Brouwerij De Molen (The Mill Brewery) is appropriately named: it’s actually inside a 300-year-old windmill that once served as a grist mill. Now, how Dutch is that! Like all windmills in the region, it has become a symbol not only of strength and ingenuity, but also peace and happiness. In fact, that’s what earned the mill its name, the Arkduif, meaning the “Ark’s Dove,” a parallel between the dove’s symbolism as harbinger of peace and joy. And despite the small quantity of beer produced there by brewer Menno Olivier, he creates plenty of peace and joy from his mill brewery. Like so many great brewers of the world, he began brewing in his kitchen as a hobby. Bitten by the bug, he went on to work professionally as a brewer, crafting beer in Westmaas and Amsterdam, and then served as master brewer of De Pelgrim, a Rotterdam city brewery. It was during his time there that he decided to open a brewery of his own, which led him to give the garage next to his home a makeover, converting it to a microbrewery (Microbrewery de Salamander) and tasting room. As his popularity grew, relocation was necessary, so he finally set up De Molen, and the Arkduif, in the small town of Bodegraven, Netherlands.
Even though he’s stepped up his scale, his output is still extraordinarily small. His stainless steel plant has a capacity of about 130 gallons—that’s only about 8 kegs worth of beer per batch, which also means very limited quantities per year. De Molen's boilers are borrowed from the Dutch dairy industry. Olivier came up with the clever idea of recycling and adapting this machinery for his brewery after realizing that dairy processors require a sterilizing boil to kill off harmful bacteria much like the boil brewers perform to kill off infection-causing bacteria in their beer. Olivier's innovative dairy boilers keep De Molen's beer fresh, and their limited capacity means smaller batches (not to mention their secondhand use meant a less than prohibitive start up cost for Olivier—and we certainly are thankful for that).
Olivier’s focus is on preserving beer culture and promoting a return to local traditions and products. His beers reflect this commitment in their classic, historic styles and carefully chosen ingredients, all of which appear to be paying off. Ratebeer.com, a popular beer reviewing website, has a list of voters’ top 10 beers by country. Eight of ten of the “Dutch Top 10” are from Brouwerij De Molen. Quite impressive.
For more information about the brewery, check out their website at www.brouwerijdemolen.nl.