Remember the days before corona? Full bars, beer flowing everywhere and a beer festival every day of the weekend. But 2020 and 2021 were quiet years. The few festivals that were held were often non-social affairs where you bought your beer through QR-codes and where social distancing limited good conversation. This, and getting corona, meant that I stayed away from them altogether. The only festival I was at was in Leeuwarden where I was behind the taps helping Oproer.
With corona at the moment not a thing on the forefront of our minds I was able to visit a beer festival again. I went to the start of the Dutch Beer Week, kicking off with a festival in the Grote Kerk in Den Haag. I had the privilege of being at the festival for two days. The first day as a regular visitor walking around the church. The second behind that taps manning the Oudaen Brewery stand. Part 2 will be about that experience.
The festival for the Dutch Beer Week started off with the announcement of the best beer of the Netherlands. In the weeks before the Dutch Beer Challenge was held with gold medal winners in different styles. Of all the gold medal winners one beer was chosen as beer of the year. In this case the blonde by Maallust, the Weldoener.
What is nice about this festival is that it is one of the few that offers stands by both big breweries like Heineken or Grolsch but also tiny ones like Hans and Grietje or Eiber. It was a good showcase of what you can find among the over 900 breweries in the Netherlands today.
It is not an easy festival to be on. Apart from the bigger breweries it is first come first serve, so many breweries you’d think would be there were not. But there was enough variety. I read somewhere that there were over 100 different styles available.
I won’t give you an entire rundown of which breweries were present and what they brought. The liver can only take so much. I do want to briefly mention three beers that surprised me in a positive way.
Two Chefs Prague Nights
As you probably know if you have been following me is that I have a thing about ‘simple’ German and Czech style beers. Two Chefs made a Czech Dark Lager called Prague Nights which was more than palatable. More please.
This is a kuyt beer. A predominantly Dutch beer style that has seen some revivals this century, though it has died down somewhat. Only a few breweries make decent version. I was happy to see Avereest brought one. Even if it wasn’t a good beer, it was quite nice actually, just the fact of making one and bringing it deserves praise. But besides this they also brought a dubbel and some beers with rye and wheat. And I love rye. I only had two of their beers, but I will seek them out more.
This brewery is the one I was looking forward to. A brewery with actual monks in the center of The Hague. Their beers are not the easiest to get and if you do find them they are not cheap. But I had heard tales of their excellent beers and was happy to see them on the festival. I was not disappointed. Their Patmos, a red ale with rye, was excellent and I can’t wait to try more.
This is what is nice about beer festivals. You can come into contact with beers that you have never tried without losing a lot of money on an entire bottle. And you can get to know some new breweries you had never had beers from.
Next week more about my experiences behind the taps.
Go here for more festivals in the Netherlands.