Koninklijke Grolsch N.V.
, known simply as Grolsch
, is a Dutch brewery
founded in 1615
by Willem Neerfeldt
. It is located today in Enschede
and has been a part of the SABMiller
group since March 2008. It was awarded the Koninklijk
title in 1995.
The Grolsch brewery was founded in 1615 in Groenlo
. The town of Groenlo was then known as Grolle, hence the name Grolsch. Grolsch is best known for its 5% abv
, Grolsch Premium Pilsner. The brewery was first operated by Willem Neerfeldt. Neerfeldt's son-in-law, Peter Cuyper, later took over. Grolsch is currently the second largest brewer in the Netherlands (after Heineken
) with annual production of 3.2 million hectoliters
. The domestic market comprises fifty per cent of total production.
On 19 November 2007, the board of Royal Grolsch NV accepted a €816 million offer for the company by SABMiller
. The takeover was completed with the delisting
of Grolsch's shares on 20 March
Grolsch is the 21st largest provider of beer in the world, and is available in 70 countries. Grolsch focuses primarily on the following markets: the United Kingdom
, the United States
and New Zealand
. These primary markets make up 78 per cent of Grolsch's international sales (by volume). Grolsch Premium Pilsner is by far the most important beer in Grolsch's international profile, while its Amsterdam brand grew by 40 per cent in 2006 primarily in Russia and France.
Grolsch Premium Pilsner is brewed under licence in the United Kingdom by Grolsch (UK) Ltd., a joint venture between Grolsch and Coors Brewers Ltd.
Grolsch beers are imported into the U.S. by Anheuser-Busch
. In 2006 Grolsch ended its five-year relationship with importer United States Beverage, LLC, and signed a distribution agreement with Anheuser-Busch effective April 1, 2006, which was terminated following the SABMiller acquisition as A-B did not want to promote a rival's product.
Four beers are featured in the United States market: Grolsch Lager, Grolsch Amber, Grolsch Blonde and Grolsch Light. Grolsch Premium Pilsner is available in a wide variety of serving sizes, including swing-top bottles, mini-kegs and half-barrels. The others have only been confirmed available in 6 pack, 12 oz bottles.
Though built as a secondary facility, the Enschede brewery over the years became the main producer of Grolsch. This brewery was heavily damaged during a fireworks explosion
on 13 May 2000. The brewery in Groenlo has closed and a new brewery replacing both the Groenlo and Enschede affiliate opened in 2004. To underline their ties with Enschede and the whole region Grolsch signed a deal with professional football club FC Twente
to sponsor their stadium starting the 2008/2009 season. The stadium will be named Grolsch Veste (Grolsch Fortress), a reference to the history of fortified city Grol
, the hometown of Grolsch.
Price fixing conviction
On April 18, 2007 The European commission
imposed fines on Heineken International
of €219.3m , Grolsch of €31.65m and Bavaria
of €22.85m for operating a price fixing cartel
, totalling €273.7m. InBev
, (formerly Interbrew
), escaped without a penalty because it provided "decisive information" about the cartel which operated between 1996 and 1999 with others in the EU market. The brewers controlled 95% of the Dutch market, with Heineken
claiming a half and the three others 15% each.
Neelie Kroes said she was "very disappointed" that the collusion took place at the very highest (boardroom) level. She added, Heineken, Grolsch, Bavaria and InBev tried to cover their tracks by using code names and abbreviations for secret meetings to carve up the market for beer sold to supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and cafes. The price fixing extended to cheaper own-brand labels and rebates for bars.
This is simply unacceptable: that major beer suppliers colluded to up prices and to carve up markets among themselves|||EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes
Grolsch produces a wide variety of beers ranging in strength from non-alcoholic to 11.6% abv
- Grolsch Premium Pilsner - Known internationally as Grolsch Premium Lager, it is Grolsch's flagship beer and comprises 95% of all sales. It contains 5.0% abv.
- Grolsch Premium Blond - Blond is a lighter version of the Pilsner, with 30 per cent fewer calories and 4.2% abv.
- Grolsch Premium Light - A light version of the Pilsner with 3.7% abv, available only in the United States.
- Grolsch Premium Weizen - A traditional hefeweizen brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot. It finishes soft and has 5.5% abv.
- Grolsch Premium Lentebok (6.5% abv)
- Grolsch Premium Herfstbok (6.5& abv)
- Grolsch Premium Malt (alcohol-free)
- Grolsch Oud Bruin (2.5% abv)
- Grolsch Het Kanon (11.6% abv)
- Grolsch Premium 2.5 (2.5% abv)
- Grolsch Lemon 2.5 (2.5% abv)
Grolsch also produces an Amsterdam-line of beers for the international market. They are heavy, lower priced lagers and are currently not available in the United States.
- Amsterdam Maximator (11.6% abv)
- Amsterdam Navigator (8.4% abv)
- Amsterdam Explorator (6.8% abv)
- Amsterdam Mariner (4.8% abv)
- Amsterdam Liberator (alcohol-free)
Grolsch uses, next to the 'new' bottle, a distinctive shape of bottle for some of its products, known as the beugel or "the gurdle".
Bottles of this type use a swing-top cap, eliminating the need for an opener. The brown domestic bottle contains 45cl, which is more than the average bottle in the Netherlands, while the green export bottle is slightly larger, at 467 ml. They can simply be opened by hand using a lever at the side of the bottleneck. The label is applied over the lever in order to make any tampering evident. The top used to be made from porcelain, but is now made of plastic; the porcelain ones are still in circulation in the Netherlands.
These bottles are popular among home brewers, as they can be easily re-used. In North America, however, traditional metal-capped Grolsch bottles are becoming increasingly prevalent.
Also, the rubber ring that is on the cap is commonly used as a straplock by guitarists.
Occasionally Grolsch uses different color bottles according to the brew, e.g. the bottle for the blonde lager is yellow, while Grolsch uses a clear 25 cL bottle for the 2.5 lemon variety.
The new bottle
Starting 2007 Grolsch also uses green bottles for the home market. Grolsch is the first major brewery to stop using the brown refillable bottle that is used by almost every brewery in the Netherlands. The new green bottles have the Grolsch logo marked in the glass and come in a new package. The label is now placed higher at the neck of the bottle and it contains 10% more beer (now 33cl). The new bottle was introduced through the slogan 'Bier mag weer gezien worden' which means 'Beer may be seen again'.
In 1988, British pop group Bros sparked a fashion trend by attaching Grolsch bottle caps to their shoes.
In the popular webcomic Achewood, the character Ray is said to have adopted the phrase "Gettin' all spry on Grolsch" as his saying of the moment. What this means exactly is uncertain. Also, Téodor dies from choking on a Grolsch bottlecap.
The beer is also shown in the British comedy Hot Fuzz, and signs displaying Grolsch can be seen at the end of Shaun of the Dead.
On the medical show House MD, the protagonist, Gregory House, and his friend Jimmy Wilson drinks Grolsch.
Bassist Tim Commerford of the political rock band Rage Against the Machine does not use conventional strap locks on his bass guitars to keep the strap attached, but rather prefers use the rubber tops of Grolsch beer bottles, claming they are more reliable than commercial strap locks.