Ein Bier, Bitte!

Hi everyone and welcome to this week’s People & Pints! This past weekend I decided to visit my great friend from Boston College: Caz, who is studying in Heidelberg, Germany. I was joined by our friend Tyler, who also goes to BC and is currently studying in Paris, for a fantastic weekend. I hadn’t heard of Heidelberg before Caz decided on the city for his study abroad experience. Heidelberg is a very small city relatively close to Frankfurt that is situated along a beautiful river and between some gorgeous hills. The typical fall scenery was very refreshing because, although I love Amsterdam, I haven’t been able to experience nature like I did in Heidelberg. Although it wasn’t necessarily the focus of my weekend, I did have a few delicious beers. More importantly, I had fantastic conversations with some incredible friends and experienced a totally new city.

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Heidelberg

After arriving late Friday night, Caz warned Tyler and me that, unlike Paris or Amsterdam, “there isn’t a ton to do in Heidelberg.” Caz, of course, wasn’t expressing any regret about his city, but was simply letting us know that Heidelberg doesn’t have the same options of activities as a major European city. Nonetheless, we had some great hiking adventures over the span of a few days. On Saturday, Caz led us along the Philosophenweg, a very old trail, about 2 km, that leads to the top of the hill. It was a great hike, in which we decided to wander and get a little lost, and the views along the trail were spectacular. At the top of the hill there are ruins from an old monastery and a small lookout post. The following day we explored the Schloss or Castle of Heidelberg, which was a shorter walk up the opposite hill. We lingered on the grounds of the Schloss for quite some time as the sun began to set behind a nearby hill. On both short hikes I was shown a different aspect of life in Europe. Amsterdam is by no means a gigantic city but it felt much larger by comparison. I thoroughly love life in the city and enjoy biking along the canals, but it was quite refreshing to see the leaves changing in breathtaking ways and surveying the city from beautiful heights.

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Heidelberg Schloss

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The Jazz Cats

Our nights were rather tame as we preferred enjoying each other’s company over the noise of a “discotheque”. Saturday evening we opted to check out a local jazz club. I expected this choice to be a perfect opportunity for People & Pints, and although it didn’t turn out as I had anticipated, it was still an interesting experience. Ironically, the bar served almost exclusively virgin drinks; a sign in German proudly revealed that this was the first alcohol free bar in Heidelberg. I did manage to get a glass of Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier, which is a German Wheat Beer. The beer was smooth and tasty with notes of fruit. The Jazzhaus was a really cool underground venue. The “jazz cats,” as Tyler called the guys playing, were unique and definitely produced some good music.

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Upper Glass

As I said earlier, the weekend was not spent only beer, which was perfectly fine. Although Germany is more or less the world capital of beer, we decided to space out our imbibing. I did manage to find an awesome craft beer bottle store, Upper Glass. They had a plethora of local beers as well as some great American imports. My friend Eli in Amsterdam has been searching relentlessly for some San Diego beer and Upper Glass happened to have Ballast Point, Karl Strauss, and others so I decided to bring some back for him. I told the cashier about this quest and it didn’t really seem to affect him. I looked at him awkwardly for a few minutes before he pleasantly responded that he was happy I found the “holy grail.” I realized that he wasn’t being distant, he probably just didn’t know how to properly answer my query in English. I asked him if the beers were popular and he said that they were, “but they’re going to stop exporting here. Not enough money I guess.” I nodded understandingly and asked if he had any other recommendations for local beer. He directed me to a few bottles from a local brewery, Welde Bräu. Welde is located in Plankstadt, which is very close to Heidelberg. Welde is an interesting brewery because it is in fact a macro-brewery but it had produced a few bottles that were more “craft beer” focused. I had the Hop Stuff Ella + Equinox, which is a Zwickelbier/Kellerbier. The Zwickel or Keller is an unfiltered, hoppier version of a Helles Lager. It is apparently quite popular in Germany, though I had never come across it before. It was a nice beer that was a little hazy in color without a particularly strong aroma. The taste was a bit hoppy with subtle citrus flavors and a very warm, smooth finish. I decided to also bring a bottle of Bourbon Barrel Bock home, which I believe will be very nice.

