Tal Nadari shook his head when he described trying to introduce Americans to the concept of Kopstootje* or "little head butt" in Dutch. Basically the same idea as a shot and a beer, a small tulip glass is filled to the brim with Genever, the juniper-flavored liquor of the Netherlands, and served with a beer back.
Check out that meniscus!
"The Americans would shoot the Genever and then drink their beer," Nadari said, rolling his eyes. And because the liquor is poured till it's practically overflowing the glass, picking it up without spilling is almost impossible. "They spilled a lot," he said. "It was a mess."
What's supposed to happen instead is to stand at the bar directly in front of the Genever, bend at the waist and take just a sip of the drink from the rim of the tulip glass. Then the beer is lifted in the traditional Dutch toast, "Prost!" Basically after that it's up to each drinker to decide on the order of sips of liquor and beer, but chugging either is definitely considered bad form.
Lucas Bols, was giddy over the release of his product in Portland. That's because while Genever is normally served with a light lager, Jacob Grier (center), a well-known local mixologist and blogger who was hired by Bols just over a year ago, encouraged him to think outside the box for the event.
Upright Brewing's Alex Ganum (left). Nadari expected to discuss which of Ganum's farmhouse ales might match well with Genever's flavor profile.
"Instead he said he'd brew a beer just for the event!" Nadari said, obviously still thrilled at Ganum's offer.
What Ganum concocted was a bière de garde, what Grier described as "a rustic French beer that uses lager yeasts fermented at warm temperatures, fitting into Upright’s farmhouse style. [It] diverges from the traditional with the addition of many of the same botanicals that go into Bols Genever, including aniseed, ginger, angelica root, licorice, and juniper berries. The result is a dry beer with subtle notes of spice."
What I tasted in the Genever ("Please don't call it gin," begged Nadari) was a slight juniper hit surrounded by other botanical spices swimming in a very lightly sweet, pleasantly medium-bodied liqueur. A sip of the beer that followed it was bracingly chilled and intriguingly spicy, perhaps a bit gingery, and the perfect complement to the Genever.
Ganum's "Kopstootje Bière," will be available on tap in limited quantities at several local bars (see list, below), and many will have Genever chilling in the bar fridge. Get it while you can, and don't forget: bend at the waist, sip, lift your beer and shout "Prost!"
* Kopstootje is pronounced kawp-stow-gee
Details: Dutch Kopstootje, Bols Genever and Upright Brewing's Bière de Garde available for a limited time and in limited quantities at Beaker and Flask, Broder, Clyde Common, Cruz Room, Grain & Gristle, Hop & Vine, Irving Street Kitchen, Spirit of ‘77, Spints Alehouse, St. Jack, and Temple Bar. (Best to call first and check that it's still in stock before heading over.)