Thursday, 5 August 2021


Heineken wasn't the only large brewery in Rotterdam. There was one far older concern: Oranjeboom Though the two breweries were connected.

Most of the information below comes from the Biernet site.

Founded as Brouwerij d'Orangienboom in 1670, its original home was in the city centre on the Nieuwe Haven. Though this site was only active until 1682, when production was concentrated at their other brewery on Coolvest.

Oranjeboom went through various owners before coming into the hands of the Baartz family in 1828. After Heineken's success with Lager, Oranjeboom considered building a new Lager plant in 1871. This was headed off by Heineken, who were about to build their own Lager plant in the city. Willem Baartz took shares in the newly-established Heinekens Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij. The plan was that Heineken's Rotterdam brewery would produce only Lagers, while Oranjeboomstuck with top-fermenting beers.

Things turned sour in 1884, when Heineken got wind of Oranjeboom's plan to buy a Linde ice machine, which they thought was meant for producing Lager. They went ahead and in 1885 opened a new brewery on the south side of the Maas, which was capable of brewing both top- and bottom-fermenting beers. 

 As you can see from the photo, it was a substantial affair.

Interestingly, for the first couple of decades after completing the new premises, Oranjeboom stuck to mostly top-fermenting"

The last topic was an introduction to the visit to the Brewery and Ice Factory "d'Oranjeboom". In connection with the fact that only about two years ago Heineken's brewery in Amsterdam had been discussed in more detail, now only a few technical details of "d'Oranjeboom" have been pointed out. As far as the brewing process is concerned, it should be noted that this brewery for both types of fermentation is just as completely set up, yet it has remained by far for the most part faithful to the top fermentation. After the meeting many people took part in the visit.
Het Vaderland 06-02-1903 

They brewed a lot of beer by Dutch standards - in 1896 more than 200,000 hl.

Here's what they were brewing between the wars:

Oranjeboom beers in 1933
Beer Style OG Plato FG Plato ABV App. Attenua-tion kg hops/ 100 kg hops kg/hl
G (Gerste) Dark Lager 8.33 4.30 2.15 49.21% 1.15 0.13
GL (Gerste Licht) Pale Lager 8.47 2.50 3.16 71.18% 1.21 0.14
P Pilsner 11.52 3.50 4.31 70.57% 1.15 0.18
M Münchener 11.98 5.90 3.31 51.92% 0.80 0.13
St Stout 16.10 6.90 5.10 58.66% 1.87 0.41
Bk Bock 16.60 7.80 4.90 54.60% 0.93 0.22
Oranjeboom brewing record.

In 1961 Oranjeboom merged with Werthabrouwerij (Weert), Phoenix Bierbrouwerij (Amersfoort), Keizer Barbarossa (Groningen) and Zuid Hollandse Bierbrouwerij (Den Haag). Not much later Oranjeboom theselves fell to the UKs Allied Breweries in 1967. A year layer they were bundled together with De Drie Hoefijzers from Breda.

Here are some postwar beers. Given the low ABV, they must have been brewed specifically for the UK market

Oranjeboom beers 1957 - 1967
Year Beer Style Price (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1957 Dutch Lager Lager   1035.4 1007.5 3.62 78.81% 10
1957 Dutch Pilsener Pils 42 1033.3 1007.8 3.31 76.58% 9
1961 Dutch Pilsner Pils 36 1031.1 1006.9 3.02 77.81% 9.5
1963 Pilsner Lager Pils 42 1031.6 1005.9 3.21 81.33% 7.5
1967 Pilsner Lager Pils 35 1031 1006 3.13 80.65% 8.5
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

In a disastrous move, Allied insisted that all their beer in Holland be branded as Skol. Something that didn't help sales at all. I can remember many cafes being branded Skol when I lived in Rotterdam in 1987. Though a little earlier they had reintroduced the Oranjeboom name at pubs were gradually reverting to that livery.

All a little too late to save the brewery, which closed in 1989.


Mike said...

Ah, that explains why there was skol in the pub when I visited the Netherlands in 1987 as an impressionable teenager.

Phil said...

I remember Allied punting Oranjeboom as a brand in the UK in the early 80s(?). They obviously reckoned the name was the big hurdle, and had TV adverts where it was pronounced clearly and distinctly: "o-RAN-ji-boom". My OH remembers an ad with a jingle to drive the point home:
"Oranjeboom, Oranjeboom,
It's a lager, not a tune".
(No, me neither.)

Maybe it would have failed even sooner than it did if they'd gone with "o-RAHN-yeh-bohm". I suspect that if the beer had taken off, none of that would have mattered - ISTR when Skol first came in there were adverts insisting that it wasn't pronounced... well, 'skol'... but something more like "shkoahl".

Mike in NSW said...

I have fond memories of Oranjeboom in the UK back in the 1970s. It made a welcome change from the fake Heineken brewed in the UK, not to mention the fake Harp and pretty awful local brews like Alpine Lager (Camerons)and the equally vile McEwan's lager etc. I used to get it from Marks and Spencer

Steve D. said...

When I visited Amsterdam in November 2000 (this is the most recent time I visited Europe), I was informed that if I visited a small bar which was not necessarily a craft beer venue, that its "house" beer was likely Oranjeboom.
Oranjeboom is being imported to the U.S.A. I bought a 6-pack of 500 mL cans at Trader Joe's in November 2020.

As a tribute to the House of Orange, the Orange Tree crest, symbolizing the family tree of the Dutch Royal family 'Oranje-Nassau', was introduced and the Oranjeboom brand was born.
Oranjeboom is one of Holland's oldest brands. Since we started shipping beer in 1899 to almost every corner of the world, Oranjeboom has been appreciated for its refreshing, outstanding quality.

Beer imported by Mutual Wholesale Liquor; Commerce, California.
Brewed and canned in Germany by Hofbrauhaus Wolters GmbH; Braunschweig, Germany.