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Amsterdam/Belgium - Part One of Three

Posted by Jim Keaveney on 10/11/2004 07:57:59 PM

We just returned from our 2nd trip to Belgium. Actually we started in Amsterdam for flight availability reasons. We arrived at 7 am on Sunday at the Marriot and our room was not ready so we wandered the deserted streets looking for any place that was open. We came across a Sports Bar / Pancake house that was in full bloom. As soon as we stepped inside I wished we hadn't. Blairing techno music, replays of various sporting events on inumerable screens, wasted Saturday night revelers and aged prostitutes packed the smoke-filled dump. Before we could run a waitress pulled us to a table where I squeezed onto a bench packed with several of the hookers and their burly pimp. OK so maybe I was a little curious to do some people-watching.

There are several cool bars in Amsterdam that specialize in Belgian Beers. One is Zotte which I am told has nice food as well but we did not eat there. The young bartender had an interesting method for pouring an Orval. He gently pours into the glass leaving the sediment, then whacks and swishes the bottle and pours the rest into a shot glass. Pretty cool, I thought. We then visited a brewpub called Brouwerij 't IJ which had 4 beers on tap. The Bio-Bok was an amber sweet beer with a good malty nose and flavor (6.5% abv). The Zatte tasted like a maibock but a bit too sweet for me (8%abv) The Sharrel Wit was decent but only remarkable because it seems to be the only beer with which they give serious conderation to the use of hops. The Pils was OK but again, very little use of hops and I need a good hop aroma to enjoy a pils. We were told by a local that the place is only open 4 hours per day (4-8 pm) because the beer is so strong that everyone gets too drunk. I don't think these people would last very long in Belgium! A quick stop at Beiaards for a Westmalle Dubbel on draught and a hoppy Barleywine called Columbus (If you haven't tried it, do so)then over to Gollem where it dawned on me that despite their impressive list of Belgian beers written on chalkboards that surrounf the entire bar, I really should try a few Dutch beers since I would be in Belgium for the next week. Well, I had Joppen Hoppenbier before but had to have one again. This hoppy treasure just hits the spot for me. The Alpha Super Dortmunder was almost as good as its name suggests. A well-balanced flavorful dort for sure.

The next morning we travelled by train to the Alpha Keyser Hotel in the Diamond District of Antwerp. The Wife is a travel agent so we usually stay where they offer the best deals to those in her business. This hotel is very nice and a decent location to wander around Antwerp. We enjoyed several nice beers at Pater's Vaetje (Augustign, Karmaliet) and the Portie Complete which is an array of cubbed cheeses and meats with pickled herring and onions and nuts. It was a nice sunny day and we sat right by the Cathedrial. Then to Waagstuuk where I was rocked by the news that they were out of Zeppelin (pun intended, sorry). Zeppelin is a big roasty sweet stout-like beer made for the bar by Proef. I brought some home last year and friends really enjoyed it. I love the glass they gave me with the bottle last year and had hoped to be pouring more into it this year. I had a Mort Subite (close right!) oude gueze instead which was the first gueze I ever had. I thought it was nice, well-made but maybe not my style. I think I changed my mind later on the trip. I helped the wife polish off her surprisingly good bowl of chili. This is not a place known for serious food, but the snacks are good and the beer list and atmosphere are great. We then headed to the Kulminator which doesn't open until 8:15 on Mondays. Worked out perfect for us but a bit strange. There were only 3 other people in the bar and one of them made some snide remark about Americans before we even sat down. I suppose every town has its jackasses. We turned in our Birthday cards for a N'Ice Chouffe and a Gouden Caroulus on draught which both tasted off to me. We stopped messing around and went for the good stuff. I ordered a 1997 Westy 12 which was perfection in a glass. The wife had a GG Prize Old Ale (1982) which was pungeant and complex with a mild sourness underlying a sweet, almost maple flavor. It was bursting from start to finish. A crowd of about 20 seniors then marched in and put Leen to wrok. This gave us time to savor our wonderful beers and come up with our final beers of the evening. An Abbey Des Rocs Christmas 2002 for the wife (fantastic) and a 1982 Still Nacht for me. It had a touch of sourness in the nose and thru to the finish. I don't know if that was due to the age but I do know that it was an outstanding, complex beer and a great way to finish the evening.

Off to Brugge, Watou, Poperinge and Adventures in Walley's World in part Two.

Amsterdam/Belgium - Part One of Three - Jim Keaveney, 10/11/04 07:57:59 PM
        Re: Amsterdam/Belgium - Part One of Three - Nick Milne, 03/05/05 12:34:08 PM
        Re: Amsterdam/Belgium - Part One of Three - matt dinges, 10/12/04 07:00:43 PM
                Re: Amsterdam/Belgium - Part One of Three - Jim Keaveney, 10/12/04 10:21:06 PM
        Re: Amsterdam/Belgium - Part One of Three - John Sturm, 10/12/04 08:51:07 AM
        Re: Amsterdam/Belgium - Part One of Three - Jeremy Gray, 10/12/04 02:46:01 AM
                Wally's World and Elvis Shrine - Cornelia, 10/12/04 09:19:12 AM
                        Re: Wally's World and Elvis Shrine - Jeremy Gray, 10/12/04 04:04:04 PM
                        Re: Wally's World and Elvis Shrine - Jim Keaveney, 10/12/04 11:35:09 AM
                                I used to make regular appearances on Eurotrash - Eddie Wally, 10/12/04 11:46:31 AM
                                        OT: More Elvis - Cornelia, 10/12/04 03:45:56 PM
                                                Re: OT: More Elvis - Mark A, 10/12/04 04:48:42 PM

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Around Bruges in 80 Beers: 2nd Edition

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