Thursday 11 July 2013

Two lips in Amsterdam

My two lips have recently been spending time in Amsterdam clamped around glasses of Brettanomyces brewed beer. A "wild yeast" beer festival was being held and two of my beers were there.

Three bars and an off licence were hosting the festival, all within a handy short walking distance. In fact being the stuff of epics the distances were shorter than what we're normally used to which lead to us overshooting and getting temporarily misplaced on more than one occasion.

Our first port of call was the Prael, a large bar complete with its own brewery. Each beer was named after a Dutch crooner and I can't for the life of me remember what any were called, which is probably for the best.

The next venue we checked out was the Bierkoning, an off licence with a fantastic range of beers. In fact it was a bit overwhelming. Particularly as we'd flown with hand luggage only so couldn't take any back! Lambic legend Frank Boon was there doing a tasting when we arrived and I have to say I was mightily impressed with his wares. Traditionally made, but not as acidic as Cantillon, his geuze was refreshing and his fruit beers were neither sour nor syrupy. Both went down a treat. 

The event I was most looking forward to, Ron Pattinson talking about Brettanomyces in British brewing, was later that day at the Prael.

Imperial Russian Stout, Stock Ales and India Pale Ales were all covered, complete with relevant beer to taste, my own Vintage Ale making its first public appearance (complete with new name and increased ABV) as the stock ale.

We went for a Chinese with Ron and the delightful Dolores after, but the beer was Heineken so I'll say no more.

Saturday was a time for us to wander round Amsterdam, it's a lovely looking city, canals, historic buildings, cyclists and trams itching to run into you. What more could you want? Actually we could have done without the dangers of crossing roads. Not only do they drive on the wrong side but we could never work out what were the cycle lanes or where would cars come from, and that's not to mention how trams can creep up on you at a frightening rate. Having been chatting to someone in a Subhumans T-shirt the night before the song "I don't wanna die" did tend to pop into my head whenever we needed to cross a road.

Eventually our wandering took us to Ron and Dolores', where I got a chance to admire Ron's beer book collection, and we got taste a fantastic selection of historically based beers complete with complementary nibbles. Gose and grodziskie were just the warm up before we moved throughout time and space in the world of beer, though the definitely seemed to be an upward trend as far as the ABV went. I seem to recall an Adambier was my favourite, but then I do have a soft spot for the Adamites.

Sadly we couldn't stay all day as I was due on In de Wilderman. Fortunately it turned out to be a "meet and greet" so I didn't have to do a talk, and just chatted to beer bods for an hour or so which was all good fun. Amongst the people there were someone else who'd come over from England, and some friendly Dutch brewers.

The Wilderman was my favourite bar of the trip, having the feel of a pub about it, but in our slightly befuddled state we forgot to get any food though and by the time we left it was too late. Not that we couldn't have bought on the way home, it was because the mobs of shouting drunk stag parties had filled the street and we really just wanted to get back as soon as we could.

The emergency bag of peanuts had to do us for dinner, well that and all the liquid bread I suppose. The morning was much more civilised, with a leisurely roof top breakfast and copious quantities of caffeine.


We had time for more wandering before we headed home and took a boat trip round the canals and looked into what bars we could find. Unfortunately despite Amsterdam being a cosmopolitan metropolis many bar owners persist in spending Sunday afternoons enjoying conjugal relations with close relatives rather than selling beer so the choice was more limited than we'd hoped. We did our best but really need to make a return trip. As ever more research is necessary.


  1. Old Dairy Tsar Top from cask was the best beer of the festival! Fantastic beer. How old was the cask compared to the bottles that were around?

  2. Thanks! All the Tsar Top was the same batch, brewed in January. The bottles had two months in casks before bottling, and the cask just stayed in cask.

  3. sounds like a fantastic weekend and jealous at all of those historic recreations yougot to try. still yet to try any of your stuff ed!

  4. Ahhh Amsterdam. Never really liked it TBH, although despite working there for months I didn't get much of a chance to look at anything except the office which was quite a way out of town, which may account for my lack of fond memories. One of the things that really did stick in my mind though was how hard it was to cross the road. If it wasn't the trams it was the bicycles.