11 October 2013

The comedown

The day after the Borefts beer festival was another cold and sunny one. We got a late morning train to Amsterdam and started with an early lunch. The restaurant's beer of the month was Goudkoppe, a blonde ale by Texels (do they have a dark one called Badkoppe? They should). 6% ABV and a very nicely put together version of this common style. Lots of fresh mandarin comes out first, followed up with the earthy Belgian yeast tang. Spritzy and refreshing, and just the thing to whet my appetite for more beer tasting.

In past years Beer Temple has been the first port of call on post-Borefts Sunday, but as I reported earlier in the year, the wonderful Gollem is now back in business and most wonderful of all opens its doors at noon on Sundays. Not too many drinkers it must be said: lost tourists, some other Borefts stragglers (hi Chris!) and one lonely determined alcoholic. The first beer on the modest taplist that caught my interest was Foxy Lady, seemingly a follow-up to the lacklustre Tasty Lady brewed at Breugems which I encountered last year. This one is rather better, with a complex mix of fruit and spices incorporating incense, concentrated tangerine plus sharp grapefruit zest on the end. The malt element provides just enough biscuit sweetness for balance.

After that, there was nothing new to me on tap and I wasn't in the mood for taking a gamble on an unfamiliar bottle so I settled for a draught glass of Troubadour's Magma and was very glad I did. I had a bottle of this a while back and reckoned it was a bit past its best. It was a whole different experience this time, the hops beautifully fresh and flavourful, giving the perfect bitter and citric counterbalance to the heavy malts.

From there to our traditional final destination of Arendnest, the pub which offers an exclusively Dutch selection of beers. Lo and behold, there was a third in the lady series: Smoky Lady. I couldn't resist. This is a clear blonde, sweet and massively smoky, blending heady perfume with Laphroaig whisky, the phenols turning a little towards TCP in the aftertaste. I rather liked it but wouldn't expect anyone else to.

The hops from the Magma were still at the front of my mind, however, so I decided to check out what they had by way of pale ales while the missus got stuck into the barley wines. Oedipus Brewing is a new one to me and their pale ale is called Mama (of course). It's a full 6% ABV though doesn't do much with that. It's a simple beer, verging perhaps on dull. There are some pleasant peach and orange sherbet flavours but no burst of zing and no bitter staying power. You'd have a decent pale 'n' hoppy session beer if it wasn't so strong.

I expected bigger things from a beer called High Hops by Maximus, based in Utrecht and another unfamiliar one. High Hops is the same strength as Mama and darker in colour: more orange than yellow, and this is accompanied by a slightly sickly toffee-candy aroma. Uh-oh. But it's not a crystal malt sugar bomb: the toffee is present in the flavour, but restrained. Unfortunately the hops are too, offering little more than a vague orangeade sweetness. Disappointing and not as advertised.

So it's back to De Molen to finish off. Cease & Desist is yet another imperial stout. 11.5% ABV this time but smelling and tasting much much stronger. It's extremely hot, and intensely flavoured, full of the distilled essence of coffee and treacle. I felt it lacked the usual finesse of a De Molen imperial stout. From the bottle menu I had to give Angst & Beven a go: my first imperial gose, at 12.2% ABV. Well, "gose-ish" says the label. There's no salt listed in the ingredients. It pours a dark honey amber and has a barley wine's sweetness at its core, flavoured with blood orange and mango notes from the hops. This is balanced by a wonderful barrel-aged woody sourness which keeps the whole thing dry and refreshing for the most part, though it does lean a little towards cough mixture at the end. A very interesting experiment and a beer well worth trying.

And that concludes Borefts weekend for 2013. It's back to my sadly neglected beer fridge from Monday.


  1. Which Gollem do you go to?

    I like the one on Raamsteeg, early when it's quiet.