Hello everybody. Summer is around the corner and it’s a perfect time to talk about beer. Today we will host two waterpolo players who have decided to brew their own brand of beer. What are we really going to talk about is about young entrepreneurship and how two student-athletes were able to use waterpolo to help their product grow. Coming from Eindhoven, Netherlands and playing for PSV, Ladies and Gents I present to you Mr. Joey Leenen and Mr. Wessel Brands.
Hello Wessel, Hello Joey. How are you guys doings? How has the post season been treating you? Have you been partying, or have you been partying a lot? I’ve been checking your Instastories and it seems like it is the ladder of the two? 🙂
W: Hello Tomo, post season is great, at the moment I’m busy with different things. I’m busy finishing my school, busy working with my side job, busy working with our own company, and doing lots of fun stuff. Every weekend there’s something to look forward to, like a tournament, a party or something else fun.
J:Hi Tomo. I am doing fine, thanks for asking. How are you? Post-season is okay, but long, unfortunately. Our season ended in May already, due to the fact that we did not qualify for the play-offs. However, it indeed means, time for a party haha. So visiting a lot of festivals which is really great, already enjoying holiday too.
I am fine, thank you for asking J. Could you tell our international readers a little bit about yourselves?
J: My name is Joey Leenen, 22 years old, living in Eindhoven. I do play water polo for around 12 years now, and in all the 12 years I played for the same club: PSV. I played for all the youth teams and after that at the age of 16, I played my first match for the first team in the second division. A few years ago we were promoted to the first division and since then I usually played for both the first and second team. With our second team this year we were also promoted to the highest division for second teams.
W: My name is Wessel Brands, I’m also 22 years old and I’ve been also playing water polo for 12 years now. First I started at a local club near Eindhoven, I played there for a few years. My ambition was to become better, so I went to a bigger club, PSV Waterpolo, which could help me to achieve that ambition. Now I’m playing in the first team of PSV in the highest league of the Netherlands. Besides water polo I’m studying Applied Psychology and work as a Team Leader at the local supermarket.
Looking back on your just finished season how was it? How was to train and play sports with everything that has been going around? The lockdowns, the tests, the quarantines, postponed matches and all of that. How did you dealt with it all, while still trying to compete, win and achieve your goals?
W: Last season was good, at times. We started the season not that good which led to an uncomfortable place in the ranking. The second half of the season was much better, we won quite some games which led to staying in the highest league of the Netherlands. We were lucky during the lockdowns because we got the status of a top sporter. Which means we could still train during Covid-19. So, we were quite lucky during the lockdowns. My study kept on going with online lessons and my side job also kept on going. Nevertheless, one thing bothered me, the pubs that closed. During Covid-19. It wasn’t possible to sell our beers to the pubs and go there and party there myself.
J:It was quite a weird season. Fortunately, we were able to train the whole season, also during lockdowns since we had a top sport status. However, the matches of the first team went on, and all matches of the second team were postponed. At that moment in time, I only played for the second team which meant no matches for me. But after a few matches, the first team had a lot of players dealing with COVID or injuries. When Sebastiaan (our coach) asked me to play with the first team, I was very happy to finally play some matches and play on a higher level. The quarantines were difficult at some times, because I was unable to train, or the team was not complete due to quarantines and COVID cases.
Besides playing sports you two are also studying. How much of studying you still have to do and how has it been managing a student life with an athlete’s one? Do student-athletes have some different arraignments in Netherlands that help them balance their university curriculum and sport schedules?
J:Last year I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. This year I did the master Marketing Management, and at the end of this week I will be told whether I have passed my thesis. When I have achieved this, I will look for a permanent job after the summer. Managing life as a student and athlete is doable, but you need some motivation and discipline. On secondary school we had exemptions for subjects such as gym, drama and visual arts. On university there was no top sport status because Eredivisie water polo was not seen as top sport there.
W: I’m studying Applied Psychology, at the moment I’m working on my last assignment and I hope to finish the study in January 2023. Up until now, combining my study and the athlete’s life have been going pretty well, it’s a matter of creating a decent schedule. My schedule book is my holy bible; if I was to lose my schedule book then I would be screwed. Every task and appointment is in there. So to answer the question how I manage it, my schedule manages it.
And I think that we should now start talking about the reason why have we all gathered here. Besides all of the above mentioned, you two have managed to brew your own beer and to create your own beer brand/label. How did you come up with the idea?
