Brouwerij De Keyzer

I have to say that Brouwerij De Keyzer is hands down the winner of the strangest brewery tour I’ve ever taken. At first I was all excited when I found out there was an old brewery (established in 1758) right in the town of Maastricht, and they gave a tour every Saturday. So I signed up, even though it’s only given in Dutch, figuring the international language of beer would be easy to understand, especially with all the brewing equipment around. As it so happened, that didn’t quite turn out to be the case.

The tour started at the tourist information center building and had three or four stops along the walk to the brewery, during which the guide gave long explanatory speeches about local landmarks or history or what he had for lunch. I don’t know because I don’t speak Dutch. But we finally made it into the De Keyzer building, and we stood in the inner courtyard as he gave yet another long speech. But there were a few things to distract me: an old beer barrel transportation device, some hop vines on a wall, an old dog lying in the sun. Then we went back outside and entered the adjoining building. The ground floor was empty except for a few benches and some brewing-related photographs on the walls. The guide then stood in front of us and gave another long speech. To his credit, as he talked, the Dutch folk taking the tour would periodically laugh, so he wasn’t just droning on and on.

After the long explanation of the brewing process, or perhaps an amusing re-telling of how his cat had stolen the family car, we headed upstairs to the top floor. The second floor was empty except for a couple old boring artifacts, like shovels. The third floor had an old device in the middle, but otherwise it was empty. The top two floors were pretty much empty. The guide gave long speeches on each floor. It was, in a word, baffling. Where was the brewery? I thought I had signed up for a brewery tour. You’d think someone would have mentioned that there’s no actual brewery in this brewery tour. A few nice folks on the tour tried to translate bits and pieces for me, but there wasn’t much point, as far as I was concerned. It had become something else, something bizarre. I would just have to go along for the ride and hope it would end soon.

The tour did actually pick up a little at the end when the guide took us into a room off the inner courtyard and switched on the old pulley-driven mash tun, and when we were in the room with all the various old bottling machines that look like torture devices, and finally at the beer tasting. They have two beers (who brews it and where is still a mystery to me), and I was able to get a full bottle of the one that I liked. So that was something.

double saison

De Keyzer’s Double Saison, with snacks — Maastricht, Netherlands

    Rob’s Pick

  • Double Saison – 6.5% – Not much of an aroma. Flavor pretty subtle. Dark in color but light in taste. Subtle maltiness, subtle alcohol, quite enjoyable.
    The Rest

  • Troublette – 5.5% – wit bier – Kind of sweet, light, with a bit of coriander flavor. Sweetness builds up, need to drink this with food/snacks. Lots of spices in the recipe. Seems to be brewed for Brasserie Caracole.

There were a bunch of Germans in the brewery, too, getting their own tour in German. If an English-speaking tour had then come through, I would have been pretty annoyed.

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Oudaen Brewpub

This brouwerij and restaurant has a prime location above the Oudegracht and seems to attract more of a professional clientele. There were lots of suits and loosened ties while I was there. The beer is similar: clean, smooth, doesn’t take chances. So it’s a great place to unwind after a busy day at the office. I stayed at the bar, which is the way to go — the bar staff were pretty cool.

Oudaen had five taps going: three year-round beers, one seasonal, and the fifth was Gemeente Pils, which was tap water — a brewery with a sense of humor — always a good thing.

Oudaen sampler

Oudaen sampler — Utrecht, Netherlands

    Rob’s Picks

  • Lentebock – seasonal – 6.8% – Quite nice for a bock. Not the usual malty sweetness. Caramel and alcohol flavors. Like a light tripel. Better after it warms up a little.
  • Linteloo Gold – 5% – Brisk little lager. Light, maybe a touch watery, but with a slight bitter floral edge. Hoppiest of the three regulars. Good summer beer.
    The Rest

  • Jonge Daen – 5% – Kristal/Weizen – Also light, but with a citrus-y edge. Good summer beer.
  • Ouwe Daen – 5% – Wheat – Very light. I think I sense a pattern here. Not very bready, but with a slight honey taste. This is their most popular selection. Good summer beer.

I have to say, it’s kind of nice to visit breweries that only make a few beers. Makes it a lot easier to get through a sampler set.

Brouwerij De 7 Deugden

My Dutch brewery tour continues, this time with Brouwerij De 7 Deugden (7 Stars Brewery). They did their first bottling in March, so they are Amsterdam’s newest brewery, although Veenhuizen’s Maallust is slightly newer. Heard about these two via a colleague of Rene’s, the beer connoisseur Harry Pinkster, whose web site details all the Dutch breweries and beers he’s tried. I also found out via his site that I basically walked right by Brouwerij Zeeburg while meandering around the neighborhood near the IJ Brewery. Doh!

7 Deugden is not as centrally located as the others, and especially not as De Prael, a brewpub located smack dab in the city center that was unfortunately closed April 26th to May 26th in order to move to a new, bigger location, just around the corner from its original spot. But it was a pretty straightforward trip to 7 Deugden’s west Amsterdam location. Tram 17 to its second to last stop, then a mile north along Osdorperweg, which starts as a bike/pedestrian path but becomes a regular road, with the same name conveniently enough. You can also take tram 13 to its end, but you have to wander through some neighborhood streets and then hop on a bike path through the fields for a bit. Straightforward or adventurous, your pick.

The owner spent time in Colorado and brought back a few experimental ideas with him. He’s still tweaking the recipes, so basically your mileage may vary if and when you try these. Nice folks at 7 Deugden — I wish them much success.

