Brewery visits

On this page all the breweries I have visited so far are listed. It also gives a general rating for the total of information, organization and product confrontation during the guided tour. The rating is as follows:

definitively recommended
outstanding
good
moderate
...fortunately the beer tasted good!

This rating is very subjective, of course, but can give you a general idea what to expect.

BreweryDate visitedPriceInfoCommentsRating
Heineken Den Bosch28 aug. 1997n.a.073-6209911My first visit to a brewery. It was organized as an introduction activity at the beginning of the 2nd SPD-schoolyear. Both the tour, as well as the product confrontation thereafter are extensive.
Hertog Jan Arcen3 july 1999f 7,50077-4739160Visited when there was a BAV-exchange mart. Unfortunately, the brewery didn't produce that day (saturday) and there was no productconfrontation afterwards. The movie about the beer's name-giver (duke Jan van Brabant) is very interesting.
Grolsch Enschede12 aug. 1999n.a.053-4833200At Grolsch the promotion film is not about the company, but is merely a chain of tv-commercials with some extra information squeezed in here and there. The overall quality of the tour is comparable to that at Heineken; also the productconfrontation is interesting because of the many different beers Grolsch produces.
Heineken Den Bosch25 aug. 1999n.a.073-6209911There was an opportunity to visit this brewery again and in retrospect to the previous experience I took this opportunity. The joke with a beercan for export and one for the domestic market is a standard in the tour :)
Oranjeboom Breda17 sep. 1999n.a.076-5252424Visited when there as a BAV-exchange mart. The organization then was a little mess and fellow-tourists were more in a hurry to familiarize themselves with the product than they were sincerely interested in taking the tour. Oranjeboom momorizes its history extensively and even has its own museum. Although it was a friday-afternoon and it is quite a large brewery, just a small part was actually functioning (the packaging of cans).
Brand Wijlre7 april 2000n.a.043-4508282And again a BAV-tour. As well before as after the tour there was plenty time to taste and enjoy the different Brand-beers. The guide didn't know much more than he had memorized, but it doesn't have to be always elaborated. A tour to Brand is in my opinion perfect for company excursions. You get to see everything, get to hear all about beer brewing, but in a relatively short time - an hour or so.
Koningshoeven Berkel-Enschot3 aug. 2000f 7,50013-5438282The beginning of the tour was messy: a movie about living in the abbey is shown after the tour, so everyone who is present in the bar at that time thinks the tour starts then. The tour was not announced. The charm of visiting this brewery is that there is as much attention to living in the abbey as well as brewing beer. Besides, the guide now knows there are 6 trappistbreweries instead of just 5. Apart from the usual story about brewing, one gets to see and hear about the 'firedepartment', a bakery from the old days and the fathers' lives. The productconfrontation afterwards is at one's own expense.
De Hemel Nijmegen18 aug. 2000f 9,-024-3606167One should start visiting breweries at this one. The owner/brewer tells fascinatingly about the brewingprocess and his brewery's history. He really enjoys his work and it shows. There is no actual brewing or bottling to be seen, but that is compensated about the other activities that take place in his brewery: the making of beervinegar and mustard. The productconfrontation afterwards is at one's own expense.
Maasland Brouwerij Oss15 sep. 2000n.a.0412-638473While the brewer of De Hemel is showing that a visit to a very small brewery can be just as interesting as visiting a large brewery, the Maasland Brewery is missing an opportunity here. The videopresentation was poor (not finished yet) and the brewer himself was very passive by just answering questions of the visitors and pointing to jars filled with ingredients and a label-album. There is nothing to be seen at all, because of the fact that everything is manual labour and this afternoon was reserved for the BAV. You'd better spend the afternoon/evening with the unique concept of the Walhalla brewery, with the cooperation of Maasland Brewery: a theme-party where beer is brewed by all the partypeople. Then you'll know more about brewing and beer than when you'd visit the brewery.
Alfa Brouwerij Schinnen25 oct. 2000f 15,=046-4432888The reception is exactly as one would expect when visiting Limburg: coffee and pie. After a short introduction the group was split in two, so that a part had to wait for about one hour. That time could be spent enjoying the Alfa-beers or visiting the adjacent liquor store. The tour was held by an enthusiast, retired person who put a lot of humour in his story and didn't hide his love for the Alfa-beers. Production was going as during a normal business day and one could get a closer look at it contrary to most breweries. Also in the bottling room one nearly stands above the center of activity.
Alfa Brouwerij Schinnen17 nov. 2000 (!)f 15,=046-4432888Organized by myself for a couple of collegues. I have chosen Alfa because of the following reasons: 1) an excursion could be arranged at short notice; 2) we had Maastricht as our base, so Alfa was at relative short distance; 3) I liked the other excursion, but 4) I didn't have the chance to taste all those nice Alfa-beers, so I just had to come back!
Oudaen Utrecht21 feb. 2001f 13,75030-2311864BAV-tour. This brewery is just like De Hemel in Nijmegen located in the city's centre. The brewer tells with great enthusiasm. During the tour, he was in fact doing his job, so he was able to tell his story while showing was he was doing.
