I’m just back home from a great and relaxing trip in Amsterdam with my girlfriend. Had some great beers during the trip, and even managed to bring back home 10 bottles. I really fell in love with De Bierkoning, a small beer shop featuring some very nice brews from around the world (they even recently got some 1 month old bottles of Pliny The Elder, which I didn’t buy since I’ve tried it before and didn’t want to pay the 15€ for the bottle). The prices were mostly nice, but the American beers were predictably quite pricey. They had a large selection of Dutch microbrews, which was really nice.
The first beer of the trip was ‘t IJ Zatte, an Abbey Tripel by Amsterdam-based craft brewers ‘t IJ.
Zatte poured with a hazy orange color and a small off-white head. It featured some caramel and some nice spicy and fruity yeast tones in the aroma. Flavor is similar with tones of yeast, citrus and coriander. The finish was quite dry, with a slight bitterness. A nice attempt on a Tripel. I had the beer while we were at blue°, a cafeteria/bar at the top of a shopping center in the middle of the town.
Next, I tried a couple of bottles I bought from Bierkoning at the hotel. First up was Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA.
This IPA was bottled 23.06.2011, so it was around 7 months old. It poured with a slightly hazy golden-orange color and a fluffy white head, which collapsed leaving some nice lacing along the glass. The aroma featured tones of caramel, resin, grass, citrus, and flowers, and was mostly hop-dominated. The flavor begins with slightly sweet caramel tones, that were joined by piney, resiny, and grapefruit tones from the hops. The beer ended with a quite dry and biting bitter finish. The beer features lots of hop flavor. This was a really crisp and smooth IPA. Overall a very nice American IPA, with some huge resiny hop flavors with a bitter finish. Would really like to try this one fresh. Score: 4/5
Next up in the hotel was The Kernel’s India Pale Ale Simcoe Centennial. The Kernel are a London-based microbrewery, that I’ve been hearing some great things about.
This IPA had a BBE of 27.07.2013, so guessing it was bottled 27.07.2011, making it about 6 months old. The beer poured with a slightly hazy golden-orange color (very similar to Jai Alai) and a slight white-colored head, that collapsed leaving minimal lacing along the glass. The aroma was very hoppy, with fruity, resiny and citrusy tones. Really liked the aroma. The flavor begins with a minimally sweet and caramelly maltiness, that is overtaken by hop tones of grapefruit, tangerine, resin and grass. The flavor ends quite dry and a nice bitterness. I thought the flavors were nicely balanced, and the hop flavors were especially nice. The beer had a smooth and medium-full body, making it easy to drink. A great American IPA, that in my opinion was slightly better than Jai Alai. Great hop flavors in a better balanced package. Simcoe and Centennial are amongst my favorites hops as well. Score 4-4.5/5
Next, it was time to head to Beer Temple, a quite small and cozy bar focusing on American craft brews, located right next to De Bierkoning. They had 30 beers on tap, with the majority being from the US (e.g. Great Divide Titan IPA, Rogue OREgasmic Ale, and Flying Dog Kujo Coffee Stout), the rest being from different European craft breweries (E.g. Mikkeller and Brewdog). They had an awesome list of bottled beer as well, and the first beer I ordered was Founders Breakfast Stout (since I brewed something similar a couple of weeks ago):
The Breakfast Stout was fantastic, and poured thick and black, with tones of coffee, chocolate and roasted malts in the aroma and flavor. Hopefully my latest homebrew inspired by this tastes at least half as good. After the stout, it was time for both an Imperial IPA and an Imperial Red Ale: Weyerbacher’s Double Simcoe IPA and Rogue’s Imperial Red Ale (from tap):
Unfortunately I only took a picture of the Weyerbacher brew. Both beers were very nice, with the Double Simcoe IPA being my favorite of the whole trip, and probably one of my favorite IPAs ever. Fantastically balanced Imperial IPA, with truckloads of resinous and tropical fruity hop flavor and aroma, and a pleasant bitter bite. The Imperial Red offered a nice combination of caramelly maltiness and citrusy hoppiness. Great beers and a great bar. Definitely worth the visit if you are after tasty beers in Amsterdam. The place got quite crowded when we visited it again on a Saturday, so come early. On the second visit I had some Brewdog/Mikkeller I Hardcore You from tap, which tasted very similar to what I remembered, but with even more hop aroma. After our first Beer Temple visit, we headed to ‘t Arendsnest, a bar serving only Dutch (craft) beer. They had tons of De Molen and Emelisse beer, and of course other beers from other nice breweries such as SNAB, ‘t IJ, and La Trappe. I played it safe and ordered a bottle of De Molen’s Tsarina Esra (Imperial Porter) and some Emelisse Triple IPA from the tap (note the fantastic drapes of lacing along the glasses):
The Tsarina Esra was a very Imperial Porter, with sweet roasted malt tones, chocolate, licorice and hops in the aroma and flavor. Really nice beer to sip on. The Triple IPA had a sweet caramelly maltiness, combined with grapefruit and resin tones. A nice Imperial IPA, but there are better beers in the style available. ‘t Arendsnest was also a cozy bar, with a great selection, and definitely worth a visit if you’re after some great local brews.
The beer selection in the largest (?) supermarket chain in Netherlands, Albert Heijn, was quite bad, but at least they had something else than bulk lagers. La Trappe Dubbel and Tripel 6-packs were available for 6 euros (which is fantastically cheap for Trappist beer), as well as Duvel, La Chouffe and Mc Chouffe for around 1.40€. I had a La Trappe Dubbel, La Trappe Tripel (sorry no picture) and La Chouffe in the hotel:
I liked the La Chouffe best of the trio, with it’s spicy and lightly hoppy finish, and really disliked the Dubbel, which in my opinion had too much alcohol presence, and an unpleasant estery fruitiness with tones of banana and raisins. The La Chouffe has recently become available at Alko as well, so you can try it out at home.
I managed to bring home some really nice beer I bought at De Bierkoning to Finland. A nice blend of Pilsner, IPA, Imperial IPA, Imperial Stouts and of course a bottle of the famed Westvletern 12:
Back row, left to right: Alesmith Yulesmith (Summer), Port Brewing 3rd Anniversary Ale, Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, Hoppin Frog DORIS the Destroyer, and De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis 666
Front row, left to right: De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis, De Molen Vuur & Vlam, De Molen Winterhop, ‘t IJ Plzen, and Westvleteren 12
Overall, it was a nice and relaxing trip. One week was a bit too long for a small city as Amsterdam, as we ran out of things to see and do after a couple of days (we were not interested in the coffee shops), but my travel companion was great, so we were never bored. For a shorter weekend trip, I would definitely recommend the city though, especially if you want to see canals, crooked houses, windmills, or want to try some nice beers.
Below are some random photos taken during the trip: