Two Chefs x Vengaboys
The Vengabus is coming, and it has great beer on tap
Saturday 18 December 2021
This article is from
Brewing the Future
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Even as a moody London drama student, there was something about the Vengaboys 1998 hit, We Like to Party (The Vengabus), that really got under my skin. Maybe it was the overwhelming, oddly wholesome joy of the thing, maybe it was the catchy Europop hook, or maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t really fully sobered up in 12 months. Whatever the reason, it has been a permanent feature of my pick-me-up playlist ever since, alongside Basement Jaxx and (oddly) The Cure.
So when we heard the group had collaborated with their Dutch neighbours Two Chefs on an LGBTQ+ fundraising beer called Gender Fluid, our immediate reaction was of course delight, but actually very little surprise. Even among the Amsterdam breweries, Two Chefs has always stood out as being colourful, inclusive and above all great fun, in everything from its can art to the vibe of its bars.
“It’s really Two Chefs Brewing that got us into this,” recalls Vengaboys’ Captain Kim. “They’re pretty unique. They turned out to be our perfect soulmates. Just like us, they’re constantly looking for new ways to spread joy and happiness. Plus their beers are just like we love our music: Funky, crazy and sexy. Oh, and they know how to party. They’re sick dancers.”
Two Chefs’ Marc Galestien picks up the story: “We met The Vengaboys in our bar, and we got into contact because they like our colourful brand and the way we distinguish ourselves from other beer brands. So we met up and talked about what we think important and what they stand for; from one drink to another, the idea came that we should do a collab beer, originally to be released for Gay Pride. But Gay Pride was cancelled this year, so we decided to release it on Coming Out Day instead, which is 11 October.”
When it came to designing the beer, The Vengaboys and the Two Chefs team all agreed they wanted something fruity, in a style that would have broad appeal, but also something they would want to drink themselves. Having initially toyed with the idea of a sour, they eventually settled on a fruited milkshake IPA; a style that is only just starting to really take off in The Netherlands.
“The Vengaboys were totally involved in the whole process, coming into the brewery for brew days and a photoshoot,” says Marc. “We organised a launch party together, which was so much fun. The multipack for the beer was designed to look like a purple closet – for Coming Out Day – so for the party we got a real closet and painted it purple, then when people arrived at the venue they emerged through the doors of this closet.”
While partying is obviously pretty central to both Two Chefs and The Vengaboys, they also wanted the project to make a meaningful contribution to spreading the word further than the craft beer community. That’s why profits from every can (including those in the Beer52 box) are going to causes nominated by COC Nederland, the world’s oldest LGBTQ+ advocacy group, founded in 1946.
Particularly as we’re speaking the day before Trans Day of Remembrance, I’m keen to hear whether the partners feel that cross-cultural collaborations like this are actually making a difference, in terms of bringing more diverse voices into beer, as well as music and the arts.
“Hell yeah, we see this changing!” says Party Girl Denise. “It’s happening in fashion and music also, these days small brands have a chance to find new fans in all demographics! And collaborations can be a big part of making that happen. It’s not only sharing ideas, it’s basically sharing audiences as well. And with craft beer, we think just a matter of getting people to taste it. Isn’t it? And then their journey begins. We weren’t your ‘typical beer people’, but now we’re spreading the gospel.”
“There’s still this lingering perception that beer brands should be focused towards men. We don't feel any gender should be targeted over another. Our brewery and brand is focused on inclusivity and fun and, of course, making tasty beer! We know some people are turned off our beer because its bright and colourful but we feel if that's your reasoning then we are totally fine with that." But I think you’d be missing out.”
Gender Fluid IPA has already been a huge hit for the brewery, and raised money for some great causes. But is the partnership a one-hit wonder, or can we expect more from the Venga/Chefs dream team at some point in the future?
“We obviously missed out on Gay Pride in 2021, but the parade usually runs alongside the canals. So we had this idea, sort of a dream really, that we get this amphibious bus that runs tours around Amsterdam, paint it in the Vengaboys colours, and have a real-life Vengabus; a floating party for Pride 2022!”
The appetite for future collaborations is also strong on the Vengaboys’ side, according to Cowboy Donny. “These guys really know how to combine fun, wild art and solid taste,” he says. “This collab definitely opened up a new world for us and we hope Gender Fluid will do the same for people who were never into craft beers. We think together we’ve found a taste and look that matches the Vengaboys' brand. And as for follow-ups… Let’s see where Gender Fluid goes. We’re getting positive messages from all over the globe. So who knows what’s next.”
Since I've still got them on the line, I decide to ask whether The Vengabus has a lost property office. I left my wallet on there in 1998 and am quite keen to get it back. "Oh was it yours!" replies Sailor Robin. "The pink one with the glittery stars? Donny has been using it ever since! You’re always welcome to hop back on back on the bus to come and get it."
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