A Last Hoorah!

Hello everyone and welcome to the FINAL post of People & Pints (at least while in Europe)! I’ve had a wonderful semester and have really enjoyed working on this blog project. I will have another post just on reflection but this post will be devoted to my final weekend in Amsterdam. On Friday I returned from my short trip to Italy with Rosa which ended up being a really nice break. I texted a friend back home mentioning how I was surprised to realize how nice it was to be in a family setting again. However, I returned to Amsterdam and decided to try to pack in some fun before I finally leave.

Saturday, Boxing Day, proved to be a little lonely as the weather was pretty chilly and many things were closed. I mostly accomplished some errands, biking around the city. At night, I decided to finally try Bar Brouw, a highly recommended bar and restaurant. Unfortunately, after making the twenty minute bike ride, I found the bar with all the lights out and a sign informing guests they would be closed on the 24th-26th for the holidays. So, disappointed, I made my way back home and just stayed in for the night. However, Sunday proved to be a bit more exciting and fun! I biked out to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam’s modern art and design museum. Stedelijk had some fascinating, provocative and bizarre art and I was very happy I took the time to visit. On the way home I stopped for some poffertjes, Dutch mini pancakes. Eventually I made the trip again to Bar Brouw and enjoyed a really wonderful evening.

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Bar Brouw is a cozy, compact bar in the Oud-West of Amsterdam. I sat down at the bar and was greeted by a very friendly bartender. Although they had a wide selection of craft beer available, the options on tap were limited so I focused on some of the bottles. I noticed a few from Two Chefs Brewing, an Amsterdam brewery I enjoy, and asked about The Howling Wolf. “Oh it’s excellent,” he answered, “I know most people would say that but I highly recommend it.” I chuckled and noted that with their selection I didn’t expect there to be many bad choices. The Howling Wolf is an Imperial Porter, very dark in color and strong in taste but with a slight sweetness that made it a very delicious drink. I also ordered some food: a plate of pulled pork with a side of french fries and baked beans. It was incredible.

IMG_3841 (1)After a bit I decided to order a second beer and asked the bartender for his suggestion again. He began to list a few and stopped on a Honey Ale from Septem, a Greek brewery. I had become familiar with Septem on my trip to Athens and was intrigued by the beer so I decided to go for it. “There’s some sweetness in the Howling Wolf so I think that’s a good second choice,” the bartender remarked. It took me some time to make it through all of the food but eventually I made it, my belly quite full. As I paid my bill I chatted with the bartender about life in Amsterdam. I told him I am a student and have been spending my semester in Amsterdam at the UvA. He admitted that he is also taking classes in Amsterdam but in Psychology. I am an English major and he had taken humanities classes so we talked about the courses and the state of the various faculties (departments) of the university. As I put on my coat I asked if Bar Brouw had any coasters, “because I’ve been trying to collect coasters from all of the bars and breweries I go to.” He smiled and nodded, appreciative of my collection, but admitted that they didn’t have any Brouw coasters. “We have Two Chefs, though,” he said, “it’s fitting!” I accepted it happily and wished him a nice evening as I made the trek back to my apartment.

IMG_3843Today, Monday, I visited another museum I had previously missed, Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (“Our Lord in the Attic”). Our Lord in the Attic is a museum containing an intact, hidden Catholic church in a canal house, prevalent during the Protestant takeover of Amsterdam. It was very interesting to imagine how Catholics would congregate in this canal house for mass, permissible under the “out of sight, out of mind” policy of Amsterdam. The house was beautiful, with most of the original elements visible (in fact we had to wear slippers over our shoes so as not to damage the old floors), and the church was incredible. Afterwards I made it to Cut Throat, a combination barber shop, bar/restaurant and coffee IMG_3846 (1)house. I had heard great things about this spot and they were all accurate.
There was such a cool vibe inside; the barber stalls were separated from the rest of the restaurant and comfortable seating, old books and even a retro arcade game adorned the interior. I had been told the kitchen specialized in fatty, comfort food so after receiving a coffee I decided to also order mac and cheese and french fries–a strange (but delicious) combination, I know. I spent this time to just relax and read a little bit, soaking up the atmosphere and wishing I had found Cut Throat earlier in my stay.


