Netherlands: Dutch brewery names

Netherlands: Dutch brewery names

What makes for a cool craft brewery name?

Who among you reading this wasn’t thinking of starting a band when they were 15? Your musical skills were probably limited to 3 badly played chords, but you had dreams. A rough idea of what the style would be and how it all would sound. Maybe you even had written a setlist of songs with a black marker on a white paper. The ones artists tape on the floor before a show. The most challenging thing however: the name of the band that was going to conquer the world.

Brouwerij Dockum

How to name your brewery

Starting a brewery often follows along the same lines. You have a general idea of what direction you want to go in, but a few home brews and the love for beer don’t yet make a successful brewery. But there is a good chance you already have a name for the brewery and a few names for the first beers.

The craft beer scene in The Netherlands has seen a major growth over the last few years so let’s have a look at the names that Dutch brewers have come up with to name their brewery. There are roughly four categories of names: People (often the founders), Places (mostly the city or area the brewery is located), Objects/Things and Concepts. Some names even fit in more than one category.

Van Vollenhoven beer on tap at Brouwerij Poesiat & Kater in Amsterdam

Dutch breweries with family names

Let’s start with the easiest one. Breweries named after their founders. This has been common since the 19th century in Holland with breweries like Heineken and Van Vollenhoven. It might not always be the most imaginative, but it works. Some examples from Holland are Bax Bier, Ramses Bier, Brouwerij Kees, Breugem Bier and Brouwerij VandenBroek. In and around Utrecht there is Brouwerij VandeStreek and Fortbrouwerij Duits & Lauret.

Winterstout from Brouwerij Duits & Lauret

Uiltje Brewing Company can fit in both this category and also in the category of Objects/Things. An ‘Uiltje’ is a little owl, but it is also part of the last name of founder Robert Uyleman. Uiltje Brewing Company is also part of another family, Swinkels Family Brewers, the second largest brewing company in The Netherlands.

Founder Robert Uyleman of Uiltje Brewing Company

Breweries named after places in The Netherlands (geographically descriptive)

Another easy one that satisfies completely is to name your brewery after the city or region you are located in. Not uncommon all over Europe, and also not uncommon among breweries in The Netherlands. Well known Amsterdam brewery Brouwerij ’t IJ is named after the river IJ. Named after parts of Rotterdam are for example Kaapse Brouwers, referring to ‘De Kaap’ (Katendrecht), and Brouwerij Noordt, referring to the northside of Rotterdam. You might be able to guess what ROTT. Brouwers refers to.

Brouwerij Noordt in Rotterdam

Folkingebrew in Groningen is named after a street in this city, while Texelse Bierbrouwerij is simply named after the island of Texel where the brewery is located. Gooische Bierbrouwerij is located in Hilversum and named after the region around this town, ’t Gooi. Bronckhorster Brewing Company is located in Rha, a hamlet in the municipality Bronckhorst. To add some historical facts, Wispe Brouwerij refers to the old name for the town of Weesp, home of this brewery and Brouwerij Oudaen, is located in-, and named after, a medieval city castle in downtown Utrecht.

Brouwerij Oudaen in Utrecht

Dutch breweries named after objects/things 

Now we are getting into the more interesting names. Breweries with names of objects and/or ‘things’. Some have an obvious connection to the brewery but some might seem a little odd at first. Brouwerij De Molen obviously is named after the windmill that is home to their brewery café. Jopen Bier in Haarlem has a historical connection as it is used to be the name for a beer barrel in the Middle Ages.

A bit further up north, the city of Alkmaar is home to Moersleutel Craft Brewery. A ‘moersleutel' is a wrench, the brewery is operated by four brothers who have a background of technical studies. Brouwerij De Werf (the wharf) is also located in the province of Noord-Holland but in Enkhuizen, on the shores of Lake IJsselmeer. Another harbor town is Harlingen, in the northern province of Friesland. It is home to Het Brouwdok (brewing dock), a true harbor brewery. Some rather odd ones are Kromme Haring (crooked herring) and Oersoep (primordial soup).

Core line-up of Kromme Haring beers

Brouwerij Bliksem (Lightning) and Nevel (mist, haze, fog) Wild Ales are Dutch breweries named after weather phenomena. Looking for a friend? The Hague is the place to be, visit the taproom of Kompaan Bier (friend, buddy) and you’ve got yourselves a friend. 

Breweries in The Netherlands named after concepts

Sometimes the name of a brewery refers to ‘a thing’, but can better be described as a concept. Like Oproer (uproar) in Utrecht, with a history that’s rooted in the squatters scene. Other Dutch breweries named after ‘concepts’ are Brouwerij Frontaal (full frontal) in Breda, Brouwerij Stijl (style) in Almere and Amsterdam breweries De Eeuwige Jeugd (eternal youth) and Walhalla Craft Beer (viking heaven) that brews the gods’ favorite beers.

Brouwerij Walhalla in Amsterdam-Noord

English names for Dutch breweries

As anyone who has ever visited the Netherlands knows, pretty much everyone speaks English, and a lot of people speak it really well. Some breweries, maybe with an eye on export, haven’t even bothered to come up with an interesting Dutch name and went straight to English. Some examples: Crooked Spider, Rock City Brewing (the nickname of their hometown Amersfoort), Big Belly, White Dog, Homeland, Eleven, Butcher’s Tears, Amsterdam Brewing Company, Two Chefs and Bird Brewery.

Rock City Brewing in Amersfoort

These are just a few of the now circa 900 breweries in the Netherlands and that number is still rising. More breweries, more brewery names. If you might like to know what the name of a Dutch brewery not mentioned here means, don’t hesitate to ask us!

Author: Martijn Buisman | Picture credits: all pictures by Tasty Tales, except Brouwerij Noordt by Tina Rogers.