10 Days in the Netherlands and Belgium (long)
Posted by MikeK on 12/20/2002 03:03:30 PM
Denise found a three-story hotel on the British Air Vacations WebSite, the AMC City Center which just happened to be almost literally across the street from Wildeman and only about a five-minute walk from Arendsnest. Guess where I spent the bulk of my drinking time in Amsterdam? It turned out to be unseasonably cold. Last year, when we went to Austria it was also unseasonably cold. Eventually, I will need to take a December vacation someplace where it is unseasonably warm. We shivered alot and went to a lot of museums.
We arrived on Saturday, stayed in Amsterdam until Thursday and then went to Brussels and Antwerp for the Christmas beer festival and returned to A'Dam for Sunday and Monday. We took day trips from Amsterdam as well. I'm not going to do a long travelog but I will summarize where and what we drank, all draft unless noted as bottle. Pardon any typos, i churned this out quickly.
We went to Beiaard for a Feuillien Noel and a Bock Ros then to Wildeman for the Achel Drie Wyzen and a bottle of the defunct Crombe Oud Kriekenbier. After dinner I went to Arendsnest while Denise went to sleep. Arendsnest has a sampler, four beers for $5.70 (since my computer does not have a Euro sign and the dollar and Euro are almost equal I will simply use the $) but there were little cards in my hotel that gave a discount of $5. Arendsnest is a wonderful place. Since I live in the Northeast corridor and have Shangy's available to supply beer bars, I often go to Belgium and realize that I've had almost everything on a beer menu. But since Arendsnest stocks only Dutch beers and very few of those are imported, I was faced with a beer menu of almost completely unsampled beers. For the sampler I got, Budel's Bock 6.5%, Almeer's Bok 8%, SNAB Ijsbok 9%, and Harlemsch barley wine 12%, all quite good. Sunday I had a mystery "winter warmer" at Gollem, the bartender said that all the barrel had written on it was winter warmer. Later at Arendsnest Peter, the owner, told me that it was from Maximillian and that Maximillian was indeed closed and the winter warmer was their last beer. He also said that he believes the Maximillian will reopen as a brew pub under new ownership. The current ownership had simply fallen behind on their rent and lost their lease. I had a bottled Nieu Ligt 10.5% and a 2001 Kerst Roos, 8%?. Arendsnest is starting a vintage peer collection but you have to ask for the menu.
Monday we went to Delft. It was extremely cold once again. We went to Locus Publicus for a round. It is a wonderful bar and certainly the best place to drink for atmosphere and beer in Delft. The person serving our beer looked at Tim Webbs guide and did not like the review initially. Webb says that the bar claims to have 200 beers but really only has about 150. The person I talked to said that they do have close to 200 beers at all times. But I pointed out that the review is actually quite positive and he eventually accepted that. We had Brigand Kerst 9% and Budel's Xmas 7.5%, I liked Denise's Budel's better. We then went to the Proeflokal listed in Webb. They did not have any Christmas beer on draft so we had a Het Kapital Blonde, Gulpener Bok, and Caracole Nostradamus before heading back to our train which was canceled. In fact all the trains to Amsterdam were canceled and we wound up taking a tram to the Hague, a train to Leiden, a train to Haarlem, and finally a train to Amsterdam. We had a quick Petrus Winterbier and a Jopen Viergranen Bok at Wildeman.
On Tuesday we went to Utrecht. The Oudean brewpub is quite impressive as a place to eat and drink. The food was quite good, the beer was also good. D had their blonde ale I had the bock. It was too cold to venture to Jan Primus and we didn't want a repeat of our train travail of the previous night so we had a quick round at Belgie. About 200 beers with few surprises, although we had the Maximillian Speltbier and Moerder Overstje triple on draft. Tuesday night at Arendsnest once again for a number of beers. Denise got a sampler of Arendsnest Nestweider, Nulants Plentje, Stichtse Herrenbock, and SNAB Ijsbock which she loved and fortunately I think we had again at the Christmas beer festival in Essen. I had bottles of Schan's Winter 8.5%, Harmemsch Winter 12%, t'IJ Indejaar 9% (the only Dutch beer I had that I can get in the United States) and Nachtvorst Winter 10%.
