Vandestreek Bier are a Dutch brewery who have been around since 2010. They started off as a pair of brothers, Ronald and Sander, who would meet up once a month to brew a new beer, and bottle their previous month’s effort. Over the years their brews, kit and capacity improved, and by 2013 they were brewing commercially, using other breweries equipment. By 2016 they were brewing full-time, quitting their previous day jobs, and also becoming parents for the first time. The brothers and their girlfriends had come across non-alcoholic lagers during their pregnancies, and were disappointed by the quality of the beer and the lack of anything hoppy available on the nolo market at the time.
After much experimentation with dry hopping, different strains of yeast and other variables, the brothers settled upon a method that involved brewing their non-alcoholic IPA as they would a normal-strength beer, but with less fermentable sugars and many more hops than usual. Vandestreek Playground IPA came out in 2016, pretty early on in the current nolo wave, and the brothers reckon it was the first naturally brewed non-alcoholic IPA on the market. It secured a Gold medal at the Brussels Beer Challenge in both 2018 and 2021.
Vandestreek Playground IPA has proved a big success for the brewer, who established their own brewing facility after the first batch of the nolo beer was released. Nowadays the brewer is producing up to 5000 hectolitres of beer, and half of that is non-alcoholic. Indeed, the company filled their millionth can of beer in October 2021, and guess what beer was in that can?
I’m actually quite ashamed that it’s taken me almost 2 years of operating this blog to get around to reviewing Playground IPA. Hopefully I’m in for a treat.
Pouring out from the bottle we get a dark golden coloured liquid with some slight haze to it. A decent frothy head is produced, and whilst it diminishes somewhat it’s still a welcome addition. On the nose there’s a whole load of yummy things – tropical mango, orange citrus, sweet malt, resinous pine and grapefruit juice – the sort that you get in a carton. Cascade, Citra, Columbus and Mosaic are all on show here.
The fruits leap upon us as we taste, with juicy tropical mango, grapefruit citrus, and orange marmalade providing an initial sweetness that swiftly moves into zesty bitterness. A hop-head’s dream, it’s nevertheless well balanced with plenty of malt in the background. Body-wise it’s not lacking at all, with a nice thick mouthfeel and moderate level of carbonation. We get a short bitter finish to the drink.
What a treat Vandestreek Playground IPA turns out to be. Brothers Ronald and Sander must certainly be fans of hops, they’ve crowbarred so many into this. I think the beer only gets away with being so balanced due to the amount of sugar left in the brew, so it might not be suitable for extensive drinking or for those on a low-sugar diet. But this is a beer that every AF fan should try and get their hands on.
Buy Vandestreek Playground IPA
Many venues are now stocking Vandestreek Playground IPA as their nolo option, but not enough in our opinion! It’s easiest to get your fix from the following online shops:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)
|Water, Malted Barley, Hops, Yeast
|Country of Production
|Vandestreek Bier – https://vandestreekbier.nl/en/
Vandestreek Playground Alcohol-Free IPA Review
Bursting with juicy flavourful hops but also balanced enough to not alienate those who can’t take the bitterness. Almost perfection.