I rounded out my day in the city perusing the shop of De Prael, a craft brewery in the Red Light District. After being offered by one of the employees, I sampled some of De Prael’s liquors. I have enjoyed the beer from De Prael but didn’t know they had experimented with other alcohol. I tasted a sweet liqueur, which was really nice, made with ingredients from trees around the city. I opted not to buy anything but enjoyed the brief little visit and finally returned to my apartment for the evening.


View from Our Lord in the Attic

Although most of my friends have returned to the US or their respective homes, I really enjoyed these past couple days of soaking up the remainder of my Amsterdam life. I’ve had to start packing up a little and, although I’m trying to watch my wallet, I’m taking advantage of my last days in Amsterdam.


An Introduction to People & Pints

Hello everyone and welcome to People & Pints, my grand scheme for keeping everyone tapped* into my life abroad. I will be spending my fall semester studying at the University of Amsterdam and I wanted to capture my experience in a meaningful way. Blogging can be a great tool for traveling but I couldn’t find a singular, interesting topic. My thoughts strayed to beer reviews, something I believed would be a great exercise in writing, but I didn’t think a blog solely devoted to beer reviews in Amsterdam would truly encapsulate my semester abroad. As I talked with friends and family about my plans, a concrete thought–and consequently a new passion–developed; I wanted to write about the culture of beer in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam, and the Netherlands in general, has a rich past and flourishing present in beer production. One of the most widely distributed and well known beers in the world, Heineken, was founded in Amsterdam. The style of beer that originated from this area of Europe–top-fermenting beer–is enjoyed throughout the world; this includes Stouts, Witbiers (White Beers) and Oud Bruins (Old Browns). At one point in Amsterdam, beer essentially replaced water (though it was much less alcoholic). Currently, Amsterdam has several smaller craft breweries like Oedipus Brewing, Brouwerij ‘t IJTwo Chefs Brewing and Brouwerij de Pael. These facts alone, though, were not what led me to my blog.


Brouwerij t’ IJ: equal parts windmill, brewery and bar

As interesting as beer and craft brewing might be for some, I’m under the impression more people would rather drink it than talk about it. My former editor at BostInno, Alex, concurred and helped me finally streamline my ideas. After discussing for a bit he advised me not to “nerd out about the beer,” but to focus on the people, the stories. Admittedly I rambled for some time trying to find the words to express what I really wanted to write about. What was it that would reflect my desire to learn about beer, life in Amsterdam and, in some respects, myself? Alex sifted through the jumble and repeated something I had said, ” ‘Forcing myself to be social. Through beer.’ That’s the blog.” Thus, People & Pints was born.

People & Pints will be my attempt to engage life abroad and share my experiences with any willing readers. Every week I will visit a new bar–or at least try a new beer–and attempt to talk with a stranger. I’m hoping to come away with some great stories and more importantly just connect, on a personal level, with the city I am calling home for a semester. I find that good beer is an excellent means to a social end and I think I can capture that in this blog. My friend Adriana told me that she thought P&P sounded a lot like “People of New York,” and I have to admit there are some similarities. But I am not just interviewing people of Amsterdam; it isn’t so one-sided. I think through my writing people can see the impact of a conversation on both parties.

I only intend to post once a week but if the blog is successful I may post more frequently. I plan to travel around Europe so although the location will change, the purpose remains. I leave for Amsterdam next Thursday and arrive Friday morning which means hopefully by Friday night I’ll have met my first Person and enjoyed my first Pint**.

This is my first time blogging; I have no editor, no deadlines but I am passionate about this project. I will be as candid and personal as I can be. This could ultimately fail. There’s all the chance in the world people won’t want to talk to an annoying American “blogger” and maybe the blog won’t be a huge hit. But I do hope that everyone who comes to the blog enjoys it. Please, please send any comments, criticisms or suggestions my way. These are my experiences and stories but I imagine they’ll mean something different for each reader and I am more than happy to change the model if it means P&P can be better. I hope this is a success, but, as I’ve told many of my friends, at worst I’ll have some good beer…and hopefully some great conversations.

*obligatory beer pun

**disclaimer: volume may not be exactly a pint

Image via Flickr