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Barbar Honey beer. Photocredit: Kelley Mak

So had a couple Californi-cation-ers visiting me in Amsterdam last week. Awesome people. Lots of laughs. Lots of adventures.

A week later my liver is still shaking in its boots and struggling to recover.

The average person knows that in Europe they have great beer. Some folks will even know that Heineken is a Dutch company (You can get glimpses of Mrs. Heineken – the dowager in charge of the empire – cruising around Amsterdam in her giant black car.) Some folks realize that ‘Oktoberfest’ is something that is really all about the beer gardens of Germany and not about hooking up in a club in downtown San Diego. And a select few know that the King of Beers… the country with the most registered types and trademarks and tastiest varieties… is Belgium.

Windmill above the Brouwerij t’Ij

Guess what country is next door to the Netherlands… :)

So one of the HUGE perks of a visit in Amsterdam is tasting local brews that are trying to challenge the supremacy of the Belgians… and then of course… taking advantage of readily available AMAZING Belgian beers.

DISCLOSURE: I’m a wine drinker… and some wines may have more alcohol than beer… but I process wine better. So some of what I am about to share has been extrapolated from the data available via photos… many of which we are certain someone else took after they stole our cameras from our bags, took pictures,  and returned them to us later that night.

t’Ij beer and tour tokens: Photocredit Kelley Mak

So let’s start with location and local flavor:
– If you want the most quaintest spot to drink a beer that you could possibly imagine… find a sunny afternoon and go beer tasting underneath the windmill of the Brouwerij t’Ij. This local brewery serves a variety of colors and types of beers, all brewed on location (they even feed the dredges from the barrels to the goats at a nearby farm… so you can end up with goat cheese tasting like the beer you are drinking. lol) The terrace in front of the building, shaded by vines and the shadows of the windmill… makes an ideal spot to try some incredible beers, eat some cheese to cut through the malts, and have a great time with friends. The Brouwerij t’Ij is only open from 2pm till 8pm though, so make sure you get there in time! At 4pm there is a tour of their brewery in English… SO worth the €4.50 – it includes a beer and a slightly tipsy tour guide who shares all sorts of fascinating info and dirt on the ‘evil Heineken empire.’ Try my favorite… the Zatte… tangy and easy to drink. Too easy to drink.

Great spot to spend an afternoon- Brouwerij t’Ij terrace

Next up… also a great location (in terms of interior ambience and colorful things to watch in the neighborhood!)… Brouwerij de Prael… smack in the heart of the Red Light District. One of the nice things about this spot is that you don’t realize the location once you are inside it’s welcoming and slick interior. (It’s a bit of a shock when you stumble out though!) Again a spot featuring it’s own local beers… de Prael also has some tasty snacks… often has live music… and is the kind of place where you can bring the whole family and a dog around 3pm… and by 8pm you can order your beer of choice with it’s funny name in a completely different atmosphere. Try the 11.5% seasonal beer the ‘Willy’… tastes like chocolate ice cream and goes down like heaven.

Hanging at de Prael :)

And now my current favorite – partially because it hits high marks on TWO of my favorite things… drinks AND food… De Zotte. Located in a tiny side street near the Melkweg concert space… this Belgian beer ‘proeflocaal’ or tasting-space… has a menu of beers so overwhelming that you either need to use the point-and-pray approach or you need a local well steeped in hops to show you the ropes. Luckily I was able to try both approaches :)

De Zotte’s beer selection aside – the food was so good that I felt the need for a moment of silence while eating. So what if a moan

De Prael’s Willy Beer: Photocredit Kelley Mak

escaped? So what if I licked the remnants of my steak sauce off the plate? What’s the problem with ANY of that?!?!? I used my finger to lick it up!!!! ;)

My favorite moments of ‘De Zotte Night’ – other than wondering how the ‘be-zotte-d’ – got home… The Barbar beer – a honey beer that went down like a summer day; the Moeder Overste beer (meaning, Mother Superior) – a triple beer that is full and has a strong taste; the Trappistes Rochefort 10 – an 11.3% reddish-brown luscious lobotomy.

According to the bill I found the next day… there were many, many more…

Cosy interior of De Zotte

But what I CAN say.. no Heinekens in sight!

Major thank you to my friend and fellow-adventurer in life, Kelley Mak, for allowing me to use her pics! For those of you who don’t know the great sound of Kelley Mak’s music, check it out now on https://www.facebook.com/kelleymakattack