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Philosophenweg

I didn’t necessarily drink my way through Heidelberg in this short trip, but I did manage to serve perhaps the more important aspect of People & Pints: the People. My conversations with Caz and Tyler brought me right back to Boston College; it was as if we hadn’t skipped a beat. Between laughing over inside jokes and fretting about classes, it made me feel at home. Alongside quoting The Office and Youtube videos, we managed to have some great conversations about nostalgia and sentimentality. I’ve always believed hiking could be a very cathartic, often spiritual activity and I was proved right this weekend. Along the Philosophenweg, we talked about the combination of excitement and anxiety of returning to the US. We’ve all been enjoying our respective experiences abroad but there are certainly aspects of being back home that we all miss. On the other hand, our programs felt like they have been going incredibly quickly. Caz mentioned how strange it is that we’re within a year of our final year of university. “Real life is too close,” Tyler noted. We all felt the pang of nostalgia as we reminisced over simpler times and on our hike shared stories from our younger years. IMG_3288

But ultimately we ended the weekend with broad smiles and Tyler noted how valuable our experience abroad really is. “We’ve been learning a lot while in Europe. It’ll be great to take that back.” I agreed saying how we’ve grown in independence and responsibility. We all felt a little more reassured as we took in the sun on my final day in Heidelberg. Although real life might be approaching, I think we’ll be well prepared. After learning a few German phrases like how to order a beer–or a scoop of ice cream–or apparently the motto of Heidelberg “Ich hab mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren,” I had to bid Auf Wiedershen to my friends and to Heidelberg. Luckily, Tyler will be visiting the coming weekend so I’m sure we’ll have even more adventures. If nothing else, we will have some good beer and some great conversations.

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Exploring Amsterdam with Austin

Hello everyone and welcome to yet another week of People & Pints! This weekend I was lucky enough to host my good friend and former roommate Austin, who is studying in Barcelona for the fall. Although Austin was very excited to experience life in Amsterdam, he admitted that he was very much looking forward to sampling some good craft beer. There isn’t an abundance of craft in Spain, “though to be fair, I haven’t gone out of my way to look for it,” Austin admitted. I was very much looking forward to reconnecting with Austin, and I was not let down. Between some very delicious beer, we had some exciting adventures and, as far as I could tell, Austin really enjoyed his stay.

Austin’s trip coincided with Amsterdam Dance Event, or ADE, one of–if not the–biggest electronic music events in the world. Various clubs and concert venues hosted parties throughout the week, featuring DJs from all over the world. The week culminated with Amsterdam Music Festival, an enormous two day festival. Austin and I decided to attend the festival on Friday and listen to the top 4 DJs in the world: Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Hardwell, Martin Garrix and Armin van Buren. Aside from having to wait in a queue for over an hour, we had a fantastic time. While in line we met two guys from London who were in town for the event. We talked about how packed the city inevitably becomes with an influx of so many people and were astounded by the size of the festival itself. We spent the majority of the night with our new friends, enjoying the energetic atmosphere and fun music.

Amsterdam Music Festival

Amsterdam Music Festival

After bumping into a group of girls from Boston College and chatting over brunch, Austin and I set out for the rest of the day exploring the city. We biked through several neighbors, stopping for pictures along the way. We were hoping to visit the Anne Frank House but after seeing how long the line was, and wanting to escape the cold rain that started to fall, we decided to find a small pub to warm ourselves. We walked onto a quiet street and stumbled upon a quaint, small bar with ivy growing on the exterior. Inside, the bar was warmly lit and the wooden interior gave the bar a sense of coziness. We sat down next to an older woman who was kind enough to chat with us. She seemed surprised to find two Americans in what we soon discovered was very much a local, Dutch bar. We explained ourselves, while she smiled understandingly. She was excited to hear that I am studying at the University of Amsterdam and loving life in the city. She shared that she had lived in Amstelveen, which is just outside the city, but she returned to Amsterdam when her husband passed away, “I found a little flat just a few streets away and I just love it. I just love living here.” When Austin explained that he is studying in Barcelona, the woman revealed that she had visited several times. We found out she had been a concert violinist and had traveled just about everywhere, “though never Australia or New Zealand,” she shared thoughtfully. We continued to chat about travel for a few minutes before Austin and I decided to head back into the cold.

