I have a confession to make, I keep a list of breweries and brewers that I would love to have take part in my Brewer of the Week series. So far I have ticked off that list the likes of Fuller's, Nøgne Ø and Lovibond's. Well today I get to take another name from that select list.
Name: Menno Olivier, filled out by John Brus
Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen
How did you get into brewing as a career?
It all started as a hobby in the kitchen. After a while of homebrewing I got the change to do some professional brewing at a few Belgian and Dutch breweries. This made me decide to quit my job and start brewing for a living. But brewing for some-one is not the same as having your own brewery and all freedom in developing your own recipes. That's when I started my own brewery. First a picobrewery called De Salamander next to a brewing job at De Pelgrim but soon I took the step and Brouwerij de Molen was born.
What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?
Depends on what kind of brewer you want to be. In my case: being bigheaded. I know what I like and I know how to make it. I don't really care what others make of that but to create something special you'll have to set your goals and go for it.
Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?
I've homebrewed for 12 years. The only recipe I still use is a English Strong Ale called Molenbier.
If you did homebrew, do you still?
No, although I still have all the equipment in my basement. I simply can't find the time.
What is your favourite beer that you brew?
The next one. At least the next one that I brew. Because that's always the first batch of a experiment I'm working on. Most production brews are brewed by other brewers of our brewery.
If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?
I've brewed in other breweries but some of them are gone and most of the beers aren't the same anymore. I do however like to enjoy beers of Texelse Bierbrouwerij. The still make quality and flavourful beers.
Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?
A very tough question. There are so many and I'm a big fan of Imperial Stouts so you would expect Hel & Verdoemenis or one of the others. However I think I go for Op & Top. This is a low ABV English Bitter but so nicely hopped. I can drink gallons of the stuff (as a matter of speaking).
How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?
To us this is what we live for. We're always looking for new methods, styles and inspiration from other sources to create a new authentic De Molen beer. Especially compared to other brewers in the Netherlands we are a stranger in their midst. Not only in our beers but in our approach, labels, beer names, everything.
If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?
Another tough question. I've done this before with great brewers like Hage from Närke, Andy from Gänstaller-Bräu, Fred from Hoppin' Frog and many more. So every collaborative dream has been followed I'd almost say. But if I would have to name a brewery I would say Three Floyds from Indiana, USA. The reason for that is simple: they make a few amazing beers.
Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?
Mesopotamian Ale. Because that's when it all started.