Brouwerij Kraan Kraanwater 7.2
Every year I make a trip to Bodegraven in the Netherlands to attend the Borefts Bierfestival hosted by Brouwerij De Molen (the brewery that arguably kick-started the Dutch craft beer revival). I've managed to attend Borefts since it started out as a fairly low-key affair attached to the annual Bokbier Festival weekend in Amsterdam. I suspect I'm just one of a small handful of Brits who have been to every Borefts and it's been interesting to see it grow and evolve into what is now craft beer central with breweries from around the globe in attendance. This year marks its 10th anniversary so I won't be missing that.
One feature of the festival is the shop based in the windmill on Overtocht (the brewery used to be there as well but has long since outgrown it and is now located in much larger premises a couple of minutes' walk away). It usually offers choice, rare and expensive beers from the brewers featured at that year's festival. It's normally thronged by festival attendees splashing the cash.
Those of us with an interest in Dutch beer go elsewhere though. Just down the street is the Speciaalbierwinkel (or Special Beer Shop) run by Jan Kraan. Jan specialises in Dutch beers with over 700 in stock at the last count. Rarities from across the Netherlands can be found on his shelves - he drives across the country to collect some of them. I usually get to Bodegraven in good time to allow myself at least 30 minutes browsing here.
Among the beers are the Kraanwater beers from Jan's own Brouwerij Kraan. This is a neat play on words as kraan is also Dutch for 'tap' - hence 'tap water' (it is of course also a hostage to fortune...). The beers are produced on a small brewing kit in a back room of the shop. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to get a quick look at the brewery (and can't find my photos...) and it seemed to be quite an improvised affair. At that time Jan had plans to move to a bigger site elsewhere in Bodegraven but this appears to have fallen though and he's still there brewing about 200 litres a fortnight. Quite a range is produced in a variety of styles and this, Kraanwater 7.2, is a black IPA at, you guessed, 7.2%
It looks the part with a black body and tan head but I have to say it was all perhaps a little bit too light for me. The nose has hints of malt and that's there again as you drink along with touches of dark berries, a smidgeon of dark chocolate and some cola notes too. Some roast comes through and that lingers into the light and spritzy finish. Perfectly decent I thought although a bit more oomph wouldn't go amiss. I'll be back at the Speciaalbierwinkel in September and another of Jan's beers will certainly be among my purchases.