Witte Klavervier; a Dutch renaissance brewery
It was Wycher Geerlichs who ordered the conversion of the old smithy into a brewery and added the neighboring malthouse next door. It was the year 1651, halfway into the 17th century. In medieval city regulations there is already a clause that breweries should be housed into former smithies, probably because those buildings where meant to handle open fires from the start.
Early 14th century a very good tasting 'hoppenbeer' had come from Hamburg. This town was, like Zwolle, a hanseatic city with an internal market and a system of guild masters, foremen and apprentices. It didn't take long before the new method was known in the Low Countries and there one also started to cultivate hops on a large scale and drink homemade 'hoppenbeer'.
Zwolle was a forerunner in this respect and by the end of the 14th century there was no more Gruytbeer being sold. In 1605 there is a mentioning of 'Jopen Beer, brewed in Zwolle'. Further we found an official document about white beer in Zwolle, halfway into the 17th century.
In 1672 Zwolle and the brewery were attacked and occupied by armed forces of Fürstbischof Bernhard von Galen from Münster. Bernhard was nicknamed 'Bombing Berend' and the city was occupied for years. Many foreign troops where stationed in the city and in this year the brewmaster of Witte Klavervier died. He could very well have died because of this war situation, and the brewery came to a stop. Later the brewery flourished and remained a family business for a long time.
From later documents we learn that the owners of the brewery were in possesion of a 50% share of a small farm and adjoining land just outside of Zwolle. With the malt house and the land they were able to control the complete chain of production.
In the 18th century the brewery was closed down; beer had to be cheap and mass produced by that time. Factory workers were poor those days and drank tea and 'geneva'. There were a few breweries that resisted the trend but not a single one remained. Nowadays hardly anyone knows that the Netherlands were a leading beer nation once. You can read about that in our history section.