Beer with herbs
We all associate Holland with something else. Some of us associate it with the canals of Amsterdam, cannabis, and the Red-Light District, while others associate it with herring and eels from small fishing villages. The canals in Amsterdam are quite dirty, I don’t take pleasure in marijuana, and the Red Lanterns didn’t really impress me at all. That leaves fish, which I love, and Beer. Wonderful Holland beer, which has been brewed in the Netherlands for centuries.
Unfortunately, Holland beer, except for Heineken, of course, is not very well known in Israel. So, I was very happy to find three brands from the Dutch craft brewery Jopen on the store shelf.
Holland has always been famous for its sailors and brewers. Beer has been brewed in this country for centuries. So, in 1992, when the City Council of Haarlem conducted a survey on what could be done for the city for the 750th anniversary of its founding, the residents decided that beer should be brewed. And not just any beer, but the kind of beer their grandfathers and great-grandfathers brewed. That same year, 1992, the Harlem Beer Society was founded. It began to revive old beer recipes. Even Dutch archaeologists and the Catholic University of Leuven were involved. It was for the production of traditional Dutch beer that the Jopen Craft Brewery was created.
The first one I tried was a Jopen Jacobus RPA. A pale ale with the addition of rye malt. This is evident from the name of the RPA – Rye Pale Ale. The beer contains 5.5% alcohol. It is beautiful. The beer has a nice amber color with a good high foam (of course, they put so many hops!). Very bright, I would say aggressive, aroma of American hops. In particular, a nice bouquet of oranges, pine and bitter citrus.
After such a flavor you expect to continue, but… suddenly you fall into the abyss. A complete breakdown of taste. There is only bitterness in the palate, no sense of body, no alcohol. Only bitterness in the mouth. Usually, the rye malt gives a nice but clear sourness to the taste and a beautiful red color. But I did not notice any trace of rye malt in the taste or color. There is a lot of confusion with this one. The website says it will hold 21%(!) density. That’s a lot. A beer like this should have a very full body and high alcohol. Neither of these things can be found…
Next up was Jopen Northsea IPA. A beautiful American IPA. A perfectly balanced beer with 6.5% alcohol and 16% density. This is a great combination – the beer is moderately strong and with a good body. The aroma is a blend of different brands of American hops. It is similar to the previous beer, but smoother, less aggressive and more full-bodied in consistency. High bitterness, almost at the upper limit for this kind of beer, but it fits harmoniously into the overall ensemble. I don’t want to go into too much detail, for those who like bitter beers, this is the best!
It was getting close to lunchtime, and my appetite was running high. But I didn’t have any of the snacks that are supposed to go with this beer. So, I snacked on… figs that were in the fridge. The figs were so-so (not Baku figs), but the beer was excellent! And together they complemented each other well. The bitterness of beer and sweetness of figs, spicy flavor of citrus and pine complemented perfectly the sweetish flavor of figs. Try it, you won’t go wrong!
The last beer at the tasting was Jopen Koyt. The beer that was the basis of the Jopen brewery. The beer was brewed according to a recipe from 1407(!). In those distant times hops were not yet used in brewing. For taste and bitterness mixtures of various herbs were added to the beer. These mixtures were called Gruit. (Gruit), and in Holland it was called Koyt. Legend has it that these herbs had a hallucinogenic effect, and to avoid it, the herbs could only be gathered by naked witches during the full moon. If the beer is indeed brewed according to the original recipe, then we must admit that in those distant days in Holland people understood what delicious beer was!
The beer is dark brown in color. With a good, fine-grained, heavy foam. Aroma is alcoholic, but very subtle and delicate. A little pine and caramel, a very interesting combination – gentle, not intrusive and rich at the same time. Bitterness is moderate, density and roundness are felt in the taste, or rather some kind of creaminess. Wheat malt and oatmeal give it to the beer. The beer is strong, as much as 8.5% alcohol! Nevertheless, it drinks very smoothly. During the tasting I did not wait for lunch, but, nevertheless, I did not drink this beer with anything. It’s good on its own and doesn’t need any decoration.
This is the interesting beer I tasted today. The beers are different, not unambiguous, but you have to try them, especially the last one. If only to touch the history of brewing!