After some gloriously affordable bottles in Albert Heijn, some frantic beer searching-come-tourism in Brussels, some even more frantic walking in the dead heat of Paris (a beer-free period of this trip) and a mighty slog through some big, fizzy yellow and brown stuff in Munich, it was time to re-enter the loving embrace of Amsterdam. This time Albert Heijn wasn't the only star - Brouwerij 't IJ was visited (I cheated with the earlier post) as well as 't Arendsnest.
The list is extensive, and when your knowledge of Dutch beer is as limited as mine, you have to ask for help. Thankfully, help is at hand the Arendsnest, and they are very happy to give it. Watch and learn, Munich!
The barman suggested I start with Emelisse IPA, a beer of a mere 2.8% ABV, yet still packed with fruity and pine notes and a much bigger body than it has any right to have. Grapefruit and orange are the main players on the palate here.
I then opted for a set of three, which I let my new friend select for me.
First up was Tempelbier, the house beer of both 't Arendsnest and the Beer Temple. It has some of the same buttery, syrupy quality as the IJ Zatte, with some pithy bitterness and a good dollop of sweetness throughout. The body's creamy, which is at odds with the otherwise lightness of flavour. Strange, but good.
Next up was an oak-aged version of Shire Stout from Ramses, at 9%. The aroma is very woody, and quite toned down despite it's high alcohol, with just suggestions of vanilla, soy and whiskey coming through, though I'm not sure if it has whiskey barrel in it's DNA at all. The taste is savoury and sweet at once, and totally smooth. Blackberry jam, liquorice, dark fruit and whiskey-tinted chocolate, malted biscuit and absolutely no heat. The texture is thick, slick and oily, and drinks so easy for it's ABV. A very well crafted beer, and bloody delicious to boot. Joins Ayingers Altbairisch Dunkel as a highlight of the trip.
Finally, from SNAB we have Maelstrom, which I'm advised is one of the best Dutch barleywines around. It seems good right from the off, with butterscotch, toffee, marzipan and liquorice notes making up the aroma, while the taste is nutty with brown sugar, sweet toffee, maple syrup, chocolate caramel and a nice pithy bitterness. It tastes a bit like Bigfoot with a slightly more dominant malt profile, but a smoother, more mellowed one at that. Gorgeous stuff.
|L to R: Tempelbier, Shire Stout, Maelstrom|
And that was that.
The only thing left to do after the Arendsnest was to go to the Bierkoning and see about filling up the spare suitcase. Bliss.