About a month ago I visited Amsterdam for the first time. Actually it was my first ever trip to Europe. What an incredible city. Everything there was absolutely beautiful…the architecture, the cobblestone paths, the serene canals with their houseboats, the women. Even the homeless looked half-way decent (not saying there was many). Everything was just very healthy looking. And when you spend time in the city that is globally renowned for it’s world-class marijuana and prostitution, you better be drinking a beer that stacks up.
Heineken and Amstel are probably the most well-known breweries in Holland but I want to point out a few of the local offerings. I ask that you bare with me here because my memory is a bit hazy as you can imagine. Here goes…
Hertog Jan Pilsner
We were at this little corner cafe called Staalmeesters in downtown Amsterdam when I drank my first ever beer in Europe. I knew I wanted something local so this was what I ordered although I knew nothing about it. I just got an assuring “yes, it’s local” from the server. They served it in bottles as well but we opted for the draft.
Hertog Jan is the name of a well-known line of beers brewed at Arcense Stoombierbrouwerij, the main brewery in Arcen, Netherlands. Hertog Jan translates to “Duke John”and the brewery in Arcen was actually credited for the revival of Dutch brewing in the mid 80’s according Wikipedia.
Appearance: Beautiful straw, golden color. Thick and fluffy head on top. Nice carbonation too. A really good-looking, refreshing pilsner.
Aroma: Nice subtle hoppy nose that meshes well with the malty notes. A bit grassy
Taste: Drinks smoothly. Nice balance of malt and hops. Strong carbonation keeps this beer entertaining and refreshing while remaining simple.
Overall Thoughts?: A great representation of a Dutch pilsner. Nice inviting aroma. Zesty hop flavor. This beer was very available around the city. Definitely a great substitution for Heineken or Grolsch and cheap as hell too. This pint cost me about 2.75 euros. This beer isn’t meant to knock your socks off. Just a great a table beer that you can drink a lot of and not get full.
Unofficial Rating: B+
Zatte – Brouwerij ’t IJ
We tried really hard to find this brewery, Brouwerij ’t IJ, “The IJ Brewery”, but ended walking circles around it and then got hungry, giving up the search. But the bar right next to our hotel had a healthy spread of their beers on draft and in the bottle. I had a few of them but the one that really stood out to me was the Zatte, a Tripel, which is basically a strong pale ale that originated in the Netherlands and Belgium.
All the beers brewed at this brewery are 100% organic, unfilterd, unpasteurised and top-fermented according to their web site which allows the unique yeast flavors to really shine through in the finished product.
Appearance: Pours a rich hazy golden amber color. Great head.
Aroma: Awesome Belgian yeast driven character. Citrusy hops on top. Fruity along the lines of banana.
Taste: Musty and earthy flavor. Really creamy. A very enjoyable beer to sip and let sit for a few (if you can contain yourself)
Overall Thoughts?: Awesome. The best beer I had in Holland by far. I think knowing that it was brewed right there in the city played a part in that considering there are maybe only 3 or 4 actual breweries in Amsterdam. Really rich. A high alcohol content but was hidden nicely by the hops and overall body of the beer.