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Last Updated :16/07/09

weekend in based in Amsterdam for a ringing morning in Dordrecht on the Saturday and an afternoon in Utrecht on the Sunday to make a change from drinking with the crowds in Amsterdam!

Hotel -----

Stayed in the Ibis right next door to Central Station. It's not cheap, but I got a 30% off deal as I was staying three nights. It is very convenient being 1 minute from the station, all on pavement. It is relatively new and the rooms are to a good standard compared to those in the UK I have stayed in, eg, the bathroom is a proper one and not a pre-installed plastic unit. There is effective double glazing, very useful as most of the rooms look onto, into, and in half the cases, are above, Central Station. It was a very hot and humid weekend, so the working air conditioning in the bedroom as most welcome. No breakfast included in the deal but usual Ibis breakfast available if you wanted it at a dear price. Plenty of places nearby doing expensive breakfasts due to the location but plenty of Albert Hein supermarkets around to get make yourself food.

Flights -------

Reasonable price 50 quid all in single with British Airways. Out on the Friday afternoon via Gatwick North Terminal and the new Pier 6 extension and back on Monday afternoon into Heathrow Terminal Five.

Measurements ------------

As we all know, there is no fixed volume measurements for beer. Unless it was a stated measurement on the menu, they are approximate and probably bad guesses due to the differing glass shapes and sizes! Of course, you'll never get the same measure of the same beer from the same barman twice so who knows how much you are drinking!

Breweries and Beers -------------------

The breweries were all either Dutch (NL) or Belgian (B). Details taken from Tim Webb's Good Beer Guide to Belgium and Holland 2002 although breweries have possibly changed since then and indeed, some beers and breweries were not included in the book, probably having started since seven years ago. As I don't count foreign beers, I just perused the menus and drank what took my fancy so I probably missed lots of very rare beers but foreign beer just goes over my head. There are some photos of the beer menus in some pubs when I remembered to take them.

Friday 26th June ----------------

Arrived at the station about 10pm, the plane having been delayed by an hour when leaving Gatwick. Very hot and humid and once booked into the Ibis, it poured with rain for 20 minutes solid. Needing a drink, I had a quick wander around the station area but all rather busy as expected. Thought I would go west towards the start of the canal ring and Jordaan but came across a bar on the corner of Singel, the first canal.

It was called CAFE KOBALT, a modern, updated cafe, relatively empty and a live DJ mixing records after about 11pm. I had noticed a chalked board outside with a few beers with names I did not know, and desperate for a drink, I took a chance.

Cafe Kobalt, 2 Singel, Amsterdam. (6 on tap). 500ml Ij (NL) - Zatte - 8.0% (6 EUR) 500ml Bavik (B) - Witte Kerke - 5.0% (5 EUR) 500ml Heineken Brand (NL) - Up - 5.5% (EUR)

I asked for a "large" one in each case and was given almost a pint in a UK style pint glass. Fine by me. Some were shorter, some were bigger, but looks like they averaged about 500ml between the three. Also had a Christoffel beer which I was going to go back for another time but didn't. Headed back to hotel about 1am. Three nice pints, a seat and space, just what I wanted after a long, hot and sweaty journey.

Saturday 27th June ------------------

The whole point of the weekend was a ringing event at Dordrecht on the Saturday morning, so caught a train just before 9am and was there not long after 10am ready for the 10.30am start. Another hot and humid day. Got the ringing out of the way and finished about 1.30pm. Two bars in Tim's guide, one not open until the evening, only one option for a lunch time pint. A slow wander along the main shopping street (Voorstraat) and we came to Tijd at number 170. It was almost 2pm and it was closed, Tim's book saying 12 noon opening. However, lights on and owner came out to open up and greet us.

Tijd, 170 Voorstraat, Dordrecht. (8 on tap). 330ml? Van Ecke (B) - Poperings Hommelbier - 6.5% (3.50 EUR) 330ml? Van Steenberge (B) - Corsendonk Pater - 7.5% (4.10 EUR)

Very fiendly owner as suggested in Tim's book, chatty and knowledgeable. Sat outside on the street in the sun and she came out later with some water as she had seen us drinking strong beer in the sun, very thoughtful. Also had Wychwood Hobgoblin but didn't see if it was on handpump or not as I stayed outside.

