Monday, March 28, 2011

Brewery Review: Brouwerij de Molen

Hello hello! How is everyone? Thank you for stopping by to have a look at my blog. Today's post will be a brewery review (my first since December). I am really excited about this one for a couple of reasons; one, when I first discovered this brewery I was stunned by the variety and ingenuity they were showing in their offerings. Secondly, I was also surprised to hear that they were located just an hour south of Amsterdam. So this past Wednesday (23rd of March) I mounted up and boarded a train heading south to Bodegraven and finally paid homage to Brouwerij de Molen (the recently named 5th best brewery in the world by

The train ride through the Dutch countryside was nice enough, and the weather was a stroke of pure luck. As the train slowed, I peered out the window and saw Molen de Arkduif standing out above the rest of the city and knew I had arrived in Bodegraven. Disembarking from the train I headed off through the small town to find the brewery (which is situated at the base of Molen de Arkduif). I think coming to Bodegraven for the day would be worth it as well, even If you're not a beer fanatic like me. Bodegraven retains that small-town feel very nicely, for one, the people actually smile at you, and you had the feeling that everyone knew each other. The weather was warm and sunny and I was even questioning my decision to wear pants instead of shorts. Upon arrival to the brewery I walked through a large patio to the entrance of the restaurant. I wasn't able to sample the menu items (I will definitely return and have lunch or dinner) but let's face it, that's not the reason I was there anyhow. I asked If they offered a sampler and they did in fact. I took a seat out on the patio and waited only a few minutes. The female server was more than accomodating, spoke excellent english, and wrote out each beer and the accompanying alcohol percentage on a sheet of paper. I sat on the patio in the sun undisturbed for the nearly 3 hours I was there, sipping, tasting, enjoying, photographing, and reviewing each beer at my own discretion. Only briefly did I have company. It was quite enjoyable and most likely due to the fact that I had arrived only 30 minutes after they opened. Needless to say it was an excellent day.

I sampled six of de Molen's wonderful beers. In order from left to right: Donder & Bliksem (Thunder & Lightning), Vuur & Vlam (Fire & Flames), Heen & Weer (Back & Forth), Ruig & Rood (Rough & Red), Mooi & Meedogenloos (Beautiful & Ruthless), and lastly, Moord & Doodslag (Murder & Manslaughter). Now I'll go through each beer, dissecting the flavors and analyzing the colors as if I were reviewing an individual beer. The descriptions increased in length as I went down the line, perhaps in direct correlation to the alcohol percentage (which increases by quite a lot from left to right).

Donder & Bliksem (Thunder & Lightning): The first beer on the list sits at a modest 4.2%. Classified as a Bohemian Pilsner, one would expect this beer to be light bodied and crisp with a slight hop bitterness. The color is golden orange, head is off-white, nice and fluffy, lacing is excellent. The nose is all orange and citrus, pulpy orange juice, some grassy hops and grain. Has a nice spicy bite, light carbonation and body, finish is slightly bitter. I rather like this one. A nice beer to open up with.

Vuur & Vlam (Fire & Flames): Vuur & Vlam weighs in at 6.2% and is classified as an American Style IPA. I'd had this one a few times in the past on draft at two different pubs in Amsterdam, but I was eager to try it straight from the source. The color is a cloudy amber brown. The head is creamy and thick. The nose is absolutely delicious...pine and caramel initially; reminiscent of a mild American IPA or hoppy pale ale. Body is light, lots of hops, floral, citrus and pine. The finish is moderately bitter and fades slowly. It is one of the better Dutch brewed IPA's I've had.

