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.
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.
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.
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.
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.