Keeping it real … Real Ale
After a nice snooze we set on our ways for the second day in Amsterdam, first we stocked up on food supplies for the day in a local supermarket. Whenever I go shopping in Europe I am always surprised at how much better their supermarkets are! They are always tidier and always look much more fresh. We ended up getting enough to cover us for all day till a evening snack later on!
Today’s itinerary was Amsterdam zoo! Our hotel was a tiny bit out of the main canal circuit (and was really cheap) but this meant it was only 7 minute walk from the Zoo, so we thought why not visit, we had done a lot of the other touristy things last time! Was a good afternoon too who doesn’t like seeing penguin, lions and monkeys!
All the walking around looking at animals had worked up a good appetite for a beer by the time we had finished! Walking back towards the main part of Amsterdam we popped into…
4. Sluyswacht – website
Sluyswacht is a sight to hold! A small house which use to be the home of the lock keeper for the Rembrandthuis canal behind . The view of the building straight on is the best as this building has clearly suffered from the weed fumes from the coffee shop just next to it on the corner as the whole building is leaning some what to the right!
Inside is a small (two floored maybe?) pub with a very ‘locals’ feel! Displayed over the back of the bar are many old Polaroid photo snaps of locals and world travellers alike enjoying the late 3am opening times. The beer selection was ok here we had De Konink winter which was a nice dark bok version of their popular ale like drink.
A short walk away through the bright red lights of Amsterdam’s notorious red light district is one of my favourite brewery pubs in the world!
5. De Prael – @deprael – website
Our last visit here was very different as it was very late at night and we were the only two in there. Last time one of the drinks I tried of theirs was ‘Willy’ which still to this day I think is one of thee best beers I have ever had! Unfortunately this wasn’t available this time so we had Mary a 9.7% Belgian style strong ale and Doemaar a 7.7% Scotch ale .
This time the bar was PACKED! We had accidentally invited ourselves into a big party (a leaving do I think clearly someone important too as I think it was all expenses paid) there was singing, dancing and lots of speeches all in Dutch! De Prael name all their beers after old Dutch folk artists that more than likely were never heard over here in England but it does make for good / amusing record sleeve decorations!
I would love to do a tour here but both times we have been we didn’t get a chance. Their brewery staff team is built up of people who struggle to get paid work or people who maybe struggle to get jobs due to disabilities, all brought together doing work experience which I think is a fantastic thing! This first came about when the owners and vivid home brewers Arno Kooy and Fer Kok first set up the brewery while working in the near by psychiatric hospital, when they first set it up they employed rehabilitating patients and still now have people helping who are in the hospital. We did visit the shop which is around the corner but due to only having hand luggage meant it isn’t possible to bring back and goodies (much to my disappointment)
We had a short walk through to Dam square to see the bright lights of the Christmas market which was actually better then I thought it may have been.
Our dinner for the evening was a German bratwurst with curry ketchup, which I have discovered I love! A few minutes across the road and you can find our next stop.
6. Beer temple – @cafebeertemple – website
Beer temple is an american style beer bar which not only looks American it is full of American beers! When I first started to use Instagram I found myself amazed at all these American beers I had never seen or heard of, I completely underestimated the American beer scene.
I know a bit more about the American ‘craft beer’ movement now and I see its influence all around me in the British beer up-rise recently. Beer temple had all these beer I would have seen on the internet, I have never seen such a large selection of American craft beer ever! Some of it was silly expensive but there were a few ‘reasonable’ priced beers but when stood in front of a menu the size of the wall it can be slightly intimidating and you just stand there looking! So we went for the house beer Templebier! An American hopped meets Belgian spiced ale which was actually really nice!
So although we may have bottled it under the pressure of all the choice the house beer was a really nice beer, you could easily sit at the bar chatting to the bar staff and working your way through as much of the menu as your bank allows! I imagine this to be a good place for single travellers to go as there were many people just sitting at the bar talking about beer!
We moved on after the one beer so we didn’t blow all our spending money! After a walk through the streets and canals we visited…
7. Hoppe – @cafehoppe – website
This brown cafe is like stepping back in time! We thought we wouldn’t get in as the front was body to body packed of locals and Amsterdam office workers! Really it was only the front that was busy as inside was empty, this was due to the amount of outside heaters on the front of the bar allowing those who wish to drink and smoke to do so without freezing their tits off!
The beer selection here isn’t great, we in fact opted for a Amstel Bock beer (which was surprisingly alright) but what it lacks in beer selection it certainly makes up for visually! The sawdust covered floors and dark wooden walls paints a picture of beer drinking of times gone! This bar is all about its jevener, although if that is your tipple then you would be spoilt for choice! I think they even had a house jevenver too made especially for Hoppe!
I love these style Brown cafes they remind me of small versions of classic old London pubs, I think every town should have a cafe like this, somewhere small for locals to relax in!
Originally we wasn’t looking for Hoppe but glad we found it, we were actually looking for the next bar we visited…
8. Dokter – website
What a beauty! Claims to be Amsterdam’s smallest bar and who am I to challenge that! I have been in bigger pub toilets then this bar! Originally opened and run by a surgeon from near by former hospital Dokter was once used for all the staff and nurses to unwind and have a drink after work. The couple who run this pub now are the sixth generation of that same very family that first opened the pub back in 1798!
The bar itself was so clean you could see your face in it but in complete contrast the walls and ceilings look like they haven’t been cleaned since it first opened! Not that this is a bad thing it adds to its charm! The chandeliers hasn’t been sprayed with fake dust to add to the romance of the bar, no it really is real thick dust! Jazz fills the air as it is listened to by around no more than 12 people, it’s almost at full capacity tonight minus one maybe two seats!
It’s here that we have possibly the best beer of the trip, Dutch Trappist brewery La Trappe’s winter bock beer! Wow! Maybe it was everything coming together the bar, the music or maybe the fact it was our 5th drink of the evening but like all their other beers this was amazing!
Going to the toilet is a bit of a dangerous task though even without the help of a few beers! It’s tiny narrow frame spirals up into the tiny toilet, which even with a handrail is hard to navigate with let alone the last few steps going up without a handrail!
It is here that something somewhat embarrassing happened! Half way through taking a fantastic photo of entire bar from up high my phone decides to have a mind of its own and jump up out of my hands and thud somewhere into the darkness below! Finding it in light among the historic bar signs is hard enough let alone in a bar that is only source of light is candles!!! So me and the owner via candle light find my phone in the bar dust it had clung to, somehow, completely undamaged other than not taking the photo! In a huge pub this would be slightly embarrassing, in a tiny 12 seater bar… Kill me now!
Nether the less … Is amazingly and shoots straight up there into my top three places I have ever drank in! It is a must visit when in Amsterdam!