De 7 Deugden

Tasting a beer at De 7 Deugden — Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Rob’s Picks

  • Wijs+Neuzig – 5% – (Wise and Nosey) Spicy aroma, light in color. Immediate zing, then mellows to a nice maltiness, with a bit of a hoppy finish. Slight tart edge. Really fun summer beer.
  • Stout+Moedig – 7.5% – (Stout and Bold) Very dark color. Sweet, strong aroma. Thicker than the others. Initial sweetness to good coffee flavor, then nice smokiness. Can still taste the malty base. A Dutch stout.
  • Dubbel+Dik – 7.5% – (Dubbel and Fat) This might be my favorite dubbel so far, which isn’t saying much, mainly because it’s not as sweet as the other dubbels. I think it’s pretty good, but folks who like the regular dubbels probably won’t like this one…
    The Rest

  • Arm+Zalig – 5% – (Poor and Glorious) Made with juniper berries. They add a little something to the subtle aroma and give a nice balance to the malty sweetness. But a little too light and watery on the tongue for me.
  • Scherp+Zinnig – 5% – (Sharp and Sensible) Fruity aroma. Light, but a fuller taste than A+Z. Good hoppiness. It’s a chili pepper beer, but this batch didn’t have enough peppers, so the spiciness is very, very subtle, although it’s more present in the aftertaste as it builds up. Does add a slight edge to an otherwise lightly bready blond. Still tweaking the recipe — first batch was way too spicy, apparently, but next batch will kick it up a bit. Probably would’ve been a Pick if it had been spicier.
  • Scheepsrecht – 8% – (hard to translate, sort of “third time hits true”) Tripel made with cloves. Strong clove aroma and taste. Blends really well with the caramel flavor. Very drinkable, too, but the clove taste became a bit too much for me. A little less clove and this would be great.

They do not yet have logo glassware, which I suppose is good for me. Carrying around one glass through Europe is one glass too many — two glasses would be even worse. I did manage to travel around Patagonia with three glasses at one point, but I like to think I can learn something from past experiences. Guess I’ll see how well that holds up…

Brouwerij ‘t IJ

This Amsterdam brewery has been around since the 80s, is located at a windmill, and brews up organic beers. And with a name like Brouwerij ‘t IJ, I just had to visit. They had five beers on tap and one more in a bottle, so it was good I had all late afternoon and early evening to relax with a sampler tray and a small plate of sheep cheese from a local farm where the sheep are fed the spent grain from the brewery. I wanted to ask if they had a file on the particular sheep that produced the milk and if that sheep was happy, had sheep friends, but I didn’t think they’d get the Portlandia joke.

The brewery is open only from 3:00 to 8:00, and they do a free tour Fridays at 4:00. I showed up on Thursday so I just got to drink beer. There were a few folks already enjoying a brew in the sun when I arrived around 5:00, and it just got more and more crowded until it was basically standing room only when they closed.

brewery at the windmill

The very photogenic Brouwerij ‘t IJ — Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Rob’s Picks

  • Plzen – 5% – Bready, slight honey flavor. Good bitterness. Not too light. A good beer.
  • Zatte – 8% – Their Belgian Tripel style. Nutty, smooth, and really nice. Darkest in color of the five on tap.
  • Columbus – 9% – Tastes kind of like a tripel. Complex sweet caramel, strong alcohol, but with a slight spiciness. A beer to drink slowly.
    The Rest

  • IJWit – 7% – Sweeter and smoother than the Plzen. Lemony flavor. Reminds me of a thicker Hoegaarden. Vaguely oily on the tongue, which was interesting.
  • Natte – 6.5% – Less nutty, more sweet, lighter in color than the Zatte. This is their dubbel. Still looking for a dubbel that I really like…
  • Strius – 9% – bottle – Much more like the Belgian dubbels I’ve had. Pretty bock-y, with that sweetness I’m not so fond of.
IJ sampler

Sampler tray at the IJ — Amsterdam, Netherlands

Turned out they had two different logo glasses for sale. A full-size glass and a smaller taster-size glass. I gave in to temptation and bought the small one. It’s small — so it’s not nearly as crazy as carrying around Europe a large glass for a month. I’m just carrying around Europe a small glass for a month…

Maallust

Got out to a cool new Dutch brewery called Maallust. Unfortunately it doesn’t translate to “bad lust,” which might be appropriate for the Netherlands. Maal means mill, a grain mill, to be precise, and lust is merely liking to do something, in this case mill grain. Bad Lust sounds much more fun, though. Anyway, they’ve been open for about a month or so and have three beers they sell. It’s a small place so that might be it for their beer offerings for the next hundred years or so. Erin, Rene, and I made the trek to the UNESCO-recognized prison museum in Veenhuizen where the brewery is located to check them out. It’s a beautiful building they have, so I hope it’s successful.

Maallust beer selection

The three beers made by Maallust — Veenhuizen, Netherlands

    Rob’s Picks

  • Vienna – Vienna via the Northwest, apparently. Reminiscent of Mac and Jack’s African Amber. Kind of bock-like, but without that bock-y sweetness I don’t like.
  • Blond – Interesting flavors. Bit of maltiness, bit of spiciness, not as light as I expected. Definitely grew on me. A nice surprise of a beer.
    The Rest

  • Weizen – Bit of honey aroma and taste at first. Good breadiness, light on the tongue. Good bubbliness. A fine summer beer, I initially thought. The more I drank, however, the more apparent a green olive taste/aroma became. Hopefully they’ll fix that.
shiny shiny

Shiny new brewing gear at Maallust — Veenhuizen, Netherlands

Maallust had two different styles of glasses available for purchase. This time I gave in to my bad lust for logo glassware and bought the skinny one. I left it with Erin and Rene. When they get around to traveling out to Seattle they’ll bring the glass with them. Works for me. Maybe I can convince them to visit De Halve Maan and Cantillon, too.

happy happy

Me enjoying a Maallust beverage — Veenhuizen, Netherlands

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