“So here we are after all,” Ernst Jansz of Doe Maar sang in ‘Belle Hélène’. Involuntarily I played that tune in my head when six years ago the Foundation Week of Dutch Beer was established. A – especially for that time – unlikely band of companion joined forces to take the promotion of Dutch beer firmly in hand. With the first anniversary under the belt we can proudly look back.
The Foundation particularly wanted to be an inspiring umbrella for everyone engaging in activities that promoted a sensible consumption of beer brewed in the Netherlands or otherwise promoting the Dutch beer culture. Much more it couldn’t do because of the broad nature of the participants. And much more it still can’t do, but that doesn’t change the significance. In fact, amongst the many things that I am proud of, the contribution me and Bier&cO made to this week and the Foundation is definitely in my top 3. The fact we could unite producers (large and small), stakeholders from the bar industry, consumer union, beer trade and media to see common ground was quite an achievement. Until then, any blood ran its own course.
The “Dutch Beer Tasting Festival”, traditionally the opening event of the Week of Dutch beer, consequently also celebrated its fifth anniversary. And to quote good old Sepp Blatter: “This beer tasting festival was the best ever!” While we had pain in the first year to find enough breweries wishing to participate we now had to disappoint people (with almost fifty brewers partaking! ). The atmosphere was supreme but the most eye-catching for me continues to be the transformation the audience has gone through. With an estimated average age of early thirties and a harmonious distribution in terms of gender the crowd was not reminiscent at all of what one would see a decade ago. There were invariably potbellied, excessively hairy, sandals-with-white-tennis-socks wearing beer fanatics, carrying a tattered notebook wile dressed in a more or less stained T-shirt from an obscure foreign beer fest in a fabric shoulder bag. And then there would be the men of course – far in the majority, but in a similar uniform. This is almost no more – though it seems to remain a white people’s thing only, which surprises me. Why would that be – anyone?
The Dutch Beer Tasting Festival has drawn thousands of visitors who have enjoyed the best on offer from a cross section of Dutch brewers. Thus, the diversity of the Dutch beer culture has been able to show itself to the full. The Dutch beer culture, which nowadays quality wise ranks amongst the world’s best, was locked up almost six years ago. The growth of openness and approachability, confidence, creativity, quality, diversity and above all professionalism of Dutch Brewers is partly due to this Beer Tasting Festival and the Foundation behind it. Abroad people take us an example: where eventually an entire sector joins forces for the benefit of all. Not only is the lock off the door, the industry has created its own success and created conditions so that the future of the Netherlands as a beer country looks tasty and bright.
Next weekend you can visit the Open Brewery Days, as closing event of the Week of Dutch beer. I recommend you to participate: nowadays everyone has a brewery in the neighborhood! And then the bookmakers may start taking bets: how many breweries will we have in the Netherlands in the Sixth Week of Dutch Beer?