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Gezellig

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Sauna Session

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Legendaarne 13

That evening we decided to trek to Craft & Draft for a beer tasting from Tanker, an Estonian craft brewery. We met up with my friend Grace from Boston College who was visiting family in Amsterdam. Grace studies in Paris so she took a short trip to Amsterdam for the weekend and decided to meet Austin and me for a drink. We met with the founder and head brewer, Ryan, who was happy to host the event. He revealed that he too was originally from the United States–San Diego–but moved to Estonia with his wife. Austin asked what field Ryan had worked in before moving and he explained that he was in finance and technology, “really all over the place.” “I had been homebrewing a little bit in San Diego too,” Ryan shared. However, when he moved to Estonia he noticed that there wasn’t really a market for craft beer. “There was zero craft beer and only like two commercially brewed lagers . Just your standard Miller or Bud Light types.” Ryan continued to home brew and developed a little community of brewers. Eventually they had “a crazy idea” to devote themselves to beer and sell the fruits of their labor. In 2013 they began to sell their beer as Tanker. They have continued developing their beer, trying new flavors over the years, and they still have to bottle their beer by hand. We were excited as we began to sample some Estonian craft beer.

40 taps!

40 taps!

The first beer was the Sauna Session, a light, smooth beer. Ryan explained that saunas are a very typical Estonian tradition, “Estonians take at least one sauna a week.” So they decided to brew a beer that was “the essence of the sauna.” The beer was brewed with birch bark, a typical element of the Estonian sauna. The next beer was Legendaarne 13 or “Legendary 13.” The beer was named in honor of the only Estonian to play in the NBA, “so he’s kind of a legend. And his number was 13.” The beer was a witbier, golden in color and very refreshing and light. Afterwards we tried Sound Check, which is an APA brewed with El Dorado hops. Ryan described it as an “approachable” APA and I can agree with that description. It had a nice amber color with a strong bitter aroma but the flavor was not overpowering. Austin admitted it was his favorite of the night and I might have to second that. The penultimate was a session IPA dubbed Reloaded. It was a little darker in color but with a more subtle hop aroma. The Reloaded was definitely sessionable and very tasty. Lastly we sampled Tanker’s Black IPA, Masinaõli, which means motor oil. This humorous name was very apt for the BIPA; “it even looks like motor oil,” Grace joked. It was indeed very dark in color and had a strong smell but tasted very smooth with notes of coffee in the finish. The evening was very nice and we continued to chat with Ryan as he walked through the bar. We talked about the craft beer seen in the US and I shared how I had grown interesting in writing about the craft beer scene. Ryan didn’t have any specifics about the future of Tanker but was happy to be bringing his beer to other countries and definitely hopes to continue expanding. Ryan had a true passion and it was refreshing to experience his pride for his beer.

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Sound Check

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Reloaded

At one point Grace asked me an innocuous question about my blog that caught me very much off guard. “Does anyone actually read it?” It may sound bad but she said it with as little sass as possible. Grace clarified that she was just curious if my readership was exclusively other students and family or if there were other people reading. I shared that my regular readers include friends and family, though I have received views from a few other countries around the world. I explained that though I would love to develop a wider audience, I really set out just to capture my experiences in Amsterdam and find a way to connect with people about a subject that actually interests me. Grace clarified that she had read a few posts and was happy that I had found a way to diverge from the typical “study abroad” blog. After awhile we said our goodbyes, thanked Ryan for a good night and biked back home.

Austin and I visited a few museums and continued to explore the city on his final day in Amsterdam. I really enjoyed taking the time to show off Amsterdam to Austin and was happy to see how much he liked the city. “Half of me doesn’t want to go back to Barcelona,” Austin joked at one point. We talked about how worthwhile our respective experiences have been abroad and how we hope to return to Europe at some point. During the weekend Austin asked if I would continue my blog when I return to Boston and I admitted that I had considered it. “I think I could do it in some capacity but I’m really not sure. We’ll have to see.” Finally we returned to my apartment to get a little sleep before Austin’s flight Monday morning. We woke up very early and I bid goodbye to Austin, promising that we would carve out some time for me to visit him in Barcelona.

