Did you know we have a beer brewery in our basement? Led by Ruben Krommenhoek and Okke van Beuge, the “cellar dwellers”, as they call themselves, run the brewery Vet & Lazy. They brew a variety of specialty beers, and where possible, do this with the waste streams of other entrepreneurs located in BlueCity.
The beers from Vet & Lazy are not only known for their taste, but also for their remarkable names. Sweet Baby Jesus, Your Mum and Le Phallus- just to name a few. “We often come up with the names after having a few beers of our own.” Ruben says while laughing.
The flavours of the beers are carefully composed and just as special as the names. “My personal favourite is a firm white beer,” Ruben says, “but a more interesting one to talk about is probably Le Phallus” he continues, “This one is made with broth of rotterzwam oyster mushrooms that give the beer earthy tones.”
Oyster mushrooms are not the only peculiar ingrediënt you’ll find in Vet & Lazy beers. To create original flavours, the men use waste streams in some of their beers. “We’ve started to brew beer from stale bread and use fruit peels and roasted coffee beans to add different flavours to our beers.” Ruben explains, “It’s cool to see that products that normally end up in the bin, can be used to make tasty beers.” he concludes.
Also the water that is needed to brew beer is carefully considered. “We are collecting rainwater and want to start using this in the beer brewing process soon.” Ruben says, “And if there’s any water left after filtering that is not clean enough for consumption, we can still use it to flush toilets with for example.” he continues.
Brewing from a student flat
The name of the brewery finds its origin in the student days of Ruben and Okke. “We were simply fat and lazy.” Ruben says laughing. The two of them lived together in a student flat and started brewing beer as a hobby. “We had developed a rather expensive taste in specialty beers,” Ruben says, “something that did not fit into our student budget. So that’s why we started to brew our own beer.”
With trial and error they then brewed their first beer. This became a watery version of what is now known as the Sweet Baby Jesus. “Back then we only produced a few liters per month, intended for own consumption,” Ruben says, “but after a while, some people from the hospitality industry heard about us and were interested in what we were doing.”
Brewing big time
In order to be able to supply to bars and restaurants, a big change was needed. Because brewing beer at home is one thing, but brewing on a large scale for commercial purposes is something completely else. “We suddenly had to think about the food and commodity authority, the environmental service, the municipality and even customs.” Ruben says, “We also needed more space because doing all this was no longer possible from our student flat.” And so, the boys ended up in BlueCity.
And that’s where they still are today. In BlueCity they got in touch with the circular economy, and since then the cellar dwellers have increasingly started to think and work in a circular manner. “BlueCity gives us the opportunity to exchange ideas with other entrepreneurs and like minded people.” Ruben says, “And all these ideas are inspiration for us to create new flavours and work on innovative production techniques.”
It’s all about hygiene
The beer brewing process listens very closely, especially with regard to hygiene and fermentation. “About 70 percent of the work in the brewery is cleaning.” Ruben says, “I guarantee you will not find a cleaner place in BlueCity than our brewery.”
This hygiene is important because of the fermentation process. “The taste of the beer is for a large part determined by this process,” Ruben explains, “if the hygiene is not good enough or the temperature fluctuates too much during fermentation, the brewed beer will taste differently than planned.”
Going zero waste
The ambition of Vet & Lazy is to go zero waste. Although that’s easier said than done, steps are already being taken to achieve this goal. “We’re developing a new cooling system through which we can collect our cooling water for reuse.” Ruben explains, “This is very important because water is the number one waste stream flowing from the brewing process.”
In addition to reusing the cooling water, Vet & Lazy collaborate with other BlueCitizens to repurpose their residual streams. “Lori Goff, based in the BlueCity Lab, is developing an alternative for single use plastics with our brewery effluent.” Ruben says. This material is called UnPlastic: a compostable plastic-like material. Another interesting stream is the hundreds of liters of carbon dioxide that is released during fermentation. “We’re currently developing a system that can capture and clean the carbon dioxide so that we can redirect it to Spireaux who can use it to grow algae.” Ruben states.
Although the circular mentality of using one entrepreneurs’ waste stream as a resource for the other is a no brainer for BlueCitizens, Vet & Lazy also take this mindset outside of the building and into the supply chain: “We recently started a project in which we sell our bostel to a supplier who uses it as a soil improver to grow grains on.” Ruben illustrates, “we’d like to buy grains at that same supplier to close the loop again.”
So.. where can I try a beer?
Brewing with waste streams results in peculiar and tasty combinations that have not gone unnoticed by beer lovers in and around Rotterdam. The beers are on tap in BlueCity (come and try one during one of our events), but are also available at various bars, restaurants and festivals. Check all locations here.
Text: Manon Dijkhuizen, photography: Sophie de Vos
Want to know more about circular catering?
Producing food and then throwing it away seems absurd – yet it’s standard practice, certainly in the event industry. Time to change that!
BlueCity is therefore working towards circular catering and zero waste events. No fresh strawberries in the winter, but syrup made from Rotterdam elderberries. No ordinary snacks, but ones made from oyster mushrooms. And cricket burgers instead of beef burgers – just because we can.