styles - history - industry
|Hi, I'm Ronald. I've got an obsessive disorder. My therapist
has told me not to fight against my compulsion, but to channel it
into something constructve.
My first thought was: yes, I know exactly where I want to do some channelling. But I don't want to be locked up again. I've put my anger behind me and built a "webpage". From matchsticks. But they didn't fit too well down the interwebs (they get stuck in the telephone wires). So I've made a "virtual" version, too. I hope you like it.
Dutch brewing industry
Dutch beer styles
Old Dutch beer styles
Dutch beer statistics
|The Dutch brewing industry|
|The ruthless strategy employed by Heineken has left Holland
with just a handful of established independent breweries. Only two breweries
have managed to muster any sort of serious opposition - Bavaria and Grolsch.
Their strategies have been very different; Grolsch has concentrated on quality,
Bavaria on price. Guess which I prefer.
The current number of active breweries is 68 (well, 58 physical breweries). They break down as follows:
| Centraal Brouwerij
1016 BX Amsterdam.
1001 AG Amsterdam.
Tel: 020-625 22 51
Fax: 020-622 60 74
The big boys' club.
Founded in 2003, around 40 smaller, new breweries are members.
|Beer Drinkers' Organisation
The Dutch beer consumers organisation (an EBCU member) is:
1001 AN Amsterdam.
PINT (Vereniging Promotie INformatie Traditioneel Bier) was founded 14th October 1980 as one of the first beer organisations in continenal Europe. It has around 3,000 members.
|Dutch Beer styles|
|The beers brewed in Holland can be roughly classified into four groups:
lagers. That's their bread and butter. All have played around with other styles as beer consumption has fallen and more Belgian ales have been imported. Even Heineken (with Wieckse Witte) have had a try. But it's clear that they consider top-fermenting beer as no more than a lucrative niche market. Before 1980, the entire Dutch beer industry was bottom-fermenting. Of the micros, only St. Christoffel concentrates on bottom-fermented beers.
The microbreweies and (occasional brewpubs) founded in the last couple of decades usually top ferment. Their founders were inspired by Belgian imports and have strived to emulate them. With varying degrees of success, it must be said. Some have fully taken on board the Belgian philosohphy and brew individual beers that belong to no specific style. Again, with varying degrees of success.
Occasionally, a new brewery has drawn influences from British brewing. Some in the form of a single beer, others in their whole range. Only the ex-Firkin brewpub in The Hague has ever done the full monty of cask condtioning.
Rarest of all are old Dutch beer styles. Only Jopen have made a real commitment to reviving pre-lager types.
Pils, pils and more pils. The older breweries produce little other than pils. It can get very dull.
Browse through old Heineken labels and you'll see that they used to make a full range of lager styles - Vienna, Münchner, etc. Sadly, those days are long gone. Some of the independent breweries make a Dortmunder Export, but that's about it for lager styles. Except, of course, for seasonal Bocks in the Spring and Autumn.
Lager brewing started at the end of the 19th century, when new, specialist bottom-fermenting breweries were built. Here are a few examples:
The beer that they initially brewed was a dark Münchener lager. The first pale "Pilsner bier" didn't appear until around the turn of the century.
In 1980 Dutch breweries were 100% bottom-fermenting, except for La Trappe. The new microbreweries which began to appear in the mid-1980's found their inspiration south of the border. They mostly tried to emulate abbey-style ales - Dubbel and Tripel.
Before bottom-fermenting hit the Netherlands in the 1860's, many Dutch breweries tried their hand at British styles. In some cases these hung on well into the 20th century.
New Dutch breweries have been keener on Belgian stuff than the wonderful top-fermenting tradition (I had promised myself never to use that word again, unless my plums were in a nutcracker) of the British Isles .
Mostly brewed by a single contract brewer, Jopen.
Old Dutch Beer Styles
|Dutch Beer styles 1880 - 1900|
a fascinating document hidden away in an appendix of "Korte Geschiedenis
der Heineken's Bierbouwerij Maatscappij N.V. 1873 - 1948". It's the
draft of an 1893 price-fixing agreement between Amsterdam brewers.
What's so interesting about it? Well, it gives us a glimpse of the beer styles then being brewed in Holland.
Gerste No. 1 and the even lower quality Gerste No. 2 formed a major part of Heinken's output in the late 1880's. Both were bottom-fermented beers, using the Heineken D-yeast. Stronger beers and those intended for export used the A-yeast - still used by Heineken today. They were isolated in Heineken's Rotterdam brewery in 1885. The A-strain was sold on to breweries in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. Apparently, the Heineken yeast was used by many Munich breweries because they were unable to propagate single-strain cultures as effectively.
