Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Splendid Time

Had the pleasure of attending a splendid surprise birthday party for someone, made more splendid as said surprise party was on a Cape Cod train, and even more splendid the seating was in the air-conditioned dome car, and unbelievably splendid was it was a beer train ride!

The menu included matched tastings with the beer.

Cape Cod beer   Summer   Ale, Wheat, Hefeweizen   5.0%   [6.8]*
Cape Cod   Cape Cod Beach Blonde   Ale, Blonde   4.9%   [6.5]
Berkley   IPA    Ale, IPA, American   7.0%   [6.5]
Black Hat   Belgian Saison   Ale, Belgian Saison Style   10.2%   [6.0]
Mayflower   Evolupulin Double IPA    Ale, IPA, Double   8.0%   [8.4]
Independent Fermentations   Full of Stars Imperial Stout   Ale, Stout, Imperial   9.0%   [8.6]
[*score is 1-10 on my own personal scale, taking into account aroma, taste, finish, color, and style accuracy]

The food pairings was really good, and the train ride - including across the Cape Cod Canal - was a unique experience. 

Besides beer there was also some hard liquor (whiskey derived from beer); and some cider.

And the best part was the "birthday boy" had no idea there was a surprise party; and when he figured that out ("I see you too were just 'in the area'"), he still didn't know there was a train ride with beer & food planned. 

There were at least two other folks on the train with a birthday, and this of course led to a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday to You" (now that the copyright is invalid!)

A splendid time indeed.

We had decided to have a weekend at the Cape, so the next day it was out shopping, and of course beer drinking as well. Had brunch at the Keltic Kitchen, there was about a 30-minute wait, but it was well worth it.

At the Sailing Cow in Dennisport enjoyed the following beers.

Unfortunately even though the Sailing Cow had won the best New England clam chowder award for 2016, there was apparently not a molecule of clam chowder in the place.
Sea Dog   Sunfish   Ale, Fruit, Wheat   4.6%   [5.8]
Shipyard Brewing   Melonhead   Ale, Session, Fruit   4.4%   [7.5]

Later that day stopped at Perks Coffee in Harwich. They had a decent Pale Ale made by Cisco.
Cisco Perks   Perks Pale Ale   Ale, Pale, American   5.6%   [5.5]

True to form this weekend, when looking for a cup o' joe, I was informed that the coffee shop had no coffee!

Now parenthetically, this reminds me of the "Chili's story" that took place in a Chili's in Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport a few years ago, where three of us popped in to Chili's for a small snack. Now granted there was a lot of air traffic backed up, due to weather delays as I recall. I wanted a small bowl of chili, and in this case I was politely told there was no chili. I did mention to the manager that if your name is "Chili's" there should be like an emergency supply of canned chili, so that the very last thing you would ever run out of - in this case - would be chili. I suppose such should be so with coffee or award-winning chowder.

That evening was very pleased to find a new restaurant - Father's Kitchen Taphouse in East Sandwich opened up in early 2016. There are some really good restaurants on Cape Cod, but not much in the way of beer bars. There are a smattering of places, but Cape Cod is noticeably devoid of good beer bars. I mean there's good beer, and good bars, but not much in the way of beer bars.

Aeronaut   Session with Dr. Nandu   Ale, IPA, Session   4.6%   [7.6]
Evil Twin    Even More Jesus   Ale, Stout, Imperial   12.0%   [9.2]
Mayflower   Summer Rye   Ale, Rye   3.8%   [7.0]
Wormtown   Blonde Cougar   Ale, Blonde, American   5.1%   [6.0]
Monk's Cafe by Van Steenberge   Flemish Sour Red Ale   Ale, Belgian Farmhouse   5.0%   [9.0]

However as you can see, Fathers Kitchen Taphouse had some excellent beer choices. 

They have a nice menu system for ordering flights, the pizza was excellent, and the prices were really fair.

The next morning - breakfast at the Mills in Marston Mills, then back to the real world.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Vacation 2016 - Day 12

Vacation 2016 - Day 12 - 7/25/2016

This day started out with plans to visit the Van Gogh museum. 

