Dutch Beer Goes Global
The big Dutch brands have long been globally successful, but the growing worldwide interest in smaller “craft” beers, particularly in the US and the UK, has resulted in increased sales for some of the Netherlands’ smaller breweries. Here we’ll look at the brands that have already conquered the world, and the Dutch beers that are starting to make an impact. The success of the top two Dutch brands shouldn’t be knocked; the Netherlands should be proud of them. There are, however, plenty of alternatives to the mass-produced pale lagers – as we’ll see.
There was quite a fuss when it was announced that James Bond was going to be drinking Heineken in Skyfall. It turned out to be a fuss about nothing, really; if we’d seen Bond sitting in his dressing gown, playing curry in a hurry slots at an online casino while swilling beer from a can, it would have been understandable. In fact we never even see the label on the bottle, and at one point Bond mentions Macallan whisky as being his favourite drink. Heineken looks likely to survive. In 2011 the company brewed around 500ml of its flagship lager for every person on the planet.
SABMiller’s takeover of Grolsch in 2007 was a sad day for independent brewing, but the brand continues to thrive. It’s marketed in 70 countries, concentrating on English-speaking territories. Grolsch’s most well known product, Premium Pilsner, is also brewed in the UK. While these top two Dutch brands are not going to be toppled by independent brewers in the near future, it’s towards those independents that fans of interesting Dutch beer should look. Online availability means that people all over the world can now try these brews.
Korenwolf, from the Gulpener Bierbrouwerij is a great example. It’s a 5% alcohol wheat beer with a slighty hazy golden colour, now in its 21st year of production. There’s a definite citrus taste; it’s best enjoyed in summer. The Gulpener brewery was founded in 1825 and uses only local ingredients, as well as employing green technologies including solar power. Korenwolf, like the beers that follow, is available online from various retailers.
Borefts Stout is a dark, foaming, bitter brew with a real kick at 7.2% alcohol. The Brouwerij De Molen has only been operating since 2004, but they now produce around forty different beers. Nine of them are in the stout or porter style, inspired by pre-World War 1 recipes from the UK. There’s a hint of coffee flavour to this delicious brew, ideal for winter evenings by the fire.
We’ll finish with a blond beer from the Bierbrouwerij Sint Christoffel. It’s a firm-headed, Pils-like brew with plenty of hops and a definite bitterness. At 6% it’s satisfying but refreshing, and an antidote to the mega-lagers available everywhere. The brewery was set up in the early 80’s and also produces a malty, dark red bokbier.
Whatever style of beer you prefer, you can find small Dutch breweries producing it these days. So support your local brewery – they may just be about to conquer the world!
Your Choice. Your Beer. Drink Up.
- Beer Universe