Noord-Hollands Bierfestival in Alkmaar 2013

For quite some time now the Mare Nostrum school in Alkmaar has hosted the Noord-Hollands beerfestival. This festival only features breweries from the province of Noord-Holland and it was evident once again that the number of Dutch breweries is still growing. Even though this province has the advantage of having both Amsterdam and Haarlem within its borders, the rest of it offers more than enough for the beerlover. Besides the growth in numbers it also showed a rise in overall quality.

Museum and Cafe De Boom

Museum and Cafe De Boom

Alkmaar itself is one of those nice, quaint, Dutch towns. Gabled houses, canals and small streets surrounded by a moat. As all Dutch cities this one too had breweries, but none or left these days. It does however have a beer museum located in the middle of town. Though small the museum is always worth a visit, especially for the low admission. There is information about the brewing process, some history of Dutch brewing and a lot of old bottles and signs. Added bonus is that it is located in an old brewery. Underneath the museum is beercafé De Boom, an ABT café with quite a selection of beers. Maybe not the most interesting selection for specialty beer drinking scouring the country for unsipped beers, but the location on the waterside merits a visit nonetheless. Unfortunately not a lot of the beers at the festival could be found there. You can buy beer at liquorstore ‘t Hekeltje on one of the main streets (Laat), impressive range of De Molens here and some other nice beers, including local ones.

The weekend of the festival was hopefully the last of the cold winter weekends. This did not stop people from coming. The breweries present ranged from mainstays like Jopen, Texel and ‘t IJ (who brought along the first beer brewed at the new location) to smaller ones like De Bierderie, Heyloo, Vijfhuizen or the Noord-Hollandse Bierbrouwerij who debuted with their Uitgeester Duveltje.

The Main Room at the festival with all the breweries

The Main Room at the festival with all the breweries

This was my first time at this festival but it won’t be the last. However unromantic a school might be, it does provide space. Minor gripe is that is far away from a railway station and you have to take a bus there, but I won’t complain when Noord-Holland offers this much great beer. Regional television was present as well to make an item, hopefully once again showing the rest of the country there is more than Heineken and Amstel. PINT Noord-Holland staged yet another well managed festival, their part in spreading the Dutch craft beer word is instrumental. The only thing they should really work on is the weather, no more snow and cold please! (that is a joke).

Beers tasted:

Butcher’s Tears Lipreader on Parole – maybe my favorite by them so far. Please guys, reply to the questions I sent!

Heyloo Ter Coulster Dubbel – I loved their Blond but I wasn’t too impressed by this dubbel.

‘t IJ No. 1 – if you were blind tasting you’d automatically know this was from ‘t IJ. This by the way is a very good thing.

De Natte Cel Whiskey Honey – very special, maybe a little too much of everything but a very interesting experience.

Noord-Hollandse Bierbrouwerij Uitgeester Duiveltje – the first beer of that day, a very good start, hope to taste more from them in the future.

Vijfhuizen – De Generaal – Surprising, also a brewer worth checking out more.

Bottle Collection at the Museum

Bottle Collection at the Museum

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