As Amsterdam has a nice tram network, it was easy to get two tickets and ride the tram down to the museumplein. 

There were several other museums, and all appeared busy. Be aware, it is best to get tickets to Van Gogh ahead of time; then you only have to wait in the line to exchange the online tickets for real tickets, as opposed waiting in the much linger line to buy tickets.

The museum had some odd idiosyncrasies, such as "must check all bags" and then after waiting in the long line staffed by one whole person, was told my bag was ok.

The pictures were interesting, and its amazing Van Gogh didn't sell much at the time. His brother apparently bankrolled him for a while. The pictures show a progression to a better style of painting, then changes near the end, possibly as abject madness (Depression? Syphilis? Lead poisoning?) sets in.

The requisite gift shop was chock-full of Van Gogh-branded items, from champagne to posters. Of course the "ear keychain" (yep) was probably the oddest item. 

And apparently the museum hires a Van Gogh lookalike to wander around.

At the coffee shop, had one of the most horrible beers ever:
HBBV Heiniken    |   Desperados   |   Lager, Pale, Fruit   |   5.9%   |   [3.0]

Took the tram back to the shopping area to a great Italian place for lunch - Trattoria Caprese. 

Skipped the Italian beers and had a
Bavarian Brouwerij   |   Swinckle's   |   Lager, Pilsner   |   ?%   |   [6.0]

Went shopping and walking around for a few more hours. Had a late afternoon coffee and snack by the canal.

Went back to the Beet Temple to see if Ster was there, the woman who like Sip of Sunshine. 

She was, and met her American friend Trevor, who works at Struisse brewery. I traded a Sip of Sunshine for a 2010 Pannepot Grand Reserva. 

Tried these two on tap, both from the Netherlands:
Hertog Jan   |   Arcener Tripel 2016   |   Ale, Belgian Tripel style    |   8.5%   |   [9.0]

Hertog Jan   |   Weizener   |   Ale, Wheat Hefe   |   5.7%   |   [8.0]

Went back to the hotel for a short nap before dinner. There were a lot of places close to the hotel, and we chose the Grand Cafe de Kroonprins, as the menu looked good and the location was close by. 

Had a basic Affligem, which I had not had in a bottle before.
Affligem   |   Affligem Tripel   |   Ale, Belgian Abbey Tripel   |   9%   |   [9.0]

From here we walked a bit, as the plan was to meet a friend at the Proeflokaal Arendsnest - Herengracht 90, 1015 BS. 

Now I can't say his name or show a photo - until later - as he was transitioning jobs and had "unofficially" traded a different work shift with someone. He is also a founding member of Club Belgique. At Arendsnest, we were actually drinking outside on the canal...
Jopen    |   Mooie Nel   |   Ale, IPA   |   6.5%   |   [8.0]

...when I heard his dulcet tones of "I thought the Americans would go inside." He joined us and we had some great conversations. Shared the following:

De Prael   |   Eddy Wally   |   Ale, Belgian Flanders Red style   |   7%   |   [9.0]

De Molen |   Rasputin ("Cease & Desist" in USA)   |   Ale, Stout, Russian Imperial   |   10.4%   |   [10]

Also tried an oxtail sausage as a snack, and finished with:
Het Uiltje   |   Joost mag get weten   |   Ale, IPA, Imperial    |   11%   |   [10.2]

Vriendschap   |   Tripel Saison   |   Ale, Saison, Imperial   |   9%   |   [8.9]

As we had to leave the next day, and he had to get the last train, it was time to leave, but not yet. One last bar, for a few last beers. 

As it was on the way to the train station, we stopped at the Wildeman, North Holland, Amsterdam, for some fantastic beers.

