Getting to know: Brouwerij 5Hoog
No, it’s not a high-five greeting. Nor is it Shoog in leetspeak (aka 1337speak). It’s a reference to the brewery’s lofty beginning as a group of fanatical beer-loving friends on the fifth floor, a level from which Thom, Sven, Patrick and Nick have rarely had time to descend over the past five hectic years. On the face of it, the Netherlands’ Brouwerij 5Hoog (five high) has been unable to get its feet on the ground, its elevator hurtling skyward, from zero to hero and upwards in five soaring years.
The four Dutch friends from Heemskerk and Haarlem first formally gathered in the name of malt, water, hops and yeast during 2013, initially to taste the delights and delicacies of beer, but rapidly progressing to hobby brewers. Always searching for something new, the nascent Brouwerij 5Hoog took a unique approach to its brewing by passionately testing unusual ingredients, conceiving innovative brewing processes, unbalancing traditional balanced-beers, and generally sprinkling everything with a generous douse of craziness.
By the time the four friends were able to brew their first large batch through a local beer guild, Brouwerij 5Hoog was primed and ready for its own launch, shunning the mainstream classic beer-styles to begin its ascent with a black IPA. What followed shortly thereafter is the basis of the brewery’s core beers today. Brouwerij 5Hoog’s flagship beer was one of its first: Op Het Balkon (‘on the balcony’), a hopped-up brew that combines the hoppiness of West Coast IPA with an easy-drinking lager for easy-drinking on a balcony, easy-drinking on the beach, easy-drinking on a terrace, or easy-drinking anywhere where an easy drinkable beer packed with taste is the perfect accompaniment.
Joining Op Het Balkon on the beer-menu are such delights as Brouwerij 5Hoog’s Saison-Tripel hybrid, Zij Leve Hoog (‘living it up’), its smoked Brandtrap (‘fire escape’) or its popular Club Tropicana, a Wheat IPA — fun and sunshine, there’s enough for everyone. However, Wham! were misled; drinks are not free at this Club Tropicana!
In a country dominated by Big Beer industrialisation and a loyal, stuck-in-the-mud consumer-base that worships at the altar of corporate insipidity, it is a shame that many young brewers feel stifled by monopolisation. Brouwerij 5Hoog has a not-uncommon outlook insofar as it sees most long-term opportunity for growth overseas, seeing its potential for acceleration in its home-market throttled by the dominance of a handful of major players. This sentiment is unfortunately repeated by many young brewers, many times over, in most corners of the world. Unsurprisingly, the target-markets are those in which drinkers don’t simply accept what brand-loyalty tells them is acceptable to drink.
Today the Netherlands, tomorrow the world. Rightly fearful of running before it can walk, Brouwerij 5Hoog has aspirations — long-term aspirations — that see it leave the fifth floor and slowly, steadily mount the staircase to the penthouse.
The quality of Brouwerij 5Hoog’s beers suggest it may be less of a determined climb and more of effortless rise to the highlife, the 5Highlife. So, why not join Brouwerij 5Hoog in its elevator ride — step aboard and soar.