(Source: "Korte Geschiedenis der Heineken's Bierbouwerij Maatschappij N.V. 1873 - 1948" (p.110-113))
In 1875 Heineken exported beer slightly differently during the winter months. Their Lagerbier (or Bière de Conserve as it was called in French-speaking countries) was delivered in two forms: with or without yeast. The reason for this was that, in cold weather, beer could freeze in transit. Evidently this destroyed the flavour. The presence of yeast in the barrel helped to prevent the beer freezing. The beer with yeast was intended for immediate consumption, whereas that without could be kept longer. Other brewers (according to Heineken) produced a lighter beer in the Winter that was sold 3 or 3.5 weeks old - very young. I wonder how long your average Heineken today spends between mash and stomach?
(Source: "Korte Geschiedenis der Heineken's Bierbouwerij Maatschappij N.V. 1873 - 1948" (p.73))
|More breweries, more beer styles
This excellent site of old Dutch beer labels gives a good impression of the range of styles once brewed in Holland.
|Dutch Beer Styles in the 20th Century|
Dutch Beer Statistics
|Beer production by type|
Het Nederlands Bierboek, Dave Vlam, 1987
|Beer Consumption, Imports and Exports (1,000 hl):|
(3,344 to USA)
|consumption per head||200$||300$||40$||42.1b||26.8a||10.8a||10+||73a||89.1b||87.5c||83.4c||84.5c||86#||85+||83.6+||82.9+||79.9+||81.3+||82.3+||82.4+||84.2+||82.4+||82.7+||81.3+||79.2+||78.75+||79.5+||77.9+|
+ Centraal Brouwerij Kantoor
* calculated from the other figures
# Larousse la bière, 1988
@ World Guide to Beer, Michael Jackson, 1977
$ Bier! Geschiedenis van een Volksdrank, 1994 (p. 76 - 79)
a Bier in Limburg, Sef Derkx, 1990
b Het Nederlands Bierboek, Dave Vlam, 1987
c Bier in Belgie, Geert van Lierde, 1992
|Number of breweries by province|
* Het Nederlands Bierboek, Dave Vlam, 1987
# Bier in Limburg, Sef Derkx, 1990
@ Biersmaken, Peter Crombecq, 1985
$ PINT homepage, 1998
a Nederlands Etiketten Logboek, 1998
b my calculation
c Centraal Brouwerij Kantoor
|Heineken beer production (hl) and %age of Dutch total|
a - "Korte Geschiedenis der Heineken's Bierbouwerij Maatschappij N.V. 1873 - 1948" (p.75)
b - "Korte Geschiedenis der Heineken's Bierbouwerij Maatschappij N.V. 1873 - 1948" (p.197)
c - Heineken annual report 2002
|Grolsche Bierbrouwerij N.V.
|Brouwerij De Leeuw||Valkenburg||Haacht||150,000|
|B.V. Gulpener Bierbrouwerij
|Hertog Jan Brouwerij||Arcen||Interbrew||50,000|
|La Trappe Brouwerij||Tilburg||Bavaria||22,000|
|Budels Brouwerij B.V.
|Friese Brouwerij Us Heit||Bolsward||Microbrewery||5,000|
|St. Christoffel Bierbrouwerij||Roermond||Microbrewery||5,000|
|Brouwerij De Halve Maan
|Brouwerij het Ij||Amsterdam||Microbrewery||2,000|
|De Drie Ringen
|Brouwerij Erve Kots
|Brouwerij De Leckere||De Meern||Microbrewery||1,000|
I have assumed Heineken's production is split evenly between its two breweries.
|Sales in the Netherlands (1,000 hl)|
|brewery group||1999 (hl)||1999 (%)||2000 (hl)||2000 (%)||2001 (hl)||2001 (%)||2002 (hl)||2002 (%)||2003 (hl)||2003 (%)||2004 (hl)||2004 (%)|
|Grolsche Bierbrouwerij N.V.
|Total top 3||9,970||77.4%||9,670||75.7%|
+ Centraal Brouwerij Kantoor
a Bavaria website
b Heineken website
c Grolsch website
More Dutch Beer Pages
|Dutch pub guides||
Dutch Brewery Pages
|Amsterdam Pub Guide|
|Rotterdam Pub Guide|
|Haarlem Pub Guide|
|The Hague (Den Haag) Pub Guide|
|Utrecht Pub Guide|
|Pub Guides to Other Dutch Towns|
More Beer Pages