Hospitable Heukelum 2013

Brewery 't Kuipertje

Brewery ‘t Kuipertje

Like I told in my Zestful Zutphen post the Dutch/Belgian Pipe Smokers Forum currently roughly has two big annual meetings. Well, three with the meeting in Wuustwezel, Belgium. But the “mother” of all our meetings is the one in a town in the Dutch province of Gelderland called Heukelum. Well, this is not entirely true.. First Martin organized the meetings in his nearby home-town of Leerdam on the upper floor of a restaurant housed in an old train-station building. Unfortunately after 2 cosy meetings the owners did not want us there any more plus the group got too big. So Martin had to look out for another location which he luckily found in brewery “‘t Kuipertje“.

Henk Kuiper

Henk Kuiper © K.H. van der Linde

In 1987 brewery ‘t Kuipertje first started when Frits Kuiper, after a reorganisation at his day-job, could work for half days only. The first beer was brewed on February first 1988. Frits, an amateur-brewer, soon decided to completely leave his (half) day-job and go full-time with the brewing. After being an apprentice at several breweries he made his own brewing-installation and started his business under the name “Gelderse Bierbrouwerij ‘t Kuipertje”. In 1990 he moved into the former coach-house of an old stone-factory at the border of Heukelum where the brewery is still located today. At January 1th 2002 Frits left the brewery, his son Henk took over business.

The big nightmare of the Dutch railways: leaves on the tracks..

The big nightmare of the Dutch railways: leaves on the rail-tracks..

So on October 27th at the end of the morning Ed arrived to pick me up. Also in the car was Maurice, the more the merrier! Together we drove to the train station of Deventer to pick up another forum-member, Mark. But after some waiting there was no sign of our big friend. Suddenly I got a text message from Mark, the train which he was supposed to be on was delayed.. Grumble, bloody Dutch railways.. If you are ever in The Netherlands, do not go by train unless you don’t mind delays. In wintertime there is snow, in autumn there are leaves on the rail-tracks, in summer maintenance is going on.. Grrrr.. Anyway, Ed, Maurice and I had enough to talk about and before we knew it Mark arrived, his train finally had come.

Rob from Brabant

Rob from Brabant © K.H. van der Linde

Because of the delay we were a bit late in Heukelum. Normally we are amongst the first ones to arrive so you can greet everyone more easy as they come in. Now we immediately were immersed in a cloud of friendly pipe-smokers who all wanted to say hello. While shaking hands I first began with some “business”. When I visited the big Heinrichs store I bought a tin of Heinrichs Golden Sliced and Dunhill Deluxe Navy Rolls for forum-member Klaas. He was curious about the famous Escudo and Deluxe Navy Rolls come very close in taste to that one. And he also had something for me. The week before the meeting he and his wife went to Prague where he bought some Stanislaw (made by Samuel Gawith) tobaccos. This were the ones I saw at the Inter Tabac fair at the Samuel Gawith stand! Wonderful! Apparently they are only obtainable in the Czech Republic. After we exchanged tins I tapped Rob on his shoulder. I had a bag of rare Penzance for him. Really a treat because Rob loves to smoke latakia blends. Well, you can’t go wrong with Penzance then! When I turned around I saw another Rob (many folks called “Rob” on the forum). He lives in a place near the town I grew up in the province of Brabant and has that typical joviality and accent of most people there. Rob has a passion for Ireland and I happen to have some authentic Irish Murray plugs (Erinmore Plug, Warrior Plug) which were gathering dust in my tobacco-closet. “Aah!! Fantastic! What do you want for them?” he asked. “Absolutely nothing, smoke them with much pleasure” I answered. I always like to see tobaccos I don’t smoke get a good home. Last but not least I walked over to like-minded Robbin. We both love old English blends and prince-shaped pipes. I had an opened tin of the German version of Presbyterian for him which he was curious about. I also presented him a sample bag of a nameless mixture I once made which I knew he liked.

La Trappe bockbeer

La Trappe bockbeer

Then I finally could relax a little bit and order a beer. I asked Henk, who also was the bartender, if he had a dark beer, for which I have a fondness. He offered me his self brewed Bokbier which is a special kind of dark beer that in The Netherlands is brewed only in autumn and often has a bit of a dark sweet caramel taste. After I gulped down the tasty liquid my nerves went down a bit. Nerves because I had to introduce the brand new forum tobaccos!

Get that hand out of the pocket boy!

Get that hand out of the pocket boy! © K.H. van der Linde

For those of you who read this blog regularly, last year and this year I have been busy organizing 3 specially made tobaccos for the forum-members. This because this year the Dutch/Belgian Pipe Smokers Forum exist 5 years. If you read the last comment on that post you can see my “quest” continued because master-blender Hans Wiedemann from HU Tobacco took me under his wings. What happened after that is a story in itself which I shall tell in a future blogpost. I introduced the three tobaccos, told what my inspirations were, said what the tobaccos roughly were made of and encouraged everyone to try some. Of course I brought sample tins. After my speech Paul walked towards me and presented a gift to me from the forum members for all my work on the forum tobaccos: a bottle of peated whisky! Yummie! And not just a regular bottle, no, a very special one! A 23 years old Jura ‘Signatory’! So to all the forum-members who contributed to this great gift, a big thank you!!! And because this was the 5th meeting organised by Martin he also got a well deserved bottle of whisky.

