The number of microbreweries in the Netherlands focusing on exclusive craft beer has skyrocketed over the recent years and there are still more popping up. According to experts of the craft beer industry this is mostly down to a cultural change in people’s taste, which has caused a demand for more expensive special beers.
A local fruity IPA, a cozy blonde or a tough stout. These are just some of the popular craft beers that people like to enjoy nowadays instead of commercially produced watery lagers. Stevan van der Werf, co-owner of a local beer store in Groningen called, “Just in Beer” and beer sommelier Marjolein Smit both say that people have started to appreciate good beer.
“People understand that just like drinking wine, beer can also be very diverse. When we tell people that we sell one can of beer for 5-6 euros, they say, are you mad, for one can? You would also pay 20 euros for a bottle of wine, so why not five euros for a can of excellently made craft beer that is also locally sourced”, said van der Werf.
“They want to spend their money on good products. They can better spend 20 euros on three really good beers than on six pilsners,” added Smit.
Microbreweries on the rise
Over the last ten years, the number of local microbreweries that produce these craft beers has spiked in the Netherlands. According to The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, since 2013, the number of beer producers in the country has risen from 134 to 814.
Van der Werf says that the craft market still makes up about ten per cent of the beer market in the Netherlands, but this share is increasing. He thinks despite increasing competition, the aim is to enjoy.
“Look, most of these guys are in the business just for the fun of making good beer, drinking it and meeting with friends. There are probably a couple of them who are competing and who really want to make money out of it, but the atmosphere is very relaxed, laid back,” said van der Werf.
Van der Werf hopes that the growth of the market will still continue but is not surprised if it hits a ceiling. Smit who is also the manager of beer bar café de Koffer speculates that the bubble might burst soon.
“There are too many breweries I think, but they cannot exist altogether. The energy prices are so high, they have to ask so much money for their product now to get out of their costs and I don’t think they can do that. I think there will be fewer breweries in a couple of years because they will just stop,” she said.
She emphasizes that the brewing business is hard work. So, to put it simply, making money by making special beers is not a walk in the park.