Keeping it real … Real Ale
Three false facts I always hear about Amsterdam…
1. The food is shit
2. There’s nothing but Heineken and Amstel
3. It is propa expensive to go out drinking
Ok so last time I went I may have thought number 1 is true as the night we ate out we struggled to find anywhere good amongst all the Argentinean kebab shops but this time I have!
Anyone who lives near me from London down to Essex should use Southend airport when travelling to Amsterdam, you could prob check in 30 mins before flight and still have time to spray all the men’s aftershave in the airport shop before you take off! You’re in the air for 35 mins and before you know it you have traded the sight of Mr B’s bingo, Southend pier and pimped out Ford escorts for coffee shops, windmill and a million plus bicycles!
Amsterdam has so many hidden treasures that are actually right under your nose it is unbelievable. Most people have this false conception of Amsterdam being nothing but that expensive evil green bottle but this couldn’t be further than the truth. As much as I love Belgium I do think Amsterdam has some of the best places to drink that I have ever been in. I don’t think there is a better chance of trying some good American beers outside of USA than Amsterdam either!
You can read about my first time visiting Amsterdam here and which cafes, bars and pubs we sampled and this time, minus one excellent venue, none are repeated on this visit.
1. De Bekkeerde Suster – @BekeerdeSuster – website
De Bekkeerde Suster Claims to be the Netherlands first brew pub and translates to the ‘Reformed Sister’ , which refers to a story of a prostitute who had seen her wicked ways and turned to God to make better of her life. If this meant she turned to brewing the original recipes for the beers on offer here than I will give that lady a big double thumbs up! Previous to being De Bekkeerde Suster it was originally Maximilaans which was the Netherlands first brewpub, it was then later taken over by the ucrrent owners in 2004 and they kept the brewing tradition going. De Bekkeerde Suster has a large low ceiling room with several levels and is surrounded by welcoming classic beer signs from all over the world. At the rear of the building you can see the large bronze brewing equipment used to brew their selection of beers. It then opens out into a large German beer hall style seating area so there is a good chance you can get seated even on a busy night!
The first non truth I spoke about at the start ends here… The food here is amazing! It’s reasonably priced too, their home made beer butter and beer bread had been used in the cooking of the burger which made it taste amazing and my misses even said she thought it was the best burger she has ever had, some claim! My satay chicken was great too, really interesting dish and also a really big dinner which was perfectly match by their beers.
I had unfortunately just missed their seasonal bock beer but their house beer De Manke Monk is a good 7.2% unfiltered triple style beer and their Witte Antonia was also a good example of a tasty wheat beer weighing in at 5.4%. De Manke Monk means the ‘Lame Monk’ which is apparently a tribute to a story of about a monk who enjoyed a drink and ended up crippling his leg on a falling organ! The selection was big here too with several other taps on including St Bernardus 12 and La Chouffe.
2. Cafe Int. Aepjen
Once upon a time Zeedijk was one of the roughest roads of Amsterdam with all sorts of low life from around the world filling their boots during their world travels and delivery goods. Cafe Int. Aepjen was a popular place to take these ‘friendly’ local ladies.Cafe Int. Aepjen is supposedly the oldest wooden building in Amsterdam and is called the ‘Little Monkey’ because when it was being used as a stopping place with the ladies if the sailors couldn’t pay for the room with cash they would apparently pay with monkeys that they would have picked up in their world journeys! Unfortunately they only accept cash or card when paying for drinks now days!
This is a tiny but impressive bar, with a few beers on selection but a larger jevener selection.
While sitting by candle light we had Texels and Palm Royal. The Texels is a good Dutch Brown beer which I noticed had popped up much more since the last time I visited. Palm Royale is an upgraded version of the classic Belgian ale.
3. Elfde Gebod – @11egebod – website
A stones through away from Cafe Int. Aepjen is Elfde Gebod, which translates to ‘Eleventh Commandment’. Elfde Gebod may appear small from the outside but it actually a long bar and would probably have a seat in the back seating area if the bar area was too busy. All Belgian affair here, full Leffe selection on tap as well as guest beers.
While we were there there were a few good beers on tap including La Chouffe, Kestreel Red, Triple Kermeliet and the guest beer Deugniet 7.5% which I had. It was so homely and relaxing in here we actually had a few drinks before heading back to the hotel in the early hours. The whole length of Zeedijk is perfect for a pub crawl as there are a few decent tiny places to drink but I think Elfde Gebod would have to be the best! Small groups of locals gathered at the back around a piano as one man played a few classic songs (played well too I might add!).
While in we had Hopus, Moinette Blonde, St Bernardus abt 12 and XX Bitter by De Ranke brewery which is an excellent example of the Belgians doing something different than their normal sweet beers and making a gorgeous dry bitter Belgian beer, those fans of English ales should search for this 6.2% beer.