A few more hours wandering around the nice old town and harbour areas and back to Amsterdam on the train. A sleep and freshen up back at the Ibis and out onto the town at about 7.30pm. Really didn't want to do the very centre or the red light area on a Saturday night so did a few places slightly further out. Last time I was in Amsterdam as in about 1995 and most places have not changed miuch since then but Tim's book and Gazza's site confirmed the best ones to try.

I know the western canals best leading towards the Jordaan so decided to start at the Arensnest. I had been past here years back in its Beiaard days but never went in.

Arensnest, 90 Heregracht, Amsterdam. (30 on tap) 250ml Jopen (NL) - Extra Stout - 5.5% (3.40 EUR) 250ml Kolleke (NL) - Tripel - 7.5% (3.50 EUR)

Nice place, as it was early, quite empty and easy to get a seat opposite the beer menu. Took a pic of it. Apparently all Dutch beers, with a mixture of larger and artisan breweries. Possibly rare stuff there, don't know, but I think this was the best bar of the weekend. Two young guys who were very fluent in English with excellent knowledge of the beer list and styles, and able to match beers to drinkers wants, mostly tourists popping in rather than locals.

I had been in the Gollem years ago a number of times and remember well two lunchtime large glasses of Barbar honey beer. Thought it worth a try. It was busy but was able to get a seat on the corridor.

Cafe Gollem, 4 Ramsteeg, Amsterdam. (9 on tap) 330ml? Haacht (B) - Charles Quin - 9.0% (4.00 EUR)

Decent beer list, took picture the next day. Was a bit busy with the stag crowds but some locals at the back and moslty older, provincial (northern?!?!) Briish men in groups of three and four coming and going and going for the strongest beer (oopss, I opted for the strongest as well!) It's not changed in all the years since I used to go, but it's small, touristy, a good beer list and worth a quick drink or two to say you've done it.

Another memory from years back is sitting in De Beiaard on Spui watching the trams and world go by outside. It's not changed really. I went there and it was mostly empty inside, most stting outside in the warm air and it was only just getting dark at around 11pm. That is the advantage of going just after midsummers day!

The De Beiaard now own the Bekeerde Suste Brewery in Amsterdam in the former Maximillian brew pub. So, they had three of those on but as I was going to that pub tomorrow, I just had the one.

De Beiaard, 30 Spui, Amsterdam. (16 on tap) 330ml? Bekeerde Suste (NL) - De Manke Monnick - 7.2% (3.40 EUR) 330ml? Floreffe (B) - Triple - 7.5% (3.60 EUR) 500ml Weihenstephaner (D) - Dunkel - 5.3% (4.60 EUR) 330ml? Gouden Boom (B) - Steenbrugge Tripel - 8.5% (???? EUR)

I still like the place. The street outside is manic. Trams and taxis in one lane, one way traffic in the other, cycles everywhere plus two side roads coming in. No accidents for the few hours I sat there watching out the window, everyone sped past at high speed, all over the place but not one prang! The beer menu is varied and with the joe public that pop in here for a drink or two because of its loction and nice looks, it's a good introduction for them to interesting beer. Service was good and attentive as well. Finished off about 1.30am and back to the Ibis via some lovely frites and greasy mayonnaise as I knew I had nothing for breakfast!

Sunday 28th June ----------------

With no need to get up for breakfast I snoozed in until 11am to catch up on sleep. I was intending to go to Utrecht for the afternoon. It is only 30 minutes by train, a nice ride along the Amsterdam-Rhine canal. I went there last time I was in Amsterdam and enjoyed it and with a couple of good bars listed in Tim's book, it looked like a good idea.

