by Rick Kempen Beer Sommelier at Het Bierplein
(The week of) Dutch beer is relished abroad
Ten jam-packed days of beer activities
In typical Dutch entrepreneurial style, the Dutch Beer week has been turned into a ten-day event. From 11th to 21st May, there were a whole host of beer-related activities on offer. From the Dutch Beer Tasting Festival in The Hague and the Open Brewery Days to the Dutch Beer Challenge (you can sample the winners of this competition in the Golden Winners Pack). Throughout the Netherlands, there were countless tasting sessions, masterclasses and presentations. Beer lovers were in their element and the event attracted many foreign visitors.
Dutch beer culture as an example
We Dutch people don’t always realise it, but foreigners are fascinated with our beer culture and the achievements our
brewers, consumers and other beer experts have made in recent years. Dutch brewers are a modest bunch. However, the English beer writer and journalist Tim Webb thinks that other countries can learn a thing or two from Dutch beer culture. In particular, he praises the way that parties with seemingly conflicting interests manage to work together and form a united front. The Dutch Beer Week is an excellent example of this collaborative spirit.
The Week is an initiative conceived by beer journalists, brewers (big and small and everything in between) as well as retailers, traders and cafe owners. There is no other country in the world where people from all different parts of the industry come together towards a shared goal: to promote beer, in all its different forms. In other countries, there is a strong culture of competition, but here everyone tries to give each other a leg up!
The first edition of the Dutch Beer Week in 2012 was an instant success. Belgium, usually a trendsetter in the beer world, immediately copied the idea and turned the traditional opening of its brewing season, the Beer Festival on the Grote Markt in Brussels, into a seven-day event. Although they emulated this Dutch event, the Belgians still had some outdated views on Dutch beer. Some infamous Belgian beer writers continued to write some not-so-complimentary things about Dutch beer until someone pointed out that their northern neighbours were brewing much more than pilsner these days. They grumbled and decided that “those Dutchies have finally learned a thing or two from us.” However, we were pleased to see many Belgians at the event, who were clearly enjoying the Dutch creations on offer...
In The Hague, European beer sommeliers gathered at the Beer Tasting Festival. The co-founder of the Dutch Guild of Beer Sommeliers, Arvid Bergström from The Hague, and twenty other chefs from the capital cooked up a storm. Several hundred beer sommeliers (mostly German and Austrian), travelled to The Hague and seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. The general consensus was that it was a great weekend. And if the European beer elite says that, then you know you’ve done a good job. We should all be proud of the achievement of the Dutch beer community!
Photo by Hilko Visser