Posts Tagged ‘oersoep’

Oedipus International Beer Festival: More than beer indeed

That the people over at Oedipus were organizing a beer festival was hard to miss. They promoted it well online and used Untappd for further promotion and discounts on tickets.

Not that Oedipus needs it. The last few years has seen them from hobbyists turn into a major Dutch brewery. They are present at festivals everywhere in the country and abroad. Their bottles  can be bought in the major supermarkets now. And most importantly they have done so by maintaining their own identity and philosophy, something that can be found in their unique beers.

Their quality has resulted in an invitation to the annual Oregon Brewers Festival. Something I wrote about a few years ago. This lead to a movie, a lot of great Holland-Oregon collaboration beers and now some of these breweries made their way to this festival. Upright, The Commons and Cascade for example offered their beers. The quality of Dutch brewing is great and still improving, but the festival got a massive boost through these American breweries and likeminded European ones like Lervig, Brew by Numbers and Omnipollo.

These breweries in turn provided a beer list that made any self respecting beer lover salivate. From session IPA’s in the 3% range to Russian Stouts of 11% and over, there was something for everyone. The wide variety also meant that you could have beers in your favorite style for most of the day.

Twice a day you could go on a tour and have 5 glasses of beer within a separate theme. Barrel-Aged beers were one of the 4, sours the other. And if you liked sours boy did you have a great time. The festival brought together old world sours from Boon and new world sours from for example Cascade. Sour ales have been the darlings of the beer geeks, and this festival showed why.

oedipus1More than beer

But as advertised the festival was indeed about more than beer. The OIBF is a festival that is worth going to even if you don’t drink a drop of alcohol. For one the food was exceptional. Many festivals still have one or two stands with mediocre food but here it was a small food truck festival. Kim Chi, Burgers, Oysters, Noodles and Hot Dogs to name some of the options. The sausages were made by Brandt & Levie and if you never had their sausages before run to any good food store to get some. They do for sausage and meats what Oedipus does for beer, no-borders sausage making. The smells of good food hung over the festival and with the dwindling number of cigarette smokers this is a huge improvement.

Children could come, and though there wasn’t an entire playpen they could drink lemonade just like their parents drank beer. The public was mixed between old and young, beer aficionados and beer novices. Walking beer labels walked around for extra atmosphere and the music wasn’t bad either, though at times a little too loud.

First timers

You might guessed by now that I loved being at this festival. In fact the day after I had an overwhelming urge to return for day two. When I write this on Tuesday I still wish I was back. There is room for improvement, sure, but they got significantly more things right than wrong.

The comparisons with Borefts cannot be ignored, and they have beat them on a few points: One, it is held on Saturday and Sunday, although my guess is Borefts is a Friday, Saturday festival because of the religious nature of Bodegraven. Two it is easy to reach. Bodegraven is easy to reach from the 4 major cities, but a little harder from farther away. Amsterdam Centraal is easy to reach for most.

What remains are memories of a great festival, a festival that makes the first weekend of July worth looking forward to. With the Brettfest and Borefts Holland has a third unique and international festival, one that has plenty of room to grow and improve. I will be planning my vacation next year around the Oedipus International Beer Festival.

Groningen Beer Festival 2016: Musings and Questions

Since I have written about this event multiple times, I decided to opt for the ‘4 things I noticed’ approach.

Session Beers

It wasn’t too long ago that the only decent beer under 4% in this country was the Emelisse 2.5. For me this was a groundbreaking beer because it showed that limits could be stretched downwards as well. The session hype that came in later years gave us even better things. Nothing is wrong anymore with a low alcohol, but incredibly tasty, beer. At the festival in Groningen there were plenty of low alcohol, let’s say under 5%, beers to sample. And this is what I did for one session

The Rodenburgh Slimme Rhakker and the VandeStreek UK Pale ale were both great pale ales. Oersoep brought another type with a great Berliner Weisse. I tried the Berliner Kindl a few years ago that completely turned me off that style for a while but it made a great comeback. In Holland Oersoep and Oedipus have made some brilliant ones. Talking about Oedipus, their Gandalf beer with cherries, brett and barrel aged was worth the extra coin.

