Wednesday 07 March 2018
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Operating out of a couple of basement rooms in central Amsterdam (the way in and out of the office requires ducking through a pavement-level window) Bruut seems fairly typical of the latest generation of brewers in The Netherlands. Heavily influenced by the beer traditions of neighbouring Belgium, its brews are dry, balanced and yeast-forward, and produced under a long-standing relationship with a Belgian contract brewer. In 2016 though, brewers Sander and Ward were catapulted into the limelight when their hoppy trippel, Gajes, was named The Netherlands’ best beer. Now, with construction well under way on its own brewpub and a host of interesting experiments waiting in the wings, Bruut has truly broken from the pack.
Bruut began brewing just three years ago, and its origin story is familiar. Both Sander and Ward had their own careers, brewing for fun in their spare time, and eventually giving small batches of their beer to friends running local bars and restaurants. These friends asked for more, and more, and the pair’s hobby quickly got “out of hand”. Things became even more serious when the opportunity arose to start brewing in a newly-renovated coastal defence fort, on an Island off the Amsterdam coast.
Sander recalls: “The management really wanted to do something related to beer there, and everyone was really keen. As romantic as the idea of brewing on an island was though, you need a lot of fresh water, power, transport… all things that are difficult and expensive on a tiny island! By the time we’d realised it wasn’t practical though, we’d built up some momentum and decided to push ahead with our own plans.”
While they take the craft of brewing very seriously, having trained in Belgium, Sander and Ward decided early on that they had no ambitions to run their own production brewery, so turned to a large Belgian contract brewer to execute their recipes. While this approach has clearly yielded success, the pair did not completely outsource their brewing dreams, and are currently in the process of building a brand new bespoke brewpub in the heart of a fashionable residential area.
“The brewpub is really a key part of how we see Bruut developing,” says Ward. “We love brewing, but never wanted to manage a complicated production line, sitting looking at spreadsheets. Better to leave that to someone else! We’ll keep all our large-scale brewing under contract, and just use the small 3.5 hectolitre kit in the brewpub to work on new beers, supply our own taps and maybe serve kegs to a few local bars and restaurants.”
Although it’s currently little more than a few cinderblock walls and a hole in the ground, Bruut’s vision for the brewpub is clear, with the brewery separated from the bar by a large window, a back room for experimentation and tasting, and even facilities for live music.
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