Flink Gegist: A well-fermented beer festival

Flink Gegist is not merely the go-to place for a great selection of beer in the Dutch city of Delft—yes, the home of Delftware—but it is also the bottle shop after which the eponymous biannual craft beer festival is named.  Flink Gegist translates to something like “well fermented”, and on Sunday 15 July, it isn’t simply the craft beer offered by some of the country’s best breweries on the small sliver of land next to the Vrouw Juttenland canal that is well-fermented.  French and Croatian football fans in Moscow are presumably working themselves into a ferment in anticipation of this evening’s 21st FIFA World Cup Final.

Vrouw Juttenland is known for being the home of two extra-special beer-bars—Doerak and Het Klooster—that organise the summer edition of the Festival here, along with Flink Gegist a short stroll away.  Holding a beer festival alongside an open canal does initially seem foolish when there is neither a fence nor barrier to prevent the overindulgent drinker from taking an unexpected swim, but thankfully today’s atmosphere is about enjoying a few beers sensibly on a summer Sunday afternoon rather than drinking to excess.  Nobody is enjoying the beers too much that an unforeseen deviation into the canal is likely (thankfully), although there are quite a few drinkers lounging in inflatable dinghies on the water; the closest anybody got to swimming today was trying to elegantly board a dinghy without spilling the beer.

What the coot and ducks think about the annual influx of beer brewers and drinkers is anybody’s guess.

Of the twelve breweries present today, eleven of them are Dutch and one—southeast London’s Brew By Numbers—has a Dutch Taproom Manager and is, therefore, an adopted member of the gang.  It’s not just local breweries here today, as some of the finest beer producers from across the country have made the journey to be here in South Holland.

Appearing to be the furthest travelled is Nijmegen’s Nevel Artisan Ales, with its focus on delightful wild beer and mixed fermentation.  Because it has travelled so far, we will excuse its fashionable lateness.  Better late than never, and never better late than Nevel—its sour beers are a highlight for the day’s beer aficionados.

Cider is not beer, but they’re close relations.  Whilst wild beer and mixed fermentation is a cousin of the traditional brewing process, sour beers certainly share a parent with cider.  Much like an embarrassing relation who’s conveniently seated away from the main family, Utrecht’s Het Ciderhuis is seemingly located away from the beers down a side street.  Yet its imported ciders from England and Wales consistently entice both hardcore cider fans and drinkers keen to find something new.  This is, therefore, not exactly a hidden-away place but rather the centre of the festival, immediately next to Doerak.

Cider’s popularity across the globe is currently experiencing an explosion of interest, and much like all the best beer festivals, the presence of cider makes it a well-rounded event.  Long may the Flink Gegist Beer and Cider Festival continue.

Also travelling quite a distance to be here is Limburg Province’s Brouwerij de natte gijt—always a popular attendee at a beer festival—much to the appreciation of drinkers who agree its beers never fail to surprise.  Almost neighbours geographically and actual neighbours today is Eindhoven’s Van Moll, a brewery of startling high-quality and consistency that proves to be a very-welcome addition to any beer-festival; Van Moll puts the ‘festive’ in festival.

Local breweries De Koperen Kat and De Bolle Paep represent Delft and its high-calibre beers.  Both are popular with not only locals who are already familiar with their beers but also visitors keen to learn more about the beers of Delft.  Delft is, of course, only a potter’s throw from Den Haag, so two of the city’s most renowned breweries are here today, Brouwerij Kwartje and Kompaan Beer, offering some of their finest beers to expectant drinkers.

Haarlem’s Uiltje Brewing and Bodegraven’s Brouwerij de Molen are both well-established, popular and widely-available in the Netherlands, and their popularity continues today with consistent queues forming for their beers throughout the day.  In the late afternoon, Uiltje cleverly produces a laptop, on which it shows the World Cup Final and thereby generating even more interest in its stall.

Utrecht’s vandeStreek bier is another one of the big players, both in brewing capability and attendance at beer festivals, and the vibrant interest in and popularity of its enchanting beers reflects that.

A short-distance to the south-west is Maassluis, from where Raven Bone Hill Brouwers bring their impressive beers.  Raven Bone Hill nails its colours to the mast; with its beers named after the mythical river to be crossed to reach the Underworld, crowd surfing, circle-pits, and pirates, it is clearly a brewery with an interest in the darker side of life and the joys of live rock music.  Raven Bone Hill is renowned for its at-source infusions, and today’s delight is coffee-infused.  It’s a brewery that does not appear at enough beer festivals, for sure.

Whilst it is not exactly a tumbleweed movement, the late afternoon kick-off at the World Cup Final does start to thin-out the number of visitors to the festival, although many people still give beer priority.  The match is shown in a number of local bars and cafés, so the number of drinkers returning to drink some great craft beer during the match remains high.

Being that we’re current in the middle of a seemingly endless record-breaking heatwave, it is quite evident that glorious sunshine appeals to many drinkers who may not have been as enamoured if it were a regular wet and windy summer’s day.  However, saying that, the summer edition of the Flink Gegist Festival—much like its several-day winter sibling, held in a former Glue Factory in the south-east of the city—is great day, the perfect way to spend an afternoon in the company of some great beers and ciders.

It’s becoming a firm favourite on the annual Dutch beer-festival circuit, both summer and winter version.  They’re something for your 2019 diary.