Classical Beer Review: Oedipus Kimchi Festival

This is a guest blog by Kimberley, who runs the social media at BCS. Kimberley is currently writing her PhD in Mediterranean Archaeology and is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Occasionally, she will blog at BCS about all things beer and Classical in the Low Countries or – as I’d like to call it – ‘The Nether Regions’. Her first entry is a Classical Beer (festival) Review.

Oedipus: brewers with a complex

I figured it’s only appropriate to start my very first guest blog on BCS with a (bad) pun. Pun aside, it appears that the guys at Oedipus DID, in fact, name their brewery after the famous psychological complex. Before going into the why’s, however, I will first give a brief overview of the Classical myth that gave Sigmund Freud just the inspiration he needed to ‘grossify’ generations of mother-son relationships.

The myth of Oedipus

Oedipus was the son of king Laius and queen Iocasta of Thebes. Before Oedipus was born, it was prophesized that he would kill his father and marry his mother. So, as soon as Oedipus was born, his dad left him to die in the mountains. But, oh the fates! The baby was found by shepherds and brought to another royal pair, king Polybus and queen Merope of Corinth, who raised him as their own son. At some point, Oedipus learns about his destiny but, unaware that he was adopted, thinks he will kill Polybus and marry Merope. Ironically, this makes him leave Corinth for Thebes to try to avert a fate that he now comes closer to fulfilling. To cut a very long story short, (one involving a Sphinx, a riddle, and getting rid of said Sphinx), Oedipus ends up killing his real father and marrying his real mother WITHOUT HIS KNOWLEDGE. When this sad little tale is revealed years later, his mother/wife hangs herself and Oedipus stabs his own eyes out with the pins that held up her dress.

oedipus-flags-kimchi-festival
Oedipus Brewing @ Kimchi Festival

What’s in a name? 

Not perhaps the most cheerful myth to have attached to your brand. So why did the guys at Oedipus call their company Oedipus? Unfortunately, the brewers do not care to explain themselves in the ‘story of Oedipus’ detailed on their website. As a true detective, however, I was able to chase down this ‘story behind the story’ in a Dutch-language video, in which the brewers relate the meaning behind their beer ‘Mama’ (a 5% ABV Pale Ale with Centennial hops). In the video, they tell their mothers (!) that, although the beer itself has nothing to do with the famed Oedipus complex, their company name does. As one brewer puts it, “in the end, our appreciation for women, mothers, comes together in that name.” Oedipus as an allegory for feminism; that’s a twist I did not see coming!

Kimchi Festival

August 13 to August 14, Oedipus Brewing held its five-year-anniversary edition of Kimchi Festival – a celebration of local beer, food and music. The festival started out small-scale at a cityfarm in 2011, to showcase Dutch homebrewing culture (I know, Kyle, that sounds dirty) but since then has had to move locations twice to accommodate the growing number of visitors. This year’s edition was hosted at Noorderlicht, a café/restaurant at the old NDSM wharf along the IJ river in Amsterdam-North. Your local reporter visited the festival on Sunday, to see what all the fuzz is about.

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Oedipus Kimchi Festival @ Noorderlicht

The setting

Picture an old industrial complex. You walk past tall factory halls to get to the waterfront. Outside these halls, there is a bustling flea market. The entrance to the festival almost gets drowned out by the crowds trying to shop for bargains. Enter Noorderlicht: a secluded oasis along the water, sporting a greenhouse-shaped structure surrounded by picnic tables and a lawn. No spot could be more perfect for a two-day festival celebrating that “life is more than beer.”

Indeed, there was plenty more than beer to be found at the festival. Throughout the day, two stages at both ends of the terrain hosted an array of musical performances, from reggae to brass band and Brazilian bossanova. All around the lawn and waterfront, there were booths with food to cater to the foodies among the beer geeks. I tried the nine peppers and chipotle sausages from Brandt & Levie, the BBQ short ribs with Kimchi Couscous from Oh Na Mi Kimchi and the Mexican Kapsalon by Best Coast. This last dish was so epic it requires a picture. Need I say more?

mexican-kapsalon-best-coast-kimchi
Mexican Kapsalon – Perfection

 The beer

And now, without further ado: the beer. Over the course of the weekend, the festival offered 122 beers on draft, from 22 different breweries around the Netherlands. Sadly, besides Oedipus, there was a conspicuous lack of Classics-inspired breweries or beers to be found, with the exception of brews from Brouwerij Maximus, Walhalla Craftbeer and vandeStreek Bier. Naturally, I had to try Oedipus’s beers first, before moving on to the other breweries.

Oedipus Brewing – Gaia (West Coast IPA, 7% ABV). With its slightly dank smell and finish, this beer tastes earthy like the Greek mother goddess herself (shout out to Jamie for that line!). It is light on the carbonation and not too hoppy, which makes for an easy drinking IPA if you are into the dank flavors.

gaia-warme-dagen-oedipus-kimchi
Gaia (right) and Warme Dagen (left) by Oedipus Brewing @ Kimchi

Brouwerij Maximus – Falconomyces/Falcomelyces (Pale Ale, 4.5% ABV). While certainly Classics-inspired, the name of this beer puzzles me. It was listed as Falconomyces in the festival’s leaflet but as Falcomelyces on the board. The barkeep at Maximus assured me that the beer’s actual name is Falcomelyces, which he said refers to melissa officinalis or lemon balm with which the beer is infused. Yet according to Untappd, the brew is a bretted version of the Falco (i.e. brewed with brettanomyces yeast). In any case, the beer is very light and has a distinct tropical flavor, reminiscent of fruit punch.

Falcomelyces-or-Falconomyces-kimchi
Falconomyces or Falcomelyces? By Brouwerij Maximus @ Kimchi

Walhalla Craftbeer – Minerva (Witbier, 4.7% ABV). I personally would associate Minerva or Athena with a bolder style, but at least this atypical witbier will get you thinking. The festival-only brew does not offer the rusty flavor that comes with traditional witbier. Instead, it has a tangy finish which reminds of soda water, but this could very well be the high carbonation speaking. Refreshing and summery, we understand why Walhalla serves this beer at festivals!

walhalla-craftbeers-minerva-kimchi
Minerva Witbier by Walhalla Craftbeer @ Kimchi

vandeStreek – Elixir (Honey Ale, 7%). For a Honey Ale, this beer is not too sweet. It tastes malty and has a smooth, rounded finish that lubricates the throat. Elixir drinks heavier than the previous beers sampled, which makes it a brew more suitable for the fall than summer. Fortunately for vandeStreek, fall-type weather is what the Netherlands is all about – we even had some, interspersed with sunny spells, at Kimchi!

Of course, these four beers are not the only ones I feasted on during the 10 hours I spent at the festival. Honorable mentions include “Drenkeling” by Pampus,”Suck my Simcoe” by homebrewer James’ Brew (no website) and “Dikke lul, 3 bier” by Het Uiltje (bonus points for the name, which literally means “fat d*ck, 3 beers” but is slang for “I couldn’t care less”). Too bad they are beyond the scope of this blog!

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Booth of Pampus beer. I dared to try it! @ Kimchi

Addendum: this post was first published on August 19th 2016. It was edited August 23rd 2016 to clarify the Falconomyces / Falcomelyces confusion by adding the Untappd reference and the image of the board at the Maximus booth.

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