Brouwerij ‘t IJ (try typing that while tipsy)

Brouwerij 't IJ bottles

One of our friends is a keen cricketer and, on a recent tour of the Netherlands (yes, lots of cricket there, apparently) he picked up a couple of bottles from Brouwerij ‘t IJ for us to try — Columbus (a ‘special’) and Natte (sort of a double).

It took us a moment to get the measure of them: the slickly designed, brightly coloured labels led us to expect bright, slick beers, but what we got in our glasses (despite our great care) was murky, spicy and a little funky — more along the lines of the mysterious Witkap Stimulo or something from De la Senne. Taking a walk on the wildside.

Natte (6.5%) did not impress us at all at first: “It tastes like a rubbish Christmas beer from a mediocre British microbrewery,” said Boak. But, as we worked our way down the glass, the tongue-drying suggestion of cinnamon sticks coupled with what seemed a very generous amount of bittering hops became rather moreish. So, a little rough around the edges, but ultimately very likeable. We’d probably take it over, say, Chimay Red, if we saw them on sale together.

The yellow-amber Columbus (9%) was also a grower. The name suggests an American influence and the website boasts of ‘lots of hops’, but what we detected was plenty of residual sugar (honey, golden syrup); wet grass; and mouldy cellar walls. Then, at the end, as it burned its way down our throats, rum came to mind. That all worked together quite pleasingly, once we’d got over our initial nose-wrinkling.

In the end, what made them good was that they were so close to being bad, like a garage band whose performances are more exciting because they’re on the verge of collapsing at any moment.

Beer and board game matching: these went well with Alhambra.

6 thoughts on “Brouwerij ‘t IJ (try typing that while tipsy)”

  1. ‘t IJ have, on more than one occasion for me, gone close enough to bad to be actually bad. I’m reliably informed that “a little rough around the edges, but ultimately very likeable” pretty much sums up the brewing philosophy, and hygiene has perhaps not always been what it should be. But I’m also reliably informed that they’ve really cleaned up their act, literally, in recent years. The brewery is a lovely place to visit.

    I love the labels, though they used to be a bit more old-fashioned. Their branded glass is an ostrich eggcup. Though I was surprised when they came out with an IPA which had a label fit for Mr. Pickthall’s wall of shame. Not the usual leggy bird there.

  2. Brouwerij ‘t IJ ‘Ijbok’ is on at the Wetherspoon Beer Fest at the moment – tried some the other night, a decent bock and only £1.49 a pint with the CAMRA vouchers 😉

  3. Columbus isn’t a reference to an American influence. The brewery has lots of egg-themed names, based on a pun about the brewery name. Columbus comes from the Dutch phrase “Het ei van Columbus”, meaning a brilliant solution to a difficult problem.

    They’ve brewed Columbus for years, long before there was any US influence in Dutch brewing. It’s a great beer to age, I think because it’s not 100% clean.

    The IPA, though the label is naff, is an interesting take on IPA with the slight funkiness working well with the citrusy hops.

  4. The beers have a distinctive brewery flavour and sometimes they are not clean enough – but what makes them good beer is drinking them just outside the brewery on a sunny afternoon (they are only open from 3 to 8), possibly sitting on the floor with your legs dangling over the water of the canal.
    If you ever come to Amsterdam, I’m happy to show it you.

  5. Beernut — sounds not unlike the Blue Anchor, our local Russian roulette brewery, currently on an upswing.

    Pintsandpubs — bizarre!

    Ron — thanks for that additional info.

    Ant — we’ll make it one day, I’m sure. It’s been on the list for years.

  6. Speaking of cricket, we play it enough to beat the English in the opening game of the 2009 World 20/20 series even though the entire team were amateur players…

    ‘t IJ is actually one of the Netherland’s older indepent “craft” brewers, having been in existence since 1985. They’re a bit old fashioned, but fairly popular with “regular” beer drinkers too and their own pub is very busy on a weekend.

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