BeerTemple

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Amsterdam, Netherlands

Once our friendly guide at In de Wildeman had laid out a map of all the places we should visit, the next stop was the BeerTemple. When traveling, I always like to get into the native trenches as much as possible – avoiding anything Americanized or touristy – so things with English names always give me pause. They can often be pandering or seeking some foreign cachet to mask the mediocrity within. Stateside, the same is true in reverse. Walking around China I’ve seen grammatically incorrect English t-shirts, just as Americans will pretty much buy anything as long as it’s in French.

Beer Temple listBut that’s not always the case. If you’re a French bakery, it makes sense to be named something like Le Pain Quotidien, and if you’re a Dutch bar specializing in American craft beer, well, then the BeerTemple works. The owner, Peter van der Arend, also owns ‘t Arendsnest, a pub that serves exclusively Dutch beer along with local jenevers and produce. It’s still on my to-do list, as it was a bit out of our way last time. But the BeerTemple was calling, and even though Texas has gotten some incredible distribution the last couple of years, there were plenty of American brews I was envious to find in the Netherlands that I couldn’t even get back home in Houston, not to mention the foreign beers that are tough to find no matter where you are. Like that Westvleteren 12 just casually listed on the chalkboard.

BeerTempleArend is a fixture in the Dutch beer community, and after founding the De Snaterende Arend brewery with partner Marcel Snater, he collaborated first with Proefbrouwerij and now with Jopen to brew house beers for both Arendsnest and BeerTemple, the latter called Tempelbier. It’s a nice, light-bodied golden ale that makes a good middle of the road beer when the rest of the wall is festooned with high IBU and high ABV brews, like BrewDog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin. Technically an imperial stout, it’s more like whiskey, brewed to an astronomical 32% ABV by the maniacal Scottish brewery. Served in a small snifter with just a few milliliters, you get an immediate boozy nose and a sharp alcohol burn from a beer stretched to within an inch of the definition. For the stoic, you’ll detect some smoked malt and toffee notes on the finish.

Thankfully, after such a potent potable, the BeerTemple also serves small plates of Dutch cheese and charcuterie. And, being March, the booze steeled our veins against the bitterly cold night just outside the pub doors. Before leaving, I had to try the highly sought after cognac barrel-aged Beer Geek Brunch Weasel from Denmark’s Mikkeller. Boozy, but tame in comparison at nearly 11%, it had nice barrel notes of vanilla, some earthy, acrid coffee like kopi luwak and, if you can hack your way through the dense foliage of those flavors, some subtle fruitiness within.

The garden of earthly delights that is Amsterdam needs no comment here, but if you find yourself making the pilgrimage and looking for craft beer both American and European, the BeerTemple is your mecca.

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