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A Dutch publican’s Facebook challenge for his fellow countrymen to make English ale in Holland has been met with a resounding success. The resulting brews were brought together to create Amsterdam’s first home grown real ale festival with the local media describing the event as heralding a ‘small revolution’.

Simon Fokkema, manager at Amsterdam’s In De Wildman pub, dared his suppliers and brewers in the hope that the idea might appeal to a few.

“Instead, six brewers each made two cask conditioned ales each and all went on sale over the weekend at the beginning of February. The quality of the beer was amazing,” says Simon. Participants were Klein Duimpje, De Connectie, De Snaterende Arend, Ramses, Emelisse and De Molen. The latter is one of the few in the Netherlands with experience of brewing cask ales and boss, John Brus, acted as a source of information and tips for other brewers. The biggest difficulty faced was the carbonisation which only happens in a cask through fermentation. Brewer Carl Stapelbroek found the brewing to be a ‘piece of cake’; but getting the right yeast was a different matter altogether.

Simon Fokkema at the bar In De Wildeman

Simon’s pub is twinned with the Victoria Hotel at Beeston and the Lincolnshire Poacher on Nottingham’s Mansfield Road. A number of Castle Rock brewery casks have ended up – empty – in his cellar after the pub’s first English real ale festival last year. “These were vital to the brewers who are used only to dealing with sealed kegs. It’s thanks to Castle Rock for allowing us to use their casks in this way.

“We completed the English themed weekend with pickled sandwiches, crisps and other tasty morsels. Now our customers and the brewers want to make it an annual event,” said Simon.

Castle Rock’s Colin Wilde welcomed the rise of Dutch real ale and thanked Simon for his work to introduce Castle Rock and other brewers’ cask ales to Holland. “It seemed only fair to allow our casks to be reused to give this new and exciting project a kick start. Let’s hope real ale prospers there as it has in England.”