Life is tough for handsome beers. Ever tried to get to know the beers for who they really are?
Have you ever considered taking a look behind the well-designed label?
Not bothered by any knowledge about microbrewing or any beers in particular, I made a selection of beers based on their colorful appearance.
- Bootjesbier -translation: Little Boat Beer- by the Antwerp Brewing Company in Antwerp, Belgium.
- Mannenliefde -translation: Love between Men- by Oedipus Brewery in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
- Thai Thai -translation: Uhm…Thai Thai?- by Oedipus Brewery in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Ceaux Cane -pronunciation: cocaine- by Ceaux Brew in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
And a beer from the island I am hoping to spend my final years:
- Castaway by Kona Brewing Company, Hawaii.
Standing out from the crowd. That is a must since microbreweries are everywhere again. Just like in the old days before Heineken’s green bottle took over the Dutch market. If you are looking for innovation, go to a micro brewery. You will find neither ancient yeasts nor old family recipes but fun and brave experiments. Just as impressive, if you ask me.
Little Boat Beer
The Antwerp Brewing Company is known for its Seefbeer. Since 2015 they are brewing Little Boat Beer as a tribute to the Red Star Line: a cruise liner that brought many European migrants from Antwerp, Belgium to New York City, USA in the 20th century. The ingredients for Boat Beer are from Belgian and American origin: Belgian yeast from Seefhoek, American hop and a combination of ginger and coriander.
The citizens of Antwerp are proud of their Seefbier. A couple of micro breweries in Seefhoek (Seef corner) were the original brewers of the Seef beer. Seef corner was a poor borough in the north of Antwerp. When beer brewing was industrialized in the 20th century, the brewers of Seefhoek did not want to give away their recipe, and their secret got lost. A couple of years ago, the old recipe for Seef yeast was found again. Smart entrepreneurs, the municipality of Antwerp and Leuven’s University brought Seefbeer back to life.
Love between Men
Mannenliefde or (Love between Men) was the first beer of the young brewers of Oedipus Brewery in Amsterdam, who decided to brew their own beer after visiting Music Festival Lowlands. First, they brewed beer at home. When more and more friends started asking for their home brew, the four guys decided to work together with an existing brewery. Mannenliefde was the first beer Oedipus produced on a larger scale.
The beer is a Saison: hoppy and spicy. The spices in this beer are Szechuan pepper and lemon grass. Therefore the beer tastes bitter and spicy with hints of caramel and citrus. What’s not to like?
Recently, the Oedipus men opened their brewery in the north of Amsterdam.
Oedipus is also brewing a beer called Thai Thai. They already produced Mannenliefde, wich is a somewhat bitter beer. A girlfriend preferred something sweeter. So the men went to work.
To eventually come up with something entirely different; in their search for ginger at the local deli, they found some other interesting spices, like chili peppers, lemon grass, and coriander. The idea emerged to put all the spices of the Thai cuisine into one beer.
Thai Thai is a Belgian Tripel with hop and the following spices: lemon grass, coriander, chili pepper, orange peel, and Thai ginger.
Ceaux Cane is a success story from my hometown Utrecht. Ko Hendriks decided to start brewing beer in 2013. He doesn’t own a brewery but is working together with existing local ones. On a small scale, Ko already produced nine beers. One of these beers is Ceaux Cane – pronounced as cocaine and named this way due to the addition of raw sugar cane.
Ceaux Cane, you can describe as ‘smoked pepper imperial pale ale.’ It is smokey as a heavy whisky and a perfect homecoming drink after a day in the outdoors. Imagine the open fireplace, your damp pair of rain boots, a good friend, a delicious piece of Spanish fuet. You get the picture. In the beer you will recognize hop, malt, caramel, smoke, and pepper.
The beer gets its smokey taste because I use smoked barley malt.
I asked Ko how the beer gets his smokey taste and if the process looks like the producing of whisky. Whisky receives its smokey taste from barley that is dried by smoke from burning turf. He e-mailed this back: “The beer gets a smokey taste because I use smoked barley malt. This barley malt is dried above fire smoke. They use one of these barley malts for Islay whisky too. Therefore the beer gains an iodine taste, comparable to whisky.
Ceaux is also cooperating with the Mesjokke, local chocolate makers te bring a Weisner on the market; a white beer with cacao, banana, and nutmeg, called Ceaux Mesjokke II. I would love to try that beer this summer!
Finally, Castaway by the Hawaiian Kona Brewing Company; the beer that reminds you of hula skirts and tiki bars. A father and son started the brewing company in 1995 on the Hawaiian island of Kona.
Castaway is an IPA, again hop, citrus, and caramel malt, with the unique additions of pineapple and passion fruit. Kona beer has – so called – terroir. That is a taste association with a particular area; the way Guinness would remind you of Ireland. The ingredients of Kona stem exclusively from Hawaiian soil so says this blog post.
Besides, Kona is not made in Hawaii only. The brewery is part of a greater alliance called Craft Brew Alliance, and they brew Kona within the cooperating breweries too. Chances are my bottle of Kona is not brewed in Hawaii at all. Some beer lovers are pretty pissed off about that, according to this lawsuit.
I get that.
Knowing where your beer was made and by whom makes microbrewing attractive. You shouldn’t spoil that with broad beer alliances. What brings me to the next important topic:
What beers are you going to drink this summer?