Leeuwarden Beer Festival: Back To Normal

It is one of the things to most look forward to on the beer calendar: festivals. And in the last two years that calendar has been eerily empty. The only festivals that were held were of the sit-down kind where you order at your table and they bring it to you. Not exactly how they were meant to be.

August and September is supposed to be the month of Van Mollfest, Brewda and Borefts but they were all, logically so, cancelled. The only ‘real’ festival that was still on, was the Leeuwarden Beerfestival.  This  festival had gone through the same phases as most with it being postponed a number of times. The last scheduled date was on September 25 and that luckily turned out to be the day that many of the corona rules were relaxed or completely given up. Gone is the 1,5 meter distance between each other for example. But you can only get into a bar or restaurant with a QR code. This code has let to a lot of resistance with bar and restaurant owners, but for this festival it worked fine.

My first beer festival in two years however was not as a visitor, but as part of the Oproer team that was invited to pour that day. It had been a while since I had done something like this but it was a good to do something again where corona was not the first thing on your mind.  

The festival was held at De Eenhoorn, an entertainment venue that is big enough to hold all the brewers and the over 800 people attending, without ever feeling too crowded. There were three seperate rooms for the brewers. The attending breweries were a mix of good local and national brewers like De Moersleutel, Grutte Pier, De Natte Gijt and Duits & Lauret, with some international ones like Lupulus, Dochter van de Korenaar and Lagunitas. At the same time two tap takeover were held at the adjacent café De Markies by De Ranke and Wild Beer. This also meant a nice variety of different beer styles. De Markies was also the organizer and subject of an earlier piece I wrote about Leeuwarden. Besides being a great café they show to be able to organize a great festival as well.

As a ‘brewer’ you usually don’t have a lot of time to walk around the other stands and talk and sample their beers. Especially not at this festival, it was busy all the time. I feel bad for the brewers who were there alone. But a busy festival means a successful one!

I for one was happy to be back into the action without any hassle and rules to strictly adhere too. I would not mind returning next year as a guest and sample all the fine beers on offer.

With all the complaining by some that all our freedoms are being taken away it was good to be at a festival that for the most part was back to normal. It’s good to be back, and thanks De Markies en Leeuwarden for making that possible.

Hardcore UFO

In the southern city of Eindhoven Van Moll has steadily been working over the last few years to become one of Hollands premier breweries. And like any brewery that considers itself a big player they have their own brewpub and festival. This festival has been held for a number of years now. Two years ago I had the honor of being at Van Moll Fest as a participant when I poured beer for Oproer. This year I decided to go both days, as a visitor.

The two day setup really works. The international breweries (from countries like the U.S.A, England, Belgium and more) were there for both days, the Dutch breweries one day only but the same number every day. That meant more breweries and of course even more beers to try.

The location is the same, under the shadow of a huge flying saucer looking building in Eindhoven called the Evoluon. This building was built in the early 1960’s to showcase technological advancement, with Phillips at the forefront. This Dutch multinational has had a huge part in shaping Eindhoven as it is today. It is no longer a museum but a building where congresses are held. And beer festivals.

Holding this beer festival at the Evoluon is fitting. Van Moll has been on the forefront of the new wave of Dutch brewing and has never shied away from innovation itself. And the breweries that were invited are cut from the same cloth. Forget your Belgian triple and blonde brewers. Beautiful stouts, IPA’s and maybe the best lineup of wild ales and sours that I have seen lately.

The entire Evoluon area is closed off by a moat and a fence, which mean that there was a lot of space to walk and sit. Something other festivals often lack. Even though this weekend the country was again hit by a heatwave, the third one this summer. There was enough water and people seemed to take it easy. 

The cream of the crop of Dutch brewing was present: De Molen, Jopen, Kompaan, Nevel, Oersoep and Het Uiltje to name just a few. Special mention though for De Moersleutel. During the days of my former blog they weren’t around yet so I never had a chance then to mention that this brewery from Alkmaar is my new favorite. They surprise you with stouts like De Molen once did. Their IPA’s and sours are also world class. And some local pride for me that two breweries from Amsterdam (Walhalla and Butcher’s Tears) and two from Utrecht (Kromme Haring and VandeStreek) were present.

Some of the best from the UK were here as well. Like previous years Wiper and True and Siren were here. But of all the newcomers for me extra praise for the beers of Central Waters. I had been chasing their beers for a while now and was happy to see more of them in bars and shops here. But to taste their XX stout was a moment of pure bliss and their other beers were world class every single time as well. 

With the great lineup of breweries and it being a two day event you cannot help yourself to compare it with Borefts. If I had the option of only going to one of them the room at Van Mollfest and the fact that is it held on Saturday and Sunday make me choose a trip to Eindhoven, even if Bodegraven is right around the corner from me. See you next time you weird huge UFO!

a magnificent Central Waters stout