Having these low alcohol beers will only attract more people to specialty beer. Of course the blondes, triples will remain part of what is on offer, but the tasty 10% beers will find people who previously thought beer was pilsner and nothing else. The range of percentage was around 18 by the way, ‘t Uiltje brought the amazing Old Enough To Drink, clocking in at a whopping 21%.

Groningen Beer City

At the first installment of this festival only 2 breweries from Groningen were present: Grunn and Stadsbrouwerij Kromme Jat. Well, 1,5 to be honest because Grunn cannot really be called a brewery. This year 7 breweries were eager to showcase their brews to their provincial comrades.

Grunn was sort of there as the Kruisheren brewers from Ter Apel. The Kromme Jat was back again as well. You should know by now that we here are big fans of Bax Beer. Their stand, and their group of helpers, is growing rapidly every year. In the wake of its success Groninger Craft, Rockin’ Ludina, Martinus, Corviri and Pivo started turning out some good beers. Martinus started operations late last year in a former print shop and Pivo opened just a week before the festival. Their setup and philosophy is very interesting, so check out their website (Dutch only). Hopefully I can return to them in a future post.

IMG_7868[1]A completely new brewery for me was Vechter who brought a good wit and saison. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to try their Cluyn beer, a regional historic recipe. Things are looking good with the opening of Bax’ tasting room and brewery this summer and more to follow. The Groningen Beer Festival is now also a festival by the people of Groningen, not only for.

 

IMG_7867[1]More than beer

The whole beer culture before the term craft beer was invented was about one thing and one thing only: the drinking of beer. With the growth of the culture and the rise if interest in old and social media this culture is changing too in its appearance. It now attracts people not only because of the beer.  These different sides of the culture were present. It wasn’t only the brewers pouring their beer but also distributors, specialty shops and cafés.

Some homebrewing stands were there as well. Betuwe cider had a table as well, and it nice to have a good glass of cider once in a while to mix things up. Bob van Dijk, who you might have read about in an article I wrote about him last year, was there with his Craft Beer Shirts.

This festivals remains very good with social media. With special hashtags on twitter your message could make it on a very big screen in the middle of the church.

A widening gap?

At my first beer festivals the goal was often to try beers from as many different breweries as possible. Lately I tend to try fewer beers from new breweries and stick to ones I know and love. Years of trying mediocre blondes, triples and IPA’s seem to have that effect.

Is it just me? Is this what happens after a decade and a half of trying new beers every time? Somehow I am more interested in what the really good breweries have to offer. This year I tried a lot of beers from Oersoep, Uiltje, Pampus and Oedipus, breweries that are at the top of the scene. Because of both their quality and that they make new stuff all the time I always feel that I will get something good, or at least interesting there.

Is the gap widening? Are we getting a Champions League of great Dutch breweries who are running away from the pack in leaps and bounds. Is this the beginning of a new phase? Already some smaller breweries, almost all of them contract brewers, are folding. The big breweries now are moving away from contract brewing towards a full setup: their own brewery and tasting room. Maybe the market is now really too full with established names. I would rather try a new Uiltje than a new blonde from a brewer from a town I have never heard of. I could just be me, but it’s a thought I will expand on in future posts.

The Times are a Changin’ indeed.

 

Oersoep Craft Beer Festival

—  Another collaboration, this time Florian from German blog HopfenLiebe.com translated the article he placed there for our website. He went to the first Oersoep Festival, here is his report —-

glas-flyer-oersoep-festival-2015-648x486The first Oersoep Craft Beer Festival was hosted in Nijmegen last weekend. It was organized by the Microbrewery Oersoep at the beautiful ‘Het Zomerkwartier’ (an artificial beach area next to river Waal) directly next to the brewery. The venue was the first thing one positively noticed when entering the festival site: There were not just some tables and benches standing around, but a nice beach with comfortable chairs, sun loungers and sofas. The whole location added a nice and smooth summer atmosphere to the festival!