Cantillon Brussels (Belgium)9 mar. 2002  Visited because of a BAV-tour to Belgian Pajottenland. A special visit, because that day the last beer of the season was being brewed during the socalled open brew-day. The guide made us aware of the fact there is a brewer in each of us and brewing is very simple (really!). His story in the various parts of the brewery was very elaborate and was about the activities going on there and the history of the brewery. This elaborateness doesn't make the story more interesting at all times, unfortunately, and in a large part of the brewery there is a penetrating smell that can be experienced as unpleasant. However, the brewery offers a wide range of beers based on lambic. Summarized one can say that a visit to this brewery is one for the more experienced beerdrinker.
Drie Fonteinen Beersel (Belgium)9 mar. 2002  Visited because of a BAV-tour to Belgian Pajottenland. The brewer told elaborately about the effort he and his collegue-gueuze-brewers made when the gueuze was doomed to extinct and still make to keep the gueuze alive. The brewery wasn't quite finished yet, because the Drie Fonteinen was just a lambic-blender and the brewery is existing for just a short period. Nevertheless the tour was elaborate too, just like the tasting which carried us along a couple of years of gueuzes and lambics. The brewery also has a restaurant which serves meals that are made with gueuze.
Koningshoeven Berkel-Enschot23 mar. 2002 013-5438282Visit organized by the staff association of my work. The tour is done is something more than half an hour, what is done easily because of the speed the guide told her story. However, my second visit to this brewery gave me some new information and new items for the collection of glasses
Dommelsch Dommelen19 apr. 2002  BAV-tour preceding the international collectors day. Before the tour you will be told elaborately about the Interbrew-organization and how Dommelsch fits in. Off course a corporate film about Dommelsch will be shown (a little dated right now), the award-winning commercial with the archeologists and an Interbrew-promotion film. The tour is being done by a very enthusiastic man. Very special is - or, better: was - an orginal painting of Brood in the entrance to the bottling room. However, some villains meant that they should have that painting and stole it so that it had to be replaced with a copy. The bottling room appears to be richly fulled with the most modern equipment for which most breweries can be jealous at. The tour ends with a visit to the brewery's own museum, where cashbooks, labels, bottles and ads from days long ago can still be admired. Off course, after the visit to the museum, there's the obliged beertasting. A big minus is they don't offer all the beers they produce: only Oud Bruin, Pilsener and Ice are available.
Museumbrouwerij De Roos Hilvarenbeek15 May 2002€ 4,50013-5055045BAV-tour. What this tour makes so special is that you don't actually visit a working brewery, but a restored one from the thirties of the 20th century. The brewery not only consists of the authentic building, but also contains the authentic interior as well! To be able to pay the restoration and to run the museumbrewery, beer is being brewed in a small building built next to the old brewery. A visit to this museumbrewery gives a good and clear view of how things were done in the thirties. The guidess tells elaborately about the brewery's history, but loses sight on keeping the group together so not everyone will follow the complete story. The tasting room is very tastefully decorated with all kinds of beer-related items and all beer, except for the special Christmas beer, can be tasted.
St. Servattumus Schijndel21 August 2002€ 6,=073-5478956BAV-tour. And again a typical brewery that is run by real beer-lovers. That is clearly shown in the story (in this case) told by Toon v.d. Heijden: one and only enthusiasm. Where tours at the large breweries are done within one hour, just to get the "beer-lovers" as quickly as possible to taste the beer(s) being produced, St. Servattumus reserves about two hours to tell the brewery's history, anecdotes, the brewing process and finally the brewery in the future. And that all while the visitor already is being confronted with the beers that are being brewed here. At the end one gets a look at the brewing installation, but that's no more than a formality. It is very basic: nearly everything is still done manually (filling of bottles, placing the crowncap, labeling). And, actually, can one see the difference, besides the size perhaps, between the installations at Heineken, Grolsch, Bavaria or Oranjeboom? The "point" these breweries gain by showing the visitor a working, very complicated factory layout is more than being compensated by the personalities each of these "small" brewers are.
Moerenburg Tilburg20 september 2002n.a.013-5360518BAV-tour because of the fall exchange fair. This fair was set up with the cooperation of Moerenburg, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2002. This brewery is the smallest one I've been so far, litterally at the brewer's home. Everytime it is surprising how creative people are with replacing manual work by machines that every do-it-yourselfer has in his garage... The brewery is run purely on a hobby-basis: everything that is sold (only in the neighbourhood of the brewery) is a plus and when the brewers don't like to brew anymore, they just quit. Hopefully, for the lovers of their beers, this will be a long time from now. This day three beers could be tasted: the white beer, which was surprisingly sparkling and clear and by most of the ones who took the tour not very loved (let me find this one the most tasteful!); then there was a bock beer and a triple. Especially the triple gave me the impression of an unpleasant sourness, but this one was liked very much by most people. During the tour there was the standard story of brewing and explanation of the installations.