I had looked at the timetable the day bfore and saw a Thalys ICE train to Utecht every two hours and the 12.34pm looked an obvious one to aim for. The day was looking hot and sunny already but with very high humidity, you could see the haze was almost as thick as fog.

Got to the station about 12 and picked up supplies for the day from Albert Hein. There were announcements to say that the ICE trains were not running today, so I got an earlier intercity. With a bit of slow running, I got to Utrecht about 1pm. The air conditioning on the train was very welcome!

I aimed for the Dom tower in the centre to see if there were any tours or carillon concerts. There was a tour that took an hour but that seemed like a lot and no concerts listed. Even the clock chime is very basic, not even a tune on the quarter hours. So, decided to head to the home brewery by the canal, having a walk around on the way.

Got there about 1.45pm. A large baronial hall, I decided to sit inside as it was cooler and everyone else was outside on the terraces. The bar tender said they do four beers and I tried the seasonal bokbier. He didn't say more about them but reading Tim's book, he lists three beers and a seasonal.

When finished, the other waiter came over. He confirmed the seasonal was the Drie Granen Meibock. On asking for another he suggested the Ouwe Daen which turned out to be a fantastic unfiltered wheat beer. It was spciy and refreshing but could have been a bit cooler. Just after I had ordered this, the heavens opened into what turned out to be over an hour of solid rain, most of the time very heavy. It soon cleared the terrace and delayed my plans to move on and indeed, forced me to get a third drink. Left about 3.30pm in the end after the rain had just about finished.

The three beers were probably the best three of the whole weekend with the unfiltered what beer being outstanding. You would not know that the brewery is in the Heineken stable via its ownership of Krasnapolsky Hotels. The prices were keen compared to what I had been paying in Amsterdam and it would be interesting to see if the beers get to any other Krasnapolsky hotels.

Oudaen, 99 Oude Gracht, Utrecht (Utrecht Brewery). (4 own on tap) 330ml? Utrecht (NL) - Drie Granen Meibok - 7.5% (2.75 EUR) 330ml? Utrecht (NL) - Ouwe Daen - 4.9% (2.75 EUR) 330ml? Utrecht (NL) - Linteloo Gold - 5.2% (2.50 EUR)

I walked south along the canal to the Belgie cafe as suggested in Tim's book. Was relatively empty and a good beer list of 20 beers. I ordered the Steenbrugge Tripel as it looked strong and nice but forgot I had finihed with it last night at the Beiaard. No problems, very drinkable. Got a photo of the beer menu after asking the barman. Had another beer to pass the time and left about 4.45pm to head back to Amsterdam.

Belgie, 190 Oude Gracht, Utrecht. (20 on tap) 250ml Gouden Boom (B) - Steenbrugge Tripel - 8.5% (3.00 EUR) 250ml Roman (B) - Ename Blond - 6.5% (2.40 EUR)

Back in Amsterdam, a quick pit stop back at the hotel, I decided to walk out to the Ij Brewery for a few beers as it closes at 8pm. I had been out there before. It was a very hot afternoon by now and all the rain had evaporated although it was less humid than the morning. It's a nice walk out via the red light district and the eastern canals.

Got there at about 6.45pm and had a couple of beers. Nice place as always, very spartan and clinical inside with some seating to the side but the main bar area was clear. As it was hot, everyone was outside but it was cool inside. Queues formed at the bar and the bartenders sloshed the beers into small glasses and all drinkable. Again, cheap and cheerful.

Ij Proeflokaal, 7 Funkenkade, Amsterdam. (6 own on tap) 250ml? Ij (NL) - Plzen - 5.0% (1.90 EUR) 250ml? Ij (NL) - Ijwit - 7.0% (2.20 EUR)

Next on the list to do were a few bars suggested by the Amsterdam beer guide and Tim's book ending up at the former Maximillian brewery, now called the Bekeerde Suste, which would be on the slightly more southernly route back into town.

Slightly further out from the Ij Brewery is Boulevard, Cruquisweg, which had good reviews. Found it, nice walk out and situation just beyond the railway. It did have ten beers on tap, five were quite pedestrian and the other five were more interesting but I had seen them already over the weekend, so decided to move on and head back towards town. If I had been here earlier in the weekend, I might have had a couple.

