05 November 2014

Sunday stroll

This blog left the Borefts beer festival in Bodegraven last week, though there was one other beer I drank there which wasn't part of the line-up. Mirjam Red Ale is brewed at De Molen however, and Mirjam herself was presenting it to festival-goers, on behalf of her and the husband's Bier de Rie operation. She describes it as a beer "for beer geeks to drink when they're not rating": high quality, but not overly complex, by design. And so it is. A mix of Mosaic, Amarillo and Simcoe hops create a beer with just enough bitterness to be properly interesting, but also smooth and juicy too. My only quibble is that 6.2% ABV is a little on the high side to be properly downable.

As always, the Sunday after Borefts meant a morning of beering around Amsterdam before the evening flight home. This year the wife and I were joined by beer writer, seller and opinion-holder Zak Avery who also had nothing better to do. First stop was Gollem, one of the earliest good beer bars to open its doors on a Sunday, and it doesn't hurt that it's one of the nicest too.

Round one featured a new house beer: Gollem's Precious, a pretty full-on IPA from those geniuses The Musketeers, best known for the Troubadour series. It's only 5.9% ABV but could pass for more, its heavy and slightly sticky body supporting a sprawling edifice of hop complexity: pithy bitterness, grassy weed, herbs, resin and spritzy orange, all packaged under a heady perfume aroma yet somehow staying beautifully drinkable. Local brewing company Oedipus's Thai Thai Tripel was also included. I'd been expecting an exotic oriental twist on standard tripel but this dark orange affair is fairly down-the-line for the style, with maybe just a little bit of extra ginger spicing amongst the hot and heavy Christmassy citrus. It's a nicely sippable tripel but no more or less than that.

Another round? Oh go on then. First up, a new one from Belgian artistes De Dochter van de Korenaar, an "internationally-styled wheat IPA" (huh?) called Crime Passionnel. This is 7.5% ABV and a hazy amber colour. The dominant flavour is a strange mix of dry tart fruits: cranberry, pomegranate and passionfruit. It took me a while to dredge what it reminded me of from the depths of my subconscious but I eventually arrived at Campari. If you've been looking for a beer that tastes of Campari, here it is.

't IJ's Session IPA was sadly out of stock, but two more new ones were available. 't IJ Barleywine is an especially heavy and warming example of the style, in a good way, showing dubbelish notes of prune and fig on a chewy bourbon biscuit base. Meanwhile 't IJ Motueka does quite a decent job with what isn't a favourite hop of mine. It's a 5.6% ABV pale ale, a brownish-orange colour, starting with a fresh honeydew melon aroma and incorporating a mix of fruit juices in the flavour. Simple but tasty.

I'll save what happened next for Friday's post, but it was inevitable that we would end up sitting outside Arendsnest. It wasn't too busy either. A diversionary beer festival was happening down in Rotterdam so I'd say a lot of the usual post-Borefts nest-hoggers were at that.

With Uiltje being my Big Discovery of Borefts 2014, I was immediately drawn to one of theirs on the tap list, Black & Tan. It's actually a blend of an Uiltje IPA with a porter by Hague brewers Kompaan. The end result is chestnut red and smells beautifully of oranges and pine. The hops weigh heavily on the flavour too, all resinous and oily. Diluting it with porter turns it into something resembling an amber ale, but with extra chocolate and a good dose of roast too. Only 7% ABV, but with a rather vinous finish it's another one that tastes like it could be more.

And sitting to the left of it there is Eem Bockbier, a fruitier sort of dark Dutch bock, oily chocolate oranges, a waft of autumnal bonfire and a sharp dry finish where you might normally expect sticky caramel. I'd be tempted to ding it stylistically if it wasn't so much better than most bocks.

One thing I love about Arendsnest is the plethora of Dutch beer companies I've never heard of, available on tap. One such was Reuzenbieren, and I tried their Reuz CIPA: an 8.5% ABV US-style double IPA. Spiced mandarins are the hallmark left by plenty of Amarillo here, to the point that the beer offers very little else, other than increasing weight as it warms up. It's a simple profile for the style and strength, but no less enjoyable for that.

And a token dark beer to finish off: Leckere Schwarz, with its stylish art deco logo. It's a nicely clean black lager with some sour liquorice notes thrown in. A bit more crisp roastness might be nice but I don't object at all to the heavier porterish weight it delivers instead.

It's The Session on Friday and the questions on the table are:
Why is it important for us to visit the place the where our beers are made? Why does drinking from source always seem like a better and more valuable experience? Is it simply a matter of getting the beer at it’s freshest or is it more akin to pilgrimage to pay respect and understand the circumstances of the beer better?
I'll be retracing our steps and looking for some specifically Amsterdammish answers.


  1. I do like to be through the doors of Gollem early when It's nice and quiet and get to chat with the barman.....

    Stumbled upon Arendsnest the last time I was over, only got to have one there but will be heading back in a few weeks so I can explore further, didn't know there were enough Dutch breweries to warrant a bar dedicated to them!

    Th Brouwerij 't IJ taproom is also on the list....

    1. 't IJ is lovely. There's a whole slew of new breweries in the not-too-distant suburbs that I've never been to.

  2. Your Amsterdam posts always get me thirsty. It's becoming an annual trip for me now, free accommodation is too good to pass up.

    1. I'll bet! The other thing I do on my strolls is try and figure out where my retirement apartment will be.

    2. The fancy dan Jordaan is the place for me.