Fall Afternoons and Free T-Shirts

Hi everyone and welcome to this week’s People & Pints! The temperature has been steadily dropping over the past few weeks and it felt perhaps the coldest this weekend; in the sun it was nice and crisp but still quite chilly. I decided to take advantage of one of the nice days and bike around the city. There are four bars in Amsterdam owned by More Beer that are participating in a challenge where one has to buy a beer from each bar and he is rewarded a free t-shirt. I had been wanting to go on this adventure and assumed that the days would only get colder, so I might as well take advantage of this sunny weekend. So, having invited a few friends who were too busy, I set out on this beer-fueled bike ride on a sunny, fall Sunday afternoon.

Proeflokaal Arendsnest

Proeflokaal Arendsnest

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Gaia from Oedipus

The first bar was Proeflokaal Arendsnest. Arendsnest is a local, Dutch bar serving beer from around Holland. As soon as I stepped in I immediately recognized the local flavor. This gezellig spot was inviting: the walls adorned with old beer posters and maps of the Netherlands. There were copper pipes, antique chandeliers and plenty of locals enjoying their Sunday afternoon. There were a few other English speakers but almost everyone was speaking Dutch. The bar was packed but I found an open stool next to two Dutch men and ordered my drink. I opted for a Gaia from Oedipus Brewing, one of my favorite Amsterdam breweries. The Gaia was a hoppy IPA with a strong, bitter aroma and amber color. It tasted like it smelled–strong and hoppy–but with a nice finish. I made small talk with one of the men next to me, but he and his friend preferred to keep to themselves. I was a bit overwhelmed but enjoyed the old-school vibe of Arendsnest. After finishing my drink I loitered and chatted with the bartender before paying my bill and returning to the brisk fall day.

Pizza Port Taps @ BeerTemple

Pizza Port Taps @ BeerTemple

Pizza Port Backside

Backside from Pizza Port

The next stop on my journey was BeerTemple, Amsterdam’s American craft beer bar. I had visited BeerTemple a few times before, once for an awesome beer tasting and tap takeover from Coronado Brewing. This time though the bar was nearly empty. I noticed that almost all of the beer on tap was from Pizza Port, a brewery with which I was unfamiliar, so I asked the bartender about it. He let me know that there had been a tap takeover from this San Diego Brewery the previous night. He hadn’t attended so he couldn’t shed any light on how the event went and when I asked for some suggestions on what to try he responded, “well I’ve only made it through about half of them so far. But we can try one together if you want?” So the bartender poured a small tasting for us both, we said “Proost!” and tried Pizza Port’s brown ale, Backside. A man who was siting next to me gave the thumbs up when he saw our choice. “We made the right call?” I asked with a laugh. He smiled and nodded as we sipped our drink. Backside had a dark color and strong aroma but was really smooth and flavorful. It was only 4.5% and we both agreed that it had a lot of flavor for a beer with low alcohol content. Another man who was standing near me at the bar noticed my Red Sox hat and asked if I were from Boston. “Well I go to school in Boston but I’m actually from Jersey,” I responded. He and his colleagues were on business from California and were enjoying their last day in Amsterdam. I explained that I am an English major and I am studying in Amsterdam for the semester. He rejoined his colleagues after a few minutes but as I was leaving made sure to say goodbye, “See ya, English major!” The man who had given me the thumbs up caught my eye as he was leaving and told me that his sister had gone to Boston College as well. We joked about how small of a world it is but he and his wife left quickly afterward. I continued to chat with the bartender until I finished my drink and told him I’d be sure to come again. I was happy he took the time to talk and share a drink with me, as we chatted about Americans in Amsterdam, the different beers they stock at BeerTemple and upcoming events in Amsterdam.

