Editor’s Note: We are sad to report that ABC Beers has now closed. However, they still brew beer on the 1st Sunday of the month if you want to drop in for a chat.
The Korte Koediefstraat in Den Haag, the Netherlands, is one of the quietest streets in the city centre. However, there is one door which, during business hours, is always open – ABC Beers. It is a shop built on one man’s love of beer and owner Dean Southall sits down to tell us more.
I’m from the north of England but I’ve lived in Den Haag for 19 years. I’ve also lived and worked in Stockholm and Singapore and I’ve travelled to 50 countries. I won the Netherlands Expat of the Year award in 2011. I’m originally an IT programmer but opened ABC Beers in August 2010 after the work dried up. Much less stress and no commute to work!
Where does your passion for beer come from?
When I was living in England all the beer was bland and boring (lagers, basically). I came to Amsterdam for a friend’s stag do and we went into a bar with lots of choice. We decided to try a different Belgian beer each and I thought, “Wow, a beer with taste!” I was hooked!
How many different kinds of beer does ABC Beers carry and from what countries?
ABC Beers has about 150 Dutch beers and 50 beers from the UK, USA, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Germany, and France.
We heard ABC Beers actually brews its own beer. How would you gauge the success of your Konings IPA and what are your future brewing plans?
The Konings IPA is our third house beer and has sold much better than expected. It was in the shop on May 1st and now only a third of the stock is left. The plan is to brew a test batch next month and then brew the next house beer in early December so that it’s ready in early February.
What’s your best beer memory?
I have two best beer memories: First is the aforementioned discovery of beers with actual taste. The other is when I volunteered to help out at a beer festival. I was expecting lots of competition between the brewers but nothing could be further from the truth. The brewers were very helpful to each other, offering help if needed and sips of their latest brews. They are part of a passionate group of enthusiasts.
If you had to choose one beer in the world as your favourite, what would it be and why?
It’s very hard to choose a favourite beer as there are new beers coming out every day but the one beer I open on my birthday as a special treat is Stille Nacht from 2003. It’s a great Christmas beer but if you age it like a fine wine it becomes awesome and just melts on your tongue. Heaven!
What do you like to do with your time when you’re not at ABC Beers?
When not working I run an expat group called the Legal Aliens. I go to the gym daily and cycle to Delft when the weather is nice (i.e. dry and not windy).
What are your top 3 tips for someone visiting the Netherlands?
1. Amsterdam – they even have five breweries these days.
2. Delft is a must and is only 30 minutes away [from Den Haag] by bike.
3. Haarlem is also great and when you’re done with all the history, have a beer at De Jopenkerk. It’s a church converted into a brewpub and they have great food too.
Have you ever tried cooking with beer? What did you make and how did it turn out?
I’m not the world’s greatest cook so I don’t cook with beer, however, some beer styles pair better with certain foods than wine. IPAs go great with cheese and Russian Imperial Stouts go great with chocolate. A sommelier was surprised when he tried beer and wine with chocolate and beer won!
Finish this sentence: To me, enjoying a beer is about…
Relaxing with friends and trying out new beers from all over the world.