Monday, 30 August 2010

het Gemaal

"Do you mean to say you haven't been there?"

"No, I haven't."

"The most beautiful terrace in Amsterdam. You should be ashamed of yourself."

After that harrangue from one of the barmaids in Wildeman, I just had to visit het Gemaal ASAP. I don't want to be shown up in front of my friends again.

The tricky bit is finding it. The pub being in the middle of Flevo Park. I suggest taking the tram 14 or 7 to the terminus. Then take the path leading into the park. After a couple of hundred metres you should be able to glimpse het Gemaal through the trees.

It's not a huge building. Just a single room, really. But then there's the terrace. It really does have a beautiful view, out over a small lake. Next to the pub a small orchard has been planted . Should look lovely in a year or two.

You might have noticed that the beer selection is rather limited. Only four options in all. But all rare sightings in Amsterdam. I've never seen Konrad beers anywhere else in the city. Or anywhere else at all. The come from the Pivovary Vratislavice in the Czech Republic. They have a bottled Polotmavý Ležák. That's an Amber Lagerbier to the unititiated. One of the many Czech beer styles that manage to escape the notice of style nazis. They can't be looking very hard. (Of course they aren't. No further than the last Charlie Papazian work of fiction.)

But, for once, it's neither the beer nor the ambience that's dragged me out here. It's the jenever. Because het Gemaal will be a pub distillery. When the distillery is up and running. They already sell their own range of contract distilled jenevers. Including a three-year old Rogge (rye) jenever. Very nice it is. It almost made me forget the sad passing of Jansens Rogge, the stock of whhich I finally exhausted last month.

Het gemaal is well worth the ride out from the city centre. And the park seemed much less infested with junkies and alcies than I'd feared.

Proeflokaal het Gemaal
Flevopark 13,
1095 KE Amsterdam.
Tel: 06 40100909


Ed Carson said...

Idea: beer style guidelines= commercial beers available in USA in 1978 + beers mentioned in Michael Jackson's "Pocket guide to beer" 1st ed. Discuss.

Gary Gillman said...

Commercial beers in 1978 in the U.S. were essentially the international lager style. There was some ale and cream ale, some of which was top-fermented, and a little top-fermented porter (just Anchor's, I think). Jackson built his schema in part on earlier efforts including, in my opinion, Wahl & Henius early 1900's textbook and Andrew Campbell's 1950's book. All pioneers have to start somewhere...

Of course, Jackson enlarged enormously on the basic classifications. He used his writing skills and literary imagination in the effort, thus e.g., creating the romance of Imperial Russian Stout, India Pale Ale and Trappist monastery beer.

The process of understanding beer and brewing history is a series of stepping stones since (essentially) the 1800's. Some were small, some were medium-size, some were large. His was the biggest, to date.

Today, beer historical studies are more fragmented than in 1978-1990. You have specialist historical books and of course much activity on various blogs not least this one. It will all filter down to the popular level but this will take some time.


Ron Pattinson said...

Ed, I think you're pretty close to the mark there.

It's precisely the ones missing from that scheme that interest me. Like Burton. And Old Burton.

Ed Carson said...

@Gary, I'm not just talking about domestics. I'm also referencing imports. A large number of those were German,but also British beer like Bass and Whitbread.(Bottled of course)
And Michael Jackson's enthusiam for the World of Belgian Beer is probably why there are 47 million "Belgian" beers in the style guidelines and there are 2 Czech ones.
@Ron, The Robert Smith Brewing Co. of Philadelphia in 1905 compared its ale to the finest Burton ales in its advertising. Also, I think Burton got lumped into Pale Ale along with Mild in that late 1970's scheme

Gary Gillman said...

Michael Jackson referred to Burton Ale (the pre-pale ale beer of the area) in the 1978 World Guide to Beer. It's there - albeit not developed the way he did his other rubrics, because Burton had withered as a separate style. To the extent it still existed, he covered it in the Barley Wine chapter.


Thomas Barnes said...

Ron: I think it's unfair to call the creators of style guidelines "style Nazis," since that implies rigidity, intolerance and dogmatism I've yet to see in anyone in the beer community, except for half-informed "homebrew twats" and people who complain about "style Nazis."

It's easy to lob insults, but more productive to use more peaceful means of communication.

Were you to approach Mr. Papazian with well-documented information about current brewing practice, he would probably change the BA guidelines in light of your information and thank you for it.

Were you to approach the BJCP style committee with documentable evidence of mistakes in the current guidelines, they'd fix those mistakes in the next edition.

It is an unarguable fact that both sets of style guidelines miss a lot and contain inaccuracies - especially regarding European beer styles. It's likely a fair cop that they are written by people who are badly educated about beer history and who don't do enough independent research. But, don't mistake ignorance and honest errors for malice!

Thomas Barnes said...

@Ed Carson: The sources used to design the BJCP Guidelines and the Brewer's Association guidelines are no secret. The BA guidelines list their sources in the introduction. The BJCP guidelines list most of their sources in the "Exam Study Guide" available on their web site.

The BJCP guidelines are developed by a committee of amateur beer aficionados mostly based in the United States. They're heavily influenced by the works of Michael Jackson (especially "World Guide to Beer" and "Complete Guide to Beer"), and to a lesser extent the works of Fred Eckhardt, Roger Protz and the various writers in the Brewers Association "Brewing in Styles" book series, with a few nods to historical beer sources such as Wahl & Henius.

The Brewers Association Guidelines are largely the creation of Charlie Papazian. They are are heavily influenced by "Professor Anton Piendl's comprehensive work published in the German Brauindustrie magazine through the years 1982 to 1994, from the series "Biere Aus Aller Welt." (Quote taken from the introduction to the BA guidelines.)

Beyond that, Mr. Papazian does some research into current brewing practice, but because he has editorial control, he is much freer to add, delete and alter styles as he sees fit. He doesn't make stuff up; but he's a very imaginative man who likes to place things in tidy categories and has compelling commercial reasons to do so.

In both cases, the guidelines are designed to regulate brewing competitions. For that reason, they are just as arbitrary as the standards for judging dog breeds. They are as much a tool, and an artifact of their time, as broadsheet listing beers sold by a 19th century London brewer.