History

Vestekerk

Jopen through the years

How it all started…

For centuries, Haarlem was one of the greatest beer brewing cities in the Netherlands. Immerse yourself in the age-old history of Jopen. An ode to our rich beer tradition.

500-1000

The early Middle Ages
Beer has been a popular drink for as long as can be remembered. In the early Middle Ages, people buy beer from monasteries and abbeys, or drink homemade concoctions made by housewives.

13th century

If thirsty, drink beer
During the 13th century, brewing activities are gradually taken over by regular citizens. In the Middle Ages, beer is more or less the only safe liquid to drink. So if you were thirsty, you drank beer.

14 century

The Haarlem beer tradition
Beer brewing becomes a serious profession involving craftsmen with an eye on making a profit. In the 14th century, beer is brewed on a commercial scale. Many Haarlem breweries are located along the Spaarne River and the Bakenesser Canal. The ingredients necessary for brewing beer are shipped in on the Spaarne, while the river provides a source of clean water for the production process. Barrels with a volume of 112 litres line the wharfs. These are called ‘Jopen’.

15th century

1407

Koyt gruit beer from Haarlem
To give the beer a better flavour and extend its shelf life, gruit is added to it. This is a herb mixture with sweet gale as its main ingredient. When it comes to trading and distribution, landlords tax the brewers, and they are forced to buy their gruit from specific suppliers. Haarlem city council sets up a large number of regulations and statutes that describe the beer production process down to the finest details. In 1407, Koyt is brewed in Haarlem in accordance with the brewing statute (recipe prescribed by the council). Its consistent quality makes Haarlem gruit beer famous far beyond national borders. During the 15th century, Koyt is the most popular beer in Antwerp.

National and international recognition
Beer production is heavily taxed (tax on brewing) and thereby creates an important source of income for the city. Along with the tax on beer consumption (beer levy), these charges provide more than 50% of the city’s income from 1430 to 1443. However, beer is not brewed for the sole benefit of the Haarlem population. It also finds its way to other cities in the Netherlands and abroad. During the initial beer brewing heyday between 1430 and 1450, Haarlem mainly sells its beer in the south of Holland, in Zeeland, in Brabant and in Flanders.

16th century

1501

Hops beer
Hops is introduced as a flavour enhancer. For the first time in 1501, an official recipe with hops as an ingredient is created in Haarlem in accordance with the brewing statute. Hops gives the beer its distinct bitter flavour and richer aftertaste.

Urbanisation
Following the recession suffered towards the end of the 15th century, the Haarlem brewing industry enjoys unrivalled growth between 1590 and 1610. Increased urbanisation in the 16th century and a growth in shipping traffic contribute to a sharp rise in beer consumption. As a result of this urbanisation, the Spaarne and the canals become severely polluted over the course of the century, partly due to expansion of the linen industry. In order to prevent health problems, only the use of groundwater is permitted. From then onwards, water is shipped in barrels to Haarlem from the Brouwerskolk (Brewer’s well) along the purpose-built Brouwersvaart (Brewer’s waterway).

Sint Maartensgilde (St Martin’s Guild)
The brewers unite to form the St Martin’s Guild. St Martin is the patron saint of the Haarlem brewer’s guild. Only members of this guild are permitted to brew beer. The guild aims to promote brewing traditions in the cities and to improve the economic situation of its members. Along with the city council, the guild strives towards increasing the income of the city. A number of members occupy council seats, while also belonging to the officer’s corps of the Haarlem militia. Many well-known Haarlem mayors, like Schatter, Van der Meer, Van Loo, Druyvesteyn and Osdorp were brewers. Haarlem master artist Frans Hals has immortalised some of them in his civic guard portraits.

17th century

Heyday
From 1620 to 1640, the number of Haarlem breweries grows from 20 to 52. Production peaks around 1648, when 450,000 barrels of beer are brewed, amounting to 67,500,000 litres.

18th century

Beer production drops
Midway through the eighteenth century, beer production decreases dramatically. Brewers are heavily taxed for the privilege of brewing and high levies are added to ingredients. Other drinks, such as coffee and tea are also becoming more popular. A large number of Haarlem breweries close their doors. The buildings from a few Haarlem breweries have been preserved, including De Olifant on the corner of the Korte Spaarne, De Passer and De Valk at Bakenessergracht 84, and Het Scheepje at Houtmarkt 7.

