Keeping it real … Real Ale
One thing I love about Holland and Dutch people is how so relaxed, laid back and non stressed they all come across, this rubbed off on us a little while there as after a long sleep in and a leisurely walk through some markets and shops we visited our next venue just as it opened.
9. Gollem – @CafeGullem – website
When we last visited Amsterdam a trip to Gollem was high up on the list of things to do but we didn’t get round to seeing it however, as you can read in my first visit, we did visit their sister pub in the pijp area of Amsterdam. Gollem was Amsterdam’s first propa beer specialist cafe when it opened in 1974 and along with the brilliant Wildeman it still has one of the largest selections of beers in town.
Another huge selection here with 12 on tap and over 200 bottles! We had the whole run of the place including looking after the bar while the guy working there went to go get some bread (try that in England!) as tempting as it was to top up our drinks we resisted the opportunity and guarded the bar with our life’s!
The main focused here is the large square bar, which can seat a fair few! You also have a raised area at the back with more seats. The front of the bar reminds me of something out of a dickens novel, all black and very old looking! Again like Dokter the tops of the walls haven’t seen soapy water in some time! Not as much dust as Dokter but still a bit to give it that authentic feel. A few Christmas / winter beers on too, we both had a beer from the Dutch brewers Jopen from near by town Haarlem. Haarlem was once famed for brewery beer but since the final closure of a brewery in Haarlem in 1916 there has been no other new breweries, till 1994 when Jopen opened. jopen, named after the Jopen an acient type of brewing vessel. Slight confusion in the beer I had as I thought it was Jopen’s ‘Panty Stout’ but after a little research I wonder if it was labeled wrong and either Jopens ‘Extra Stout’ or Oedipus another Netherlands brewery with their beer ‘Panty Stout’! either way it was amazing a lovely 9% rich, deep smokey stout! The other beer was 100% Jopen’s Bok bier which is the highest selling beer produced by an independent brewery in the Netherlands, much respect!
I can imagine Gollum being packed in an evening time, full to the brim of cool student folk and beer hunters side by side! I think a trip to Amsterdam isn’t complete without a trip to Gollem…. My precious!
On to our next stop and a part of the trip we had planned from the start, Brouwerji ‘t IJ.
10. Brouwerji ‘t IJ – @BrouwerijtIJ – website
Looking at maps of Amsterdam can be misleading, what may look a very long walk may only be half hour. This is the case with Brouwerji ‘t IJ, looking at a map you maybe put off by what looks like hours of walking. Thanks to Google maps not taking the locked gates at the Zoo car park into consideration while telling me the quickest route this journey took us around 35 mins walk but really it is only 20-25, not to mention you can get a tram from centraal station to right outside the brewery!
Brouwerji ‘t IJ (think brow ery eyygg ish!!!Pardon my Dutch!) is situated next to the only standing windmill in Amsterdam, tourists behold!!!! But unlike many who come to the brewery it has nothing to do with the brewery other than being next door! People have apparently walked out of the brewery tours when then find out that they won’t be walking around the insides of the windmill! Brouwerji ‘t IJ entire range of beers are organic, unfiltered, unpasteurised and top-fermented and although minuscule in size compared to Heineken actually brews more beer in Amsterdam then the Dutch dominators!
The building used for the brewery used to be a huge public bath, some features like the white tiled walls in the bar remain. The structure of the baths made it a perfect building to build the brewery in. The large L shaped bar is surrounded by lines of old dusty bottles of beer which is enough to keep any solo traveller entertained. They serve cheese and nibbles here too at reasonable prices and portions. The beer is cheap as chips! We tried the full line up of their core beers on their sampling tray which was 8 euros but most of their beers were under 3 euros, the majority being €2.50 a price probably not beaten in the whole of Amsterdam! The brewery tour was €4.50 and included a beer, the tour was around half hour and takes place every Friday at 3.40-4pm ish!
Brouwerji ‘t IJ is way way way smaller than I thought it would be! I have seen their beers a lot in the last year and although they do produce a lot of beer per year the set up is fairly small! The tour is basically a talk about the brewery, brewers and brewing process and it takes part in 2 rooms within the brewery. If you want huge brewery with fun and games then you’re at the wrong place but like myself if you are after a informative look into a local community brewery then this is a really good excursion to take while in Amsterdam.