Bofferding Bascharage (Luxemburg)28 september 2002€ 2,50 This day, an international exchange fair for breweriana was being organized at the Bofferding plant. I was surprised to find out there were tours as well, so I didn't let go of that chance. At the time the tour should start there turned out to be only five people who took the tour and the guide was nowhere to be seen. Eventually it took about a quarter of an hour when he showed up. Not really well organized... The tour starts with a company movie. It was a pity, however, that it was only available in the Luxemburgian dialect at that time, but one could follow reasonably well. The tour is given completely in German, but this wasn't any problem for the Dutch people who took the tour. The brewery is visited extensively. A lot of effort has been put in the light- and soundeffects during the tour. Also a reasonable collection of old brewer's equipment can be seen. After all, the tour took more than an hour and every question was well answered. The next tour at Bofferding had a more mass character (approximately 30 contestants), so we knew we had made the right decision.
Haacht Boortmeerbeek (Belgium)29 september 2002n.v.t. It was a coincidence I viewed Haacht's website and read about the open house. Once arrived in Boortmeerbeek (a place near Haacht) the tour appeared to be a "do-it-yourself" activity: lead by a brochure in which the functions of each installation were described one could walk through the brewery. It was very busy, but there were no real delays. The brewery operated fully, what is always a nice thing to see. For the glasscollector the collection of all beerglasses of the brewery in the former director's office was a good opportunity to see which are still missing in his collection. A storage room was for this day transformed into a huge bar, where one could get one drink free. It turned out that this brewery produces more beers than I knew and unfortunately I haven't been able to taste them all...
De Keersmaeker Kobbegem (België)
Timmermans Itterbeek (België)
De Troch Wambeek (België)
De Cam Gooik (België)
Boon Lembeek (België)
3 Fonteinen Beersel (België)
27 april 2003n.v.t. 

Once per two years HORAL organizes a day when several geuze-breweries can be visited, the socalled Tour de Geuze. The trip was made with a hired touringcar together with several geuze- and lambic-lovers, very well organized by a fellow BAV-member. The highest appreciation for this day is not only because of all the breweries had to offer, but also the fantastic guide we had for this day in the peron of Jef v.d. Steen, who didn't hesitate to guide us around a couple of breweries himself! An absolute must for a group of interested geuze- and lambic-enthousiasts. (For more information about the Tour de Geuze, visit i.e. the site of 3 Fonteinen.)

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Cambrinus HorstAugust 2 2003€ 3,- To say it once more: people who visit a brewery just to drink as much as they can for 'free' are at the wrong place at a small brewery. Fortunately, those folks stay away there, so that only those who are really interested remain. This gives the brewer the ultimate opportunity to tell an elaborate story. This is also the case with the brewer of Cambrinus: het tells the complete history of beer (yes, really) and relates that to the developments of the breweries in the region of Horst. Really unique is that he shows the brewingprocess at miniature scale (milling of malt, put that in a pan, add some hot water, stir a little and filtrate it). It's so simple actually... For a change he also explained how the density of the brew is being measured and how the taxes are being calculated and paid. The brewery originated from a café, which serves over 130 beers. It is really worth a visit (call for opening hours first!).
Kollenburg 's-HertogenboschAugustus 30 2003€ 4,50 BAV-tour to a very tiny brewery in the basement of a café in the centre of the cosy town Den Bosch. Again the brewer is eloquent. Yet, I think the presentation was a bit meagre: a simple flipover is actually not done anymore and the videopresentation was nearly unhearable. A pity. Besides that, the story about the water and 's-Hertogenbosch was a little long. Despite all that, the story was being told while tasting not less than four beers, of which two came from the brewery itself. And that is nice, since this holds the attention and the less interested listener doesn't start looking on his watch when only halfway. But above brewer Jan van Kollenburg is most of all a businessman and entrepreneur, what shows in a giftbox he thought out himself, which can later be used as a clock! Where does he get it from...
Haagse Bierbrouwerij 's-GravenhageOctober 11 2003€ 5,- BAV-tour. Special about this brewery is the fact that it is an English style brewery and brews its beers in an English style. It is a coincidence that therefore this visit fits perfectly to a trip to Scotland just a week earlier. (However, there it was whisky that was subject of study.) I was a bit dissappointed about the beers, though, since I thought they all tasted alike, although they were clearly all different (you could tell by colour, smell, etc.). This unfortunately is not a positive impression. However, I was surprised that he brewery was a lot bigger than expected. The brewery is located in the same building as a way too expensive English pub (Firkin), but the businesses are seperate. The pub 'just happens to sell' the beers of the brewery.
Budelse Bierbrouwerij BudelOctober 22 2003n.a. BAV-tour. The reception was very Limburgian (like Alfa), although Budel really still is Noord-Brabant: coffee and pie. The presentation was meagre: the very short story about the brewery was being told in one, single, tired tone, after which a surprisingly professional presentation of the company was shown, but on a way too small camping television. Then it appeared that due to reconstruction works not all of the brewery could be visited. What could be visited, was being visited, but the guide didn't keep an eye on the entire group to follow the explanation of the various parts of the brewery and its installations. With the reconstruction the copper kettles have been removed, but I don't think of this as a miss, since this cultural heritage is already being preserved enough by companies who the many to do so (like Heineken, Interbrew, Grolsch). To preserve all history in all breweries doesn't make sense, it can block future necassary improvements. Well, why still 3 points for this tour? Without any doubt, there are many lovely beers being brewed. And more than just a handful! The productconfrontation gave us the opportunity to taste all of them. Along the beers there were snacks and later on sausage rolls. The brewery has absolutely the potency to make its tour worth 5 points and hopefully it succeeds in doing so, since these tours are a piece of advertisement for the brewery.