Eecke, van   |   Hommelbier 2016 dry hopped   |   Ale, Belgian Blonde   |   7.5%   |   [9.2]
Mikkeller   |   Spontangooseberry   |   Ale, Wild   |   6%   |   [10.0]

Burning Sky    |   Monolith    |   Ale, Sour   |   7.4%   |   [10.0]

Anchor   |   Wild Princess   |   Gruit   |   4.2%   |   [10.2]

Yes, these beers were that good, and the last was so fitting - the Anchor Wild Princess was a Gruit made specifically for the 30th anniversary of the Wildeman. Gruit is a spice/herb mix used instead of hops, and in many ways is the most ancient of the Belgian/Holland area style of beers, having been brewed as early as 974. Yes, there's a "0" for the first year.

Headed back to the hotel, for one last night.

Also got some great beers to bring home, and once again, all survived: especially the Westvleteren Abbey - Yellow, Green & Blue! Wine and Whisky from Armagnac France, also.

"Pack them carefully" he reminded himself "more precious than a human organ for transplant"

"Well maybe that's a bit over the top" his Conscience reminded him

"Yeah but remember how 'Westy' tastes" his ID reminded his Conscience

"Oh yeah you're right" his Conscience replied, rather chastised

"Don't be glum old buddy" his Ego said to ID, "when he drinks we ALL drink!"

On 7/26 late AM in Schiphol airport, fittingly, had the following, making this a 92 beer vacation.
Heineken   |   Heineken   |   Lager, German Pale|   5%   |   [6]

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Vacation 2016 - Day 11

Vacation 2016 - Day 11 - 7/24/2016

In the morning, we had our last breakfast on the Lofn, disembarked and went out to the hotel to check in.

Spent the morning walking and shopping throughout the area.

Ended up for lunch at the Brouwerij de Prael - Oudezijds Voorburgwal 30. They had actually moved, and their previous location is a now beer store, operated by them I believe.

Had a delicious lunch and tried fights of the
Prael, Brouwerij De   |   Weizen   |   Ale, wheat, Hefeweizen  |   5.4%   |   [7.0]

Prael, Brouwerij De   |   Bitterblonde   |   Ale, Blonde   |   5.7%   |   [9.8]

Prael, Brouwerij De   |   Willeke Tripel   |   Ale, Belgian Tripel style   |   7.5%   |   [6.5]

Prael, Brouwerij De   |   I.P.A. English   |   Ale, IPA, English   |   6.5%   |   [8.0]

Prael, Brouwerij De   |   Andre   |   Lager, Bock, Maibock   |   6.6%   |   [7.0]

Prael, Brouwerij De   |   Doe Marr   |   Ale, Scotch   |   7.7%   |   [7.0]

Prael, Brouwerij De   |   Mary   |   Ale, Barleywine, American   |   9.7%   |   [6.8]

Prael, Brouwerij De   |   D.I.P.A   |   Ale, IPA, Imperial   |   9.0%   |   [7.5]

Did some more shopping then went back to the hotel. My plan was to stop in at a namesake bar, then dinner. The bar - Café Belgique - was where the name Club Belgique came from, as a beer club. Mica was a wonderful host, and the place was unchanged from years ago.

Café Belgique - Gravenstraat 2, 1012 NM (did buy a shirt)

Musketeers Musketiers   |   Jack's Precious IPA   |   Ale, IPA, American   |   5.9%   |   [7.5]  
                                                                                                      (Beer #7,200)  

Stockhove   |   Waardamse Dubbel   |   Ale, Belgian Dubbel   |   7%   |   [9.6]  

Stockhove   |   Waardamse Tripel   |   Ale, Belgian Tripel   |   8.5%   |   [9.6]  

Gulden Spoor   |   Spijker Blonde   |   Ale, Belgian Blonde   |   6.2%   |   [8.0] 

Scheldebrouwerij   |   Zeezuiper   |   Ale, Belgian Tripel   |   8.0%   |   [9.5] 

Had dinner at the Eastwood restaurant, right at the DoubleTree Centraal Station. 

The food was very good, with a decent beer selection.
T'IJ Brouwerij   |   Natte   |   Ale, Belgian Dubbel Style   |   6.5%   |   [8.8]

Jopen   |   Jacobs RPA   |   Ale, IPA, Rye   |   5.5%   |   [8.0]

Watched the city for a bit before going to bed.