The kopstootje is the Dutch equivalent of a boilermaker, but instead of a shot of whiskey and a beer, it’s a shot of jenever and a beer. The jenever, a kind of gin, is poured in tiny tulip shaped glasses right to the brim. In order to drink your shot and not spill all over your shirt, one must bend over and slurp it. Thus the name: kopstootje means “little headbutt” in Dutch.
Usually, the beer is a basic lager, to emphasize the floral flavor of the jenever. But since 2011, Upright Brewing has been making the occasional kopstootje beer with spices found in Dutch gin – allspice, aniseed, angelica root, cloves, bitter orange, ginger, and of course juniper berries. They’ve served these beers at special jenever pairing events around town, but they haven’t seen wide release, until now.
Last year, the brewers squirreled away some kopstootje in local Vermouth barrels. The result is spiced beer with a balanced tartness and a dry tannin finish. We don’t have any proper Jenever in the house, so we paired it with a few scoops of raspberry and hibiscus coconut yogurt from Eb and Bean.
Kopstootje opens with a lemony farmhouse scent. It’s tart, but with spicy undertones. Raspberry with floral hints around the edges, and a creamy coconut body. Wait. That’s the ice cream. Kopstootje is harder to pin down. The spice is subtle; it’s impossible to draw out any particular flavor from the mass. It’s just sharp and then the acid is sharp. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the beer immensely. The flavor just isn’t as complex I would expect.