Hertog Jan ArcenApril 17 2004n.a.  BAV-tour. It has been 5 years since I visited this brewery and meanwhile it has been modernised and reconstructed. A new visitorcentre annex breweryshop has been opened. The brewerypresentation on film has been cancelled. The tour now starts with the basics of beer: (spring)water. The visitor is given the opportunity to taste this water and is being advised to keep the cup with him during his visit. Unfortunately, it appears that tere are still guides who think there is humour in feeble jokes like 'the wrong spelling of wort' (in Dutch 'wordt' means 'is being'). Please, DON'T do that! The visitors are not just a bunch of todlers but grown-ups. Also leave those other feeble jokes away, since the story doesn't need those at all. The story itself is good enough at Hertog Jan. Very special is that the productconfrontation starts on the tour: a tap on one of the lagertanks is opened to be able to taste the pilsner. After the packagingline has been visited, a bottle of Hertog Jan Grande Prestige is being opened in the cellars of the brewery for a second sample of the great beers this brewery brings forth.
Bierbrouwerij St. Christoffel RoermondMay 19 2004n.v.t.  BAV-tour. How on earth it is possible that there are two very delicious beers come from the kettles at St. Christoffel's, is still unclear to me, because the brewery-site is located on the industrypark of Roermond just a leap away from the large Rockwool-plant. The beers are being characterized by its bitterness, which distinguish them from all those factorybeers without any smell or taste. The brewry is located in a general businesshall like there are many and laid out efficiently. The history of the brewery is being told and all machinery, which sometimes is very antique but is still being used for bottling or cleansing, is being shown and explained. The brewer has good knowledge and answers all questions one may have. A fine tour, without any complaints.
Bitburger Bitburg (Germany)August 26 2004€ 5  This brewery too had to face the fact that expansion was impossible in the centre of the town and therefore a site in the suburbs had to be found. So today the old brewery in the center houses the visitors centre and the old brewing installations. If desired, a tour in Dutch can be taken, and maybe more languages may be available. The tourguidess told an elaborate story, where humour was all but absent (she was not native German!). From the reception one is taken by bus to the new brewery just outside Bitburg. This is a very large site with corridors of hundreds of meters long. When the tour is over, you get 5 (!) tickets for free drinks and a gift. The drinks can be drunk in a pleasant café called Simonshof, just aside the brewey in the center, where you can also eat. It is nearly beyond belief, but the Bitburger Alkoolfrei is the first alcohof-free beer that has a decent taste! This is a very well organized and presented tour. [Pictures]
Hanssens Dworp (Belgium)
Boon Lembeek (Belgium)
Lindemans Vlezenbeek (Belgium)
3 Fonteinen Beersel (Belgium)
April 3 2005n.v.t. 

A new visit because of the Geuze Day for the public which is being organized by HORAL every 2 years. And this time too the journey was made in a bus of our own, full of geuze- and lambic-lovers. A member of BAV organized this very well. He also managed to get this excellent beer-expect, author and storyteller Mr. Jef van den Steen as a guide during our trip along the breweries. He guides us through 3 different breweries; only at the 4th - 3 Fonteinen - he kept his mouth shut to let the passionate Armand Debelder do the talking. However, he seemed a little worn, which may have caused by family circumstances. For lover of geuze and lambic who missed it all again: in two years a next chance! (For more information about the Toer de Geuze, check for example the site of 3 Fonteinen.)

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Grolsch Boekelo (Enschede)April 15 2005n.v.t.  BAV-tour. This new brewery from Grolsch is a state-of-the-art example of the most modern techniques. You nearly can't sniff the sweet smell of wort anymore, but the noise of multiple bottling lines is still there. The tour took a little one and a half hours and starts with (can it be otherwise?) a movie about the construction of this brewery. Right after that, the newest commercial has to be seen, but than we can enter the brewery itself. As a group, we were a little unfortunate because of the participation of a semi-professional brewer, who consumed a lot of the attention of the guide. He didn't care, because it really is very interesting to be able to show a 'colleague' around. Just too bad for the others. The explantion at the various points in the brewing process were basic, never too elaborate, but to the point. When the tour is done, there is plenty of time for tasting the products that come from this brewery. They don't make as many variants anymore as they used to. Besides, a couple of them are low-alcoholic (2,5%), so these are drunk easily. It is all organized very well and never get to sit with an empty glass, appetizers on the side and a gift on the way out. One thing I definitely learned this day, however, is that Grolsch doesn't brew my kind of taste... [Pictures]
Mommeriete HolthoneMay 20 2006€ 4  BAV-tour. Mommeriete is a fairly young little brewery of the type all-in-one-room, managed by a man and wife couple. The brewery is neat and looks very modern. To give it a somewhat classic feel, the mashtun and clearingtun are padded with copper. A visit to this kind of breweries doesn't actually consist of a tour along the facilities, but merely is a reception in the brewroom, where you remain for the rest of the visit. It fully depends, then, on the story the brewer has to tell whether it is really getting interesting. This is very much the case at Mommeriete! The story is an interesting mix of local history, the foundation of the brewery, the brewing process and the beers that are being brewed. No less than 9 varieties! I forgive the brewer, in this case, not to know the full history of brewing and the brewworld in general. Unfortunately, I only got to taste 2 beers of this brewery so far. But their taste was good, and is an invitation to further explore the other beers. This brewery is certainly worth a detour.