W/J: We both like to drink beer. A friend of us is playing ice hockey. His ice hockey club has their own specialty beer. Wessel and I were both big fans of specialty beers and we had a game on the app Untappd, where you could count the beers you drank. The game was to drink as many unique beers as possible, now we both passed the 1000 beers. Than Wessel came up to make an own beer for PSV, and when I heard about the idea I became enthusiastic. We asked some people if they knew a brewer who could help us to make beer. Luckily there was someone kind enough to help us. That’s how it started.
What is the name of the beer and how did you came up with it? Does it mean anything, or does it just sound cool?
J/W:The name is BrabantsChlorie. It is a Dutch typo. The correct spelling is BrabantsGlorie, which translates as Glory of Brabants (our region in the Nederlands), which reflects on PSV as the biggest club of Brabant. Besides that we train in water which contains chlorine, in Dutch it is chloor, glory is in Dutch glorie, when you combine that you get Chlorie.
How long did it take you to get the first taste of your own beer? Were you already acquainted with beer brewing or you had to do extra research about it before making your first beer?
J/W: We came up with the idea somewhere in July and we first tasted our beer in September. We had an idea what kind of beer we wanted to brew. Thereafter, we had a beer tasting with our brewer and told us what we liked of every beer. Based on this he wrote a recipe which we produced at brewery Maximus in Utrecht. We are no beer brewers so about the production of a beer we still have to learn a lot.
How many tries did it take you to get the type of beer you wanted to promote, sell and hopefully make some money? Did you have any particular type of taste for which you were going for, or was it all spontaneous?
J/W:To be honest, the first batch of beer is still our favorite beer. It was exactly what we wanted and we were really happy about it. After that we scaled up and brew bigger batches at other breweries. We wanted to brew an accessible, soft beer that is not very pronounced to reach a large target group. Brabants Chlorie stands for making accessible beers. At first we wanted to make a blond beer, which anybody, also the persons who don’t like beers would like, and after that we plan to brew wheat and IPA beer.
I have read that before the last season started you two have signed a contract with your club, PSV, in which you state that some of the profits from your beer will be given to your club. Could you elaborate a bit on this decision? What was the thinking process behind this?
J/W: We indeed signed a contract to become a sponsor of the club. Important is, that not all the profit we make, goes to the club. Otherwise, we would be broke and Brabants Chlorie wouldn’t exist anymore. A part of our profits we give to our club and the other part we reinvest in Brabants Chlorie. We signed a contract to sponsor a certain amount of money every year to PSV. We want this amount to increase every year. Besides that, we also want to reward ourselves for our time and effort we put into the company. The idea of sponsoring PSV originated based on the fact that at this moment in time PSV is lacking sponsors, so we wanted to help the club we love.
I have seen on your social media that you visit some local events and set up your own market booths with the logo and everything. When you are out there promoting your beer, do you mention that you are waterpolo players and is beer being sold as waterpolo beer also? Of course you can keep your business secrets for yourselves. You are not obliged to give us for free your brilliant marketing strategies. 🙂
J:Yes, we attend a few beer festivals across the Netherlands, which was really fun. And we indeed do mention that we are both water polo players and mention our goal to sponsor our water polo club. The people like the story, which makes them more enthusiastic about our beers.
W: We indeed went to some beerfestivals this year, which was very nice to do. When people are coming to our place, it is very obvious that we’re from water polo. We have posters with our logo and underneath a text where water polo is mentioned. We also have a water polo ball where people can put their stamp ticket in.
What is the end goal for this product? Do you use this only as a work experience for your future jobs, or are you maybe even planning of expanding your product line? Will we see a day when Brabant Chlorie is going to be sold Online?
J:Our end goal is to be the biggest sponsor of PSV. Next to that it is both very nice for our working experience and we just want to grow every year and achieve nice things. We already have a few new beers on the planning this year, so looking forward to that. BrabantsChlorie is already available via our own webshop and liquor stores near Eindhoven.
W: The end goal is to enjoy it. If you ask me, I want to do it as a side job next to my future job. We have some plans to make new beers, which is very fun to do. Brabants Chlorie is already being sold online: www.brabantschlorie.nl/webshop
I think it’s about time to finish this interview. Thank you guys for your time and for doing this with me. It has been a pleasure. What are your plans and expectations for the next water polo season?
W: you’re welcome, thank you for asking us. My plans for next season is to go for the highest possible in the competition and of course have a lot of fun.
J:You’re welcome Tomo! It was fun to do this interview. Next season I am planning to only play for the second team and finish top 6 in our new division. Good luck next season and with your blog Tomo.