The meat gets grilled

The meat gets grilled © K.H. van der Linde

It is always remarkable how fast time goes when you are having a good time. You chat with someone for a bit, walk around, somebody starts talking to you, you go outside for a fresh nose while continue having conversations etc. So many nice folks and so little time.. In the mean time Henk had ignited the 2 BBQ’s and soon the coals were hot enough to begin with dinner. Like always the provided meat was of excellent quality. We could choose  from beef, bacon, cutlets, hamburgers, meat skewers, all kinds of sauces, baguettes and salads. Aahh.. Grilled meat, tasty beer, a good pipe-smoke and great people. What more can a man wish for?

Group-picture of the 2013 Heukelum meeting

Group-picture of the 2013 Heukelum meeting © AJ Verstraten

After dinner we sat down for a couple of more drinks and conversations and too soon it became time to go. We said our goodbyes to the remaining people, picked up a bottle of the specially brewed 2013 forum beer and went to the car. Once home I thanked Ed for the ride, said farewell to Maurice (we already brought Mark home) and went inside the house. I kissed my girlfriend Ellen, put away my bag full of tobaccos and went to bed where I had some nice smoke-filled dreams.

Here are some more pictures because they tell more than a lot of words!

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Heavenly Heinrichs

“Chateau Henri”, the Heinrichs shop in Bergheim DE

A couple of weeks ago I went with Paul on a day-trip to what perhaps is Europe’s biggest tobacco store: Peter Heinrichs in Bergheim, Germany. It is best described as a castle, “Chateau Henri”, dedicated to the art of smoking. Also called “Haus der 10.000 Pfeifen” (House of 10.000 pipes) it consists of over 1000 square meters of sales area, a tobacco museum and smoking lounge! Hallelujah!!!

Peter Heinrichs himself

Peter Heinrichs himself

At 17 years old Peter Heinrichs, the owner, finished an apprenticeship at his parent’s cigarette-shop. He then founded his own tobacco wholesale with a starting capital of 3000 D-Mark in his home-town Cologne. At the young age of 30 he sold his quickly growing business to a conglomerate for such an amount that he easily could have retired. But he was not the kind of person to do nothing. All he now wanted was a small shop for pipes in the heart of Cologne. Instead of selling soulless mass-targeted cigarettes Peter now had the opportunity to specialize in high-class pipes and cigars to emphasize the pleasure in smoking. This proved to be Heinrichs’ second success. He further established other branches in San Francisco and Taipei. Also, he started (read: he gave tobacco factories orders) producing his own brand of cigars, tobacco and cigarettes containing pipe tobacco that today are sold all over the world.

Coffee, Brandy, Bourbon etc.

Coffee, Brandy, Bourbon etc.

Even before opening his online shop Peter already sent out worldwide orders on a daily basis. Both shops in Cologne and Bergheim (yes, two German shops!) provide a unique selection of finest goods. There are always a several thousand pipes in stock, especially exclusive models and collectibles. Inside the walk-in humidors every important cigar brand in every size and shape is to be found. This includes limited editions that have already sold out at other stores. In addition to that a wide range of products is offered such as tobacco, elegant smoking equipment and selected Rum, Whisky and Cognac. Personal commitment, a relaxed atmosphere and competent service make a difference. Still, Peter Heinrichs takes care of daily business himself at his Cologne store. His wife and daughter run the store in Bergheim. This really sounds like Dunhill but ok: No matter how much money a customer spends or if he carries a famous name, to Peter Heinrichs it is not important: “Everybody is entitled to get the best products and first-class service”. And it is not all about products and brands, but rather about communication and dialogue. Cosy smoking lounges in both stores invite the customers to stay, light a pipe or cigar and enjoy coffee, wine, whiskey, cognac or rum.

IMG_0040So at a rainy Saturday morning I was picked up by Paul and together we drove to Bergheim. Well, actually the city’s Niederaußem district where the store is located. Really a shame because that part of the city is dominated by the immense Niederaussem Power Station which gigantic cooling towers billow out huge plume clouds. Also the access road to the terrain of the store looked a bit shabby. Come on Germany, fix those roads! Around half past ten we arrived at “Chateau Henri” and hurried inside not wanting to get wet from the pouring rain.

Store entrance

Store entrance

Inside we were greeted by a kind of strange creepy hanging puppet of Peter Heinrichs himself. Ok… There was not much of a counter left because all kinds of stuff was placed on it. Besides the puppet we also were greeted by the friendly staff. Luckily they not came up to us asking if we need any assistance, I really do not like that. They just nodded and softly said “Guten Tag (hello)” and let us slowly go through the store. However, after 5 minutes one of the clerks came up to us and asked if we would like a cup of coffee. Jawohl!

