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Celebrating a 60 Year Old Friendship in New and Delicious Ways

Posted September 13, 2011 | 1:39 am, by nadine

On Monday, May tenth, a new collaborative brew called ‘Vrienden’ was unveiled as part of the House of Orange festival, in the Canadian capital of Ottawa. The House of Orange was organized by the Dutch Embassy to mark the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Holland and ran parallel to this year’s edition of the annual Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa.


Canada and Holland have shared a particular bond since World War two. The Dutch feel that Canada played a key role in the liberation of their country. In addition to this, the Dutch royal family took refuge in Ottawa during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Princess Margriet Francisca of the Netherlands was born in Ottawa during this time and because it meant a lot to the royal family that she be born a Dutch citizen, the Canadian government temporarily declared the hospital where Princess Margriet was born to be international territory. Princess Margriet was in town for the celebrations this year. Although she is not much of a beer drinker, she is rumoured to have sneaked a quick sip of the Vrienden from her husband Pieter van Vollenhoven, who enjoyed a few glasses at the Dutch Embassy that week.


Vrienden, quite appropriately, is the Dutch word for ‘friends’ and it is a collaborative between Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, located near Ottawa and the Dutch Trappist brewery De Koningshoeven. Vrienden is a Belgian-Style wheat beer brewed with the addition of juniper berries and maple syrup. When asked about the choice of style, Beau’s brewmaster, Matthew O’Hara explains: “We knew that we were dealing with a pretty tight timeline in getting the beer finished in time for the actual celebration.” The beer therefore had to be an ale that didn’t require too much aging. O’Hara then elaborates: “The Dutch brewing tradition is very closely linked with Belgian brewing tradition… and one of the styles that is represented fairly well in the Netherlands is Wit bier. ” Brewing a wheat beer also seemed particularly appropriate for the season. “To put some kind of Canadian stamp on it” continues O’Hare “ I thought it would be interesting to use some organic Canadian maple syrup. Few things are more quintessentially Canadian than maple syrup. And then, in terms of having some kind of Dutch imprint, we decided to go with juniper berries as Jenever is the national drink of the Netherlands, it’s basically a type of Gin.” Because Vrienden was going to be brewed in Canada and Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. is an organic brewery, there were some challenges in sourcing ingredients, but fortunately it all came together on time.


As the brew day approached, another challenge presented itself. Due to the ash cloud formed during the eruption of Mount Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland, De Koningshoeven brewmaster, Lodewijk Swinkels, was unable to fly to Canada in time to physically collaborate in brewing Vrienden. Instead, he stayed in touch with O’Hara over the phone and via e-mail throughout the process, advising O’Hara on the best way to include the juniper berries, among other things. Fortunately, Swinkels was able to attend the launch in Ottawa on May 10th and sample the Vrienden just before its official launch. He also visited Beau’s brewery that day to meet O’Hara and the two of them shared a few beers, celebrating a sixty-year old friendship between two countries in a new and delicious way.

Publication: TAPS Magazine

Date Published: Winter 2010/11

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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