But one was not (only) there because of the location, but for good and handmade beer. Oersoep invited 15 breweries from the Netherlands, England, the US and Italy to Nijmegen.

Breweries at the Oersoep Craft Beer Festival 2015:

  • Jester King Brewery (US)
  • Wild Beer Co. (UK)
  • Brew By Numbers (UK)
  • Birrificio Dada (IT)
  • Brouwerij Kees (NL)
  • Oedipus Brewing (NL)
  • Van Moll (NL)
  • Brouwerij de Hemel (NL)
  • Het Uiltje (NL)
  • Kaapse Brouwers (NL)
  • Donderwolk (NL)
  • Tommie Sjef Wild Ales (NL)
  • Rooie Dop (NL)
  • RUIG Bier (NL)
  • Brouwerij Frontaal (NL)
  • Katjelam (NL)

Form an organisational point of view; the event was overall well managed. You could either buy a ticket online or at the box office on site. The entrance to the festival ground was free but you had to have the official festival glass to taste the beers. The glass was really nice and looked at first glance exactly like the glass that is used in the BrewPub of Oersoep STOOM. However, this optics was kind of misleading, as the craft beer glass was in fact made ​​of plastic. That might was the better choice, as a large part of the location was covered with sand and we all might now what happens when we combine sand, bar feet and broken glass.

Each brewery had brought different beers to Nijmegen and served two at the same time, which meant the kegs were changed ever now and then. Some of my beer highlights at the festival include the Grätzer from Katjelam.  Brewed with Weizenrauchmalz, the beer had a great smoky and ham aroma, but was still not too heavy and pleasant to drink on a warm day. Also delicious was the Brettalicious of Oersoep, a saison with great acidity and fruity hop aroma.  Wild Beer Co.  from England, poured also a saison called ‘Cool as a Cucumber ‘, and yes, there was real cucumber involved. Great and refreshing!

In addition, I really liked the Tazara Pepe, a saison that was brewed with different kind of peppers by Birretta Dada from Italy. My overall favourite of the festival however was the Suave from Oersoep and Van Moll from Eindhoven: the Gin and Tonic Pale Ale. This beer was partly brewed with real tonic water and after the fermentation they added even some gin. The finished product was nice and round with great fruit flavours and a very pleasant juniper finish.

Craft beer events like this festival are a great opportunity to try special beers, which you otherwise only can buy (if you can buy them in your region at all) in big bottles. Also the conversations with other beer lovers and the brewers are always very informative and entertaining.

Nijmegen is always worth a visit, even if there is no craft beer festival. Visiting one of the 6 breweries and brews, or one of the countless great beer cafes is a must, as well as checking by the great beer shop De Bierhoeder.

A Day in the Life of a Pint Member

It’s November, when you come home from work it’s dark. The wind has the early signs of that winter chill. You go online and try to find out when the Winterbeerfestival in Gouda is in January. The Pint website has the information, the calendar in your phone now has a new entry for the 19th of January.

When New Years is over and you have started work after the break you occasionally check the website, maybe the list of brewers and beers is available. Once it is you read it through, and you gasp. So much new stuff I haven’t had yet.

On Saturday you check when the buses and trains go. To be sure on Sunday morning you look it up on your phone. As long as you get to Gouda things are ok, since the school where the festival is, is right behind the station. You walk towards it, and notice they didn’t hang signs for the festival on the lampposts like they used to.

You arrive at the school, pay the 20 euros for entrance, a glass, a booklet and 8 tokens and start looking for a place to sit. You’re early, so there is.

gouda1Even though you have checked the list of available beers thoroughly you open the booklet and make a decision. There are two Oersoep beers you are dying to try. You don’t often get the big bottles at home so this is a perfect chance. There’s just too much to choose from. A few years ago frequently going to the specialty shops, bars and festival was enough to keep up-to-date with what was brewed in the country. You’ve reached the point now where you can’t keep up. You both celebrate and lament this. You are proud to have been at the start of the boom of Dutch beer, but its success means it’s getting harder and harder to actually try everything.

