WDT 2011 – Report from Amsterdam

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Sep 18th, 2011
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De Wildeman

De Wildeman

It is with great pleasure that I look back on another successful European fall campaign by the WDT. The first leg of the tour was Amsterdam.

It’s a pretty bold statement to start in Amsterdam.

First Westmalle of the trip

After taking the train into the city from the airport, the festivities always start at In de Wildeman. Why? Well, In de Wildeman may very well still be the best beer bar in Amsterdam, but it’s best quality is that it opens at noon. I love Amsterdam, but let’s be honest, it opens late, or at least the decent beer bars do.

It is customary to start with a Westmalle Tripel, and then gradually get more adventurous. On this recent visit to the Wildeman, I did take the opportunity to try a few Dutch microbrews.  Two that stood out were the Jopen Fokkerbier (especially the way the bartender pronounced it), and the Emalisse Black IPA.

Jopen Fokkerbier

Jopen Fokkerbier

Emelisse Black IPA

Emelisse Black IPA

Jopen Fokkerbier is a dunkel weizen, similar to another decent Dutch beer Texels Skuumkoppe.  It’s a decent beer, and if memory serves me correctly, I did have more than one.  It may not hold a candle to the standard bearer for the genre (Schneider Aventinus), but it tastes pretty good on a rainy afternoon.

The Emelisse Black IPA seems to be part of a trend by Dutch and Belgian brewers to copy newer American beer styles.  I suppose that’s a good thing.  This particular brew was decent Black IPA, but could use just a little more of a hop punch.  Drinking it gave me a craving for Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous, which is probably as close as there is to a standard bearer for the Black IPA style.

Some brand names don't travel well

Thankfully the Wildeman has a great selection of Belgian beers, so after this it was back to the Belgian standard bearers.

Jenver @ De Drie Fleschjes

Jenver @ De Drie Fleschjes

On the way back to the hotel, I noticed that De Drie Fleschjes was open.  I don’t know what the hours are for this bar, but if you pass it by, and it is open, you have no choice but to pay it a visit.  Forget about beer for a minute, as this place is all about genever (sometimes spelled jenver).  It may be the drink induced time dilation effect, but once you start drinking genever, it is extremely difficult to stop.  As De Drie Fleschjes only seems to be open 2 hours a day, you won’t overdo it too much … unless you take up drinking with some locals.  In that case, after De Drie Fleschjes closes, you’re likely to end up at De Ooievaar, over toward the Zeedjik.

I’d love to tell you more about De Ooievaar.  One of the members of our party has quite a few pictures on his camera that were taken there.  So evidently we were there for quite some time.

By this time, it’s a good idea to get a good meal on your stomach, and thankfully the Thai Bird is not too far.

IJ is the 25th letter of the Dutch alphabet, placed between X and Y

And then, as it is custom, it’s time to head back to Cafe Belgique for a nightcap … either La Chouffe or a Westmalle Tripel.  Considering that you just arrived in Amsterdam that morning on a red eye flight from the US, it’s probably a good thing that Cafe Belgique closes at 1am.

Cafe Belgique is probably the smallest bar in Amsterdam.  It doesn’t have the best selection of Belgian beer, but it’s got a strong selection … and it’s got enough of a vibe that we just keep ending up there. In fact, we now stay at the Best Western Dam Square Inn, because it is the closest hotel to Cafe Belgique.

Brouwerij 't Ij

Brouwerij 't IJ

When you wake up the next morning around noon … chances are that at least one member of your party will already be back at the Wildeman.  And they probably also had pancakes for breakfast at De Vergulde Lantaarn (The Golden Lantern).  Good for them.  Join them for a Westmalle Tripel and embark on Day 2.

One of the highlights of any trip to Amsterdam is an afternoon at Brouwerij ‘t IJ.  It’s better known as the windmill (molen) brewery.  Not only can you count on great beer, but this is a great place to hang out at the outside tables and meet people.  Or just watch some of the entertainment around you …. as you never know what to expect.

Why Willy? Why?

This past trip, on the way to ‘t IJ, we stopped by Brouwerij de Prael.  I have to say that their tasting room is architecturally very well designed and clean.  The beers, on the other hand, were consistently disappointing … with the general consensus being that they lacked body.  Even the beers that were stronger in alcohol seemed to lack any flavor or richness.  I remember the beers were all named after old-time famous Dutch celebrities.  No disrespect intended toward those celebrities (it makes it ok to disrespect them if you say “no disrespect intended” first), but the pictures of them made me think of old time 1970’s daytime television.  Imagine that an American microbrewery took the approach of brewing beer and naming them after 1970’s daytime television stars … imagine what the Merv Griffin would taste like.  Needless to say, you wouldn’t be missing out if you skipped Prael.

Back to happier thoughts … Brouwerij ‘t IJ.  Natte.  Zatte.  Columbus.  Struis.  They also have a wonderful tasting 7% Wit beer.  This year, they also had a Belgian IPA style beer which satisfied the hop craving after too many tripels.

Cobra @ The Akbar

As Brouwerij ‘t IJ closes up for the evening, I recommend taking the tram down to the Leidesplein area.  If you’re in the mood for Indonesian food, I strongly recommend Puri Mas. Or if you’re on your own or looking for something a little less expensive, try Bojo’s.  This year, however, we were headed for the Akbar.  The Akbar has, quite possibly, the hottest Indian food on the planet.  But it’s quality stuff … not the kind that destroys your interior … but a heat that you savor.  Highly recommended.

The De Zotte Monk has seen better days

Since the Gollem appears to have been closed down for good, we decided to visit an old favorite bar just a few blocks off the Leidesplein … De Zotte.  It had been a few years since my last visit to De Zotte, and it was good to be back again, and good to see that the monk was still there, even if he was looking a little worse for wear.  De Zotte is another of the great Belgian beer bars in Amsterdam.

Another visit to Amsterdam over so quickly … time for one more nightcap at Cafe Belgique before we rest up for the next day’s adventure in another town …


Travel Guide Summary

Before and After, not necessarily in that order