Being trendy is not something I've often been accused of. Having determinedly kept my finger as far away from the pulse as physically possible for five decades. I'm just glad that I still have a pulse.
Not living under a rock and occasionally venturing out, I do sometimes notice things. For example, while Andrew is loading up with this week's special offer Pils, I often run my eyes over Dirk's* beer selection.
IPA started turning up a few years back. But relatively mainstream ones, in the form of Brand or 't Ij. More recently, crafty stuff has been appearing. OK, Oedipus, now owned by Heineken, isn't true craft any more. Some of the others are more worthy of the description. (If you think that it still means something.)
Great you might say. Not so much for me. Because they no longer sell any Trappist beers. As elsewhere in Holland, the range of Belgian beers available is being trimmed back. There's still Leffe Gulden Draak, Kasteel, La Chouffe, Duvel and Tripel Karmeliet on offer. Even Duvel Tripel Hop. But that's about it for Belgium.
When I was first in Holland, "special beer", as it was called, was all about Belgium. Even if the beer didn't come from there, it was inspired by it. T Ij, and the handful of other small Ducth breweries, mostly brewed Dubbels, Tripels and the like. Though there are still quite a few Belgian beers hanging around, newer Dutch brewers seek their inspiration elsewhere. Mostly the other side of the Atlantic. (Like everywhere else in the world.)
In the last couple of years there's been a big change in the draught offerings from pubs. Once about all you could expect was Pils, Witbier, De Koninck and maybe La Chouffe or an Ij beer. De Koninck, once the most widely available draught beer after Pils, has become a rarity. La Chouffe, which used to be all over the place, is becoming scarcer, too.
What's the current situation? Pils still reigns supreme,, obviously. That's far from displaced as Holland's favourite. But Witbier is increasingly being replaced by Hefeweizen. Usually either Paulaner (owned by Heineken),
Augustiner Franziskaner (AB-Inbev) or Grolsch (Asahi).
Popping up everywhere is IPA. Like to guess which one is most common? It's not local favourite 't Ij IPA (now with a non-sexist label). No. Obviously, it's Lagunitas. Belonging to the Heineken stable helps. What with them having so many pubs tied to them.
That sums up what's happening in mainstream pubs, that is, non-specialist craft places. It's very different from the oceans of Pils and few bottles of Trappist on offer when I first arrived here. Craft places. Well, the few times I pop my around their doors, it's all the usual international stuff: Loads of IPAs of varying degrees of sludginess.
One thing hasn't changed, though. Most of the pub trade is still in the hands of big brewers. They've just, wisely in my opinion, broadened their focus. Why do you think people like Heineken have been buying up craft brewers? They need their products for their pubs. And they don't want to have to buy them from someone else. That would be stupid.
* Dirk van den Broek, a fairly cheap supermarket chain.