Just before the Zoo was De Grone Olifant, 510 Sarphatistraat, but as I had come down the other side of the tramlines and turned right over the canal to the zoo, I had missed it and couldn't be bothered to walk out of town another block to find the pub, so not sure what I missed!

The zoo road leads naturally back to the Nieumarkt area. At number 32, Loosje was recomended in Hugh Shipmans guide but there were just a few boring multinational beers available.

A few doors along by the canal inlet is the Bekeerde Suste brew pub. Got there about 8.30pm and as usual, everyone was sitting outside leaving lots of room inside to get a seat overlooking the bar. The two Ros beers from the brewery that I did not have last night were on, so I tried them.

Bekeerde Suste, 6-8 Kloveniersburgwal, Amsterdam. (10 on tap) 330ml? Bekeerde Suste (NL) - Blonde Ros - 6.0% (3.00 EUR) 330ml? Bekeerde Suste (NL) - Witte Ros - 5.0% (3.10 EUR)

Walking back through the centre of town, I decided to redo the western part so started in Cafe Gollem. Being Sunday night, it was much quieter and more full of locals although still a few lone tourists. Beer menu pretty much the same as Saturday night and I got a picture. Got here about 10.15pm.

Cafe Gollem, 4 Ramsteeg, Amsterdam. (9 on tap) 330ml? Gouden Boom (B) - Steenbrugge Dubbel - 6.5% (3.70 EUR)

Back around the corner to the Beiaard. Again, mostly empty and everyone outside, the traffic on the road as manic as ever, and I got to try the group's Beer of the Month from Flying Dog.

De Beiaard, 30 Spui, Amsterdam. (16 on tap) 450ml? Flying Dog (US) - Old Scratch Amber Ale - 5.5% (3.90 EUR)

(There was not much info on the beer but I was surprised to see that it was from the US checking for it now on the web. It is the same brewery, the Flying Dog logo is the same. There was no mention of this in the bar!)

It was gone 11.30pm by now so thought I would finish off at the Arensnest again with a few last ones but I got there at 11.45pm and they were just calling last orders, so just time for one. It was empty inside again, so got the seat by the beer menu and got a good picture of it. And so to bed after that and after a long, hot and sweaty day! A lot of beer was drunk, of quite high strength sometimes, but I only went to the toilet a few times and the refreshment was very welcome in the heat!

Arensnest, 90 Heregracht, Amsterdam. (30 on tap) 300ml Texels (NL) - Tripel - 8.5% (3.80 EUR)

Monday 29th June ----------------

With an afternoon flight back from Schipol, I got up about 9am and booked out the hotel about 10am. It was setting up for another scorcher of a day but with litle humidity and a nice breeze.

I had seen pictures in the guidebooks of the model village to the NW of the centre built in the 1910s, a dutch version of Rennie Mackintosh style. Spaarndammerbuurt is about two miles north-west of the station and contains four of five streets built of bricks in swervy lines abd being a lovely sunny day, I got lots of pictures of the various buildings, the main one being Het Schip (full details on Wiki).

After about half an hour of pictures, I walked back through Westerpark and the Jordaan where a local market was in progress. Most shops and banks are closed on Mondays (mornings at least I assume) so it was very busy. Getting very hot, I got back to Central Station for about 12.30pm as I thought it would be best to get to schipol earlier and enjoy the air conditoning! Anyway, train was fast, check in and security just as fast and I was airside at 1pm for a 2.55pm flight.

Average flight coming north around the M25 and into Heathrow from the west with a rather bumpy ride as we came down through the storm clouds. Left via Terminal Five, first time for me. Nice big modern building that is wonderfully quiet due to the large roof. Managed to grab a pint in the Five Tuns, the only bar on landside in Terminal Five. It's a Geronimo Inns bar and does a few beers. At 3.10/pint, it was very cheap for Heathrow!


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