Launch your own brand of beer

Alumnus Niels Beekhuizen’s story

Niels so can you image

On a small street in Scheveningen, there’s a familiar smell in the air - the aroma of beer. Tucked away behind unassuming grey doors, there’s an entire world of barley, hops, malt and water hidden amongst huge stainless-steel kettles. A world of beer. This is alumnus Niels Beekhuizen’s domain. He has developed his own brand of beer and is also head brewer at an existing brewing company. 

How it all began

“Beer first piqued my interest while I was studying Process & Food Technology at THUAS. I was working in a small group that had been given an assignment to produce beer and find a new market for byproducts of the brewing process, like yeast or certain proteins. We ended up with about ten bottles of that beer and people I knew seemed to like it a lot. That’s how it all began.”

My friends said the beer tasted awesome

Awesome taste

“My father-in-law was enthusiastic as well as he had brewed his own beer in the past. There was an American living next door to my father-in-law. He was also into home brewing and he let us borrow all kinds of equipment, like a mill for grinding grain. This was great when you consider that a starter kit can easily cost 400 euros. My friends said the beer tasted awesome.”

Beer festival

“We began experimenting and developed more and more types of beer. Then we put together an event - a kind of beer-tasting festival. That was when everything fell into place for the first time. People liked the beer, so I started brewing more often and even founded my own brewery while I was still a student. My graduation project was about the brewery, too. Then, in 2014, I launched my own beer brand.”

Four ingredients

“Know what the fascinating part is? There are only four ingredients in beer - water, grain, hops and yeast - yet you can try out endless variations in every step of the process. You can toast the barley grains for longer or shorter times during malting, which gives you lighter or darker beer. You can heat the water to a specific temperature for a longer or shorter period of time during mashing. Allowing longer fermentation, increasing or decreasing the amount of hops, filtering more often - everything you do affects the flavour and aroma of the beer."

We’ve won multiple awards

Beer Award

“There’s a restaurant in Voorschoten that serves our beer on draught. Not only do people give it a try, they tend to order more. That’s really exciting. We’ve won multiple awards, including the best summer beer in South Holland, the best winter beer in the Netherlands and - an especially great honour - an English beer award.”

Do what you enjoy

“It was thanks to THUAS that I first came into contact with beer brewing. I learned a lot about the profession, but also about people. I had the chance to experiment and learned about chemicals. Money may be important, sure, but the most important thing is to do what you enjoy.”

Brew your own beer in five steps

1. Malting

First, start with barley or another type of grain. Allow it to germinate. Then heat the grain to stop the germination process. What remains is known as malted grain.  

2. Milling

Then grind the malt. This is when you separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, or in this case the barley. The grain releases starch, which is needed in the fermentation process ahead. 

3. Mashing and filtering

The milled malt is soaked in water and heated a number of times. This converts the starch into fermentable and non-fermentable sugars. Filter the liquid to finish this step.

4. Boiling the wort

The leftover substance is called wort. It’s basically sugar and water. Hops (which are in the hemp family) are then added to the wort.

5. Fermentation

Now it’s time to filter and cool the liquid, after which you add yeast and oxygen. The fermentable sugars are converted into alcohol, carbon dioxide gas and flavours. Et voilà: you’ve got beer!