Hello all and welcome to this week’s People & Pints! My week was actually quite busy as I had both my family and two friends visiting! It was also a big week in the craft beer world as Boston favorite Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project announced they would be ending their production. Pretty Things has been a staple in the New England craft beer scene and their announcement certainly sent ripples through the community that even reached Amsterdam. Nonetheless, I had a lovely week with my family and friends and even managed to catch up with a close friend here in Amsterdam over some delicious beer.
My family arrived early Wednesday and greeted a gloomy, but inviting, Amsterdam. They managed to see many of the wonderful sites the city has to offer and we enjoyed some delicious meals. This was my siblings’ first trip to Europe–let alone Amsterdam–and they definitely seemed to enjoy it. My brothers, Michael and James, enjoyed the artsy vibes and the plethora of coffee, respectively. My younger sister, though she really enjoyed the city, did jokingly complain about the “smell of marijuana.” I think the liberal nature of the city was quite striking but even the most unusual aspects were rather tame and avoidable. It was wonderful to see my family and I had definitely missed them.
I also had the pleasure of hosting my wonderful friend Jess and her friend Lauren, who is also quite lovely. I had spent time with them early in the semester when I visited Sevilla, so I was excited to show them Amsterdam. I was initially worried I wouldn’t be able to balance spending time with my friends and my family but it ended up working well! Although the rain and hail prevented us from experiencing Amsterdam’s exciting nightlife, we still managed to explore the city. Despite the poor weather my friends admitted that their trip to Amsterdam was perhaps their favorite in Europe. I certainly had a lot of fun and was happy to host them.
I was sad to have to say goodbye to both my friends and my family but I really enjoyed being able to show off Amsterdam. However, I quickly realized that I hadn’t had the chance to have any craft beer with them. I decided that this would be a good chance to catch up with my great friend Alyssa over a nice beer. Alyssa is also studying abroad in Amsterdam, but she goes to George Washington University in Washington, D.C. When my girlfriend Rosa, who goes to Georgetown, visited, she and Alyssa had plenty to talk about and Alyssa quickly became a very close friend here. She jokingly admitted early on that her one wish was to “make it onto People & Pints.” So last night, Monday, I decided to grant her wish.
We met at Smokin’ Barrels, a small restaurant and bar located just east of my apartment. We both braved the wind and rain and made it to SB in one piece. Before ordering our drinks, Alyssa looked up from the menu and asked, “So how does this normally go? Do I have to order something special?” I laughed and told her she could get whatever she wants. I opted for a Struis from Brouwerij ‘t IJ while Alyssa ordered a saison from Oedipus Brewing. The Struis was a strong barleywine that was dark in color and rich in taste with some notes of caramel, chocolate and perhaps cherry. The sweet finish was nice and I really enjoyed the beer. Alyssa, who doesn’t mind trying craft beer, said she also enjoyed her saison and said it had an interesting taste.
We talked about our latest adventures as I hosted my friends and family and Alyssa had recently visited Berlin and London. We then expressed how anxious we were to have to leave so soon. Alyssa leaves earlier than I do, around December 19th, but I also only have a month left in Amsterdam. I said that I was certainly going to miss Christmas time back in the United States and Alyssa revealed that she is lucky enough to celebrate both Dutch Christmas and American Christmas. Alyssa is staying with a Dutch family in a homestay so she revealed some of the traditions in which she is included. The family will exchange presents and she said they sing songs for Sinterklaas. We initially joked about the differences between the two types of Christmas but ultimately realized that the traditions, when explained to someone who doesn’t celebrate the same way, must seem just as bizarre. However, Alyssa and I agreed that it seemed awfully strange that Sinterklaas buys his gifts, instead of making them. “It’s insane,” Alyssa teased.
We talked at length about our mutual love of pumpkin pie and shared some great stories about cooking and baking. We also told some stories about our respective significant others and continued to make plans for double dates once we returned to the states. After awhile we said goodbye and returned home, closing out a successful edition of People & Pints.
I just briefly wanted to touch on the closing of Pretty Things, which I had mentioned earlier. Pretty Things is a tenant brewery, meaning that the husband and wife team of Dann and Martha (Holley)-Paquette do not own their brewing space, but only rent it for specific brewing days. Nonetheless, Pretty Things grew and became a huge hit both locally and nationally. I even managed to find their beer here in Amsterdam which was a wonderful surprise! Pretty Things is unique; aside from their status as a “tenant brewery,” they also draw their own labels and often create incredibly distinct beer.
As far as I can tell they haven’t revealed any specifics as to why they have closed up shop but plenty have speculated. Hopefully, the Paquettes will move on to another challenge in the craft beer world; I have heard that they were lovely people and I wish I had been able to experience their presence in the Boston craft beer scene earlier. I decided to pick up a bottle of their Baby Tree Quadruple at Amsterdam’s De Bierkoning (‘The Beer King’). “Do you have any more beers from this brewery?” I asked. “Pretty Things? No I don’t think so,” the woman behind the counter responded. She asked a co-worker about Pretty Things and he looked up at me understandingly. “No,” he echoed, “unfortunately that’s all we have. They just closed,” he said this last part to his co-worker. It was very interesting how this fact was clearly sad for all three of us. “They were a good brewery,” the man stated, reading my mind. I agreed and said that I wanted to get a bottle because I was worried they might be gone by the time I return to the US. I paid and as I was walking out, the woman called out, “enjoy!” “I will,” I replied.