18 November 2017

Summer's end

A rare Saturday blog post from me, but I just want to tie off the last few beers from my couple of days in Amsterdam in September.

In De Wildeman is closed on Sundays, so that's where we rocked up first on Monday afternoon. I hadn't seen an Uiltje beer in ages so Commisaris Rex was my first choice when I saw it on the menu. The brewery describes it as a "Doppelsticke Alt", which I think is fair enough. It's a very dark brown, 8.5% ABV and smells of chocolate and celery, the latter a result of the single-hopping with Spalt. Despite this, the flavour is all malt, constructed from grain and chocolate, like a kiddies' breakfast cereal. A growing dry wheatiness and absence of proper carbonation meant that it began to resemble a breakfast cereal a little too closely by the time I got to the end of it. It's well put together, however.

Herself was all over the Cloudwater offering: Spring Summer Wit Loral. Though the ABV is quite high at 6.1%, this one has some serious classic witbier chops. The aroma is an enticing mix of lemon candy and fresh damp coriander leaves. The texture is smooth and the flavour massively herbal, a long bathsalts lavender buzz lasting for ages alongside a burst of juicy orange. It takes a lot to impress with a witbier, and I honestly didn't think it was even possible, but this is a triumph.

I couldn't pass the opportunity to drink a half litre of draught Jever pils next, so didn't. De Prael Barleywine for the lady, a 9.6% ABV one, dark orange and smelling hot, heavy and harsh, something I often find with Prael's beers. It tastes of cough drops; Fisherman's Friends, to be precise. There's a too-heavy eucalyptus and pine bitterness that just burned my palate. I was very glad to have the Jever to hand when tasting it.

A new bar for me next. I dragged us all the way up beyond Centraal station to visit the Delirium pub that's secreted on the waterside under the roadway there. Not many other punters on the chilly terrace that afternoon, but the service was still lousy. It was, however, pleasing to see a too-rare Greek beer on the menu, so I had that.

Saturday's Porter is from Septem, just outside of Athens. It's only 5.5% ABV but packs a lot in there, most of it in an uncompromising and old fashioned style. It's very dry with a bitter liquorice component, a slight sourness and even a touch of smoke. Coffee is an ingredient, but the burnt roast is the only part which comes through. I found it tough drinking to begin with but gradually settled in, getting used to its severity. By the end I was charmed and interested in what else the brewery was doing, but that was the only one of theirs on the menu.

The tall glass behind it contains Stout & Moedig by 7 Deugden. It's another chocolate cereal job, at least in the aroma. The flavour is a little more complex, adding rosewater. The texture is thick and tarry and overall I didn't really enjoy it. At 7.5% ABV there should have been plenty of leeway for a much more interesting beer.

Last call was to Café Belgique. I can't find any evidence of me having been here since 2004, which is kinda crazy. I guess nearby Gollem is just that good. Anyway, we were welcomed in and took a table by the front window. Two Chefs Funky Falcon for me, an American Pale Ale that's extremely sweet, opening on orange flavoured chewing gum, leading into a long candy finish. A certain apricot element emerges as it warms, still sweet but adding nuance. At no point did it get cloying or sticky, which is a plus, and I finished it quite happy with what I'd been given. I wonder do they get grief because it's not funky?

The other beer is Wildebok from good old Scheldebrouwerij, it of the comedy caveman labels. This is an absolute spot-on version of the Low Countries autumn bock style: a clear dark garnet with a flavour mixing warming toffee with drier dark roast but perfectly clean and free of esters, phenols and other headache-inducing nasties. The 6.5% ABV places it on that perfect cusp between not being aggressively alcoholic while still giving the feeling of a slightly naughty treat. A perfect beer on which to end this autumn break.


  1. I'm also not usually a fan of Wits, but recently I had a bottle of Mikkeller's Not Just Another Wit, and it was also impressive, and I made an effort to find it again. It's billed as an imperial wit, a bit stronger than what Cloudwater served up, but hit all the right notes and more. I must search out Spring Summer Wit Loral, but it sounds to me like upping everything in a Wit might be the key to making them work for me.

    It will certainly take away the session-ability of the style on a hot summer's day though...

    1. That's true. Though sessioning on multiples of the same beer is more something I aspire to than ever actually do.