Finally, it’s time for a venue in Eindhoven again, and a brewery no less! Let me tell you a bit about:
Brewery Het Rijkshotel!
Rijkshotel, or roughly translated government hotel, is a moniker for prison. And that’s where the name of this Brewery comes from. No, not that they started in prison or something like that. Brewery Het Rijkshotel was originally located on the terrain behind the old prison cells of our neighbourly village of Veldhoven. The place where you could sleep off your inebriation when you were caught drinking too much in public.
Ivo, Joost and Martijn began brewing in 2018, and in 2020 they moved their activities to Eindhoven, to Plan B, a former Philips building (but be honest, which building in Eindhoven isn’t a former Philips building?) in the west side of Eindhoven, which is now a hubbub of all kinds of creative start-ups and other companies.
The brewery was founded by Joost Broné and Ivo Vogels, and they were a registered company from the beginning, even though they first brew in their backyard. In 2019 Martijn Baas joined them and these days Martijn Baas is the sole owner and brewer of brewery Het Rijkshotel. I find Martijn in the cellars of Plan B.
The cellars of Plan B are perfect. They have tiles to the walls and floor and it is cool. It does not have a drain, but a wet vacuum works proficiently. So nine months ago they moved in, bought new equipment and with that Het Rijkshotel officially became an Eindhoven brewery.
As said, very recently Martijn became the sole owner. So recently, that he has not got an AGP yet, but probably will have one by the time I publish this. That will give him time to think about what he wants to do with the brewery.
So who is Martijn?
Martijn Baas, a born and raised Eindhovenaar, has been fascinated by beer since he was 17. In those days his sister studied at the Eindhoven University of Technology and Martijn became part of the drinks committee. He travelled with his sister to Belgium to get beer, visited beer festivals like the 24 hours of Antwerp, went on a beer bus trip with the Altstadt and so on and so forth. He also became a member of PINT in 1993, not a lifetime member, but he should have, because in reality he is. Since then, he always wanted to do something with beer, but life happened, so it never became more than a hobby.
At one time though, during the Antwerp festival one of his friends asked Martijn something about beer and he realised he did not know and he wanted to know. So prompted by that question and inspired by Dennis Kort’s talk about beer at Van Moll five years ago he decided to study beer via StiBON and become a diplom biersommelier. After that he began studying beer judge as well via the bierkeurmeestersgilde . In the meantime he got the chance to become a brewer with Ivo and Joost. The brewery is a professional hobby now; not just a hobby, but he also does not earn his living with it yet either. The brewery is quite small with just a 150l kettle, but he also has a company in graphic design for 4 days a week. Next to the brewery hedoes things like beer tastings and beer advise to restaurants as well and that is exactly what he likes: to approach beer from several viewpoints, with practical and theoretical knowledge, as a whole, as a complete story from A to Z. This is what he also finds as a a member of the Peels bierbrouwersgilde, which comes together frequently. There are a lot of people in the guild that have been brewing for years and have a lot of knowledge from experience, where others have a lot of book knowledge, which makes it a nice mix of the two.
How does Martijn see the beer culture in Eindhoven?
He distinctly remembers the first announcement of the upcoming Van Moll brewery in 2013. Finally, a brewery again in Eindhoven! Almost 50 years after the last one closed its doors. It still took some time until it shifted into high gear. Martijn was thinking back then of organising PINT events or such in this region, but he never got around to it. Then came Van Moll with Van Moll Fest, and the Stadsbrouwerij and de Bierbrigadier with Bier & Big, and these events, StiBON and the Pils bierbrouwersgilde are good places to get to know people. These days, there are several breweries, specialty beer pubs and more, but there is still a lot of room in Eindhoven for more breweries, specialty beer pubs, pubs with regional beers and craft beer pubs.
Quality beer is important for him, and Martijn sets high demands on himself, partly prompted by being a biersommelier as well. No beer will leave his brewery without him tasting it. Sometimes a beer comes out differently than hoped for, and when in doubt he will always ask other experts to taste the beer before selling it. And then when something is off, he keeps digging and digging until he finds out what went wrong.
Beers and future
Martijn wants to make beers with a lot of taste. He also wants beers he likes himself and that is a luxury he can afford because he does not have to sell, but he can sell. He also has a small brewery, which is perfect for a lot of experimentation. He knows he has some polarising beers in his collection. Beers some people react very badly to, while others celebrate them. But as long as at least half of the people are positive AND it was what he intended to, then he is content that his idea for that beer succeeded. One of those beers is the Bastoy, a sour blond beer, and this beer will stay a part of his core range. It is a recipe he made himself. At the moment the carbon dioxide pressure is too high, which he led back to the yeast, so he will change that. For the Bastoy he wanted a fresh sour beer for summer, easy to drink, low in alcohol. As for all his beers he first researched what he needed to get such a flavour, things like wheat and lactic acid in this case. All his beers are thought through. He always first figures out what for he wants to use the beer, then he will do research and then he will make the recipe and the beer.
Another beer of his core range is Belmarsh, one which he is very proud of, named after a notorious prison in London and loosely inspired by Thornbridge’s Bracia. He wanted to make a thick stout with chestnut honey (and lactose) and it turned out more than perfect. We tasted this stout for PINT, and I have to agree, it is a gorgeous beer; very well-balanced, soft and outspoken, a perfect beer for the current weather. You will find more about it in the upcoming edition of PINT magazine. This beer will be the first beer he will brew again.
A third beer that will definitely stay a part of the core range is the Dortmunder, because the Dutch Dort is a dying beerstyle and it would be a waste if no one would brew that style anymore.
In the future, he would like to experiment with ingredients you would not expect, certain vegetables and fruit. He also wants to brew beers to pair with certain foods, which is where the biersommelier kicks in again. and then he is starting a collaboration with a whisky man. The upside of the limited capacity is that he can experiment all he wants, and he has some very exciting ideas for the near future. Even when he has the bigger fermenter he wants to buy, there is still a lot of room for experimentation.