It's not oftem I'm invited to an event where the mayor of Amsterdam will be present. Not often? Never would be more accurate. Until now.
After a decade or two of turning away customers, Het Ij has finally invested in a new brewery. If the local paper, het Parool, is to be believed, the new plant has an annual capacity of 6,000 hl, double that of the old one shoe-horned into the cramped premises underneath the windmill. It will brew all the bottled beer while the draught will contine to be brewed at the old plant.
The new building is far less romantic than the windmill,
but I'm sure much more practical. And beautifully shiny in the way only
brewing kit can be. On the way over I explained to Dolores how all
modern breweries look much the same, whether they're in Ontario or
China. A mash, a kettle and rows of conical fermenters. Basically like this:
These images are from the beginning of the party. Half an hour later and all you would have seen would be people. Lots of them. An intersting selection of Amsterdammers, some of whom I recognised from beer circles. As for the others, I've no idea who they were. Quite possibly professional liggers. Though that's probably not true in the case of those who had taken their kids along.
On tap was Nummer 1 (Number 1), the first beer made in the new brewhouse. Reassuringly, it had the distinctive Ij house taste. Not sure if it was a special recipe or one of their standard range. It could have been the Witbier. I haven't had that in ages, so I probably wouldn't have recognised it. This isn't being much help, is it?
I'm not used to doing this journalisty stuff. I just turned up and kept grabbing beers as they floated past. No note taking or anything as organised and professional as that. Just a few bits of video and the odd snap.
In the mayor's short speech, he spoke a little about the history of brewing in Amsterdam. I managed to restrain myself from shouting* when he mentioned there being breweries on Browuwersgracht (there were a couple, but only briefly right at the start of the 17th century).
Menno of De Molen was there and we had a chat about brown malt, invert sugar and the ridiculous markup of american beer distributors. Dolores was fascinated. Speechless, at least. I think that blank look on her face was fascination.
We didn't bother having any chips (even though they did look very nice) as we'd planned having a meal in town. Something we do once or twice per millennium. A curry, on the off chance you're interested. Less than 40 euros for the two of us. And not bad, either. Top-class nan bread. But I'm wandering off the path of coherence again.
On the way down we took the opportunity to drop by the Pakistani shop on Javastraat to get some tea. 1.5 kilos of PG Tips.I'm not sure why I'm telling you this. Loose tea, obviously. Tea bags are the work of satan. Believe me, in hell you only get watery tea-bag tea with seven spoons of sugar in it. Eugh! Enough to turn anyone into a saint.
* Dolores downloaded a German TV programme about beer recently. She only let me watch on condition that I didn't scream at it when they said something wrong. It was an odd feeling, watching without shouting. I might try it again.
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