The founder of Brouwerji ‘t IJ Kasper Peterson used to be in a Rock band in the 80s, he squatted from place to place and eventually started making his own beer, which friends and family all really enjoyed! He sounded like a right rascal and he certainly didn’t care about licensing rules to start with! To avoid any suspicion he set up brewery in a house behind the Heineken museum, so the smell wouldn’t attract any un welcome attention from officials! He used to smuggle his beers to Belgium in deliveries of beer too, he first got the love for beer while spending time in Belgium and based his beers on the tastes he first enjoyed there. Eventually after years of brewing and getting successful he ended up in the current building they are in now.
It’s hard to miss the picture of the ostrich on the logo of the brewery and this was a feature part of the talk. People always ask why the ostrich, Kasper has a few answers one is that IJ sounds a little bit like egg, another is that once after a few beers he saw an ostrich flying over the river from the near by zoo but my favourite is ‘have you ever stared into the eyes of an ostrich? If you have then you will know why!’ Kasper started brewing back in 1983 and twenty years later the brewery was bought from him by Patrick Hendrikse and Bart Obertop, who both are keeping Brouwerji ‘t IJ to its traditional methods and tradition.
I can recommend the beers here too and although when asked the tour guide had never sampled English ales I think some of their beers do lean towards that familiar English ale look and taste! My pick of the bunch though has to be the complete opposite to what I just said… Their IPA, I bloody love it! I love everything down from the cool bottle art work (which is even greater on the t shirt I bought!) to the American hop powerful taste! I won’t go into it too much as I have a bottle to review…
To be honest I could have spent all day here but their opening hours are rather select and we were getting hungry (without anywhere booked on a Friday night) so we started the walk back with a pit stop between a and b…
11. Groene Olifant – website
Tucked away at the back of Amsterdam zoo isGroene Olifant, a local bar made up a ground floor and a step up higher floor. The beer selection ain’t too bad here but not massive. The bottle selection outweighs the draught. Westmalle, La Chouffe and Brouwerji ‘t IJ all represent here!
There is a story behind this bar too, once upon a time it didn’t gather in packs of beer thirsty people but it actually was the home for the elephants who lived in the zoo. When it was turned into a pub the original owner wanted the decoration to be pink painted elephants, however the man doing said painting did them green! Although it wasn’t the original plan it has stuck and you can still see elephants around the lovely bar statues, if you are lucky you will also see real life animals across the road over the fence!
The first beer we had was called Wisseltap and strangely I cannot find any information on this? We then follwoed it up with a bottled version of Colombus from Brouwerji ‘t IJ which we had in the brewery but surprisingly I actually preferred this bottled version then fresh from the taps!
So we were now on a mission to prove the stereotypes wrong in finding another good place to eat! We actually found a few but couldn’t get seated! We first tried Engelbewaarder, a very very popular hang out for young students and ‘arty types’. We can see why too as the prices and smells were very nice! We then tried Bruxelles but again it was packed but the food did look a little raw for my partners liking! We also passed a new huge trendy looking brew house which we were both gutted that we couldn’t get in the cue to get in let alone the actual restaurant we then lucked out…
12. Brakke Grond – website
Across the road is Brakke Grond a homely Belgian restaurant, with a table for two with our name on it! There was some film awards or uni film presentation on which meant there was a smaller menu but this wasn’t a problem as there were still things we wanted and it meant we got our food quicker! It also had pasta on the menu much to the excitement of the misses as she had said all day she wanted some! I went with a Leffe Dubbel Belgian beef stew which was incredible! We also had shrimp croquettes for starters which if you have never had you need to! I didn’t get a look at the draught selection as it was so busy but the bottle selection was really good, like the rest of the restaurant it was all Belgian. We washed our dinner down with a bottle of Hopus each, a favourite of both of ours.
So another night proving the wrong claim of Amsterdam has bad food, I would not only recommend Brakke Grond but without a doubt when I next return to Amsterdam I will eat here.
The return flight the next day was smooth as always and even got me back home in time to make the Leyton Orient game although the previous three days in one of my favourite places caught up on me and resulted in an early retreat back home after the game!
My return to Amsterdam only increased my opinion of the place, it is what you make it! I love it but I do not go for the bright red lights and green mist, Amsterdam has some of thee best drinking establishments in the world and Dutch beer on a good day can match their Belgian neighbours. I have some very short visits coming up in the next few months (work related!) and again I hope to visit some of my favourite places and new places alike!