Beer Traveler: Amsterdam

Brouwerij 't IJ in a former bathhouse beneath Amsterdam's tallest windmill.

Brouwerij ‘t IJ in a former bathhouse beneath Amsterdam’s tallest windmill.

“Beer” and “Traveler.” Inherent in each word is a sense of adventure. Where does the beer/travel begin? Where will it take you? Will you enjoy it? Will it be relaxing or will it challenge you? Ideally, you go into each with expectations, yes, but also with an open mind. Furthermore, once they’re done, those things have somehow changed you, shown you something exciting and enjoyable, and affected the way you participate in future beers/travels the next round. Best of all, there’s always a next round/go-around. That’s what I signed up for when the company my wife works for offered to relocate us to Amsterdam. New travels and new beers. New adventures and opportunities.


Brouwerij De Prael in the Red Light District. It lives up to it’s folk music theme.

This installment of my column (AAB vol. 35.2, 2014) is 90% guide, 10% impressions of our new if temporary home in the Netherlands’ world-famous city of Amsterdam that’s still trying to develop a world-class beer culture. If I may quote myself from this story: “To be honest, I expected that this country—one that shares borders only with Belgium and Germany—would have a robust brewing culture. There is absolutely some great beer being made here, but you have to really dig deep to find it.”

Overall, it’s a beautiful city with some watering holes that are downright gezellig. My top recs for tasting rooms, breweries, and other spots to taste the local flavor will be missed once we head back home.


Wooos and Brews: Oregon Brewfest 2014

Illustration: Kenneth Huey

Illustration: Kenneth Huey

This year’s Oregon Brewers Festival has something for every kind of beer lover, and there are many kinds of beer lover. The festival has beers for hopheads, sessionistas, fruitheads and those drunks who always grab the highest-ABV brew on the board—this year that’s Dogfish Head Burton Olde English at 11 percent.

There are 88 beers from 85 breweries. Actually, though, there are about 200 beers to sample this year thanks to the Dutch—more on them in a minute.

Here’s what to expect at the 27th annual installment of Oregon’s biggest, drunkest party.

Of Bikes, Bakeries, and Brouwerijs

I moved to Amsterdam at the end of October, but instead of finding dozens of pumpkin beers, I was greeted by scores of bocks. It’s really the only seasonal specialty beer that the Dutch do, so I’ve already jumped ahead. My wife was offered a job that would relocate our family to Amsterdam for a couple years, and that just didn’t seem like an offer worth refusing. If a European vacation is nice, a two-year stint must be amazing. Two months into it, we have successfully stopped thinking of ourselves as tourists on holiday. We are Dutch now–if being Dutch means that I’ve tried all 27 bakeries within a four block radius, anyway.