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29-09-2016, 13:03
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In early Autumn sunshine, Amsterdam is quite delightful. From our hotel near the rather grand Concertgebouw it was a nice stroll across the park to the Van Gogh museum (unmissable) and the Rijksmuseum (less so). But man does not live by culture alone and after a visit to either icon of enlightenment, a spot of liquid refreshment is required. Now of course you could repair to any number of local outlets for the ubiquitous Heineken, but if you want to drink in pubs of the company that put the lack into lustre, that's fine, but there are other options.

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In what might roughly be called the centre of town, not far off Dam, is one of the most famous of boozers, In De Wildeman. The pubs own website describes it as "one of the best places in Amsterdam to taste new beers or simply drink your personal favourite". That's exactly so. I took our small party of six in after their visit to the hidden Catholic Church, a spot of culture I opted out of, preferring to sit in the sunshine at the canalside, watching the world go by. This is an old fashioned boozer with multi rooms, a soothing atmosphere and a warm welcome from the barmaid, a Mrs Doyle look and sound-alike who was pleasantly helpful and gratifyingly, Irish. My pals and E all drank Jever. OK it isn't Dutch, but it is good. I too avoided Dutch beer, not through any bias, but because I fancied some Weihenstephaner. Cheesy and (raw) sausagey snacks provided the sustenance to see us through another couple of rounds. It is that kind of place.

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oU8Rlus3SO0/V-0It9rU48I/AAAAAAAAGnI/sh2Sbh7KZmEJUJJoZoQGOoYp7SZ6ts30ACLcB/s320/arendsnest.jpg (https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oU8Rlus3SO0/V-0It9rU48I/AAAAAAAAGnI/sh2Sbh7KZmEJUJJoZoQGOoYp7SZ6ts30ACLcB/s1600/arendsnest.jpg)Two of our party left for different things and four of us decided, on my prompting admittedly, to visit another icon, Arendsnest. We asked a friendly local for directions. "Two canals over and on the left." Oddly, one canal over and the noise and bustle of the city receded. Two canals over and it had gone, giving way to a sedate residential area which was a pleasure to stroll in. The bar itself is in a handsome terrace and is beautifully appointed. It serves only Dutch beers. The greeting here couldn't have been better and the smiling barmaid insisted in giving us tasters and happily talked us through the draft beers. We stayed for two, or was it three? Time ticked by gently and both the beer and welcome made you glad to be there.

A day later, E and I visited Beer Temple, an American beer bar on Voorburgwal. This is described on t'internet variously as "cosy" or "relaxed". We both thought it a bit of a dump in need of a clean and although the beer was fine, it reminded us that there is more to a drinking establishment than a good beer list.

When did Heineken become so undrinkable? It used to be reasonbaly quaffable, but now seems sweet and turgid.

Beer in Amsterdam isn't cheap, but pick the right places and you still get value. Pick the normal places and you get Heineken at €5.80 a half litre. Top tip. If in a Heineken joint, buy Duvel.

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