Tigre Bock

Tigre Bock - Kronenbourg - delcampeIt’s autumn, and in Holland this means: bock beer. All the big Dutch breweries produce their own dark brown variety, some of which are actually quite tasty. So you get a dark Heineken, a dark Amstel, a dark Grolsch. Where this tradition comes from, will be the scope of another article (already available in Dutch). Right now I’d like to discuss some historical bock beer news. French bock beer is back, courtesy of Kronenbourg. You know, that rather boring French lager.

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Was John of Brabant a beer god? (2)

Cambrinus - Source: CatawikiYesterday I met Belgian beer writer Luc de Raedemaeker, who proudly showed me his new ‘Belgian Beer book’, an enormous book with lots of nice photographs. I congratulated him on this remarkable effort, then I opened it and the first thing I read was: ‘Duke John of Brabant, also called Jan Primus…’ Noooo! Are people still repeating this nonsense? So for the last time, after I already told my Dutch-speaking readers: why John of Brabant wasn’t a beer god.

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Was John of Brabant a beer god? (1)

Le Roi Gambrinus - Source: delcampe.netYou may have noticed him on the European mainland: the legendary beer king Gambrinus. Omnipresent in German pubs, Dutch beer labels, Czech advertising posters, and so on. A jolly bearded guy, crown on his head, beer in his hand. A ‘Santa Claus of beer’ if you like. But where does he come from? Was he once a real person, like duke John I of Brabant, as is often claimed?

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Princesse from Zwijndrecht

Brewery De Ster, Zwijndrecht - Current Account for 1878, featuring 'princesse'. City Archives Amsterdam. Bottle: own brew.As told in the previous article, historical princesse beer by d’Oranjeboom is now available. In two flavours: the ‘normal’ brown-amber princesse beer after my adaptation of the recipe in the 1866 book De praktische bierbrouwer, and a ‘White princesse’ with wheat. The label says it is ‘is inspired by a 1788 Flemish white beer tribute to the Dutch Princesse beer’. And indeed that year Antonius Parmentier from Bruges advertised his ‘white Dutch Princesse beers similar to those sold in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Alkmaar’. But a recipe by Parmentier has not been preserved, so the people at d’Oranjeboom have devised one of their own. But is there an element of historical truth in it? Has such a princesse wheat beer ever existed?

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Princesse beer by d’Oranjeboom

Oranjeboom PrincesseAnd now, I can announce something that I’m really happy about: Princesse beer is back on the market! This historical Dutch beer, for which I had found a recipe from the year 1866, will soon be available across Holland and beyond. To make it even better, this is done under the centuries old Oranjeboom brand, a brewery that produced princesse beer throughout the 19th century. How and why? Read on…

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Dutch faro and lambic revisited

Brewery De Sleutel Dordrecht 1928 (detail) - Source: geheugenvannederland.nlIn the previous article I summarised what lambic mythbuster Raf Meert had found out about the history of this wonderful beer type from Brussels and surroundings. To put it briefly: everything lambic brewers’ association HORAL and self-proclaimed authorities like beer writer Jef van den Steen had claimed so far on this subject is embarrassing hokum, unfortunately. In reality, this remarkable tart beer doesn’t go back further than the eighteenth century, and it contained a lot more wheat than today. Initially faro was the strongest kind of yellow beer, until the even stronger lambic appeared. So here’s my contribution: how do the faros and lambics of the Netherlands fit into this story?

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Lambic: the real story

Lambic busted - Original from: delcampe.netSometimes you suddenly see the light. At least I did last Saturday, at the Carnivale Brettanomyces in Amsterdam. I was invited to do a talk at this wild yeast festival, and it was another nice opportunity to socialise with other Dutch beer enthusiasts. Blending my own Mestreechs Aajt with beer writer Henri Reuchlin at the bar at the Arendsnest for instance, from the extremely sour barrel beer and a few commercially available beers by Gulpener. Great fun, but to me the climax was the (undeservedly poorly-attended) talk by Raf Meert, the lambic mythbuster.

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White beer from Etten anno 1783

Letter White beer from Etten anno 1783 - City Archives RotterdamOnce in a while a recipe surfaces in a place where you don’t expect it. Earlier this week I was asked if I had already found a historical beer recipe for every Dutch region. I haven’t got that far yet, however. Sometimes I can be a bit jealous of a country like England, where there is a vast corpus of old brewing records, in which people like Ron Pattinson can browse to their hearts’ content, and in which they can follow clear trends from decade to decade and from one place to another.

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Queen’s beer with poppies

PoppiesThe roadsides are filled with poppies again. So this is the right moment for a poppy beer recipe. I’ll keep it short, so you can start brewing right away.

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Lager is doomed

H41 - Will lager free itself of its cheap Schultenbräu image?It has arrived: when I walked through the sunny historic centre of Utrecht this morning, my eye was caught by some big pub windows announcing the ‘Limited H41 Lager Explorations’. The new Heineken beer had reached my town. ‘Specially brewed with a rare yeast from Patagonia’. And all I could think of was: New Coke.

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