Tuesday, 27 November 2007

How To Shop For Beer In Holland

Shopping for beer is suprisingly easy in Holland. If you're happy to drink Trappist or Duvel. Which I am. Supermarkets, off-licences and specialist beer shops all play their part in providing the innebriate easy ale access.

Dutch supermarkets, while stocking far fewer brands that their UK equivalents, have a much higher porportion of drinkable stuff on their shelves. My local Dirk van den Broek (a budget chain) sells maybe 30 different beers, but these include La Trappe Dubbel, Tripel and Quadrupel, both Westmalle beers, Duvel and Grolsch Weizen. Around 1 in 4 drinkable isn't a bad ratio. Even in large, up-market British shops I struggle to find 7 beers worth supping out of the hundreds (mostly industrial lager) brands on sale.

I'm especially lucky when it comes to buying beer. (Or any other sort of alcoholic drink, for that matter.) I live just around the corner from an excellent off-licence, Ton Overmars. Whisky and wine are his specialities, but he still manages to stock around 100 beers. Including my essential staples: St Bernardus 6, 8 and 12 and Guinness Special Export. For everyday use, I need to stray no further.

For those with more exotic tastes, The Netherlands is reasonabley well-served with specialist beer shops. Amsterdam has two excellent ones: De Bierkoning and De Gekraakte Ketel. Both are in the centre and easy to find even for the doziest of tourists. Sadly, the Amsterdam branch of Bert's Bierhuis closed years ago. The one in Utrecht is still thriving, however. It's on the edge of the old city but is opposite a beer cafe, Ledig Erf. Just south of Amsterdam, De Schans brewery has a pretty decent beer shop (but sadly nowhere to drink).

Most essential is the correct bag. I recommend a bluey-grey, corduroy, DDR-style bag. It's what I always use. The extra thickness helps protect beer from shocks (or putting down too hard on the pavement) and the structure help keep bottles upright. The original wore out years ago, but my wife has made several more to replace it. One of the many advantages of marrying someone from the East.

If you're buying beer for immediate consumption, you need to pay attention at the supermarket checkout. The girls on the till have a nasty habit of laying bottles in their side and rolling them down the conveyor. Pretty much guaranteed to disturb the yeast.

In summary, supermarkets are fine if you're not too fussy, in most big towns you should find an off-licence with a better selection, for the really picky, a visit to Amsterdam or Utrecht may be needed.

De Bierkoning
Paleisstraat 125,
1012 ZL Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-625 6336

De Gekraakte Ketel
Raamsteeg 3,
1012VZ Amsterdam.
Tel: 020-6240745
Email: jeff@crackedkettle.com

Wijnwinkel-Slijterij Ton Overmars
Hoofddorpplein 11,
1059CV Amsterdam.
Tel: 020-615 71 42
Fax: 020-615 01 99
Email: info@tonovermars.nl

Speciaalzaak De Schans
De Schans 17,
1421 BA Uithoorn.
Tel.: 0297-522106
Fax: 0297-522107
Email: info@schansbier.nl

Bert's Bierhuis
Twijnstraat 41,
3511 ZH Utrecht.
Tel. : 030 - 234 1339
Fax: 030 - 234 3166
Email: bertsbierhuis@hetnet.nl.
Homepage: http://www.bertsbierhuis.nl

Ledig Erf
Tolsteegbrug 3,
3511 ZN Utrecht.
Tel. : 030 - 231 7577
Fax: 030 - 234 2229
Homepage: http://www.ledigerf.nl

There may be some disruption to my usually excellent service this week. I'm upgrading my PC. My hard drive is pathetically small (20 gig) and almost full. Twin archive visit next week will provide way more photos than it has room for. I'll need to reinstall the operating system. (Well, Dolores will.) And you never know what problems this might cause.


Stonch said...

I remember your DDR bag from Franconia. You eccentric loon!

Alan said...

Cracked Kettle was one of my first sponsors but, of course, I never got to visit their shop. Glad to hear it is so good.

Ron Pattinson said...

DDR bags rule.

I dropped by Cracked Kettle on Sunday for the first time in a while. A great beer shop. And one I would be proud to be sponsored by.

No-one ever asks to sponsor me. What am I doing wrong? I stand in awe of you and Stonch, Alan.

Alan said...

We are pushy and abusive. CK actually worked for in-kind. Something you might want to raise with them.

Alan "Knuckles" McLeod