Haarlem was once a city with many breweries. Place names such as Brouwersvaart (Brewers’ Canal) Brouwerskade (Brewers’ Quay) and Brouwershofje (Brewers’ Yard) remind us of this rich history. Beer brewing was by 1400 the most important commercial activity of the city. By the late Middle Ages, beer from Haarlem was exported all over the world, indeed even used as a form of currency in the southern province of Oost Zeeland. It was shipped by the Dutch East India Company to the Orient, and was well known in Flanders (Belgium) and Northern France.
In 1994, inspired by all this history and the loss of all the historic breweries, a group of enthusiastic Haarlemmers took up the challenge of putting Haarlem back on the world beer map. That year, after centuries of absence, Haarlems Jopenbier was brought back onto the market. This happily coincided with that year’s celebrations of the city’s 750th anniversary, bringing a taste of the past with Hoppenbier’s recipe, which dates from the year 1501.
The success of Jopen (Named after an ancient brewing vessel of 112 litres), was followed by the launch of Jopen KOYT, a beer in which the mediaeval recipe demanded the use of herbs for flavouring rather than hops. In 1999, Jopen ADRIAAN was introduced, a light varient of another herbal beer from 1407.
Encouraged by the success of these beers, the Haarlem brewers brought a unique Bokbier (Traditional Dutch Autumn beer) onto the market. This is brewed from four different grains (Malted barley, wheat, oats, rye), smooth tasting rather than sweet. Jopen Bokbier is the best selling beer from an independent brewery in The Netherlands. Since 2003, there is also a Jopen LENTEBIER (Spring beer) available, which is distinguished by the liberal amount of coriander seeds with which it is brewed.
As an affirmation of its place in the heart of Haarlem City, Jopen brews STRIPBIER for the biennial ‘Stripdagen’ (Cartoon Festival). In this, a cartoonist is given the chance to illustrate that year’s beer label, and we fill the bottles with a beer of their choice.