The city of Haarlem in the Netherlands has a long history of beer brewing. Since the 14th century they’ve had breweries running at full capacity to slake the thirst of the country, with beers being transported in 112 litre beer barrels known as ‘Jopen’. The 1500s brought in the use of hops in Haarlem beer, which proved extremely popular and was even exported to other countries. The city even has it’s own brewing patron saint – Saint Martin. Not everything lasts though, and from the 17th century onwards the selling and production of beer in Haarlem tapered down, with the popularity of tea and coffee rising, and excise duties becoming higher. The last of the old Haarlem breweries shut up shop in 1916.
Jopen brewery, named after the aforementioned large beer barrels, was formed in 1994, and their first releases were the brewer’s takes on old Haarlem recipes, including Hoppenbier and Koyt – a beer brewed with a mixture of herbs. Initially contract brewers (brewing their beers at other breweries facilities), in 2005 the company took control of an old church in the city centre of Haarlem, the Jacobskriek, and over the next few years they worked to turn this old building into a fully featured brewery of their own. In 2010 it opened as ‘Jopenkerk’, and is where their beer has been brewed ever since.
Jopen Non IPA was the brewer’s first non-alcoholic beer, released in 2018, and is fermented using a special yeast which means that virtually no sugars are turned to alcohol during the process. This means that the brewer will have had to tweak the malt bill thoroughly, or risk an overly sweet beer being produced. The beer is also apparently full of hops, with one marketing article translated from Dutch using the phrase ‘unholy amount of hops’. Will these help to mask any possible sweetness left over from the special yeast fermentation?
The beer is quite lively on opening, you want to keep your glass handy! It pours a cloudy light golden colour, producing a soapy head as the glass fills. This head sticks around for a fair while. On the nose we get sweet malt mingling with various fruity aromas – tropical mango and juicy stone fruit are the most discernible. The sweetness is thankfully fairly restrained however.
The fruitiness survives the transition from aroma to taste, with an initial sweetness accompanying tropical mango and light citrus. This sweetness then starts to taper off, with more bitterness creeping in from both the existing citrus and some earthy pine. The beer is medium bodied, with a soft level of carbonation, giving a pleasant smooth mouthfeel, but I can’t describe this as a ‘thick’ IPA, despite the cloudiness. We get a long bitter finish to the drink.
Jopen Non IPA is a lovely tasting alcohol-free beer, but I’d say it veers to the territory of a decent pale ale rather than an IPA. It’s one of the elders in the non-alcoholic world and in my opinion can still stand shoulder-to-shoulder with luminaries such as Solo and Pine Trail. The carb and sugar levels are quite high by today’s standards though, so this is maybe not a beer for a session.
Buy Jopen Non IPA
Jopen’s alcohol-free offerings have been around long enough that their Non IPA is pretty well distributed, and you may find bottles of it in your local. Otherwise, the internet is to your rescue as always:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)
|Water, Barley, Wheat, Oats, Hops, Yeast
|Country of Production
|Jopen B.V. – https://www.jopenbier.nl/
Jopen 'Non' Non-Alcoholic IPA Review
Lovely tropical and citrus tastes and aromas in this IPA-lite – the old dog still has it’s legs!