The KeyKeg International Beer Festival's perpetual visitor sunshine
Thousands enjoyed two days' superior food, drink and entertainment at Willemsoord, a former Naval base. Locals appreciate home-grown success; nationwide visitors relish the ambience. International attendees recognise a successful event unlike any other and return each year.
The pleasant atmosphere is uncharacteristic of a 'beer festival'. Overcrowded intoxication's good natured rowdiness replaced by pleasant, friendly exclusivity. It's a public event, yet it feels like a private party curated by food and drink experts. An indoor garden party at which international drink producers serve their finest beverages.
Sporadic torrential downpours hammer the windows, mocking the delight of those revelling inside. Yet despite the rain, everybody displays a perpetual sunlight smile. Nothing overshadows the KeyKeg International Beer Festival. The rainclouds are unwelcome, and the event's brilliance shines throughout.
The popularity growth
Advance tickets sold out completely before the doors opened. The KeyKeg International Beer Festival's growing interest is evident. Visitors poured through the doors, ensuring a busy event and high beverage turnover.
Visitors enjoy mingling and chatting with each other about the discerning beverage selection. Everybody savouring a flavoursome assortment during the afternoon and evening. Voices praise this weekend as an annual social highlight.
Drink producers and participants take advantage of a rare opportunity as well. Speaking with appreciative visitors who have a genuine interest.
The careful layout, ample selection and consequent absence of queues maintain focus. It's all about sampling fresh beverages in perfect condition and meeting the producers or importers. A consensus emerges: excellent organisation at this level is unusual. It's a refreshing change for participants to experience such a well-considered, well-planned event.
The breweries' opinion
Praise for KeyKeg and UniKeg is universal, and for a wide variety of reasons. Disappointment with other one-way kegs' quality and expected beer shelf-life. Or a lack of environmental credentials. Or to maintain brewery-fresh beer condition for export.
Breweries participating at the KeyKeg International Beer Festival have diverse overseas distribution networks. From Australia to the UK, Hong Kong to Russia. KeyKeg and UniKeg allow beer to survive the journey in perfect condition.
KeyKeg or UniKeg is fundamental to many new breweries' business model. Others spoiled significant beer quantities during early experimentation with different one-way kegs. Explosions, leaks and rapid beer deterioration proved a switch to OneCircle is cost-effective.
Many countries' beer industries still rely on traditional steel kegs. And craft beer breweries in these lands often faced a challenge in adopting KeyKeg or UniKeg. But the global perception is changing, and sustainable kegs are becoming the norm. Especially where national beer pride requires the standards that KeyKeg or UniKeg offer.
Dominated by KeyKeg in previous years, this year's event reveals UniKeg in equal numbers. Both circular keg systems offer drink producers Double-Wall™ strength and exception freshness. Yet some prefer UniKeg's conventional spear dispense benefits ahead of KeyKeg's inner bag.
UniKeg's European uptake is a promising response to its initial development for the US market.
A global event
28 drink producers from as far afield as Japan fill Theater de Kampanje's recently-renamed "Koninklijke Marine Stadshal" — the Royal Navy City Hall. And almost at its 1,700 person capacity, the hall offers visitors a selection of more than 150 global beverages.
Participating breweries visit from:
All other breweries represent home-grown talent. Many of the Netherlands' finest beer producers instilling pride in Dutch visitors.
Italian wine, Japanese Sake and imported cider prove KeyKeg's versatility.
Meeting 'Witte Willemsoord'
Witte Willemsoord is a Smoked Märzen combining several German brewing traditions. A Rauchbier (smoked) style with Bavarian Märzen lager and Weizen ale influences. Hamburg's Buddelship Brauerei producing the unique beer for the KeyKeg International Beer Festival.
Event visitors relish fresh, chilled Witte Willemsoord dispensed from the Italian "Tulip" kegerator. A self-contained, purpose-built, counter-top dispense system. The "Tulip" keeps the small, cute 10 L KeyKeg chilled, fresh and carbonated over extended periods. It's ideal for home-users, taprooms, pubs and bars.
Old beers in a new jacket
Beer Sommelier Bart van Kleef guides visitors in beer history, styles and tasting. Daily workshops educate attendees with interesting information, improving knowledge and increasing beer interest.
The future potential
Besides growing industry interest, KeyKeg and UniKeg stir global public conscience. They're status symbols and exemplars of quality. International food and drink enthusiasts thus deserve these high calibre events as well.
Guestwriter: Peter Mulville & Saki Matsuda-Mulville from KAERU BEERMore information