Sunday, 13 September 2009

Amsterdam, Day One, Part Two

Having spent most of the day wandering Amsterdam in the company of TheBeerNut and Mrs. BeerNut, and being suitably fed and watered, it was time to totter around the corner to the launch of BeerTemple. We were a few minutes late, so we missed the speeches and official opening. As it was, there was a large crowd outside, and inside it was positively heaving as people elbowed their way forward to get to the bar which was serving complimentary drinks. In a way I was relieved that it's not only the Germans who don't know how to line up for something in a reasonable fashion.

The BeerTemple is owned by Peter van der Arend, who also runs the popular 't Arendsnest, and has been billed as Europe's first dedicated American beer bar, with the ultimate aim of having around 30 US craft beers on tap and considerably more in bottles. On the opening day the selection was pretty nice, with beers from Left Hand (Black Jack Porter, Milk Stout), Great Divide (Titan, Hercules and Yeti), Flying Dog, Anchor and bottles from Southern Tier, Sierra Nevada and Goose Island, amongst others. They also had a house beer, Templbier, brewed by De Snaterende Arend, which I should have, but didn't try.

What I did try was the Left Hand Black Jack Porter, a rather tasty and silky-smooth 6.5% porter that had licks of chocolate, licorice and a touch of dark chocolate bitterness to the finish. Delicious and satisfying. This was followed by a Great Divide Yeti, an Imperial Stout whose solventy fumes were loaded with C-hops. With more licorice flavours, coffee and a a pervading soft, chewy toffee effect, this was dangerously easy drinking, and a tough act to follow. There was a bit of glass-passing for tasting, but true-to-form, no notes, and little memory!

Food, in the form of pretzels and mini-burgers, was flowing constantly, but it was hard to get a real impression of the place, so packed was it. It's minimalist in decoration, with chalk boards around the ceiling listing the beers on offer. The back has a few tables and a stairs up to the toilets. It has a kind of café feel about it, but at the time we were there, it was more comfortable to be out front. Many thanks to Peter for the invitation and kind hospitality. I wish him the best of luck with the venture, and hope to make it there again for a long session.

We didn't stay as long as we could, as it wasn't the most comfortable getting buffetted by the crowd, so we headed off to in de Wildeman with Ron Pattinson. I got the impression in de Wildeman is one of those places you should visit if you're a beer fan in Amsterdam, with a slightly old-fashioned feel, but relaxed and comfortable, perfect for a few nightcaps. The beer list was an eclectic selection that was bloody tough to choose from, but I took Ron's lead and ordered a Beck-Bräu Affumicator, listed as a Dreidoppelrauchbock, and at 9.2% it would be I guess. In the mould of a Bamberger-style rauchbier, this notches thing up a bit without ever straying into uncomfortable territories. It's a beautiful rauchbier, with loads of smokey bacon going on, but with a surprising, lightly fruity backdrop that makes it frighteningly easy to drink. I was pleasantly surprised, as many German beers in this strength range end up quite sticky-sweet, but this is superbly balanced with loads of light fruitiness, juicy malts and a touch of spice, all infused with smoke. Wonderful.

I had ordered a small Affumicator to save myself for a De Molen Black Jack, a bit of a monster at 12.5 %, but yet another beer that just soothes, with thick, creamy body and a flavour giving oak, vanilla, masses of chewy malt and a slight touch of overhead marker.

I didn't think it would be possible to follow this up, and I was right. I ordered a Scheldebrowerij Oesterstout. At only 8.5%, it was a far cry form my previous tipple, but decent enough, however it just couldn't follow on the flavours. I got strong medicinal flavours and a huge suggestion of bitter, artificial fruitiness, like grenadine syrup. It was a struggle to finish. I would have much preferred the Mug Bitter that TheBeerNut ordered, having lovely fresh hops and being refreshingly moreish.

At that point it was time to call it a night, saying goodbye to Ron at a tram stop and heading off for a quick, rather boring, but meaty kebab. Regardless, I was well satisfied with my first day in Amsterdam and slept very well that night...


Mark Dredge said...

sounds fantastic, I'm jealous! I must get out to Amsterdam, especially now as there's the added draw of a US beer bar.

Barry M said...

It's definitely a great beer destination, and I'm hugely impressed by some of the local beers.

TheBeerNut reckoned I could do a day-trip there, and I almost could. 3 hours there isn't bad, and I could have had 6 hours in the city and popped in a train straight back. The return was supposed to be 3.5 hours but ended up being over 5 due to a breakdown on the line. I nearly had one myself!

It's only 40 minutes drive to the Dutch border from here, so I'll have to check if there are any decent beer stores in the border towns.

Unknown said...

And I thought Amsterdam was only a destination for dope and nooky, perhaps I'll have to buy Ron's book on the subject of Dutch beer.