Jopen Proeflokaal

Jopen Proeflokaal

TempelBier, Hamburger, Sweet Potato Chips

TempelBier, Hamburger, Sweet Potato Chips

I took a brief stop back home to put on a thicker jacket as the sun began to set and then journeyed to the penultimate stop: Jopen Proeflokaal. This bar was also quite quiet but was very charming. They serve beer from Jopen Brewery, which is a Dutch brewery located in Haarlem. I had started to get a little hungry and Jopen has a nice menu with beer pairings. I opted for a standard burger and the TempelBier, which is an American style Pale Ale. I sipped on the APA before my burger was ready and noticed that there weren’t a lot of flavors. It was certainly a crisp drink but nothing special. But once I got my burger I realized that the flavors in the beef and the sauce balanced really well with the refreshing Pale Ale. I enjoyed my small meal, which included sweet potato chips, but was unable to really converse with anyone. There were only three other people in the bar at one point and I decided to simply head to the last bar and finish my day.

40 taps!

40 taps!

The last bar was Craft & Draft, which I had visited a few weeks ago. Craft & Draft was also a little empty but I plopped down on the bar and hoped I would be able to strike up a conversation. I decided to try the Hopblond from De Vriendschap, a Dutch brewery which I had sampled before. The Hopblond had a nice aroma with hops and some spices while the taste was very well balanced–none of the flavors overpowered the others. When the bartender asked if I liked the beer I told her that I did and that I enjoyed the other beers from the brewery. She explained that she also really liked De Vrienschap and that Craft & Draft usually had their beer on tap. After a few minutes I overheard a couple sitting a few stools away talk to the bartender in English. The woman explained that she likes craft cider so the bartender made a recommendation. Once the woman received her drink she turned down to me and asked where I am from, explaining that she also heard me speaking English. I revealed to the couple that I’m from New Jersey but I go to school in Boston. They kind of stared at me for a few seconds as if they expected me to add something, so I quickly said, “But I’m studying here for the semester.” They gave me a slight look of surprise and the woman, who told me her name is Veronica, said she didn’t think I was from the US. “You don’t really have an American accent. I thought you were Dutch!” I laughed and explained that though I had been here for two months I didn’t really think I had picked up any accents. “You probably will,” Veronica joked.

Hopblond from De Vriendschap

Hopblond from De Vriendschap

I introduced myself to this couple, Veronica and J.C., explaining what I’m studying and how I’ve enjoyed my time here. Veronica shared that she was originally from Antwerpen but has moved around a lot. JC grew up in LA but his family is from Mexico so he also has traveled around. They told me that they have lived in New York, Wisconsin, SoCal and recently they moved to Portland, Oregon. However, they decided to spend some time in Europe, traveling and working, so they shared that they had been back to Belgium and had just arrived in Amsterdam. I found their lifestyle and itch for traveling really interesting but they seemed more curious with my choice to study abroad. Veronica at one point said, “I’m really impressed you’d take the leap, take the risk to study in another country.” I thought that it was funny to call it a risk because I know plenty of other students abroad. However, we talked about how Americans often grow up sheltered, how some people never leave their hometown or their state. “Some people just never see the world,” J.C. said. I nodded understandingly and realized I was pretty lucky to be able to have this experience.

We chatted for quite a long time about life in America and my time in Amsterdam. I explained my Argentine heritage (“maybe that’s why I didn’t think you were American,” Veronica quipped) so we discussed how having parents from other countries helps instill a love for exploring. Veronica asked if I would consider living abroad and I revealed that it had crossed my mind, “I love life in Amsterdam so that’s probably part of the reason.” I also told them that Rosa, my girlfriend, is studying in Amman and has certainly helped spark some of the excitement for traveling. We chatted long into the night, much longer than I had intended, but I was thoroughly enjoying the conversation with my new friends. We finally said goodbye and I got the free t-shirt. I had originally set out to get this silly shirt and enjoy the sunny fall day but I ultimately loved meeting people along the way. And the beers, they were very good too. I was initially upset none of my friends could join me but I was happy to have made some new friends and have great conversations.