You look around and see the familiar sights:

At this festival the pourers are volunteers. The brewers, if they are here, walk around freely. More like fans of craft beer than actual brewers. They meet other brewers, talk about the trade and try each other’s beer. You like that, they are not rivals, they are guildsmen aiming for the same things.

Around the large round tables people sit. They all have a different beer in their hands. They smell, taste and look up. They look for something to say about the beer, then write it down. The glass then goes to someone else around the table. These are the beerhunters. Even though you consider yourself to be one, you feel you should at least have half a glass before writing an honest report of what you tasted. Some beers change with temperature, they get worse, sometimes more good flavors rise. You admire their zeal, but it’s not for you.

You love rating, but your iPhone is already 3 years old and the battery doesn’t last as long as it once did. Heavy use of it to add your rating on RateBeer drains the battery, so you scribble down the 5 numbers and a short review in a notebook you brought. Untappd is easier, so you use that for quick check-ins.

You feel more connected to the couples who are here. Gradually it’s becoming more diverse and not just a middle-aged men hobby.

More and more you see men wear T-shirts of breweries. They look like the sort of guys who when they were young had their Clash, Cure or Smiths T-shirt on. Now these shirts are worn through, the bandlogo barely legible after decades of wearing and washing. They have new shirts now, shirts two sizes bigger. The further away the brewery the more special they shirt, just as that shirt you have from that one band no one really knows about. Your classmates all had Springsteen shirts, you had a Devo shirt. You have a few beer T-shirts at home as well, but it’s winter now and too cold for T-shirts.

Groups of friends, two or more, wander around. They look like this is the first time they’re at a festival like this. In larger groups there is one person who has been here before, he knows the ropes, he will tell you what else there is.

You went through the eight coins. You decide you had enough. The Oersoep beers were amazing, the De Molen didn’t disappoint and you had some beers from breweries that were still blank for you. These are winterbeers and the average 9% you had today is getting to you. You’re a beerlover you tell yourself, you hate drunk people who only drink because of the alcohol. You get your coat and leave again. If there’s time at the railway station you will get something to eat, if not there’s enough at home.

Tomorrow people will ask what you did over the weekend. Alice from accounting will say she doesn’t like beer. You try and tell her that Heineken really is something else than what you had. Her boyfriend drinks a La Chouffe once in a while, so she tells you he is really into Belgian beer as well. You almost start talking about all the great breweries in this country and that Belgium really isn’t the most important beercountry anyway, but you doubt if that will register. You leave it at that, and return to your desk with the coffee. There’s a festival again in March, Leeuwarden this time, it’s on your calendar now.

Oersoep: In the beginning there was beer

In the Beginning there was beer…oersoep

My first encounter with the beers from Oersoep was in De Bierkoning in Amsterdam where a big dark bottle with yellow print stood out between the many others. A dark bottle, a cork and a tiny booklet about the beer bound around the neck. A bottle that, like for example Duits & Lauret, shows class. I drank the chocolate stout that I bought that day around Christmas time and was not dissappointed. Oersoep is a brewery with some unique viewpoints and concepts interesting enough to write about. We asked Sander from Oersoep some questions and the pages of answers that were returned shows that Oersoep is very serious about their craft.

The Bottle

First off, the bottle. Why did you chose to do this?

“We wanted to show the care that we put into our beers. A 75 centiliter bottle is not that important for the flavor of the beer, but it does add something to the experience of drinking and this subconsciously influences the flavor. In our view beer is a product that brings people together, and therefore drink together. We also think it is important to be able to serve a beer as a good companion for a meal.”

