Andrew's birthday treat was a ride on the Pancake Boat. It's an odd, but simple idea. A boat that cruises Amsterdam's waterfront upon which you can eat all the pancakes you want.
The only slight drawback is that the journey starts at end at the NDSM werf. A little ferry landing on an industrial estate in Amsterdam North. The only way to get to that is a ferry that runs from behind Central Station. At least the ferry is free.
On a fine, sunny day, the ferry ride is very pleasant. Watching how it weaves between the heavy traffic on the Ij. Trying to spot where I could so easily have fallen to my death at the back of the Silo. I rarely see Amsterdam from this perspective. It adds a layer of mystery to known neighbourhoods. And it's nice and cool.
We have to hang around for a while before the Pancake Boat is ready for boarding. As soon as it is, a gossip of grannies crowd towards the front, brushing aside children with their zimmer frames. You'd expect oldies to have rather better queueing etiquette. I don't know, old people today aren't like they used to be. I blame their parents.
We're assigned a table on the upper deck. You get a better view and there's more of a breeze sweeping through. Getting your scran couldn't be simpler. At a hatch, there are three piles of pancakes, plain, apple and bacon. You collect one then proceed to the topping completion section. There you can sprinkle your bacon pancake with chocolate flakes and brown sugar. Or cheese up your apple pancake. Anything is possible, no matter how disgusting.
This is supposed to be a beer blog, isn't it? Better tell you about the beer, then. A waiter comes to the table to take our drinks order. The best beer available is Leffe Bruin. So I order a jonge jenever, too. Just to take the nasty taste of the Leffe away, honestly. We're only on the boat an hour. And after my third bacon pancake stuffed with cheese and ham, I was starting to feel a little full. Or maybe it was just the general nastiness of the Leffe. Whatever the cause, I only managed a single beer. Shame on me.
We just managed to catch the ferry back to civilisation. Missed, we'd have had a half hour to wait for the next. "Shall we have a drink somewhere in town?" I rarely get invited to the pub by Dolores. I'm not going to miss this chance. "How about Wildeman?" I suggest. The kids are surprisingly enthusiastic, so Wildeman it is.
I'm going through a masochist phase. How else to explain buying a Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter? A pint of it. I'm trying very hard to give American Stouts a fair chance, that must be it.
The Yeti, though by no means my perfect beer, I happily drank two glasses of. The Gonzo defeated me. As you can see by my unfinished glass. The hops just totally overwhelm everything else, except for a little black treacle from the malt. Exactly what makes this a Porter? The impact of an uber-hopped IPA is somehow diminished when every other style is hopped the same way. [Huge generalisation warning!!!! The following statement does not apply to every American beer] It's the one thing that pisses me off about American beer, that every style tends to get hopped in a similar way. Whether it fits that particular style or not. [Huge generalisation all-clear.] If I want a bagload of cascades, I'll buy an IPA, not a Porter.
The long and the short of it is, I left about a third of my Gonzo. Then we got the tram home. Where a nice warm St. Bernardus Abt was waiting for me. In a Chimay glass. You can't beat home.
Rejoice at the CAMRA vote! - *I've found the recent outbreak of people spouting nonsense about CAMRA surprisingly disturbing*. But I have to accept that everyone can get it wrong and ...
3 hours ago