On Wednesday we went to the Hague but it was so cold that we decided to leave town after the last museum instead of wandering around looking for pubs. We did wind up on Hague TV however. As we were walking across a plaza a fellow ran up to us and asked if he could take a quick video of each of us because they were doing a video feature on how people were dressing for the unusually cold weather. We did not see ourselves on TV however so perhaps we did not make the cut. We went back to Arendsnest so Denise could have another Ijsbock and I had a bottle of SNAB's 13% Maelstrom.
Thursday we went to Brussels. Jeremy has quite colorfully provided details of the glowing cows so I will stick to beer. We stopped at the brew pub on the Grand place. I was not impressed. They had a sign advertising a Christmas beer. I asked for one in French and a woman shook her no. I tried again using Christmas beer, Kerstbier, and Biere de Noel. She eventually seemed to understand and told me it was simply their special beer which turned out to be a blonde which was definitely not anything like a Christmas beer. So whether their xmas was a dull blonde or she didn't know they had one I still don't know. We also tried their okay but not particularly interesting double. We wandered into one of our favorite little bars Imaige de Nostre Dame for a Chimay White and a Duchesse, served to us by a ten-year old boy while some locals danced to Elvis. The beer selection is not bad for a place that close to the Grand Place. We then had dinner at La Villette near St. Catherine's. I had pork filets with cheese and Orval sauce and a draft Cantillon lambic. Denise had steak with gueuze cheese sauce and a bottled Duchesse which she did not like as much as the draft version. We also had a Chimay creme brullee. We liked the place a lot. The food was good, the service was unusually friendly for Brussels and menu was worth the price of admission. The English version seemed to be a computer-generated translation of the French. So that Entrees Froid became cold inputs. There were also hot inputs. Salmon pave became paving stones of salmon. I'll have to go back. We finished off at Porte Noire for draft Gouden Carolus Xmas and Boon Kriek.
Friday we had lunch at Au Vieux de Brussels In Ixelles. I had mussels in Leffe Blonde with draft Bruges Wit and a bottle of the sweet Mort Subite gueuze. Denise had mussels in wine The food was very very good, the beer selection was mediocre. We then went to Ultime Atome where Denise had a Bourgogne de Flandres, is there any difference between that and the Duchesse? I had a Chateau de Ramegnies barleywine. We then went to Beermania to meet Nasser and have a bottle of Oud Beersel Kriek. He had just had a reception of some sort and invited us to have some food. It is quite a nice shop and he says that everything he has in bottles is also available chilled. I don't think there is free food all the time however.
We then went off to Bier Circus to meet the gang. It was a great time, Patrick's unhappiness notwithstanding. "Yes I will get you the beer, but I am not happy." We had Winterkonniske, Boelens Kerst, Churre brune, Gouyasse Blond, Christmas Leroy, Quintine Noel, 1998 Kerstbie, Postel Xmas, and a draft Bush Noel.
The Christmas beer festival was wonderful we tried about 20 beers between what we drank and tastes of other folk's beers and unfortunately I do not have the time to write them all down. However I strongly encourage everyone to get to the Essen Christmas beer festival at least once. Later at Kulminator I had a 98 Westvleteren red cap and a 1980-82 De Dolle Oerbier.
Went back to Amsterdam on Sunday. We stayed in a different hotel a little closer to the red light district primarily because we wanted to be near to the railroad station. On Monday we went to Haarlem where we stopped at the Studio Bar for a Leute Bok and a Grunn Bok, they had a nice draft selection with about 4 or 5 changing drafts. We went to Het Elfde Gebood for a Hallendorfer Winter weizen and a Regal Xmas. I liked this bar a lot. They seem to be expanding their beer selection. Then to Belgique for a t"IJ VLO and a Floreffe Blond. Belgique only advertises having 40 bottles these days. It does seem to be coasting on its reputation. We had dinner at Lieve which is right next door to Arendsnest and features "Belgian" cuisine but it is very much fusion cuisine. I had kangaroo in chocolate sauce and Denise had spring buck. For dessert we shared the Bavarian creme with eight year old Belgian juniper. The food was quite good and reasonably priced. We finished off at Arendsnest with an Ijsbock and a Zoethouter Triple 8% and I went back to Wildeman for one last Drie Wyzen.
And that was 10 days of drinking in Holland and Belgium. I think I'm going to start paying more attention to the Netherlands. I really liked all the beers that I tried and, like I said, they were all new to me.
I just got thirsty typing all this, fortunately it is Friday and time to celebrate the holidays.
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