Palm Steenhuffel (België)October 18 2006   BAV-tour. Despite the fact that the union primarily focusses on Dutch breweries, it often takes a look across the border for an interesting option for a tour. This time it is Palm to be visited: for the Dutch the most-known brewer of special beer. The reception is in a nice building, in which the bar is situated, as well as the shop and a small exhibition of informational displays. The tour starts (!) with a freshly draught Palm, which is being enjoyed while viewing the business film. This time no pictures of the production process, but a focus on the brewery's history, as well as its surroundings, instead. Fine, because the production process is part of the story the guide has to tell while on tour. After this short film and the newest commercial is shown (just like Grolsch does), the tour around the brewery starts. With a lot of humour the Belgian-Dutch guide tells about the production process, the ingredients being used and finally the bottling lines. After the brewery has been visited, there is no tasting session. At least, not yet! First, we visit Palm's own studfarm. It is really unique that an industrial company takes care of the local heritage. The horses are now being used in historic processions and further they have a nice life in the meadows surrounding the castle. And now it is time for tasting the brews! Since Palm is no longer a mono product brewery, there is more to choose than just Palm. Besides its own beers Palm, Palm Royale, Bock Pils (very regionbound) it is possible to degust the Rodenbach-gamma, with the regular Rodenbach, Grand Cru and Redbach. Unfortunately, beers from Boon cannot be tasted, since Palm 'only' owns 50% of the brewery. Because the journey back home takes a couple of hours, there is no more time than to taste just two beers, but visitors who aren't bound to a specific time can taste all the beers one by one... One detail is missing, though: some appetizers to even enhance the tasting some more. But, this is more than being compensated by means of a gift of a collector's glass. [Pictures]
Rodenbach Roeselare (Belgium)September 9 2007   Visited on Open Monument's day in Belgium. This was an excellent opportunity to visit a brewery in the weekend that is known for its redbrown beer and famous because of its enormous casks that are still in use. Unfortunately, it wasn't a guided tour, but on strategic sports personnel was available to answer questions. It is a plus that I already visited a couple of breweries, so the key process is known, as well as much of the machinery. The brewery is modern and equipped with a beautiful visitors center that has been built some year or two ago. That is the ending of the tour today, where one could enjoy a fresh Rodenbach for free. This is very typical for Belgian hospitality, in contrary of the 10-year jubilee of Dutch St. Servattumus, where excessive prices had to be paid for their beers! At Rodenbach's it was busy, but not too busy. The large casks are impressive, and even more when you walk out one room and discover there is yet another room! It has been worth while the long journey for sure.
De Rijck Herzele (Belgium)September 9 2007   Visited on Open Monument's day in Belgium. The brewery is more or less on the way to Rodenbach (with a small detour), so this one could also be included in the trip today. At this brewery there were guided tours. Unfortunately, that meant: waiting, and waiting, and more waiting... 'Luckily' some entertainment was provided by means of a jodeler (what that guy has to do with Belgian, special beer,... I don't have a clue, although I suspect he has been hired to have the visotors yearn for beer for destraction. Anyway, after about 3 quarters of an hour waiting the brewing room was being packed with curious people, where a connaisseur of the local beertasting union (!) held quite a good story about the brewery and the brewing process. Where Rodenbach is a good example of a neat, modern brewery, De Rijck isn't: the necessary maintenance is evidently not being done. This is just like the 'current' information on the website, that dates from many years back. Not surprising, only 5 people are employed here. Besides, just 8 months ago a labeling machine has been purchased. However, it still is a miracle that (it is possible that) very nice beers are being made here. A rather extensive portfolio of beers is brewed, that ranges from a pilsner to the Arend-varieties. And here too, one free beer is given away to the visitor today.
Halve Maan HulstSeptember 15 2007 0114-310660 Visited because of BAV's autumn exchange fair. Very well organized, the possibility to visit the brewery today instead of the regular day before the fair. This specific fair deserved a much better attendance, because the location is spacious and can be reached very well. Probably, it would be stimulating if people presenting items for exchange would stay until the end of the fair, rather than take off at noon. In my point of view, they are part of a less interest in, and less interesting fair. A visitor who arrives after 12 am will find half of the stands being deserted. The, possibly interesting, auction is at the end of the fair and see, there the problem is for both an early visitor, as well as the late visitor. So I hereby call out to the ladies and gentlemen exhibitors: stay at your posts until the end of the fair!
Then the brewery I actually should write about. The exterior of the brewery alone breathes hospitality. I walked inside and before I knew, I had a beer in my hand to taste. Without even having seen the ramainder of the brewery or having heard the brewer, this alone is worth three points. And even more, when some others put aside their empty glasses, that were being filled again without asking. Well, that is what I call 'Welcome to the brewery!'. The brewing room looks very neat, just like the lager room. The filling line seems a little outdated, but alas, it is just a small brewery. There is no lack of ambition and knowing their beers they must be able to fulfill that ambition. The brewer shows his knowledge about brewing beer, history of the brewery and doesn't has to be corrected (believe me: I've met some who have to be corrected) and talks with much enthusiasm. Excellent! Maybe it is because has so much to tell that he speaks a little fast, but he is forgiven for that. A definite recommendation. Add to that, the pittoresque character of the town, its strategic position and you have a perfect spending the day.
