In our village, there’s an old pub called De Hollandse Kus (The Dutch Kiss). Every year in December, the owners, Judith and Hans, honour a Frisian tradition by brewing mulled ale.
A few centuries ago, tenant farmers leased plots of land from a church in Frisia. After the farmers had inspected the plots they went down to the pub to close their deals and to celebrate by drinking mulled ale with brandy and sugar. This always took place on December 27, during the Feast of Saint John. In Frisian, the ale was therefore called Sint Jan’s Dei Bier (St John’s Day Beer).
Judith brews the ale herself (she and Hans have a small distillery), and puts her own spin on the beverage by substituting her own distilled vodka for the brandy. She also adds brown beer, apple juice, samphire, cranberries, cloves, the juice and zest of oranges and cinnamon.
Sitting in their pub the other day, sipping this delicious drink, I looked around and thought that they had really managed to bring some good old hygge to the village.
If you happen to be around at the end of December, do come in and try it for yourselves. I might see you there; if I’m not working on my novel of course!