GRONINGER Brewery: the big bad wolf of beer
GRONINGER is the new kid in town, founded two years ago by nine enthusiasts, and using local products to brew their damn tasty craft beers. On April 8 and 9 they’ll be showcasing their brews for the second time during the Groningen Beer Festival. Just look for the wolf label and get a taste of rock & roll.
“This has been kind of a childhood dream for all of us”, says Paul Mulder, one of the founders, who originally came on board for the marketing campaign with his 212 Fahrenheit advertising agency. “The original founders know all there is to know about brewing and my 212 Fahrenheit colleague and I developed the name, logo, website and commercial. In other words, they make sure it tastes great and we give it the feel, because you need both to be successful.”
“The wolf logo is actually a funny story”, Paul continues. “It was part of our initial launch campaign that totally backfired. We built it around all those wolf sightings in Groningen last year, remember that? All those news stories about wolves coming back to the Netherlands after a century. So our launch tagline was: the wolf is finally here. But the real wolf was spotted a few months before our launch. Great for nature lovers, terrible for us. We kept the logo though”, he adds with a smile.
Spelt beer: not because it’s hip & healthy, but because it’s just damn tasty
GRONINGER uses local products like spelt, now a very popular hipster food hype. “That sudden popularity was a happy accident”, Paul explains. “Hero Havenga de Poel, one of our founders, has his own organic family farm called Landgoud, where they’ve grown spelt for over 10 years. They grow Oberkulmer Rotkorn, a very old spelt variety that’s never been crossbred. It might be a food hype now, but it gives our beers a great taste!”
Their Oerspelt beer became A.B.T. (national alliance of beer pubs) beer of the month in June last year, which meant things suddenly went from local to national, with their beers sold in bars and liquor stores around the country. “It’s just awesome to realize people drink your local beer in a town like Breda.”
Paul also remembers the first time he drank his own beer in a bar: “I was in De Pintelier and it felt a little embarrassing, but we ordered it anyway. The girl behind the bar started to tell us all about this special, local beer, until one of the other bartenders recognized us, tapped her on the shoulder and told her: “I think they know what their own beer tastes like...” It was hilarious!”
The beer boom
In the past decade, craft- and microbreweries have been popping up like mushrooms. In 2003, there were only 64 breweries, in 2014 that number was 220 and still growing exponentially. Paul isn’t worried about all the competition though. “We’re still small and local and we’re not in a rush. Our aim is to grow slowly, but steadily.”
“And the sudden rise of breweries is not really a hype, it’s more like getting back to an old tradition. Groningen actually had a very rich beer tradition. At one point, we had about 80 breweries here, but most of them slowly disappeared after the Second World War. The fact that people are rediscovering craft beers is just great!”
The beers to look for during the Groningen Beer Festival
On April 8 and 9, GRONINGER will present a few new beers they’ve been working on the past year. “It’s a lot of testing and tasting, and once we’re all happy, the actual brewing process starts. And I’m pretty proud of our new ones and I can’t wait what all the beer enthusiasts at the festival will think”, Paul explains.
His personal favorites: “I personally love our American Pale Ale, brewed with American hops, hence the name. But there’s also our Sweet Stout. Normally, stout is a little too intense for most people, but this one is very accessible in terms of taste. It’s creamy, full, dark and delicious.”