02.10.2020 | Words by Jacky SchrijenORDER DE BLIK HERE
During the summer of 2019, our own Marlon and Niek teamed up with Homeland Brewery
to create our very own beer. The initial idea was to craft a beer that would be perfect to drink both at the terrace on a sunny day and could battle your thirst while dancing in the club. Flash forward a couple of months: the crafting process was almost finished and we had a special launch planned for De Blik, but De School had to close down because of the pandemic. Now that the café and restaurant have been open for some time, we can finally reveal ‘De Blik’.
We went to Homeland’s brewery in the east of Amsterdam to have a chat about the creation of this beer with Jacco: our collaborator at the brewery. It was a perfect sunny day as we met and sat outside next to the water at Pension Homeland.Q: Hi Jacco! First, can you tell me a little bit about this place? It’s beautiful here.
A: We are here at Marineterrein Amsterdam where Homeland has been located since it was founded in 2016. This building is the former officer alloy of the Marine Etablissement Amsterdam; the generals used to sleep here. That’s where our name is derived from: it was the homeland of the marines. It’s also the old harbour of Amsterdam. So this is the place where, back in the 17th century, the big ships docked and would roll big caskets of beer onto the docks.Q: Besides draft beer in your pub, I see you only sell beer in cans. Why is that?
A: We think that tinplate is the only correct packaging material to guarantee freshness and quality. Why do people like draft beer so much? Because it comes from the cask, which when you think about it, is nothing but a large can. Besides that, a can also has many environmental benefits compared to a bottle. The biggest profit is in transport but also the fact that tin conducts cold much better, so less energy is needed to cool them. A can is almost 100% recyclable, whereas with glass it is only 75%.Q: How did your brewery Homeland originate?
A: Our brewery was founded 4 years ago. One of the founders, Koen Vollaers, was the first entrepreneur to enter this project. He’s involved in lots of cool concepts (Trouw, Club 11) and events (Rollende Keukens). In this building Koen started a hotel, a restaurant and half a year later the brewery together with Joost Carlier – one of the founders of Lowlands festival. Koen originally started brewing in the back of the hotel.
We outgrew the brewery at the back of the hotel, which only had four tanks so we invested in a new brewery in 2018. Currently, we are brewing in a bigger building at the end of the street. The new brewery is ten times the size of the old one.
Then Bart Maes joined us and became co-owner and director. Besides us two we have two brewmasters: Wietse Postma and Willem Bink. We basically run the place with four full-timers and have a lot of help from employees here at Pension Homeland. This place is also our brewpub.Q: Let’s talk about De Blik! How did the beer come about?
A: When I started working here, a year ago, I discovered you guys didn’t sell any Homeland beers yet. I’m personally a big fan of everything you guys do at De School so I approached the café managers Niek and Marlon. A little later De School started selling a couple of our beers.
After a while, Marlon and I were talking about how fun it would be if there was an exclusive beer line, made specifically for De School. With our new brewery we have around two times the capacity that we used to have: it means we have some room to play. The aim was that we didn’t only want to develop it for the café but also for the restaurant and the club. The taste of the beer should suit these different places.
We were daydreaming about this in the summer of 2019. Then during fall, the process started. The DS-team came by and we had an orientational small tasting with different already-existing beers so we could define a direction. We then made what you call a ‘proefbatch’ (a trial batch) with 20 liters. We all tasted the beer again and after some fine-tuning it went into the tank. The name of De Blik came way later in this process. Q: Can you briefly describe what De Blik consists of? What makes this beer so tasty?
A: Basically, what we were striving for was making a unique but easily drinkable craft beer. The direction we were going for was a pale ale, close to a regular pilsner but with a special touch to it. Thinking about both the warm terraces in the summer and the hot basement, we aimed to make something very quenching. We decided to go towards a more citrusy, slightly sour ale.
It turned out really extraordinary, but the taste is not too extreme: exactly what we wanted.
If you look at what this beer consists of, there are two key ingredients. One is lactobacillus plantarum: the ingredient that makes the beer sour. The second one is centennial hop which gives it a very aromatic flavor. Creating this beer was much more than just adding flavors to an ale. The brewmasters finely balanced various natural ingredients to create the perfect acidity and taste.
It was interesting to see if we were able to develop something that suits the different moments you experience in De School. De Blik is a fresh pale ale with a sour touch to it, which makes it suitable for an afternoon drink in the sun on the terrace but also a refreshing drink while dancing in the club. Q: The can shows a painting, completely in our house style, of the De School’s entrance. How did you approach the designing process?
A: We wanted to combine the styles of Homeland and De School. So we asked our designer…. well, he’s actually a painter, his name is Jan Verburg
and a good friend of the brewery, to provide us with a basis for the artwork. De School has a very specific house style so it was a bit challenging to combine these two. After a few brainstorm sessions, we came up with an idea: we thought it would be nice to let Jan paint De School’s club entrance because it’s a very iconic part of this building. Marlon sends us a photo of it and Jan painted it based on the photo. We digitized the painting and sent it back to Marlon. This resulted in a blend of the two styles and this can. Developing this beer was a lot of fun. I’m really curious what you will think of De Blik!