Hanze Bierbrouwerij ZutphenOctober 6 2007   BAV-tour. Again a relatively small brewery, so the tour's success depends on the brewer. He welcomes us in an atmospheric Medieval cellar and tells an interesting story about the brewery and the history of Zutphen. After this, the story is being continued at the installation right in the middle of the restaurant. Of course, the process of brewing is explained. After we checked out the brewing installation, it is time for being confronted with the products of this brewery. He has organised this in a nice way: a small tasting session where all beers come along successively. The pace of this session is too high for me, though, but you won't be pulled out after a fixed amount of time or when the last beer has been poured out. Comparing the various beers can be done very well which is very nice to do so. Unfortunately, here no beer is being brewed for my kind of taste. Yet, a visit is worth the trip: combine a trip to this historic city with a visit to the brewery and finish the day with a good meal in the restaurant part.
Liefmans en Roman Oudenaarde (België)November 14 2007   BAV-tour. Every once in a while the union 'cheats' on its principles being Dutch-oriented. Today we could profit by visiting two breweries in Belgium, Liefmans and Roman. The contrast between the two of them is enormous: one (Liefmans) breathes history, and the other (Roman) features a very modern brewery. Both present a whole range of different beers, and - of course - there is simply too little time to taste them all. However, the locations to have a nice beer are amospheric, and contrary to their breweries: Liefmans has a spaceous room with a lot of daylight, where you can dine too, and Roman has a room in the historic office at the first floor with low ceiling and artificial, yet atmospheric lighting. We finished the day in a restaurant in Breda, which obviously couldn't cope a mass arrival of a group of about 30 people (of course, they knew we were coming!). So that was a little disappointing for this nice day.
Heineken ZoeterwoudeJanuary 30 2008   BAV 25-year tour. The first tour of 2008 is promising: a visit to the biggest brewer(y) of Europe! The reception is in a nice room, where you are being served a beer upon entering. A little while later we are led into the movieroom, where we after the guides have introduced themselves are being informed about the history of the brewery Heineken in general. A story full of figures, that are out of date before the guides even had the time to memorise them... Then, time for the companyfilm. The three major brands (Heineken, Amstel and Brand) are promoted by a series of commercials. The brewing process is also shown. Because of the volatility of the beermarket and the company, this film with production date in 2004 is a little out of date. After the film the tour continues by bus over the 79 acres wide Heinekensite. Actually, this ride doesn't add to the feeling of the brewery itself, it only gives you the feeling to be a guest on a huge industrial complex. The trivialities that are being told on this tour are not really interessing, despite a few points that are. When arrived at the brewhouse we go on by foot. Everything is huge: brewhouse, controlroom, bottling room and warehouse... The guides operate from time to time dvdplayers hung up at various locations for further explanation. After admiring the technical installations the bus brings us back to the reception building, where a fresh Heineken awaits. Despite the fact that Zoeterwoude is no more than a pilsner factory, Amstel Bock and Affligem is being served as well. However, the proverb "Drink responsibly" is applicable, since one who enjoys his beer there is no more time than taste just two, after that the tap is closed irrevocably. The extra of 25 years of BAV is a gift: a unique business gift. Very interesting for us breweriana collectors. However, the overall 'score' end with just 3 points, because the guides don't know nothing more than a standard memorised story (it has a level of job on the side, which causes a deduction of points in my review) and there is too little time for a decent tasting session. All by all nice, but nothing special. I almost forgot: taking pictures is explicitly forbidden. I thought the secret lies in the recipe, and not in the technical installations. And that recipe, I haven't seen advertised anywhere in the brewery...
Bavaria LieshoutMarch 19 2008   BAV 25-year tour. The tour started exactly on time in the Bavaria Brouwerijcafé located near the brewery. The tourguide is a really enthusiastic girl with spirit ánd capacities - intellectual capacities, that is. Heineken, this is how to give tours - no temporarily hired students with standardized memorized sales stories, but somebody who knows what she is talking about! Unfortunately, here too: taking pictures not allowed. (Why?) The special thing about Bavaria is not the pilsener they are brewing (the Bavaria-lovers will obviously disagree with me on this point), but lies in the fact that the brewery still has its own malting company. The icing on BAV's birthday cake this time is in a really extensive tour by two employees of the malting company. More than an hour we spent seeing all aspects of the malting process. It is special how fascinating the malter tells about everything that takes part of daily work in the malting company and how that has impact in the final product. Without exception, all members of the tour appreciated this extra on the tour very much. Honour to BAV, Bavaria and especially the malters for this unique view on their work. And further? Also the 'standard' part of the tour is interesting: we visit the building were the mineral water is being pumped up. We have to taste the pure water, naturally. And where does one get to taste the preliminary run, or the beer just before it is being lagered? (Note: The beer in this malty and even some bitter stage I personally think has more character that the final product, in which these two elements are completely gone!) The old copper brew house is visited also, where 'ancient' sounds have been added to the entourage. It is over the top to present a company film on monitors that are put in one of such old copper kettle. It takes a while, then, to get to the bottling room, in which monitors give actual, close up images of various machinery. A tasting session completes this tour: a kind of mini blind tasting session, where one has to 'guess' in which glass is which kind of Bavaria beer. We also get to drink a unique beer, Swinckels Volmaakt, characterized by a trendy designbottle, reliefglass, an unthinkable short storage time and with a smooth, bittery, full taste. Everybody is invited to tap his own beer (and another one, ...). When this tour is kept outside the BAV 25-year anniversary, it is worth 5 points already and it is because 5 is the max in my rating, otherwise the extra scored additional points! Again: honour, honour, honour! (One question I haven't been able to ask, though: what happened to those glass glasses for the beertour, that they are now being replaced by fragile plastic ones...?)