Oersoep puts its beer mainly in bottles, only for special occasions can you get in on tap:

“Because we brew small quantities we think it is a waste to put most of it in a keg.”

Price

The price of a bottle from Oersoep is higher than the usual bottle found at a beer store. Why?

“The reason our beers are somewhat more expensive that the average specialty beer is a question of work and time. We are a very small brewery that makes unique, often one-off, products. Our way of brewing is very labor-intensive. We brew six different beers in batches of 100 liters, four days a week. We fill the bottles on the fifth day. We make what we like to call ‘Slowbeer’; we have a love of wild yeast and aging the beers with wood so some beer take more than 6 months before they are finished.”

Sander assures me that my initial fear of the beers being too expensive is not true at all. People will buy a good and unique beer with a story.

The people behind Oersoep

The backbone of Oersoep consists of Kick van Hout and Sander Kobes. Kick used to own a specialty beer café. Sander got experience from brewing in the kitchen at home. The rest is a story found in the history of so many other breweries. Together they decided to making brewing as a hobby more than just that and moved to a building where besides brewing that could also sell. Demand grew and the brewery along with it. Besides Kick and Sander volunteers also help along. As we already saw they do not shy away from the experiment. The beers are every changing, taking into account the changing of the seasons, the yeast, the wooden barrels. Within those broad limits they look for new flavors. As any good new brewer should Sander knows there is still a lot to learn.

The name Oersoep

Oersoep, if you speak Dutch that name might not immediately conjure up images of beer. The literal translation of Oersoep is ‘Primordial Soup’, that little puddle of organic matter and water from which life on earth sprouted. In Sander’s views what a brewer does is similar: making a soup of malts, water and yeast from which beer comes. The word ‘Oer’ can also be read as meaning the older brewing methods like wild fermentation and the blending of old and new beer and the souring of beer in wooden casks.

A local brewery

Oersoep is located in Nijmegen, a city on the Waal river, close to the German border. The region around Nijmegen is rich fertile land and the brewers used some local ingredients for their beers. Some of their Saisons were brewed using local wheat milled by a still working local windmill. Close to Nijmegen is the Betuwe, a region around the big rivers known for the many fruit orchards. Starting July 2013 they expect to offer the beer drinkers of Holland local fruit beers like cherry stout. But they have something else in store: “we are also going to ferment some of spontaneous wood aged beers with local fruit”.

God is Great

Oersoep divides its beers into four separate categories: Saison, Donker & Diep (Dark and Deep), Bruisend en Blond (Alive/bubbly and blond) and God is Goed (God is Great). The last name was chosen for the beers that are made with wild yeasts. This name has a historic source: “’God is Great’ was the name given to yeast far into the 19th century. Until the scientific discovery of yeast by Louis Pasteur in 1875 brewers did not know a lot about the workings of yeast. They used yeast from earlier brews or took yeast from nearby breweries. This was not single strand but a combination of several types of yeast, including those that lived in the old wooden barrels. The unusual way yeast operates was of course attributed to the Almighty, therefore the name “God is Great”. The Oersoep beers in that line are also made with many types of yeast, bacteria and a little bit of God.

2013           

Oersoep is a very new brewery, what will this year bring: “The new year starts on January 19th with a tasting in the Bierkoning and a day later we will fly to Italy for a small festival where we will brew an IPA with wild yeast together with Birrificio Endorama. Besides that we want to experiment more with the Brettanomyces yeast, not much is being done with this yet in the Netherlands and we want to experiment more with it. Starting February we will release our barrel ages beers.”

“we are currently working on improving and enlarging the brewery with a 1000 liter installation. We want to finance this in part with crowd-funding, more about this soon on our webpage and Facebook page.”

Because of the intensive way they brew there is not a lot of time for festivals, apart from the beer festival in Nijmegen in May and the opening weekend of the Dutch beer week in The Hague.

But dear reader, the Oersoep bottles are worth making a trip to Nijmegen or a specialty beer shop.

Oersoep Website

Oersoep on Facebook