Pipes, pipes, pipes

Pipes, pipes, pipes

While sipping my cup of coffee I took the time to properly look around and jeeez, the store really is enormous! Every time you look to a side you see pipes, and more pipes, and more pipes.. Pipe Valhalla! All, or nearly all the European pipe brands are available here. Unfortunately for me most of them are filter-pipes, the German standard. Paul was looking for some Jensen pipes (which are getting more rare) for a friend and found some! And of course got a discount, he’s also Dutch. New pipes are not really my thing so I asked if they had any estate pipes. They had, not in the shop but in the warehouse. The clerk came back with two boxes, one with…. I forgot.. And the other one full of Dunhills! Unfortunately all billiard shapes, my least favourite one.. But there were some oldies between them from the early 60’s.


Rattray’s cutty

Just as I thought there were no pipes for me I saw a nice black slender cutty-shape lying on the table. I picked it up, Rattray’s was the brand. But strange, the cabinet with the rest of Rattray’s pipes was on the far end of the room. I looked at the price, hmm… Cheaper than the other ones. I took a firm pipe-cleaner and pushed it through the mouthpiece. Without a hitch it passed through until I saw it in the bottom of the bowl. Good, that means it was straight drilled. I looked around if anyone saw me and I quickly and softly put the bit between my teeth. Ah, a good fit, very important! So I bought the pipe, my first cutty.


Sample-jars of the house-blends

But the main reason I was at Heinrichs was because of their vast assortment of tobaccos. As you can see in the picture there are a couple of big tables with a lot of sample-jars containing all of the Heinrichs house-blends. They have a small booklet containing (almost) all of these ±170(!)  blends which you really need in order to pick out what could be of your liking. And Heinrichs has it all, from the ultra-sweet to latakia-bombs. It is so much fun to open a sample-jar, sniff the tobacco, guess what it is and then look it up in the booklet. And if you really like the smell and description of a mixture you can take something out and smoke it at the spot. Is the sample-jar empty? No problem, just ask the friendly staff if they would like to refill it. And if the house-blends are not enough, at another part of the building you can find almost all of the in Germany available brand-blends.

Curly Block

Curly Block

One of the really special house-blends is the 250 gr. Curly Block, a classic roll cake. Normally you see such a tobacco all sliced up but here you have a massive roll which you have to cut yourself. It is made of high quality Virginia grades and a bit of perique. For at least 6 weeks the mixture rests in the round form in the press. There it ferments gently and reveals multi-layered taste nuances. After the ageing period the roll cake is divided into blocks of 250 grams each. When smoking you can expect wonderful, natural sweet notes. The perique enriches the mixture with spiciness, strength and fruity flavours. Some say this particular blend is similar to the old Escudo. I can’t say that because I never smoked the old Escudo. But what I do know is that this stuff is excellent!

Heinrichs Golden Sliced

500 gr. of Heinrichs Golden Sliced

Another of Heinrichs’ winners is their Golden Sliced. Golden Sliced huh? Orlik also has a Golden Sliced. Yes, true, this one is similar to the Orlik one. Smooth golden Virginias topped with a citrus-like bergamot aroma. A blend I keep on smoking. Talking about Orlik, Heinrichs revived an Orlik classic that is not made any more, the Dark Strong Kentucky. Heinrichs just calls it the Dark Strong. It is a tobacco that you won’t forget once you’ve seen it. A rectangular, almost square flake which is light in the middle with dark edges. If they had called it “Tiger Flake” that would have been an appropriate name. Remarkable is that Kohlhase & Kopp makes this flake for Heinrichs. And I know that Kohlhase & Kopp don’t make their own flakes, they get them from…. Orlik. So in fact Heinrichs Dark Strong is nothing more than the old Orlik version. All house-blends are available in different quantities and unlike The Netherlands, the more you buy from one blend, the cheaper it gets. So it pays to buy large bulk-sacks.


The “lounge”

Besides looking at pipes and sniffing at tobaccos Paul and I spent a lot of the day talking. The perfect place for that was the lounge part of the store. Well, lounge.. A couch with a table and a couple of chairs surrounded by pipe-cabinets. But it was sufficient, new coffee was provided and we could chat while enjoying samples of the house-blends. I knew Paul a bit before of course but it turned out that we had more in common than I thought. Always nice, an open conversation.

Chinese restaurant

Chinese restaurant “Paradijs” in Uden

We were still talking to each other when we noticed the staff tidy up the place. Ah, it was four o’clock, the store was closing. We gathered our belongings and walked to the counter where we had put the pipes and tobaccos we wanted to buy. To my surprise the clerk started writing everything down we wanted to buy and used a calculator to add up the prices. A bit old fashioned but ok, it worked. Paul got a discount on two pipes he bought and I got 3 packs of sturdy pipe cleaners for free. We thanked the clerk and remaining staff and drove back to Holland. Around dinnertime we arrived in Uden (my old home-town) where I had parked my car. We decided to grab something to eat at the local Chinese restaurant, Paradijs. After having enjoyed the food and more conversations we thanked each other for the wonderful day and went our own way.

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UPDATE 4-11-2016:
Today I sadly heard that Peter Heinrichs passed away. Also see this link. May he rest in peace.