SCAC Odyssey 104 (Part 2: An Amsterdam Pitstop)

A Couple of Hours at In de Wildeman…

I’d cleared passport control at Schiphol by 11.30 and wasn’t due to meet my mate down in Rotterdam until 4.00pm so I knew I had a couple or so hours to kill in Amsterdam and I knew just the pub to kill them in.

In de Wildeman is a traditional Dutch ‘brown bar’ situated less than 10 minutes walk from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. I first sampled its charms back in January when I was waiting for a friend to arrive in the city. The two times I’ve been in there I’ve initially found the staff to be polite but slightly stand-offish but once they realise you’re there to sample their wares and have a genuine interest in beer they soon warm-up and happily discuss beers and brewers and anything else. I think they get a lot of people popping in for one beer just so they can tell their friends and family back home that they’d visited the In De Wildeman. When I was there on Friday a group of 3 people came in and ordered a beer each (I didn’t catch what they ordered) and although the snatches of conversation that I did hear suggested that none of them were especially enamoured by their choices one of them did buy a t-shirt before they swiftly exited. I suppose such a scenario is a bit saddening if you are a pub interested in encouraging people to be a bit experimental with their beer choices but, hey, at the end of the day it’s all cash in the till.

My first beer was Flying Dog’s Wildeman Farmhouse IPA [7.5%]. I’d had this beer previously when I’d visited In de Wildeman back in January and on that occasion I’d described it as “like a good IPA mixed with exotic sherbet”. Before pouring the barman asked if I’d tried it before and I explained I had and told him when. He then informed that as the beer was now available to wider market (instead of just being a Wildeman exclusive) the recipe had been tweaked a little and although it was still a very tasty beer I probably wouldn’t find it tasting quite the same as it did earlier in the year. He was right. It’s still a damn good IPA but I felt the exotic sherbet kick that had so excited me previously had all but vanished. When I returned to the bar for another drink the barman asked how I’d found and I replied that although it was still a good beer it wasn’t quite as “zingy” as I remembered it. He smiled approvingly and remarked that “not as zingy” was an excellent way of putting it.

My second choice was Jopen’s Jacobus Rye Pale Ale [5.3%]. Last June, when in Haarlem on Auto Club duty, I visited the Jopenkerk, which is Jopen’s impressive and substantially sized brewpub. I was very pleased with their beers that I drunk that day so every subsequent trip to the Netherlands has seen be sample Jopen beers whenever I’ve seen the mon sale. Rye Pale Ales seem to be one of the in beers at the moment and more and more brewers appear to be adding one of them to their beer list. I think the Jacobsen was the first one I’ve tried and I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable take on a Pale Ale with a nice tang of pine and an interesting kick of ‘old oats’.

For my third beer I stuck to the tap offerings except this time I decided to go for a beer from a brewer that ‘d never heard of: SNAB – Stichting Noordhollandese Alternative Bierbrouwers, which I believe translates as Society of North Holland Alternative Beer Brewers… how could you not want a beer brewed by them? The beer I chose was called Roock [6%] and it was a smoked porter. The previous two beers had come in the appropriate branded glassware but I assume SNAB have yet to invest in glasses as my Roock was served in an unbranded highball tumbler which looked very much like the glasses you got free with Esso Tiger Tokens back in the early 80s. The beer itself was delicious. The smoke taste was there but it was perfectly balanced and consequently made the beer unbelievably thirst quenching. I loved it.

Will drinking the previous beers I’d been looking at the bottle menu and had pretty much decided to sample a lambic or a gueuze but as approached the bar I noticed a small blackboard that was trying to encourage me sample a Duvel Tripel Hop 2012 [9.5%] and I subsequently made that my next beer. The three hops in the beer are Citra, Saaz and Goldings with the dry hop addition being Citra. Supposedly, this year is the first time the beer has been available in 330ml bottles instead of 750ml, which has meant it has become more readily available to the common boozer around town. I thought it was perfectly delicious beer and it did get tastier with each mouthful but the heavy carbonation meant that more than 330ml would have been too much and my head would have been getting hit much harder than it already was. Well worth trying if you come across it.

It was almost time to go so I asked the barman if he’d like to choose my final beer. He’d been a great host and had happily engaged me in conversation about beer and seemed genuinely interested in my opinions. He also gave me a booklet that listed several good beer bars throughout the Netherlands – I’d use it to great success in Groningen the next day. The beer he chose for me was XX Bitter [6%] by De Ranke – another brewer who I don’t believe I’ve previously drunk. It was an excellent choice: full of fruity hoppy goodness with a lovely lingering bitterness. A great beer for the road.

I shook hands with the barman and we said our farewells and then I was off. There was just enough time to grab a couple of cans of the poor tasting but excellently named Jupiler [5.2%] from a shop in the station before I jumped aboard the Fyra and speed towards Rotterdam.

Tap Beren

… photography by landells …

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~ by landells on June 6, 2012.

2 Responses to “SCAC Odyssey 104 (Part 2: An Amsterdam Pitstop)”

  1. Nice write-up.

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