I really had no idea what to expect. We took off from Boston heading to Frankfurt, Germany for a quick layover on our way to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is where we begun our epic beer and boat cruise set up by Mike and Ruth Berman of Bon Beer Voyage. This journey would take us from Amsterdam to Bruge via a barge. I have never done any tourist group traveling before. Well, there was one time I did a beer writers trip to Bavaria, but that was so much work. Seven days worth of traveling and it felt like a month's worth. We were a little skeptical that this might turn out to be the same kind of deal with a lot of work to be done and little time for soaking it all in. That was so not the case.
I think the best way to approach these posts is to do it one day at a time. I used my iPhone for everything. Some pictures came out great and some came out a little blurry. But overall you will get the gist of this trip. It was pretty damn amazing. This is what happened to us for a day or pregaming before the boat cruise.
We left Boston on Lufthansa, Frankfurt bound. I got to say, first cruddy meal I've had from Lufthansa. Generally they are pretty good. Well, as good as airline food can be when you are not flying first class. This was some sort of chicken teriyaki that took me almost 15 minutes to get into because it was so hot and of course it's metal covering was impenetrable with that heat. I know, that sounds ridiculous. But then when I finally got it open, it was all dried up and over cooked. Whatever! There was plenty of wine to be had and I knocked myself out.
We landed in Frankfurt at around 7 am. Luckily it's Europe, and this bitch likes to drink! Open at 7 am was a weird noodle bar that also served Euro-style sandwiches and beer. I needed something to settle my stomach. Whiskey-cola it is! Coke tastes better in Europe and I can drink whiskey-colas until the sun comes up. It helps settle my stomach when there has been too much beer. Or too many funky beers.
We left Frankfurt and headed to Amsterdam. First time to the land of clogs, cheese, tulips, and windmills.
Flying into Amsterdam was really quite special. I thought these pictures would come out better than they did. The sun was rising, and the perfectly manicured farms were really amazing to see from that height. The colors were so much more vivid than the pictures indicate. You could see the windmills, you could see the systems of dikes and water ways. It was truly a wonderful way to come in.
We got ourselves situated at our hotel and then headed out for some beer! We arrived a day early to get ourselves acclimated and check out Amsterdam. It was the first time for me, Todd, and Jason. So we wanted to check it out a bit. The Anne Frank House tours were sold out so I didn't bother with that, but I wanted to mention that it was at the top of my list. I love WWII history, but in a way I am glad I didn't get to go see it. It would have been way to emotional for me to see that. This trip was about beer and fun. That would have been way too heavy to set the mood for the trip.
So many tourists were everywhere. But Amsterdam is such a lovely city to get lost in. At least around the inner loops of the city. Cool architecture and of course the canals with ducks swimming around.
Thankfully Brouwerji De Prael was right around the corner from our hotel, so we headed their first. We needed beers and a few snacks. Some gouda and spent grain crackers, meatballs, and croquettes. Perfect bar food. Todd and Jason jumped right into all the beers.
The best part of this place are the record albums that go with the beers. Hilarious!
After hanging out for a while, we took a short drive outside of Amsterdam to a really awesome brewery called The Seven Virtues. This is a new but small operation where they owner helps troubled youth or people with a record get skills and actual hands on experience brewing beers that will in turn will be able to take as a life skill with them down the road. It was about a 20 minute drive or so outside of the city but you felt like you were out in the country. There were cats chilling out in this field chasing mice. It was like a scene out of a movie. Relaxing and beautiful.
We sat down and tasted every one of the beers from their collection. These were very impressive beers. Very creative and off the rails for European standards. We enjoyed all of them.
Yeah I know that's image heavy on the beers, but I wanted to show them all off because they were all very good and unique with spices and flavors. We had cheese and discussed their bee keeping out there on the farm. It's a wonderful little place and I recommend if anyone is going over seas, to schedule a tasting here. Remember it's outside of the city, but it's well worth it.
From there we decided we needed some dinner. We found a random restaurant and decided it sounded good. It was next to a hash house, but no we didn't go in and smoke. Decided not to after all the beers we had been drinking (me with the whiskey colas) since 7 am. Mixing wasn't the smartest thing to do. So many people make that the only thing Amsterdam is worth. Maybe one day we will too. But this trip was about the beer.
Back to the whiskey cola's and spirit for the big guys. And then someone had the bright idea to order raw deer sausage. I just stuck with a nice bowl of stew. It was delicious!
We continued on drinking checking out an Amstel bar. It was bizarre and red. Completely loaded with tourists, but we wanted to make one go at Amstel. Never had it over seas before and never had the non-light version. There was a cool cat walking all over the bar. Cats everywhere in Amsterdam. My kind of town.
We ended up for the rest of the night in a stumbled-upon locals bar. One you wouldn't necessarily write home about, but one you would go back and visit just to see who is still hanging around. We had a great time meeting everyone. I drank an entire bottle of Dutch whiskey of some sort. We almost had our night ruined by some asshole who was anti-American. Just some random jerk looking to talk shit to foreigners. But the rest of the bar sorted him out and everyone was really nice to us. I ended passing out on the floor of our hotel suite. If you aren't going to smoke Amsterdam, you might as well drink the shit out of it!