Friday, January 31, 2014

Brewer of the Week

A list of the world's great brewing nations easily trips off the tongue, England, Belgium, Bavaria, Bohemia. One country that seems to be overlooked quite often is the Netherlands. Historically there are many links between Dutch brewing and England, as there are in many other walks of life. Today's Brewer of the Week interview is with a brewery that are reviving historic Dutch beer styles, including those made with a majority of oats in the grist and a medieval dark beer called poorter...


Name: Frederik Ruis
Brewery: Witte Klavevier

How did you get into brewing as a career?

I'm not a brewer but cooperate with brewers. For me the start was a visit to the old brewery where my brother used to live. From that moment I started researching brewing history and it still inspires everything we do.

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

Right from the start I thought new beers had to contribute something new, something else next to what's already there.

Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?

First beers I brewed myself where several Koyt beers with malted oats as the main ingredient.


If you did homebrew, do you still?

Right now I cooperate with others to make an early Dutch beer with 80% malted oats.

What is your favourite beer to brew?

The Koyt beer is by far the most challenging and therefore I enjoy it the most. Commercially it's a nightmare because oat malt is about the most expensive malt there is.

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

Right now that would be the heavy black beer we started making. We also do some barrel aging of this beer.

How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?

The Witte Klavervier brewery used to have a half share in a farm where the grains and hops were produced and they had their own malting. That kind of authenticity is totally gone, but we're working against all odds to bring it back somehow.

How about the flavour of fermentation and aging on wood? What about long cooking times, evaporating water instead of mixing in sugar-syrup? These are all inspired by early brewing methods.


If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?

We're collaborating with several other breweries, making 100% oat beers and barrel aged beers. It's good to be in contact with colleagues, talk and drink some beer. Next I participate in a group trying to revive old beer styles.

Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?

I'm particularly jealous of the Belgian spontaneous fermentation culture. It dates back a very long time, in the Netherlands as well as in Belgium, and still remains over there. That's really great and I wish them luck.

Note: All pictures on this post were taken from the Witte Klavevier website.

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