Hertog Jan Arcen14 May 2008   BAV 25-year tour. It is really unbelievable: just the day you are visiting the brewery of your favourite beers, the chauffeurs of public buses are on strike, so you have to go by car... And that, obviously, means enjoying less than the beers deserve! The afternoon is promosing, because Gerard v.d. Broek himself will be the guide today. Yes gentlemen of listed companies, this man is one to take as an example as a promotion for the brewery. Full of passion, humour and knowledge he takes us around and lets us taste 'his' products. Some of then right from the lagertanks. Multiple beers could be tasted, even full glasses if wanted to. At the end we arrive in the cellar, where a couple of old bottles of Grand Prestige were opened. This beer has evolution in taste, so that its taste comes more to port while aging. And the tour ain't over yet! On the terasses of the Hertog Jan Proeverij we are able to further enjoy the tasteful beers this brewer(y) produces. The Weizener is a topproduct in the group, but I myself am curious if this beer will stand through winter until next summerseason. The beermarket is full of authentic Germand brands who suddenly discovered The Netherlands, as well as clones of Dutch breweries like Grolsch and now also Hertog Jan. And yet, this was not all the tour had to offer: a cold buffet was being served as well! This was not taken into account, so that all tourmembers praised this tour and stayed until late because of the good atmosphere. For everybody who really got enthusiastic about this brewery: go, because even without the extras of BAV's anniversary this brewery is worthwhile a visit, and I dare to say: worthwhile a detour!
Lindeboom Neer25 June 2008   BAV 25-year tour. The reception is typical for Limburg: coffee and pie. We like it that way. The tourguide started with a long story about the (beer)market and prices the brewery has to cope with. Also, he wished to have us experience the best tour of all we will enjoy this year. The level has practically become unreachable, with the great tours at Bavaria and Hertog Jan in mind. But, we will see. The beginning is mediocre: a companyfilm from the early ages of videocassette gets us to know the brewery and brewing process. Now these won't be changed a lot since 15 years, but that doesn't count for the logos and beers that have been restyled are are completely new. On the other side, there isn't really the necessaty to advertise due to the brewery's local positioning. A fancy comnpanyfilm is of minor importance. After the film the tour around the brewery starts and leads us through and along virtually every room of the brewery. Sometimes the explanation may have been a little too elaborate and therefore become a little dull. It was really nice, though, to be around just when the hops was given to the brew. But I doubt if that moment is to be the plus of 25 years of BAV above a normal tour. In the bottling room it is once more clear that we are in a smallscale brewery; bottling is being done only a couple of times a week and today is not one of them. The installation is being fed manually with crates of empty bottles, where bigger breweries have automated that process as well. After all the talking, everybody was thirsty and they really understand it well below the great Dutch rivers: let your visitors enjoy your beers (you know, the Eleventh Commandment!) and don't hurry them up. When desired, the complete gamma of about 8 beers could be tasted, because it was just after six until the tap closed down. All by all a fine tour, but definitely not the best in BAV's anniversary year.
Slaghmuylder Ninove, België9 augustus 2008   De brouwerij hield op 9 en 10 augustus haar open dagen. Deze brouwerij staat bekend om haar Witkap-bieren en in België ook het Slag Pils. Nu blijkt Witkap tegenwoordig een heus gamma te zijn van 3 soorten. Daar aangekomen vroeg ik of er een geleide rondleiding was, of dat het een do-it-yourself-tour betrof. Dat laatste zou het zijn. Echter, na een reeks foto's gemaakt te hebben en mijn route van beneden naar boven gemaakt te hebben, kwam ik boven een grote groep tegen met een spreker van de brouwerij. Hmmm. Daar maar bij aangesloten en zo werd het dus toch een "geleide" rondleiding. Wat niet getoond werd waren de afvulling en lagering, maar dat is niet erg. Als entertainment trad een absurdisch bandje op, maar dat is tenminste beter dan de zoveelste lokale blaaskapel. Volgens goed Belgisch gebruik gaf de brouwerij het eerste rondje weg. Omdat dat voor mij wel naar meer smaakte heb ik een assortiment voor thuis meegenomen, want de weg terug moest weer per auto afgelegd worden...
