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.
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.
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.