Shorts and Special Beers: Two Nights of People & Pints

Hello all and welcome to another People & Pints post! This week I was able to play host as my friend Andrew, who is spending the semester studying at the University of Edinburgh, visited Amsterdam. So far I have been lucky enough to spend a day in Brussels and a weekend in Sevilla, but this was my first time showing someone around my city. I was certainly excited to welcome a friend and Andrew came prepared with an itinerary, so we had plenty to do. Soon after Andrew arrived–and when I mentioned my blog–he admitted to me that he wasn’t much of a beer person. I joked that Amsterdam might change that. I had a great time with Andrew and we were able to sample some delicious beer. This weekend I was actually lucky enough to have two People & Pints experiences (whereas last week I mostly struck out)! I certainly enjoyed the weekend and I hope Andrew did too!

Andrew’s visit to Amsterdam included a few trips to museums, pastry shops and some great restaurants; the days were packed and we managed a great deal of walking/biking. On Friday, we decided to tour the Heineken Experience, an immersive trip through Heineken’s past and present. As a craft beer enthusiast I was a little reluctant; I knew this might be an act of sacrilege. I went into the tour expecting it to be entertaining and informative, as well as commercial–and I wasn’t wrong. We learned about the history of the company, which is still ‘family-owned,’ and the beer production. It was a good lesson in how a small, local operation turns into an enormous corporation. At one point Andrew asked how I thought this compared to the small breweries. After some thought I could really only answer that “it’s just different.” The tour of Brouwerij ‘t IJ was intimate and charming but the Heineken Experience was still enjoyable. There were a lot of interactive features and we had fun, despite the corporate and self-congratulatory nature of it all. IMG_3310

That evening, though, I told Andrew I would show him what craft beer in Amsterdam is really like. I decided I would take Andrew to Cafe Gollem, a chain of small craft beer bars spread throughout the city. I had been to a location down the street from my apartment several times and in a lot of ways it captures the cozy, gezellig atmosphere of a typical Dutch locale. “It’s a really cool spot. Usually quiet and good for just hanging out, talking and having some good beers,” I assured Andrew. We arrived and it was packed with people. No matter though, we ordered our drinks and sat outside enjoying the cool Autumn air. I settled on a bottle of Orval Trappist Ale from Abbey d’Orval in Belgium. It was a delicious Pale Ale with a strong aroma and intense flavor with various herbs and citrus notes. Andrew opted for a bottle of Dodo from Oedipus Brewers, one of my favorite Amsterdam breweries. I’ve had the Dodo once before and it is a sessionable California Common with a malty, yet smooth, taste.

Orval Trappist Ale

Orval Trappist Ale

As we chatted and sipped our drinks under the street lights, a man, who had lit a cigarette next to us, asked us a reasonable question. “Why the hell are you wearing shorts?” Julio, whose name I learned later, had asked–with a laugh–a very honest and just question. “Well,” I responded, “we’re from Boston.” Although I only go to school in Boston, Andrew has lived in and around Boston for most of his life. The day was beautiful and relatively warm, by Amsterdam standards, so we decided to break out some shorts. Julio revealed that he is originally from Colombia but has been living in Amsterdam and also spent the past year in Boston. It was an incredible coincidence that prompted a long discussion about Boston winters, our favorite restaurants and spots in the city, as well as the thrill of a Red Sox game. Julio’s expletive laden comments were humorous and were the mark of someone who had had a bit too much to drink. It was also decidedly hispanic and he brightened when I revealed that my mother is from Buenos Aires. He shared the name of an authentic Colombian restaurant in Amsterdam and we both lamented the lack of true South American cuisine here. We agreed that though a lot of restaurants were branded “Argentine” or “Uruguayan,” they couldn’t be trusted. Eventually two of Julio’s friends joined us outside, a girl who is also from Colombia and a guy from Amsterdam, who just happened to also be an English major at the University of Amsterdam. We chatted about classes and professors at the UvA, while Andrew talked with Julio. Eventually our new friends left us and Andrew and I went back home.

