Crowd About Now – Tree to Table

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Did you know that every year around 2.5 million real trees are brought into homes across the Netherlands? And that most end up by the roadside, in the chipper or on the bonfire by New Year? There is another way! As botanical brewers we can use those pine needles to make our winter beer for 2019. We’re chock full of ideas for how to recycle the rest of the trees from root to tip. Can you help us?

How our adventure started three years ago

Chief Botanical Officer Frederik: ‘I pretty much grew up in a brewery and after a few years spent working in breweries both here and abroad I ended up in an English gin distillery. It was there that I became fascinated by the flavours and almost limitless versatility of herbs and spices – or ‘botanicals’. I wondered why these natural flavourings were hardly used in beer and I became curious about what sort of characteristics they would have if they were brewed rather than distilled.  

‘To my surprise, I discovered that the Netherlands has a rich history of brewing with herbs and spices. The Netherlands literally means the ‘Low Lands’; the Lowlanders were adventurous seafarers who traded in all the corners of the globe en brought ships full of botanicals home with them. And so the idea for Lowlander Beer was born.

‘Inspired by these journeys and the unlimited possibilities, I took the plunge and began my own adventure.’

Three years, eight beers, seven men and one woman later we are still taking a great deal of pleasure from discovering the world of herbs, spices and fruit and using them to brew unique, natural and flavour-packed beers. As a team we have very different backgrounds – we’ve worked as bartenders, wine connoisseurs, food buyers, you name it – but what unites us is our unstoppable energy and passion, our enthusiasm and ‘smash it’ mentality. Want to find out more about who we are and what we stand for? Then check out our website.

Tree to Table

At Lowlander, discovery and experimentation are in our DNA: we’ve always been inspired to work with the best possible natural ingredients, and we’re constantly thinking of new flavour combinations that will excite drinkers, and ways to continue the conversation around the use (and re-use) of botanicals.

Following the success of our Winter IPA, made with spruce needles and juniper berries, we wondered whether it would be possible to recycle the Christmas trees that many households discard each December. After a bit of research, we discovered that about 2.5 million real trees are sold each Christmas in the Netherlands alone – then thrown in the bin, the chipper or the fire.

That’s when we decided to brew 2019’s batch of Winter IPA using leftover Christmas trees donated by our supporters. Considering that all botanicals come from nature, we decided it was time to give something back to the natural world by sourcing a botanical ingredient for our beer that would otherwise have gone to waste. We reasoned that if we want to brew the best botanical beers in the world, we need to give Mother Nature a break now and again.

The call has already gone out to customers, bars, restaurants and the media: straight after New Year’s Eve, we’ll start picking up your unwanted Christmas trees for free. All you need to do is fill in the necessary details on our ‘Donate Your Christmas Tree’ page. We’ve already had some trees signed up for their second life – even the huge trees from RAI and Hortus Botanicus have been donated to our brew kettles!

Why crowdfunding?

We’re sourcing the raw materials for this brew from the Lowlander community, so why not put you guys first in line for a taste of the outcome? But even if you don’t have a Christmas tree to donate this year, we’d like to give you the opportunity to get involved in our Tree to Table project.

We need to raise a minimum of 60,000 euros in order to be able to brew our 2019 Winter IPA with donated spruce needles. Naturally, brewing with botanicals is where our expertise lies, but we will need to employ experts in horticulture and sustainability, as well as practical helpers such as pickers, in order to best prepare the donated trees for brewing.

To make the Tree to Table project truly zero waste, we hope to raise a further 40,000 euros. With a total of 100,000 euros, not only can we brew our Winter IPA, but we can also collaborate with the experts who can help us use every part of the trees we receive. With their help we can harness the full potential of each tree, brewing a Botanical Brut, making food or utensils that will be unveiled at a special series of pop-up dinners, and creating limited-edition gift sets with a story attached.

To thank you for taking part in this campaign, we want to offer you some extra rewards that go beyond beer. The money you donate to our Tree to Table project can be earmarked however you like. Maybe you want to secure a place at one of our pop-up dinners, or be first in the queue when Bottling No. 1 of Botanical Brut (a limited-edition 75cl bottle of Lowlander beer brewed with Champagne yeast and spruce needles) is released. Perhaps you want to buy the beer-lover in your life a special present that will be a talking point at their next borrel – or maybe you’ve already donated your tree and want to keep a piece of it as a memento. Or do you just want to do something a bit different and daring next time you go out for drinks with friends? However you invest, you’ll be doing good while enjoying something great.

Carry your weight in needles

Tree to Table might be the first time we’ve crowd-funded a project, but it’s not the first time we’ve collaborated with like-minded people to create something totally unique. Early in 2018 we were having friendly drinks with the folks from Wynand Fockink, the oldest working distillery in the Netherlands, when we came up with the idea of co-producing a genever made from a base of Lowlander IPA. Twelve weeks later, we were celebrating the launch of our limited-edition Lowlander IPA Genever with 100 friends, family, press, customers and clients; only a few weeks after that, following press coverage spanning America to Athens, it had completely sold out.

Which just goes to prove that we take botanicals seriously, and love to collaborate with likeminded people. When we set our minds to something, we get results; ‘smash it’ is our daily motto ;-).

Tree to Table is a fantastic opportunity to collaborate on something truly unique and this is the time for everyone to get involved. To do good while enjoying something great. 

And finally

We’re starting small but thinking big. From the start we’ve believed in the power of botanicals to add flavour to drinks in a natural way – brewing with a tree was our way of taking botanical brewing to the next level. Next year, perhaps more people will consciously seek out trees that can be re-used in environmentally friendly ways – meaning that more can be donated to Tree to Table 2020. In five years, maybe we’ll be sourcing pine from trees donated from all over Europe. Which means people throughout Europe will get to enjoy a Lowlander winter beer. Perhaps this is the start of something big. We’re excited for you to be part of it.

Ready to support?

Below you will find the link to the (Dutch) crowdfunding page with the rewards. Thank you so much for helping our Christmas wish come true!

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