New breweries are springing up in Amsterdam like overpriced coffee shops after a hipster shower. I’m struggling to keep up. Ask me “How many breweries are there in Amsterdam?” and I’d almost certainly give the wrong answer.
Dolores sent me an article from the local evening paper about the latest, Poesiat & Kater, on Friday.
“Do you fancy going there tomorrow, Dolores?”
“Can do. As long as it’s fairly early.”
The brewery has an interesting story. De Gekroonde Valk was one of the city’s largest and best known breweries, before the establishment of modern Lager breweries around 1870, which pushed the old top-fermenting breweries into the background. Their most famous product was Van Vollenhowen’s Stout. A beer that even survived the takeover and closure of the brewery by Heineken in the 1940’s.
Surprisingly, Heineken continued to brew Van Vollenhoven’s Stout into the new millennium, but eventually just weren’t selling enough and dropped it. But that wasn’t the end of the story. The Gekroonde Valk association had the recipe and got permission from Heineken, which retained rights to the name, got permission to have it brewed under contract in 2006. In 2014 a decision was made to build their own brewery, resulting in Poesiat & Kater.
Where does that odd name come from? It’s named after two 19th-century workers at De Gekroonde Valk, master carpenter Bart Poesiat and master mason Klaas Kater. I’d have gone with De Gekroonde Valk, personally.
“What’s the easiest way to get there, Ronald?”
“The closest tram stop is the no. 9. We could change to the 3 and then get the 9.”
“I’m not changing twice.”
“Then we’ll have to go via Centraal Station.”
With all the horror that involves. Half the tourist hot spots on the way in, the other half on the way out. Did I mention I try to keep the hell out of the city centre as much as possible? It’s beyond unbearable. It’s even spreading out as far as here. Yesterday there were four people with trolley bags hanging around outside the local Dirk’s supermarket. Obviously Airbnbers. They hadn’t even taken the Easyjet tags off their bags. Bastards.
It’s a long and slightly irritating tram ride out to the East. The brewery is on the Oostergasfabriek site. Annoyingly, right around the back of it. Getting there isn’t the most pleasant of walks.
The street is called Polderweg, which sounds idyllic. Reality is more prosaic. On the left is the long slab of the Montessori College, to the right a hotchpotch of quite tall and totally bland flats. Combined, they form a lovely wind tunnel. It’s physically hard to keep moving forwards. Dolores is impressed.
The brewery is in one of the few old buildings left on the site. A typical late 19th-century industrial job. Inside it’s basically one big room, from floor to roof. A bit Spartan, though it has only just opened.
“The kids would have loved it here when they were younger.” Dolores says, pointing at the main railway line running just outside. She‘s right. It would have been the perfect destination for them. It’s just 10 or 15 years too late. Typical.
The waiting staff look very young. Probably still at college. A very friendly and enthusiastic girl comes to take our order. I’m excited to spot an obscure old Dutch style.
“I’ll have a Princesse Bier.”
“I’m sorry, we don’t have that one yet.”
“OK, an East Indies Pale Ale.”
“Sorry, we don’t have that one, either.”
This isn’t going well. I want to save the Van Vollenhoven’s Stout for later. Assuming they have it.
“What about the Pale Ale. Do you have that?”
Dolores takes one as well. She would have preferred a wheat beer. But the one they have is a Gose.
What is it with Gose all of a sudden? Every fucker is brewing one. Mostly with only the vaguest of resemblance to the original style. What’s makes it even worse, is that I’m partly to blame. Or am I being too egotistical?
When I first wrote about Gose, it was incredibly obscure. I spent years hunting the style down. Eventually finding it was such a thrill. Now they’re selling something called Gose on every street corner.
A boy who looks about twelve, brings our drinks. Luckily, the Pale Ale isn’t too bitter. Otherwise I’d be getting grief from Dolores.
While not full, there are a fair few punters in. Mostly families with small kids. I hate the selfish type of bastard that drags their kids to the pub and gets pissed while they run amok. Luckily, the parents in today aren’t the same sort of inconsiderate twat I was when my kids were small. I was young back then, that’s my excuse.
Dolores returns from "the place".
"I couldn't work out which was the ladies. There was nothing on the doors. I went through the one that was open. It was all boxes inside. Maybe it was one of those modern unisex toilets."
When downstairs calls, I head upstairs to the bogs myself. Two unmarked doors, indeed. The urinals I discover behind the closed one tip me off that I've correctly chosen the gents.
While I'm washing my hands - I'm shocked how many blokes can't be arsed after pissing - I hear someone outside struggling to work out which toilets are which.
Challeneged to see if there is any indication, I have a good look on exiting. And eventually spot it. Not on the doors, but in the floor tiles.
I have the Stout for my second beer. The waiter is only looking about ten when he brings it over. I’m surprised that he isn’t distracted by the trains whizzing past outside.
The Stout is pretty good. All dark chocolate in the mouth with a little sweetness lurking below the surface and a shot of bitterness at the end. I’d drink it again. I do drink it again, as I order a second.
Dolores wants to take a different route back, She enjoyed the walk that much. If we duck under the railway line, we can walk to Station Muiderpoort, where the no. 3 tram terminates. Meaning we can return home with one change dodging the centre. Which is exactly what we do.