Oud bruin: a tale of two beers

Heineken Oud bruinAnd now, let’s talk about the least known Dutch beer type: oud bruin. You won’t see it in fancy beer pubs, or at craft beer festivals. The most likely place where you’ll find it, is the highest shelves in the supermarket. It’s hard to find anyone who actually likes this ‘old brown’, a low-alcohol beverage that tastes like diet coke. A sweetened, weak, bottom-fermented 2,5 ABV dark beer. What on earth is to be said of such a depressingly plain drink?

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Princesse beer (2)

Ravenswaaij princesse beer - Source: bieretiketten.nlIn the last article, we saw how princesse beer first surfaced in Amsterdam in 1748, and that it disappeared around 1900, outcompeted by modern bottom-fermenting beer. And now it’s back, because I found an original recipe which enabled brewers to produce it again. And… you can make it yourself.

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Princesse Beer (1)

Kampen Dubbel Princessebier - Source: bieretiketten.nlNow let’s talk about one of the most popular Dutch beers of the 19th century: princessebier. Where did this ‘princess beer’ come from, when did it disappear, and what is that funny name about? And of course, is there a recipe? There is, and not only has the renowned Anchor brewery made a one-off reconstruction, it is going to be re-brewed by a once-famous Dutch beer brand as well.

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Nijmegen Mol

Nijmegen molLooking for lost beers is fun. But what do you do once you’ve found such an old recipe? Do you start brewing it again? Can you brew it again? An interesting example is a beer from Nijmegen. This nice Dutch university town by the Waal river is a good beery place to visit. It has De Hemel brewery in the town centre in what is originally a 12th century building. Young brewers like Oersoep and Katjelam are not afraid of the odd experiment. But once Nijmegen was really famous for its beer: mol. Which in Dutch means ‘mole’.

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Health beer

Johan Hoff's Malt extractWouldn’t it be wonderful, if beer was actually really healthy? Instead of damaging your liver and giving you hangovers? Oddly, in the 19th century beer was seen as a perfectly healthy drink. This was of course an age when many people drank themselves half-conscious with gin, and then beer didn’t look so bad.

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Gruit & Kuit

Verloren bieren 21 Pivo-i-eda-v-Olde-HansaTo be perfectly honest, I started this quest for the lost beers of Holland mainly looking for recipes of the 18th and 19th century. Why? Two reasons: they are easier to find and to interpret, and nobody had really written about them before. So far, every new beer recipe feels like a lost treasure found after deep digging. Still, the 19th century is not exactly the heyday of Dutch beer. The Middle Ages were. For a few centuries Holland was the leading beer exporting country that taught even the British and Belgians how to brew beer with hops. But we’ll get to that.

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Trappist Lager from the Sheep Barn

Koningshoeven abbey - Label bieretiketten.nlAround 1891, a remarkable newcomer had appeared in the rapidly changing Dutch beer scene. That year, the brewers of the province of North Brabant wrote a request to no-one else but the pope. It read as follows: ‘Most holy Father! With deep respect the subscribers… ask for Your Fatherly blessing and permit themselves to tell Your Holiness that their business is seriously harmed by the practicing of a beer brewery by the Honourable Fathers Trappists.’[1] The brewers begged the pope to order the Trappists to stop brewing.

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Dutch Faro and Lambic

Faro Sleutel DordrechtBelgium has its lambic, faro and geuze, spontaneously fermented beers that can only be produced in the Zenne valley and the Pajottenland near Brussels. Or can they? Learn about the historical Lambic beers of Holland. With a recipe.

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Haymaking beer

Hooibouwbier blogSo now it’s time to disclose the secrets of one of those lost Dutch beers. I’ll start with a simple one: an early Dutch homebrew. After all, it aren’t always professional brewers that make beer. Every day many amateurs make their own. And this is of all ages: before the Second World War there was plenty of homemade beer in Holland too. Where? At the farm!

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When Lager came to Holland

Heineken's bier - Het meest getaptIn the 19th century, one of the most important changes in brewing took place, in Holland just like in the rest of the world: the advent of lager. It meant completely new ways of producing beer, but also new ways of running breweries.

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