Monday 5 May 2014

Bier Tuin

Another weekend, another new Amsterdam beer venue. At least for me. I've become out of touch with the scene here. Biertuin is further proof of that.

"Do you fancy a beer in the East, Dolores."

She thought about it a while.

"Linaeus straat, opposite the park"

Continued thought.

"They've got De Koninck."

That swung it.

The part of Linaeus straat facing Oosterpark is lined by attractive late 19th-century houses, with, for Amsterdam, huge front gardens. It's been a while since I last ambled along this part of the street. One thing is obvious. It's got trendier. That's before we've even reached Biertuin. Dolores, seeing a decent beer selection advertised outside another pub almost goes into it by mistake.

Biertuin lives up to its name by having a packed front garden (biertuin = beer garden). It's not that warm so we sit inside instead. Plenty of  room here. Other than at the tables occupied by eight raucous male students. And the other by a more restrained mixed group of just-about-twentysomethings. Oh, and the group of female German tourists in their fifties who seem to have randomly wandered in. Good Germans that they are, all have a half litre in front of them.

I already know what Dolores wants. But what for me? Ah, there's a beer breed for them by Emelisse. A 4.9% IPA called Bier Tuig. That'll do. Emelisse on draught in a pub full of young things? What is the world coming to.

I suppose you want to know what it looks like inside. Bar at the back bristling with beer taps. Bare brick walls, bare wooden tables. Fairly minimalist, in not too austere a way. Dolores likes it and she's far fussier than me. My minimum requirements are a seat and one beer I'm happy to drink. Everything else is a bonus.

My Bier Tuig demolished, I wonder what to have next. I make some enwuiries of or friendly but terribly young waitress. She suggests an Oedipus beer, whose name I don't quite catch. Mama Liefde, or something like that.

"What type of beer is it?"

"It's sort of like an Ale."

I realise further discussion isn't going to get me anywhere. I just order one. Dolores opts for a De Prael Johnny.

"It better not be a Porter or a Stout."

"Why not, Ronald?"

"Because they're both BEERS. At least if you go by 18th-century definitions. Which I do. Anything more modern is too scary."

Dolores has to put up with a lot of stuff like this. I'm amazed she's ever up for a pint.

The waitress returns with my beer. The name is actually Mannen Liefde (Man Love) and it has a pink label. Mmm... Why was the waitress so keen to suggest it? Was she trying to tell me something? It's a bit disappointing, but drinkable. At least it wasn't a Stout.

I haven't really told you about the beer list. It's a bit of a rum one. Both draught and bottled. Draught there are stalwarts like De Koninck, Brugse Zot and La Chouffe, the established beers of Het Ij, but also beers from newer breweries some of which, dare I say it, is a bit "craft".

Bottled, it's the same story: Duvel, Westmalle and Guinness (they get extra points from me for stocking the delicious Guinness Special Export); stuff from older small breweries like Het Ij and De Prael; but also beers from Amsterdam's newest wave of breweries Oedipus, 2 Chefs and Butcher's Tears; finally out and out "craft" things like Flying Dog.

Much like the current range of Het Ij, it's a combination of two different beer cultures, one from the past, the other from the present; one inspired by Belgium, the other by America and Denmark. Is this a transitional phase? Will the new replace the old or complement it?

Us and the German ladies aside, the customers are all under 30. A very different age profile from Wildeman, Arends Nest or Gollem.

They do food as well. An eclectic mix, I think you'd call it: fish and chips, pulled pork and Schweinshaxe. At a, for Amsterdam, very reasonable price of €14-16.

Overall, not bad at all. Except for all those young people. Bit depressing, those toned bodies and exuberance. What it needs are a few more miserable old gits like me to cheer the place up.  Sideways. maybe. Cheer it sideways. May not be up, but it isn't down.

Oh, one bad point: totally inadequate female toilet capacity. At least that's what Dolores tells me. Just one toilet.

De Biertuin
Linnaeusstraat 29
Tel. 020 665 0956

Linnaeusstraat 63,
1093 EJ Amsterdam.
Tel. 20 665 5224

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