We arrived in Amsterdam early yesterday evening and, having checked in at our lodgings, made a straight for In De Wildeman, a legendary beer pub and just a couple of streets away. We settled in the redundant non-smoking room (all Dutch pubs are entirely smoke free since last month) among the very mid-twentieth-century green painted wood.
A quick scan of the menu, the specials board, and the taps and my first order was a Yeti, the 9.2% ABV imperial stout from Colorado's Great Divide brewery. In typically Dutch style, 25cl was poured quickly into a glass leaving a huge expanse of dark brown head. The aroma sings of big American hops conspiring with dark smoky malts, all begging to be tasted. The flavour doesn't disappoint, with the hops sitting right at the front and then followed by a big long sweet dark crème caramel finish. The mouthfeel is incredibly thick with only the fainest hint of sparkle. The whole sensation is one of rapid see-sawing between big American hops and dark stouty malt, and one I enjoyed hugely.
Meanwhile, Mrs Beer Nut also started with an American: Left Hand's Juju Ginger Ale. It's an uninspiring and rather watery affair without much going on, either flavour- or aroma-wise.
So, what do I follow my powerhouse American imperial stout with? There was really only one thing for it...
Berliner Kindl Weisse Grün, is the version of Berlin's trademark wheat beer flavoured with a dash of woodruff syrup. I loved this beer from the start. It instantly hit the part of my brain that enjoys Faro and similar light sweet-sour Belgian fizz. It's sweet, light and (for me) inhalable. The sour/dry smack on top of the syrup makes it extremely moreish: I could lash through gallons of this 3%-er without even thinking about it. I'm only on my second beer and I think I've made the discovery of the trip.
Mrs Beer Nut decided to go Dutch and went for a Natte from local brewery 't IJ. Except I don't think that's what arrived. I was expecting a brown dubbel, but instead got a distinctly orange and cloudy beer with a gunpowder spice nose and a whole green-grocer's full of raw crunchy vegetal bitterness, moderated only slightly with a black pepper sharpness. I'm fairly sure they brought her the tripel Zatte instead. Either way, it was bloody good.
And with that we were off into the night to forage for some food after which we brought the day to a close. This morning we left bright and early for Alkmaar to see its legendary cheese market (jealous?) and the wonderfully quirky beer museum. Down the stairs and there's a pub at canal-level.
I continued the Dutch theme with another 't IJ beer: Columbus. This is a powerfully earthy opaque orange beer with more than a touch of Brettanomyces about it. The aroma is super-sour and the flavour includes the faintest wisp of orange pith under big heavy damp horse blankets. Meanwhile, Mrs Beer Nut wanted something light and refreshing, it being a warm sunny day (a what?!) and all. Randomly I suggested Wittekerke Rosé, and perhaps I shouldn't have. I rather liked it: it's 10% raspberry juice and tastes it, with just a bit of wheaty fluffiness underneath. Herself wasn't so keen, but them's the breaks when you let men choose your beer for you.
Second round, I stayed with 't IJ again and had a Struis -- another orangey-brown gunpowder-laden spicy ale. There's a touch of mango and passionfruit before the lees go in, and this is accentuated and added to with the gunk in: more gunpowder and a nice snappy hoppiness. A complex sipper that's end-to-end enjoyable.
Mrs Beer Nut indulged her bock habit, slumming it with Brand Imperator, a pale amber one from one of the Netherlands' nastier big industrial breweries. As expected it's quite an easy-going beer, light on the caramel and replacing it with a breezy fruitiness, making it a sunny afternoon sort of bock, which was just as well.
We spent the rest of the afternoon dawdling through Alkmaar, and got the train back to Amsterdam. 24 hours into the trip and already well ahead in the beer stakes.