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The term ‘kopstoot’ literally translates to ‘headbutt’ in English, which is a reference to the intense flavor of the combination (and perhaps the resulting hangover).
The origins of the kopstoot are not entirely clear, but it is believed to have originated in the early 20th century as a way for Dutch workers to unwind and socialize after a hard day’s work. And what better way to do that than combine the traditional Dutch spirit of genever with a refreshing beer. Beer and genever share many common ingredients and have been made in breweries and distilleries located close to each other since the 17th century.
To enjoy a kopstoot in the traditional Dutch way, one must first take a shot of genever, which is usually served very cold and neat in a small tulip-shaped glass known as a ‘tulpglas’. The glass is typically filled to the brim and the most experienced of drinkers sip the genever out of the glass with their hands held behind their backs.
The shot is then immediately followed by a sip of beer, which is typically a light lager or pilsner. The combination of the strong, flavorful genever and the refreshing, airy beer creates a unique taste sensation that is beloved by many in the Netherlands. The kopstoot is often enjoyed in groups, with friends or colleagues taking turns buying rounds of shots and beers.
A derivative of the kopstoot is the ‘U-boot’, which involves immersing the genever glass in the beer glass. The tradition then dictates that one has to drink the beer from the glass (while watching out for your teeth) until the genever starts spilling out of its own tulip-shaped glass.
In recent years, the kopstoot has experienced a resurgence in popularity and has even been promoted by Michelin star restaurants like De Liberije. Although the kopstoot does not seem like a very sophisticated drink at first glance, this proves that looks can be deceiving and that there is something complex to enjoy in even the most simple of pleasures.
The kopstoot remains a relatively unknown tradition outside of the Netherlands, but those who have tried it will not easily forget it! Eden Genever combined well with all beers but particularly shines as a flavorful prelude to a delicious summery white beer.