1916

Het Scheepje closes its doors
The demand for beer drops even lower. Lager becomes more popular and displaces Haarlem beer. The last Haarlem brewery, Het Scheepje at the Houtmarkt, closes its doors in 1916.

1992

Haarlem Beer Society
Haarlem council posts a newspaper request for ideas to commemorate the city’s 750-year anniversary in 1995. Ideas related to beer are suggested. After all, the city along the Spaarne River developed around the production and sale of its own beer. The Haarlem Beer Society is established in 1992 with the aim of making traditional Haarlem beer available once again. Walter Schelfhout combs the city archives for old council recipes and comes up with two, dating back to 1407 and 1501. Council archaeologist Maarten Poldermans and Haarlem historian Loes Vroom verify the authenticity of the recipes and Leuven University recreates the beer.

1994

The Jopen Brand
The beer is called Jopen after the 112 litre wooden barrels in which the beer was shipped in the past. The later of the two beers, Hoppen from 1501, signals the start of the anniversary year. A batch of 1,500 litres is brewed, and Jopen is christened on 11 November 1994 in the brewer’s chapel of the Grote Kerk – also known as the St Bavokerk – dedicated to St Martin. Deputy mayor Mooij empties a 9 litre bottle of Jopen onto the steps of the city hall.

1995

Second historic brew
At the end of the celebratory year, Jopen decides to brew the second recipe – Koyt from 1407.

1996

Jopen BV is born
Investors are searched for and found! Jopen BV sees the light of day for the first time. Meanwhile, Jopen uses the brewing facilities belonging to various other breweries. In the late 1990’s, the search is on for its own brewing site in Haarlem.

1997

Jopen Adriaan is brewed
Jopen Adriaan is brewed for the first time. The wheat beer is named after the De Adriaan windmill. This windmill stood on the banks of the Spaarne for centuries and milled grain for use by the Haarlem brewers. In 1932, the mill was destroyed by fire. An initiative to rebuild the windmill is sponsored by Jopen through the sale of this wheat beer.

1998

First strip (comic) beer
As of 1998, Jopen brews a comic beer every year on the occasion of the Haarlemse Stripdagen (Haarlem Comics Days). A cartoon artist is chosen for every edition. This artist gets to design a beer bottle and decide what beer is brewed. These bottles have become genuine collector’s items.

2000

Initial negotiations
In 2000, possible use of the church is discussed for the first time with the then owner of the Jacobskerk.

2005

Purchase of the Jacobskerk
The Jacobskerk in the Raaks area is purchased in 2005 with the intention of converting it into a restaurant, grand café and brewery. This would allow guests to watch the brewing process while enjoying a drink or a meal.

2009

15 years of Jopen
Jopen turns 15 on 11 November 2009. To celebrate, an anniversary beer is brewed for the first time, called JubelJoop III. Historic Hoppen beer – made of barley, oats and wheat – forms the basis of this triple, while a small amount of coriander seed is added.

2010

Jopen gets a permanent home
On 8 June 2010, contractor Chris Wisse officially lays the first foundation stone, and conversion of the church gets underway. The church is renamed the Jopenkerk. On 11 November 2010 – Jopen’s sixteenth birthday – the first guests enjoy the Haarlem beer and matching dishes. The Jopenkerk officially opens for business on 8 December 2010 and the Haarlem beer brand is given a permanent home once again.

2013

Mooiste Bar van Nederland (Best-Looking Bar in the Netherlands)
The Jopenkerk wins the title of Best-Looking Bar in the Netherlands 2013. The survey is organised by Proost, an independent journal for catering establishments supplying alcoholic beverages. According to the report by the panel of judges, “It all just works. There’s always something new to see and you still get that special feeling, even after two or three visits.” Jopen also decides to venture abroad.

2013

International ventures beckon
There is great global demand for specialist beer. To meet this growing local and international demand, construction starts on a new production facility in the Waarderpolder industrial park.

2014

New bottling line opens
New bottling line production starts and is tested with the bottling of Barley beer and Jopen bock beer. The upstairs area at the Waarderpolder site becomes a tasting room and the construction of a second brewery commences.

With special thanks to: Bureau Archeologie Haarlem (Haarlem Archaeology Department)

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