Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Meeting the ambassador

2015 has already been busy beer-wise. So busy, I haven’t been reporting hardly any of it properly. I’ve still not got around to telling you about my time in East Anglia. Barley, malt and brewing records in 3 days.

I hope I’ll get around to that, but while it’s still fresh in my mind I’m going to relate what happened this week. On Monday, to be precise. When I was invited to an American craft beer tasting at the US ambassador’s residence in Den Haag. Even though it meant taking a half day off work, it wasn’t an opportunity I was going to pass up.

The American ambassador’s gaff is a rather elegant villa close to the Vredes Paleis in one of the nicer parts of the city. The street seems to consist solely of embassies or their residences. Funnily enough, not a bit of Den Haag I’d been to before.

Easy enough to get to, mind. Just jump on a 17 tram at Centraal Station and it takes you right there. Or close enough. I was early. Very early. With an hour to give a good kicking to, there was only one thing I needed. A pub.

In the 19th-century bits of Amsterdam you’re never far from a pub. But that’s Amsterdam. I’d taken the precaution of checking on a map for nearby pubs. There didn’t seem to be a great deal. So I keep my eyes out for suitable candidates as the tram rumbled closer to where I needed to make my exit. Zilch.

Things weren’t looking good. So I set off on a ramble. I came across a couple of boozers. Ones I wouldn’t have gone into. Even if they had been open, which they weren’t. Just when I thought I’d be wandering the streets for an hour, I spotted an Eetcafé. And look, there’s a Duvel sign. I was saved.

I plonked myself at the bar and had a look at the taps. No need to resort to Duvel: Kompaan Bok was on draught. Not had a beer from them before. And they’re local to Den Haag. I spent a pleasant 40 minutes of so reading the paper and sipping my beer. Far better than walking the streets.

I got to the ambassador’s residence bang on time, at 3 PM. Things kicked off at 3:15 with an introduction from the ambassador followed by short presentations by the Brewers Association and Bier&co, the two sponsors of the event.

Thankfully, beer was served while the talking was going on: first a session IPA, then Anchor Liberty Ale. They tided me over until the main event, six beers paired with what the Dutch call “hapjes”: bite-sized bits of food.

I’d tell you what all the beers were. Except I can’t remember them all. Couldn’t be arsed to take notes. These are the ones I can:

Alaskan Smoked Porter
Old Rasputin
Shipyard Export
Anderson Valley Amber Ale
Rogue Chocolate Stout

One of the eaty bits quite impressed me. See if you can guess what it is:

Hard to see in my crappy photo. Fish, chips and mushy peas. How cool is that?

The beer servings were as bite-sized as the nibbles. But with encouragement the servers would bump that up to  a gulp or two. And towards the end I encamped next to the Old Rasputin and was merrily pouring myself full glasses. Very nice it was, too. Full of that alcohol thing I like so much.

Beer-flavour stuff as well, obviously.

There were a fair few people I know present. I must say that Peter van der Arend’s bomber jacket and jeans combination wasn’t really in the spirit off business casual, the dress code. I’m surprised they let him in. Especially as he wasn’t on the guest list.

I’m not totally sure why I was invited, but I’m not complaining. Some free beer and nosh, plus a chance to peek inside the world of diplomacy. I’d do it again, happily. I didn’t get to talk to the ambassador, just stand within a few feet. That’s close enough for me.

Eetcafé de Klap
Koningin Emmakade 118-A
2518 JJ Den Haag.


StuartP said...

Well, that's the Dutch for you!

Alan said...

From the beer selection, was this some sort of celebration of 1998 or so?

Gary Gillman said...

Shipyard is a notably English-tasting beer, that's why. Would have been my choice too. That was a fairly good selection they served.


Ron Pattinson said...


I think the choices were deliberately pretty mainstream. There were a lot of people there from the hospitality industry who weren't particularly beer freaks.

Ed said...

Wot no ferrero rochers?