And the joy of seeing a plan come together
Photos: Adele Juraža
Saturday 07 May 2022
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Turning up at a brewery with party hats, bunches of balloons and cake is not a journalistic approach I’ve tried before, but my three travelling companions are excited to mark the tenth birthday of Amsterdam’s Two Chefs Brewing, and I’m basically a passenger by this point anyway.
Naturally, we misread the memo, and Two Chefs birthday isn’t for another two months. But confusion quickly turns to celebration, when we discover one of the brewers has indeed turned 30 today, and we present the cake to him instead. To be honest though, Two Chefs is such a font of good will and positivity that I’m sure we would have been fine in any case.
It’s the first time we’ve made it back here since before lockdown, and a lot has changed, even if the important things are exactly the same. The two rows of fermentation vessels that felt pretty impressive four years ago have been squashed together to make room for a third row, fatter and taller, effectively doubling the fermentation capacity. The bottling line that was (memorably) the bane of founder Sanne Slijper’s life has been replaced by a top-of-the-line canning and bottling unit that snakes through half the brewery. And the mezzanine office has noticeably more chairs at its desks, thanks to a significant expansion in sales and marketing.
“The change that people will hopefully have noticed though is that the quality of the beer has gone up since our head brewer Tony [Miller] joined us from The Kernel,” says Sanne. “He brought a lot of knowledge and was able to improve our quality right away. To me, the beers are tasting better than ever now, and are definitely more consistent and stable.”
We crack open a few cans of the brewery’s flagship Funky Falcon pale ale and Green Bullet IPA – both among the first brews Sanne launched, and still stone cold classics. It’s true that they’re tasting better than ever, so thanks Tony. We’re also lucky enough to sample Decennium Falcon, the birthday celebration DIPA that’s going out to all members in this month’s Beer52 box. It has all of that deliciously well balanced Funky Falcon punch, but dialled all the way up to 10, and fresh from the bright beer tank it’s an absolute delight.
As Two Chefs has grown, so has its ambition. It’s always had a very international outlook, but this has now translated into an in-country sales team in Germany. Tradition-bound Germany might seem like an odd choice, considering the number of developed, craft-hungry markets on Two Chefs’ doorstep, but Sanne is clearly excited by the opportunities it offers.
“People have said it’s a difficult market, and questioned whether it’s ready for beers like ours. But honestly, Germany today has a lot of similarities to where the Netherlands was when we started, and look at us now – everyone wants full-blown New England IPAs. Germany certainly has a very traditional way of looking at beer, but to me that just gives us a lot of room to help!”
That evening, the Ferment entourage manages to coordinate its downtime to meet at Two Chef’s fantastic bar and restaurant in the west of the city. It’s as cool and colourful as you’d expect, and the staff are happy to pull in extra chairs and tables to accommodate us turning up unannounced. We’re walked through a fantastic selection of beers over the course of the evening, and the food is absolutely standard-setting for a brewery tap – the kimchee chicken burger in particular has created some pretty unrealistic expectations for me.
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