Monday 10 February 2020

Brewing in Holland

I've been poking around in Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette, looking for stuff about other countries.

Frustratingly, articles about foreign brewing aften contain more useful details than those about the local industry. Because they assume you know certtain things and don't bother to explain them. While the exotic world of foreign brewing is described in detail.

Dutch brewing gets a much easier ride than Belgian.
"Brewing in Holland.
A DUTCH correspondent of the German Brewers' Journal sends the following:— lt is perfectly true that not so much beer is drunk in Holland as in Belgium. In Belgium the popular drink is beer; in Holland it is geneva. But it is likewise true that brewing is making gigantic strides in Holland. The new law for the repression of drunkenness, which came into force on the 1st November last, aims at discouraging the consumption of ardent spirits by reducing the number of places of retail, and this, together with the heavy fines now imposed for drunkenness in public, tends to improve brewing prospects by encouraging the consumption of beer. It is incorrect to say that the beer is only sold in jars or flasks. Such is the practice in Oosterhout, Raamsdoak, Heusdenhout, Roosendaal, Wour Ondenbosch, and wherever the beer has a gravity of at least 1.003 and contains much lactic acid. This, the so-called "white beer" in flasks, is very effervescent, and can be drunk to satisfy without producing intoxication. When speaking of the progress of brewing in Holland mention must not be omitted of the great Bavarian breweries for which the firm of Heineken has become famous. The beer brewed by this firm is in much request even abroad, and after the manner of many of the larger German brewers, it is packed in special railway vans refrigerated with ice. There are also very large breweries working on the surface-fermentation system, among which three may be named, that of Vollenhoven, at Amsterdam ; of Buuartz, at Rotterdam; and of Smits van Waesbeghe, at Breda. The production in the two first-named establishments is to the full as large as in the best Belgian breweries. The last-named firm (Smits van Waesbeghe), although only producing 10,000 hectolitres per annum, is noted for the fineness of its beers, which have won for it special commendation at various exhibitions, whilst its head has proved himself at various congresses to be a man at the top of his profession. No good beer is brewed at Herzogenbosch, and still less at Grave."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Monday 01 May 1882, pages 14 - 15.
That's obviously some sort of Witbier being described. Was it called that it Dutch? Or do they mean Prinsessenbier or something similar? Whatever it was, it clearly had a bvery low ABV if it didn't get you pissed.

It's a sign of Heineken's rapid success that already in 1880 they were internationally renowned. When this article was written they had only been bottom-fermenting for about a decade.

Even many Dutch people don't realise that for the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, Holland wasn't really a beer-drinking country. It's only after WW II its drinkers could compete with the Belgians, Germans of British in terms of beer consumption.

By "surface-fermentation" I assume the author means top fermentation.That's certainly what Van Vollenhoven concentrated on, being famous for their Stout. (A version of which is still brewed.) It seems that, unlike in Belgium, some Dutch top-fermenting beer did meet British standards.


Roel Mulder said...

Nice find, Ron.
Interesting to read about Brabant white beer this late, I assumed it had vanished by then in the Netherlands. In the 18th and early 19th century, white beer was *the* Brabant beer. Various recipes exist, usually with various grains such as wheat, oats, spelt or buckwheat.
Across the border in the Belgian part of Brabant, white beer survived even longer of course: that of Hoegaarden, Leuven and Antwerp (seef).
By the end of the 19th century, Dutch Brabant was more into drinking sour old brown varieties, of which the later commercial Oud Bruin (by Heineken and the like) was a cheap imitation.
As you probably noticed, they severely garbled some Dutch names.
Raamsdoak = Raamsdonk
Wour = Wouw
Ondenbosch = Oudenbosch
Buuartz = Baartz (Oranjeboom)

Martyn Cornell said...

Presumably being "Bavarian" this was still dark lager, rather than pale.