Poesiat & Kater

Putting the past in the past


It’s always great to see a brewery that’s not afraid to take its initial success and, rather than just beating the same drum for years on end, really have the courage and confidence to run in new directions. That’s what we’ve seen with the wonderful Poesiat & Kater, which we last visited in early 2018, when it had only been open for a relatively short time.

My abiding memory of that visit, aside from the great beers, is that it was essentially a very cool brewpub, with a charming taproom and a cramped row of fermenters around the side. We met with Julián Álvarez Zárate, the instantly likeable Spanish immunologist turned master brewer, who still leads the brewing team to this day, and who spoke about the young brewery’s spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship.

Led by industry veterans Eymert van Manen and Pieter Teepe, the new business sought to revive one of The Netherlands’ great historical breweries, Van Vollenhoven, whose demise, shortly after World War II, had long been lamented by the pair. In particular, they were keen to bring back its famous Extra Stout, a truly unique brew that was once the country’s most popular beer, before the arrival of pilsners and the decline of Holland’s colonial customers wiped it out.

Taking up the Von Vollenhoven name for its line of traditional beers, the brewery itself was christened Poesiat & Kater, named for a local master carpenter Bart Poesiat and master bricklayer Klaas Kater, whose faces would eventually adorn the taproom wall. Looking back, their choice not simply to name the brewery Von Vollenhoven seems calculated, as Poesiat & Kater has evolved rapidly in its brewing, finding its own, modern voice and producing some excellent, creative beers.

Todd Mauvais, the brewery’s director of sales, says: “When we first started of course, we had this Von Vollenhoven beer and that was our initial flagship. But over the years our story has become way less about the historic side, and more about our modernity, diversity and creativity. 

“So the focus is on our core line of our modern stuff. We have our Little Smuling session IPA, which has won gold at the Dutch beer challenge and in Brussels, and has actually won first place in the UK as well. And then we have our Kaintz modern triple, and in the last month we’ve launched our Meyer hazy IPA and the Wisse, which is going into the Beer52 box.”

There’s also the wonderfully named Poetry of Hangover series, which focuses on more out-there, experimental beers, and a rotation SMASH (single malt, single hop) IPA series, that has been through two iterations already, with another eight planned for the coming year. Outside of its core line, this adds up to 25 new beers planned for the next 12 months.

“We’ve gone from a team of three to a team of 10 since you were last here, covering seven different nationalities including the Australian, Irish, American, Spanish and Czech,” continues Todd. “I think that diversity really adds to the creative atmosphere we have here, everyone pitches in with their own perspective and it really keeps our thinking moving forward.”

Whatever the magic juice is, it certainly seems to be working. In June last year Poesiat & Kater moved its brewery out of the cramped corridor off its tasting room, doubling its brewing capacity, as well as adding offices and warehouses. More fermentation vessels are on order, and there are plans to double the size of its current 10 hectolitre brewhouse. Todd notes this would be particularly handy for fulfilling crazy orders from UK beer clubs.

“You know, the whole reason all of us are in this industry is because of the creativity, right?” Todd concludes. “There’s a reason we’re not a contract brewery – we’re here to experiment and also make a damn good beer. So, for example, instead of putting our plaque on the cool bars and bottleshops we work with, we’ll actually collaborate with them on a beer, taking on their ideas and brewing something that’s theirs. We want to start doing that internationally too. I guess that’s the kind of thing that really motivates us, and hopefully makes our approach a bit different.”

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