I've taken my eye off the ball. Too many distractions, would be my excuse. But that's no excuse for missing what's going on in my home town.
New breweries are sprouting like the wild garlic close to my work; savagely ploughed, but throwing up the odd leaf and quick flower nonetheless. In Amsterdam, I mean. More in the last 12 months than in the other 24 years I've lived in Amsterdam.
I'd love to say that I'd noticed myself. A couple were served up to me at the Kimchee Festival last year. Then Dolores found a map. For someone who'd imagined he had his finger up the arse of the Amsterdam pub scene, it was an unexpected piss shower.
Now the kids have entered a less crazy phase (thank you, prescription drugs) me and Dolores have the chance for a little us time. Obviously after she's done the shopping, cleaning, cooking and all manner of other gerunds.
"Do you fancy sussing out Troost?"
As always, I had an ulterior motive. I'd tell you what it was, but my memory isn't what it . . . . er . . . was. Getting pissed. Normally the reason. Let's assume that.
The address of Troost sounded vaguely familiar. A former abbey in De Pijp. The 5 euro cents dropped when I saw a photo. My old Job Centre.
Despite my many skills, I've had the odd bout of unemployment. This particular Job Centre was during the most persistent. I remember plonking down 50 job applications when called in for interview. To show I really was trying to find work. They were pretty reasonable and sympathetic.
Unlike the bastards at the dole office. Who on two different occasions "lost" my application for benefits. "Try not to misplace my forms this time." I suggested the third time I signed on.
Where was I? In a pub with my beloved. Let's forget about past annoyances.
"Tram 2, then 12."
Was the concise answer of Dolores to my question: "How will we get there?"
"Amsterdam, Amsterdam, I live there with my mam." Despite repeated application of a cattle prod, the kids refuse to sing my reworking of a Dutch song.
The sun was shining, birds singing and trams rumbling by when we arrived at Troost. Great for my clicky, clicky photography thing.
Troost is like a virgin. Shiny and new.
The windows onto the inner courtyard tell me these used to be classrooms. I've seen the inside of enough Amsterdam schools to recognise the architecture. More surprised that they kept some of the furniture. The metal/plywood chair I'm shuffling my arse around on in a futile attempt to attain bottom nirvana looks like school issue. It's a discomfort I thought I'd waved goodbye to in 1975.
Ten taps. That's what you nerdy thing wanted to know. Only three different beers, mind.
New German brewpubs. Mostly shit. With their unholy trinity of Helles, Dunkles and Weizen. All green, cloudy and generally unappetising. Sometimes the Dunkles can be worked down without gagging. With a nose clip and determination.
Dolores has a Weizen. I'm more interested in the waitress in leather kecks, but give it a try. Banana, clove: it flicks foam into all the right boxes. Not a bad try at all.
I pick IPA. There are loads of explanations I could give. Not a fan of Blond Ales, Weizen not really my thing unless it's Schneider. Let's give honesty a try: the IPA was the strongest.
It was on a bit of a hiding to nothing. In the last few weeks I've had some cracking IPA-ey things. Two Hearted, Flower Power, All Day IPA and the De Molen/Het Ij Double IPA. There's nothing wrong with it: clean, bitter and perfectly drinkable. I'd have preferred more hop aromas, but I'm a picky bastard. And they've only just started. Perfecting recipes takes time.
The Best Advice A Brewer Was Ever Given - The winner hands down is Joseph Coppinger, from his book *The American Practical Brewer and Tanner* from 1815: The common mode of keeping malt is in bins...
5 hours ago