Amsterdam, Netherlands http://www.indewildeman.nl/
Bourdain visited during a layover. Google anything related to craft beer in the Dutch capital and In de Wildeman will invariably be listed. The Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland even saw fit to brew a special In de Wildeman Farmhouse IPA to toast the pub on its 25th anniversary, which is now brewed year-round as simply Wildeman Farmhouse IPA. Basically, this bierproeflokaal in a little medieval alleyway is perhaps the first destination for any craft beer enthusiast in Amsterdam.
Having first visited the Hermitage Museum and getting our fill of Van Gogh to keep our activities properly balanced between intellectually stimulating and debilitating, the bitter March cold had us seeking refuge not far from the Centraal Station we had just exited. Warm restaurants, coffee houses, and pubs flying the Heineken flag lined the narrow, cobble-stoned streets, but we were headed for Kolksteeg with singular purpose. There, a sign bearing the club-wielding caveman hung from a building dating back to the 17th century, beckoning to us with the promise of sanctuary within.
Quite a few languages were spoken in the room packed with patrons who had obviously had the same idea. We hovered about for a few minutes before snagging a tiny table by the door that nevertheless met our spartan needs of supporting two beers and some bittergarnituur, the savory snacks served at bars and restaurants, in our case creamy Dutch cheese with spicy mustard and some wasabi peanuts. Singes the nostrils. In any event, somewhat bewildered by the vast menu of hundreds of available bottles, primarily Dutch and Belgian, I started with a local IPA, Tasty Lady from the Brouwerij de Eem, notable for being brewed exclusively by women, as recommended by our helpful bartender. It didn’t have quite the hop punch I was anticipating, more along the lines of a pale ale, but I was confident the Brouwerij de Molen would pull through for me, so I next went with their Vuur & Vlam (Fire & Flame), an American-style IPA with a lovely aroma that was exactly what I was looking for and paired nicely with the spicy comestibles.
Just like getting out of bed on a cold winter morning, it was tough to roust ourselves from the pub’s warm atmosphere and friendly staff. As we thought about settling up, I spied on the wall a list of sours, lambics, and geuzes from revered breweries like Cantillon. We ended up splitting one of those white whales, the Oude Geuze from Drie Fonteinen, one of the finest examples of the style, a dry, intense sour with some mild fruitiness. Our bartender had just gotten off her shift, and cheerfully sat down with us and took the time to make notes on our map of all the places we needed to visit, an insider’s guide to Amsterdam. That’s one thing about the Dutch, they’re eager to show off the country and cities they’re so proud of, and rightfully so. We bundled up and headed out into the night, glad to have stopped by the Wildeman, but looking forward to the next adventure.