The next important figure to enter the Grolsch story was Theo de Groen, a man from an established Dutch brewing family who purchased the brewery, then known as ‘De Klok’, in 1897. He also introduced the famous Grolsch Swingtop in 1897, eliminating the need for a bottle opener. Though this clever innovation was widely copied, many imitators fell by the wayside during the years of post-World War Two austerity. Theo de Groen, however, stuck to his guns and the Swingtop remains a celebrated Grolsch feature to this day.
With the owners of a rival brewery in nearby Enschede selling out to de Groen in 1922, the enlarged company – subsequently renamed ‘N.V. Bierbrouwerij de Klok and in 1954 ‘Grolsche Bierbrouwerij N.V.’ – operated from both Groenlo and Enschede until 2004, when a new, state-of-the-art brewing facility was opened on a site between Enschede and Boekelo, close to the border with Germany.
Although the old breweries were closed, nothing was left to chance in maintaining the unique Grolsch taste, with a 7km pipeline enabling the new brewery to continue drawing soft spring water from the original source.
The acquisition of Royal Grolsch NV by SABMiller, which was completed in March 2008, brings this brief history right up to date. But it is far from the end of the story. Click here for a full report into Grolsch’s 400th birthday celebrations and a glimpse into the future of this iconic beer.