I’m a little ashamed to admit that if you had asked me about beer in the Netherlands, I would have probably answered La Trappe, Heineken, and Grolsch. However, I recently visited Amsterdam and a whole new world of beer opened up for me.
Preparing for my trip to Amsterdam, I read about a pub called “In de Wildeman“. People that had visited “In de Wildeman” were ecstatic in their praises and I now know why. “In de Wildeman” has a great selection of beers and an extremely knowledgeable staff. In addition to their normal beer menu, be certain to ask for two other menus – 1) the Book of Lambics, Gueuze, and Sours and 2) “The Book of Big Black Barrel Aged Bastards of Beers”.
Two of the beers I had (found in book 2) were De Molen “Hel & Verdoemenis” (Hell and Damnation) Misto and Emelisse “Imperial Russian Stout”. However, the special versions I had were also barrel aged. I’m getting giddy just thinking back on these beers!
The De Molen was aged in Austin Nichols Wild Turkey and new charred bourbon barrels and then blended. This beer is 11% ABV. The beer I had was bottled on 28 Jan 2013. The beer pours very dark with a ring of tan foam. The beer has an INTENSE aroma of bourbon, chocolate, licorice, and even charring. Take a sip and your mouth wants to start chewing because the beer is so full on the palate. The taste is amazingly complex with distinct flavors of bourbon, chocolate, nuts, molasses, malt, charring, and licorice. A malty chocolate bourbon aftertaste remains. This beer is world class and there is no doubt in my mind that this beer will age to become even better. Actually, the label states that you should “Enjoy within 25 years”.
The Emelisse IRS was aged in Caol Ila barrels (Caol Ila is a distillery on the Isle of Islay in Scotland). The beer is 11% ABV. This beer pours very dark with a nice tan foam. The beer has a MASSIVE whisky and peat aroma with hints of vanilla, prunes, and chocolate. One sip and you will be floored by flavors of peat whisky, roasted malt, coffee, licorice, chocolate, and even a hint of ash. The beer finishes with tastes of smoke, peat, and vanilla. This is an amazing beer that is not for the faint of heart.
As I look back, I’m already seeking ways to acquire these beers again (as well as kicking myself for not bringing any back) and have a significantly expanded appreciation for brewing in the Netherlands. I also know that any trip even close to Amsterdam warrants diverting to “In de Wildeman“.