by Nathan Hak Beer journalist at Beerwulf.com
Borefts Beer Festival 2017Review with Menno Olivier
The ninth edition of Borefts Beer Festival, the festival of De Molen brewery in Bodegraven, was held on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd of September. Beer lovers from around the world look forward to the festival all year. Beerwulf was there to speak to Menno Olivier, the brewer who started the festival back in 2004.
Invasion of the beer lovers
“It’s a weird sensation. Bodegraven is actually a really peaceful place,” says Menno. “One minute it’s quiet, the next there’s a massive queue of people there for something we’ve organised.” It’s a unique festival: “Even though so many people attend, Borefts feels like a gathering of friends who reunite once a year. It’s a really special atmosphere.”
With Borefts, it’s all about beer and being together. People come from all over the world to Borefts, says Menno: “We’ve got a map up front, so people can pin where they’re from. We’ve got an average of 40 different nationalities, which is incredible.” He feels honoured that people come to visit from so many different countries: “It really means a lot. It’s a massive token of appreciation for all our work and that of the guest breweries, which number 20 this year. Some people almost treat you like a demi-god. It’s a great feeling, but it can make you a little uneasy at the same time. Come on, I’m still the same Menno I’ve always been.”
Theme: Flower Power
Every year De Molen asks participating breweries to brew for a special theme. This year at Borefts the theme was Flower Power. This meant that every brewer had to brew at least one beer containing flowers, brewed specially for Borefts. With peace, love and happiness in mind, visitors could enjoy special versions of Hel & Verdoemenis, among others.
Hel & Verdoemenis
De Molen is best known for its excellent stout beers. Hel & Verdoemenis is one example, one which Menno is justifiably proud of: “It’s gained an incredible following and I reckon it’s one of our very best beers.” The name provokes a slight resentment among some: “Bodegraven is fairly religious. Over the years, several people have approached me with a bible in their hands, telling me I’ve got to change the name. But I don’t mean anything by it. The beer is so dark, so black, so roasted, that the name just fits perfectly. I absolutely don’t mean anything negative by it at all.”
Menno used a special malt for the Hel & Verdoemenis, which comes from an English floor malt house: “It’s great to bring such an old tradition back into your beer. It’s expensive, but that’s not really an issue. It adds a sort of biscuity flavour to the beer.” The deep black colour comes from the dark malts. Menno adds: “We use more than 30% toasted and dark malts for the Hel & Verdoemenis, while 15% is the norm. It can be done - you just have to search for the right balance with other malts. Make sure your beer is drinkable, even though it’s heavy.”
2018: 10 years of Borefts
I asked Menno if we can expect something special next year, when Borefts will celebrate its 10th edition: “We’re going to do something, absolutely. We have thought about inviting all the brewers who have ever brewed for us, but that means being able to accommodate extra people which has an impact on our set-up (which is working so beautifully)! So we’re not quite sure what it will be, but we are definitely going to do something special.”