I think both Berghoeve and Rodenburg have learned more than brewing from Menno at De Molen, simple labels with the same style across the range. OK, so De Molen's are now so full of text that's not quite true, but you know what I mean. The beer? Well the Hooge Heeren had a nice floral aroma and then a lemony bitterness. I'll admit to confusion about the (linked) ratebeer reviews, the bottle refers to "Just a stylish as the Hooge Heeren Pils...", so I'm guessing some of those are for a Pils? It's not much of a Belgian Blond either, more a zwickel or something. The Night Porter was equally confusing. This is just brilliant, beer that makes you sit up and taste it. It's like an odd porter, maybe a bit more old school? The flavour lingers in your mouth for ages.

I also got one bottle from Hettingabier, another newer brewery set up in 2008, in Zwolle. I had the Agnietenbier which is described as a Cloister Beer, it's been made in co-operation with the Overijssel Historical Centre. I'm afraid my notes just describe it as wheat beer like, but not clovey, a bit lemony. I'm afraid it's probably not my style, so time to try some of their other beers I think. This is one of the breweries that is also happy to help promote home brewing, and sells on raw ingredients to brewers.

Another brewery I went for just one bottle from was Maallust. Their range is pretty classic, in a bit more easterly direction: a blond, a vienna, a weizen and a bock. Now from my experience of other examples in the styles I'll be honest none of them is making me pull them off the shelves. They are brewing with nice shiny new Kaspar Schulz equipment, in a renovated old grain mill, in Veenhuizen. Veenhuizen itself has a pretty interesting history as something of a prison town. Anyway the beer, I picked the Vienna which was more interesting than any East European version of the beer that I've had. An unusual interesting malty flavour, and not too sweet. I think I'll try some of the others too now.

Finally the Mommeriete. Also not so new, they've been brewing since 2004, and in some more of those Kaspar Schulz shiny kettles [follow the link if you can handle a slightly irritating javascript gallery]. For their part to promote home brewing, according to their website, they run brewing courses; as well as tasting sessions. I'm going to have to check next time I'm in De Bierkoning, but did I just hit the strong stuff? Anyway, it's pretty hard to go too far wrong at this gravity. De Vrouwe van Gramsbergh was a Quadrupel, pretty good strong beer, little sweet for my taste but these beers often are, and I know lots of people love them. The Heer van Gramsbergh however, is much more my type of beer. Did they really put no coffee in this? Any smoked flavour is really just part of the beer. Certainly a good way to round off.

(*) Does anyone have the figures for the rise in number of Dutch breweries - actual breweries and/or brewers.

I'm intending on tidying up some of the internal links on this post in the next days - including adding the breweries that look worth visiting to the locations and linking back.
2011-11-23 so far I've only tidied up the spelling of some of the beers and breweries, and got the topics right.


Submitted by Jurgen on

Hi Folks, Every once in a while I'm just surfing the internet and I noticed this blog. Thanks for your feedback at our beers.
Maybe it is good to know that from our beers only two are being brewed at de Molen: "khoppig" and "Vuurdoop". All the other ones are from our own kettles. We expect that as of mid 2012 also these two beers will be brewed at our brewery in Den Ham, the Netherlands.


Submitted by John on

Nice to hear you are up and brewing already on site, it wasn't so clear what was going on from ratebeer. That must have been quite a quick set-up?
I shall make a point to seek out some of the new beers next trip to De Bierkoning.

Submitted by John on

Got a new bottle of the Berghoeve Stout courtesy of the Bierkoning and it was just as the other promised to be. Really nice chocolatey flavour there too. At the same time I got the Pilz, very drinkable, not very pils like (K├Âlsch is probably fair, or maybe keller/zwickel again, it's got a bit more herb and grass hop to it and that touch of citrus) which is good by me. The Blond, Dubbel and the Tripel still sit on the shelf awaiting testing, but it all seems promising.