Friday, March 16, 2012

De Molen Borefts Beer Festival

The Netherlands may not have the same ring to it as Belgium, when it comes to beer and beer festivals. While Belgium has long and famous brewing traditions, with its trappist beers, sour ales, fruit beers, strong ales, saisons and wits, the Netherlands have had to rely on La Trappe as their main source of pride. Until recently. And while Belgium has a number of famous beer festivals, such as Zythos and the Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation, those in the Netherlands have been few and far between. Until recently.

Bouwerij de Molen uses real casks for their cask beers.
However, the times they are a-changing. The last few years have seen a number of new breweries appear in the Netherlands, of which Brouwerij de Molen is the most successful example. In just six short years, Menno Olivier has taken his small craft brewery, located in an old windmill in the town of Bodegraven, to world reknown (#12 on RateBeer's Best Brewers In The World 2012). The massive success and demand for his beers forced De Molen to construct a larger brewery, which opened up in the summer of 2011.

In 2009, Menno Olivier and his De Molen helpers did a very brave thing and invited craft breweries and beer geeks to a beer festival at their own brewery, then located in the aformentioned windmill: Borefts was born!

The first Borefts festival became such a success that they decided to make it an annual autumn festival. And with each passing year, Borefts has become a little bigger and a little better known, attracting serious beer fans from all over Europe and even from America. Still small, by American standards, 2011 saw the Borefts festival expand to the new brewery - which allowed guests to walk back and forth the hundred meters between the windmill and the new brewery, to check out different beers and breweries.

Unlike many festivals I've been to, Borefts has a very relaxed, almost tranquil, atmosphere, there's hardly a queue to be seen, you get your fill of beer in seconds, and people remain relaxed and seated. There's no non-beer related show and circus, and the brewers are either found behind their own taps or, just as often, at other stands, sampling beer from fellow craft brewers.

Närke Kaggen! Stormaktsporter on draft @ Borefts 2010.
The quality of the breweries is high. Some of the very best European craft breweries show up year after year, such as Thornbridge, Marble and The Kernel from England, Mikkeller, Midtfyns and Amager Bryghus from Denmark, De Struise Brouwers and Alvinne from Belgium, Revelation Cat from Italy, Emelisse from the Netherlands, Närke from Sweden (who had their famous Kaggen! Stormaktsporter on draft at the 2010 festival) and Nøgne Ø and HaandBryggeriet from Norway. And, naturally, De Molen themselves usually have a large number of unique, barrel aged beers - usually several imperial stouts - available on both keg and cask.

2012 will be the 4th year the Borefts festival will be held. So far just a few breweries have signed up for the 2-day festival on September 28 and 29: Alvinne, Mikkeller, Evil Twin, HaandBryggeriet, Emelisse, Thornbridge and The Kernel are old-timers at Borefts, while Buxton from England and Mommeriete from the Netherlands will make their debut this year. Expect more brewery names to be published over the next six months.

I can hardly wait to go back to Bodegraven and Borefts.

The old windmill of Brouwerij de Molen.

Photos from the two previous Borefts festivals can be found at Flick: 2010 and 2011.

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