While Black Metal & Brews is a website rooted in a love of both extreme metal and beer, it’s safe to say that the latter gets a little less love and attention on here. When I attend a concert, it’s quite common for me to enjoy a drink or two. Still, I rarely focus on my beer with the passion and dedication I give to the performers onstage. While at Roadburn, I made a point to take note of my alcohol-related experiences. The Netherlands has a rich brewing legacy, and European beer in general is harder to obtain at a reasonable price here in Portland. I can’t say that this list is a comprehensive journal of the flavor profiles of every sip of beer I had, but the beers profiled here and the experiences I relate to them are a relevant part of my Roadburn experience. It’s often said that our olfactory sense has the strongest ties to our memory. I hope that by taking these beers in and committing them here, I can cling to some of the smaller moments I enjoyed.
My first beer of Roadburn was actually a beer I’ve had a few times in the United States. It was Wednesday afternoon, about 7 hours before the Hard Rock Hideout pre-party began, and I decided to beat the surprising heat with a glass of something refreshing and familiar. My brain was beginning to feel the ache of skipping time zones and depriving myself of sleep, yet this was still exactly what I needed while waiting for my friend Thomas to arrive.
While I have had a few opportunities to sample coveted beers by Mikeller here in the USA, I couldn’t pass up this bottle. I shared it with my friend Sander from Echoes and Dust before we watched Amenra decimate 013 on the last day of the festival. It was dark and delicious without being too heavy on any aspect. I’ll admit that this was one of the last beers I had during the entire festival and I was more focused on good conversation and good music than I was the beer itself. Still, I have no regrets at all about selecting such a fine beer to pass back and forth with a good friend during a good time.
It was hot out. This beer immediately followed my Palm Amber Ale on the day I arrived in Tilburg. I drank another familiar beer in an entirely unfamiliar place. I found myself slipping into a blissful haze of mild intoxication and complete sleep deprivation while I glanced around at all the wonderful strangers in this wonderful city. I know I enjoyed the beer, but above all else I remember excitedly flipping through the festival program while drinking this.
Americans have a strange notion of the IPA as a style. When Thomas arrived at Stoffel to pick me up on my first day in town, we each ordered a Vedett IPA, which was surprisingly smooth and refreshing compared to my experiences with stateside beers marketing themselves similarly. This offering was neither too hoppy nor too sweet, delivering a crisp citrus bite without overdoing it in any aspect. This is a relatively common beer in The Netherlands, which makes me a bit jealous. I feel like stateside beers often are so focused on standing out in a growing pack of oddities that finding something simple, affordable, and delicious is becoming more of a challenge than it ever should’ve been.
Grolsch is a beer I found early in my adult life. A friend used to show up with a four-pack and we’d marvel at the resealable bottles. Finding it as an ordinary beer at almost every bar for Roadburn was a wonderful treat, although the self-sealing bottle isn’t an option for beers on tap. When I found myself wanting something refreshing I could easily get with my tokens, Grolsch was always at the top of my list for both its smooth flavor and its reasonable price.
Tripel Karmeliet is another familiar name for me. Sadly, ordering a bottle of this at Extase before catching NYIÞ turned into ordering a bottle of foam. While the beer was still quite tasty, even the bartender admitted this was a common occurrence and I’ll estimate that at least a third of the drink turned into pure froth.
Have you ever purchased a beer for the label or the name? You know you have. I sure did. For a music festival, a beer named “Drone” seemed perfect. While not the least rewarding experience of my trip, both Thomas and I found this beer to be a bit sweeter than necessary. Chocolate porters can be good, but this veered towards the side of candy bar chocolate rather than the bitter darkness I was anticipating. It was a nice way to unwind after a day of bands and fun, and something I’d order out if I saw it, but maybe not a beer to actively hunt down.
The alternative to Grolsch at most venues, Jupiler was neither wholly impressive nor outright unpleasant. Given that it sold at a similar price point to its counterpart, I found it slightly less desirable, but it worked just fine in a pinch. Perhaps my experience was swayed by the words of one friend who mentioned that, after a night of drinking Jupiler, she always felt like her mouth had turned into an ashtray. That image was hard to shake from my mind and I’m afraid it may have colored my own thoughts.
This beer’s name, description, and experience were all quite a mouthful. Standing strong at 15% ABV, this Belgian-style imperial smoked rye ale was aged in bourbon barrels. I’ll give you a minute to absorb all that. I was really fortunate that my friend Johan from Terzij de Horde was willing to share this with me, as it was a fun experience but it would’ve been too much on its own. While the drink was surprisingly smooth and balanced (if not a little on the syrupy side at times), the alcohol would’ve overpowered me and I think this would’ve destroyed my palate for the day.
How could I make a list of beers at Roadburn without including something that was brewed in Tilburg? This rum coconut imperial porter was far more delicious than the description would’ve had me believe. The ABV was high at 10.5% yet I didn’t find it to be an overwhelmingly boozy experience. Instead, this was a nice balance between bitter and sweet, sitting clearly on the malty side of things without being too chocolate-heavy for my liking. While not the best beer I had at the festival, it was shared with friends and it perfectly represented the five days I spent in a little universe of otherworldly music, strong beer, and blossoming friendship.
What better way to close out this piece than with the last thing I drank? I didn’t really anticipate I’d consume this one, but my host Thomas purchased this imperial stout before realizing it contained hazelnuts. Given that both Thomas and Johan are allergic to hazelnuts and my pal Kim wasn’t interested in sharing a sip, I had this whole beast to myself. I drank it during the last few songs Neurosis played before I gathered my things and made my way to the train depot to fly home. It was boozy and sweet in a way that could be smelled from a few feet away. While I enjoy beers of this nature thoroughly, I think it’d have been better to sip slowly from a glass instead of downing the whole bottle quickly. I enjoyed it nonetheless and felt it was a great way to wrap up a lengthy period of boozy delights and soul crushing sounds.
Black Metal & Brews is a website run by Ben. As the curator and author of 99.9% of the content on this site since 2012, Ben's dedication and love of music and finely crafted beer have kept this site running. Ben's other interests include coffee, video games, and spending time with Jareth the cat.