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Good news about Dutch beer 29 May 2009

Posted by cooperatoby in beer.
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Before and after a sip of Texelse Stormbock

Before and after a sip of Texelse Stormbock

Yes, Simon, I had to get round to beer eventually – one can’t go on being profound for ever. We cycled up from Amsterdam to Texel last weekend, which was an exhilarating ride along the dunes, with the wind behind us. In the Hondsbos I could manage 27 km/hr on the flat, measured by the mileposts.

The harbinger of unexpected good fortune was when we took a break in Schoorl, an outpost of Texelse Tripel. I never knew the island had a brewery, and certainly not one aware enough to be brewing a tripel. The execrable offering at the Den Helder ferry terminal – canned Heineken or canned Heineken to a captive market – how do they get away with it? – was extremely discouraging. But sure enough, the Texelse Bierbrouwerij opened up 10 years ago in a disused dairy just outside Oudeschild, the island’s main port. It brews 400,000 litres a year in the form of nine excellent bottle-conditioned beers, from witbier to Stormbock (9.5%), which are widely available on the island but hardly anywhere else – 85% of output is drunk there. The two bocks won 3rd place at last year’s Dutch bokbierfest.

The malt is island-grown, but oddly enough is exported to Belgium to be malted. Another oddity is that they use only brand-new bottles, and let the mega-breweries do their recycling for them (a 10-cent bottle deposit is legally required – unlike in Britain where the good old recyclable London Brewers’ Standard pint bottle seems to have quite disappeared over the last decade).

The place also makes a tourist industry out of brewery tours – they cost 7 euros and come complete with jokes about how drunk the sheep get when they eat the spent grains (there are 16,000 sheep on Texel, a few more than the number of humans). And of course there’s the proeflokaal or brewery tap. Beer gardens are a fine invention, and on this sunny weekend, it was bliss to taste (part of) the Texelse range in the yard behind the brewery.

The IJbrouwerij‘s garden forms this blog’s masthead in case you hadn’t recognised it – and it now has a competitor!

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