Koningshoeven Berkel-Enschot27 augustus 2008   BAV 25-jaar excursie. Het is inmiddels het derde bezoek dat ik aan deze brouwerij breng. Er is echter weer het nodige veranderd sinds mijn laatste bezoek: zo is er een compleet nieuw bezoekerscentrum verrezen, zodat de brouwerij weer beschikt over een up-to-date representatieve ontvangstruimte voor hun gasten. De overige gebouwen waren en zijn deels nog in restauratie, zodat deze er ook weer een tijdje tegenkunnen. Minder plezierig is het feit dat ook de kleurrijke broeder Samuel het aardse voor het eeuwige leven heeft verruild. Eveneens is de antieke brandweerwagen verhuisd naar een museum en dus hier niet meer te bezichtigen. Gelukkig is een zgn. biertuin toegevoegd, waar de hopranken tot vele meters in de hoogte groeien. Op de excursie valt weinig aan te merken: deze is nu een stuk beter georganiseerd, door de scheiding van mensen die wachten voor een rondleiding en degenen die deze al begonnen zijn: onder het genot van een versgetapte trappist wordt een film vertoond, die een actueel beeld geeft van niet alleen de brouwerij, maar ook het kloosterleven. Daarna volgt een rondleiding door de oude en nieuwe brouwzaal, wordt de oude bakkerij bezocht, wordt stilgestaan bij de omliggende landerijen en natuurlijk de bottelarij. De rondleiding eindigt met opnieuw een versgetapte trappist. De rondleidster was prima en van het gehaaste karakter (zie 2002) is gelukkig geen sprake meer. Helaas bood de rondleiding in het kader van 25 jaar BAV niets extra's en was dus dezelfde zoals deze door eenieder ter plaatse gedaan kan worden. Met een zeer uitgebreid terras, een kleine kaart en het assortiment La Trappe is deze brouwerij een prachtige pleisterplaats gedurende een fietstocht door de omgeving.
Heineken 's-Hertogenbosch15 oktober 2008   BAV 25-jaar excursie. Het is alweer geruime tijd geleden dat ik hier geweest ben, dus de verwachting is dat er wel het e.e.a. nieuw te zien zal zijn. Dat blijkt ook zo te zijn in de vorm van een compleet nieuw modern brouwhuis. Helaas vervalt hiermee het bezoek aan de oude brouwzaal met haar koperen ketels, toch iets waar je als brouwerij punten mee scoort bij je publiek. Alle industriëe staaltjes van techniek blijven sowieso wat verder van je af door de glazen wanden die de bezoeker overal scheiden van de 'productievloer'. Pas in de bottelarij heb je echt het idee bij het productieproces zelf betrokken te worden. De bottelarij maakt hoe dan ook indruk, met zijn vergaande automatisering en robotisering. De rondleiding wordt verzorgt door studenten, wat de kwaliteit van de rondleiding hoogstens een voldoende geeft. De bedrijfsfilm waarmee de rondleiding start is niet brouwerij(locatie)specifiek, maar geeft een algemene indruk van het Heineken-concern. Dat is een keuze en begrijpelijk met in het achterhoofd de gedachte dat er weinig bezoekers zullen zijn die ook nog Heineken Zoeterwoude en/of Brand zullen bezoeken. Voor de geïnteresseerde liefhebber jammer, want te algemeen.
Het algemene oordeel is dan ook: prima excursie voor een willekeurige bezoeker, maar zelfs het vervoer over het brouwerijterrein per Londense dubbeldekker levert niet de vierde extra credit op.
Gulpener Gulpen3 december 2008   BAV 25-jaar excursie. De laatste CBK-brouwerij die ik nog niet bezocht heb en tevens de laatste in dit excursiejaar. Traditiegetrouw is de ontvangst in het Limburgse goed verzorgd met koffie en vlaai. Het is te hopen dat de Limburgers deze traditie tot in lengte der dagen mogen voortzetten! Dan tot de kern van de zaak, een serieuze welteverstaan: de rondleiding begint met een Powerpoint-presentatie over waar Gulpener voor staat, waarbij uitgebreid ingegaan wordt op het begrip Maatschappelijk Verantwoord Ondernemen. Uitstekend dat de brouwerij hier de nadruk op legt, want dit is echt een punt dat de brouwerij onderscheidt van de rest van de massa, ofwel voor de marketingmensen onder ons, wat het haar 'unique selling proposition' geeft. Het bevlogen betoog geeft aan dat het echt menens is en geen holle retoriek. Al met al zijn we dan al zo'n 3 kwartier verder voor de daadwerkelijke rondwandeling door de brouwerij begint. Halverwege wordt halt gehouden voor het proeven van een ongefilterde Dort. De Dort behoort tot mijn favorite bieren, maar sommigen vonden deze toch aan de zoete kant (de gustibus non est disputandum!). Aan het einde van de rondleiding volgt nog een blindproeverij van 3 bieren uit het assortiment van maar liefst 13 Gulpener-bieren en hoewel je met logisch redeneren een eind komt, valt het niet mee als je de smaak van het assortiment niet kent. De winnaars (meeste goed) worden beloond met een mooi bierpakket. Afgesloten wordt met de reguliere productconfrontatie en naar wens kan de shop bezocht worden. Prima excursie.

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