This serendipitous meeting was not the only worthwhile conversation over beer I experienced this weekend. After Andrew returned to Edinburg early Sunday morning, I asked a few friends, Eli and Alice, to join me for an afternoon beer tasting at a bar down the street from my apartment. We descended the stairs to MOES, an underground bar, where the restaurant would be unveiling their new taps featuring beer exclusively from Brouwerij De 7 Deugden, an Amsterdam craft brewery. The brewmaster, Garmt Haakma, was available to share some insight on the beer and enjoy the fruits of his labor. Along the bar he had laid out the various ingredients used in his beers as well as several bottles. He was very noticeably proud of his products and his enthusiasm definitely helped us enjoy the event. We decided to have a flight of the beers and continued to chat with Garmt.IMG_3355

Arm + Zalig

Arm + Zalig

Wijs + Neuzig

Wijs + Neuzig

The first taste was of Arm + Zalig, a Smoked Beer, which was a little dark in color but tasted relatively sweet with malty notes. When Garmt revealed it was a Smoked Beer, I couldn’t really make out the smokey flavor but enjoyed it nonetheless. Next we sampled the Witbier, Ruw + Bolster, which immediately had a distinct citrus aroma. The citrus, lemon and perhaps some other fruits, came through in the taste and the finish was smooth and tasty. The Wijs + Neuzig followed was a Dunkelweizen, a dark wheat beer. The aroma was incredible and Garmt explained the beer was brewed with cardamom. The spices were apparent in the taste and made for a delicious, refreshing drink. Next we tried Dubbel + Dik, the brewery’s Dubbel. This dubbel was very interesting and had a blend of spices that were difficult to make out. Garmt had us guess what ingredients he had chosen in brewing. I tasted notes of chocolate and Eli guessed nutmeg. Finally Garmt revealed it was a blend of licorice, cloves and star anise. Garmt explained that he had been working for a long time on finding a perfect mixture of the ingredients “so they don’t overpower each other.” We enjoyed the flavors and agreed it was smooth and easy to drink. The penultimate sampling was perhaps my favorite: the Trippel, Scheepsrecht. Scheepsrecht was amber in color with notes of cinnamon and other spices both in the aroma and the taste. Lastly, we finished with the Stout, Stout + Moedig. Garmt shared that the stout is his favorite and it was definitely interesting. It was very dark in color but much softer in the taste. The taste of coffee–organic, Arabica beans, Garmt shared–certainly came across, as well as some notes of chocolate.IMG_3359

We all really enjoyed the beer but the event itself, hosted by the very engaging Garmt, was more exciting. Garmt was happy to chat about his production and encouraged us to come by the brewery soon for a tour. He very clearly loved brewing beer and was quick to label his craft as “special.” He clarified that he thinks the tendency to use interesting ingredients and spices in beer, which is typical of Amsterdam breweries, makes the beer special and particular. I agreed and said that I had really enjoyed the city’s craft beer. As we were chatting, a complementary cheese and meat platter was laid out for us to enjoy. “You can’t have a beer tasting without cheese,” Garmt remarked with a laugh and we were very grateful for the delicious snack.

At one point Eli and I asked what Garmt thought of beer in America. He thinks that the amount of craft breweries is a good sign. We also discussed some of the differences between American and Dutch craft beer. There’s a big trend in the states to use a lot IMG_3358of hops and everyone seems to love IPAs, while in Amsterdam, the dutch style of Dubbels or Trippels, as well as Saisons, are very common. Of course there are overlaps but we understood his point. I also asked how his own process of starting a brewery had been. I explained that in Boston there are a lot of craft breweries popping up and homebrewing is becoming very popular. Garmt said it took awhile but it wasn’t necessarily an arduous process. “There’s a lot of paperwork to fill out and the brewing takes a lot of work,” Garmt shared, “but it’s not so bad.” He said the choice to try to start a brewery was only natural and flowed from his love for the brewing process.

We continued to chat for a little but eventually bid farewell to Garmt, though we assured him we would take a tour of the brewery soon. Garmt definitely seemed happy with our enthusiasm and appreciation. He said goodbye and as we were walking up the stairs called out, having forgotten to say so before,”spread the word!” “We will,” we happily called back.