Heen & Weer (Back & Forth): Heen & Weer weighs in at a hefty 9.2% and I was intially unaware of its strength. It was a complex surprise and I was initially drawn to this beer because of the drastic difference between the nose of the first two beers and this one. It's classified as an Abbey Tripel, which means it will be strong and malty sweet with a noticeable hop presence. The color is clear golden amber, the head is thick and white, very nice lacing. The first thing I notice with this beer is the complex nose; spice, gingerbread, cinnamon, yeast, pumpkin and squash. Hints of caramel, and light toasted malt, quite sweet and malty. It is medium to full bodied; a bit of alcohol warmth and hop bitterness midway through and on the finish. I thought this one was complex and delicious. Definitely an above average brew.

Ruig & Rood (Rough & Red): The Ruig & Rood was explained to me as a red Tripel. It was something I had never heard of before so right away I was intrigued. It weighs in at a burly 9.5% (as with Heen & Weer, I was unaware it was this strong until the end). The color of this beer is amazing (I hope it shows up well in the photo). It's a dark ruby crimson, with slight murkiness. Nose is all hops and malt. Slight metallic notes, quite sweet, caramel and toffee, slight roasted malt. A bit of cereal and bran, yam-like notes, sweet potatoes? Medium bodied, hop bitterness on the finish, carbonation is low. Very drinkable given its strength. Never would have guessed 9.5%.

Mooi & Meedogenloos (Beautiful & Ruthless): Mooi & Meedogenloos was also a nice surprise. Was one of the darker beers at the end of the selection (in the photo the one on the left). Any light passing through this one? I don't think so. I had been eyeing this glass the entire time; I do love my strong dark brews. In any case this one is classified as an Imperial Russian Stout and the alcohol percentage is massive to support this; 10.4%. It did look incredibly delicious. The head was creamy and light brown. Excellent retention and lacing. The nose caught me once again; I picked up notes of caramel and marshmellow. Chocolate cocoa, sweet and sugary, toasted malt. Smells creamy. Pie crust and graham crackers; smells kind of like my grandma's chocolate pie. Taste is on par with the nose; sweet, hop bitterness, lots of alcohol. Tastes like smores and roasted malt. I'm getting some alcoholic notes; maybe bourbon. Charred oak and a definite burnt roasted character shines through. Definite hop bitterness near the end. Thick and rich. This is a delicious offering indeed, just make sure you proceed with caution when enjoying this rich complex brew ;]

Moord & Doodslag (Murder & Manslaughter): Moord & Doodslag is the perfect name for this beer as it's quite brutal on the palate. I was only given a half pour on this sample, and the reason for that is because it takes the cake for strongest brew of the six; a whopping 12%. This is another Imperial Stout aged most likely in bourbon barrels. Wasn't sure what to expect from this one, it looked intimidating compared to the others, but I was eager to sample it. The pour is dark brown to black but it's tough to detect the true color; the sun through the glass cast dark brown reddish hues on the table so I'm going with that for a color. The head is dark tan, slight retention, lacing is virtually non-existent. The nose, wow, some kind of alcohol. Very boozy. Barrel-aged? Rum or bourbon would be my guess. Very sweet. Picking up some woody notes; oak perhaps? Carbonation is light, the body is full to the extreme! Filling. Alcohol warmth. More wood. Spicy black pepper and very rich. Hints of charcoal and caramel notes. Some kind of lingering bitterness, either roasted or hoppy; tough to discern between the two. Definite dark chocolate and dark roasted coffee characteristics. Wood, chocolate, and alcohol dominate this beer. You have to take your time with this one since it's such a gargantuan brew (I spent the most time working my way through this one). Dark, rich, and barrel-aged; it would be a lovely dessert beer :]

In retrospect, my first real taste of Brouwerij de Molen was great. Making the trip down south from Amsterdam is definitely worth it. Like I was saying earlier, even if you're not a beer fanatic like me, you can still come to Bodegraven and enjoy yourself. The staff from de Molen is accomodating and friendly. In addition to their own beers, they have a separate beer store where you can purchase beer from all over the world. The sun was shining, I was in a lovely small town, and I was enjoying some of the best beers in the world; it really doesn't get much better than that.

Thanks for reading!


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