Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Cracked Kettle

My first night in Amsterdam, I went to this great beer place called In de Wildeman.

It goes without saying that they had numerous excellent Dutch and Belgian beers on tap, but I was astonished to find a few American style ales on tap as well. This was a welcome surprise for me. I knew that my travels around Europe would take me to plenty of rich spirited Belgian lambics, Czech pilsners, and German weizenbocks, but I hadn't expected to see the pungent ales that I'm accustomed to having back home. I was excited by the idea that I wouldn't have to be giving up some of my favorite styled ales while I traveled around Europe.

The next day as I was biking around the canals, listening to my ipod, I passed by a window that made me come to a full stop, almost falling off my bike. Here's what I saw:

Rogue??!! In Amsterdam??! This was really too much; I had to go in. It was in this way that I discovered Amsterdam's finest spot for purchasing beer: The Cracked Kettle. Owner Jeff Cunningham is actually an American, from Boston, and he's done a great job stocking his store with a wide array of European and American beers– something for every palate.

Unfortunately, I forgot to write down all the different American beers he was stocking, but I do remember seeing Rogue, Stone, Port Brewing, Lost Abbey, Three Floyds, Russian River, Dogfish Head, Victory, Allagash, Alaskan, and Bells.

Aside from the beer selection the store just has a really amazing feel to it. Beer and wine cover every square inch of its two floors. Shelves are so stocked with beer that bottles literally hang half off. The cases extend from floor to ceiling so that you have to be careful not to kick over bottles and have to get a ladder to reach the highest shelves. The wood interior also gives it a feel more like being in someone's beer cellar or old fashioned library than beer store.

After discussing a few of the west coast smaller companies and newest brews that Jeff wasn't familiar with, he introduced me to some of the most cutting edge Dutch brewers, who are taking our American craft style to new highs.

Brouwerij de Moulen are a Dutch brewery doing some amazing work. I only tried their darker heavier beers, but it looked like they had a number of excellent varieties.

I had this Bloed, Zweet, Tranen, which was a lot like a smoked porter. I'll put up some tasting notes on it in a separate post.

They have some limited runs that have these beautiful labels that look like they were printed in the 1800's.

Of particular note from this series was a beer liqueur that they created, shown here. Yes, a beer liqueur!

I tried the Rasputin, not be confused with the Rasputin that North Coast Brewing makes. Strangely enough though, this was also a Russian Imperial Stout (I mean, the name is Rasputin) that I really liked.

The one I sampled was from a batch of only 960. It was really smooth without losing anything in richness or boldness. I don't think I've ever come across a Russian Imperial with such a perfect balance of chocolate, and yet it had just enough bite to add complexity and flavor to it.

Another recommendation was Brouwerij De Prael, based out of Amsterdam. Unfortunately, I didn't get to taste any of these so I can't say too much more about them.

Also of note was Nogne O, actually a Norwegian brewery doing some excellent beers that I've seen available in the US.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Mikkeler label. Jeff told me that unique thing about Mikkeler is that it's actually just one guy, who I believe is Norwegian. He refers to himself as a gypsy brewer because he goes around to different breweries in Europe (mostly in the Netherlands) and the US and rents the space from them to brew different batches.

After checking out his site, I was pretty amazed at how many brews he's been able to put out using this method. I was lucky enough to try the Simcoe Single Hop IPA , the Black Hole (a rip roaring Imperial Stout), and the Struise Mikkeller (a sort of IPA belgian hybrid).

I was seriously impressed by the stuff that Mikkeller is doing and from the beers that I tasted and saw, it seems like we enjoy the same beers. So of course, I was overjoyed when I went to Beverage Warehouse last week and found that they were able to bring over a few Mikkellers.

After spending some time browsing through the store and talking with Jeff, I packed up a few of these bottles and set off on my bike around Amsterdam eager to try more. Next time you're in Amsterdam, definitely stop by this shop!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rather cool blog you've got here. Thanx for it. I like such themes and everything connected to this matter. BTW, try to add some photos :).