Saturday, 24 May 2008


Dutch pubs are scheduled to go smoke-free on July 1st. I say scheduled, because some landlords are still trying to fight the decision.

There was an item on the local news last night about the objections from the trade. It was claimed that the new rules would be disastrous for small pubs, of which Amsterdam has hundreds. The location they'd chosen to illustrate the point was the Pilsener Club. Sure enough, it's pretty small. It's also pretty good and quite unusual. There's no bar counter. They sell a few decent beers, including Van Vollenhoven's Stout, and have a good range of jenevers. Now here's the irony. The reason I don't visit it more often is because it's unbearably smoky.

Just how smoky was demonstrated very well. The walls are dark brown, but they moved a picture aside to show the original colour: pale cream. Once smoking has been banned, how are brown cafés going to become brown? Until now they've relied on customer-supplied nicotine staining. Sounds like an opportunity to me for a new "nicotine-brown" shade of paint. Or are we going to have to start calling Amsterdam's traditional pubs cream cafés?


The Beer Nut said...

Nicotine paint already exists: it's part of the standard Oirish pub kit, along with wall-mountable bicycles and all our missing signposts.

Ron Pattinson said...

When are you coming to Amsterdam again? I want to buy you several pints.

Kristen England said...

The Minneapolis and St Paul city councils decided it was a great idea to ban smoking in the Twin Cities without a state-wide ban. Yeah, about 30-40% of small bars had to close their doors b/c smokers would drive 5 min to get outside the city limits to go to a bar with smoking.

The state banned smoking overall about 6 months later. Studies were done showing that if the ban had been statewide, these bars wouldn't have had to close. Great planning...bloody pillocks. They defend themselves saying they were the ones who caused the overall smoking ban which is nonsense b/c the other bill was already proposed.

Ron Pattinson said...

Kristen, not great planning.

I'm so looking forward to the smoking ban. Loads of pubs I've given up going to in the winter because they get so smoky.

Joel said...

Amsterdam without the indoor smoke is going to be fantastic. Colorado went smoke-free a while back and as near as I could tell the places that were hardest hit were nasty dive bars where lonely pensioners sat under buzzing florescent lights, smoked madly and drank cheap tap beer while watching the bar TV. No characterful place that I know of closed down, dive or not, as a result of the ban.

I've been driven out of the pubs by the smoke, and back in by the rain and cold enough times to really look forward to this.

BTW I could swear some of the handrolled cigs I smell in Amsterdam pubs have an unusual pungent resinous odor to them... has anyone else noticed this? Some % alternative herb?

Andy Holmes said...

Joel, weed being smoked in Amsterdam? That's hardly news.

Anyone else think that the days of smoke free pubs might be bad news for tasteless beers, since people will start to be able to taste what they're drinking again?

The Beer Nut said...

Ron, I took your ultimatum on getting to Amsterdam before the end of summer if I wanted to steal any of your Whitbreads quite seriously.

I'm hoping I'll be able to squeeze in a flying visit some time in August, but I don't yet know when. Rest assured you'll hear about it.

Spencer said...

Michigan is currently debating a smoking ban. It has passed the state senate and is held up in the house. I need to write my rep and tell him to get it going. Yes, there are many good establishments that I don't visit because of the smoke. Luckily, my three favorite local brewpubs all have non-smoking bars. The other one, to which I went in spite of the smoke, but not as often as I might have, just closed, because the owners got sick of the Michigan regulatory crap around distilling. They're moving to Colorado. I will miss them.