Beer Notebook: A Dutch Trio

A recent trip to the Netherlands allowed me the opportunity to, well, buy Brooklyn Brewery products on the shelf of a local Amsterdam grocery store. But I didn’t do that. Whenever possible on trips, I try to quaff the local suds, three of which, all India Pale Ales, are presented here.

Jopen's Mooie Nel IPA

Jopen’s Mooie Nel IPA, sitting at an agreeable 6.5% ABV, surprised me with a decent level of hops bitterness (70 IBU) and a very long, and pleasant, finish on the palate. There were hints of floral and citrus flavor, but only hints, and that was just fine.

I like my beer hoppy, and any more citrus would have overwhelmed the beer. The head kept its shape for a while, and on the whole, I enjoyed this beer quite a bit, particularly with the fine Indian food we brought to the hotel room from our Amsterdam stand-by, Koh-i-Noor. Any future trips to the Netherlands will see this beer take a spot in the fridge.

Brand's IPA

Less satisfactory was the IPA from Brand Bierbrouwerij. Though an IPA is not solely determined by bitterness, this beer sits on the low end of the scale, at 45 IBU, and I was searching to find the hops amidst a flavor profile that is not unlike that of a Duvel or similar Belgian ale. There was just no bitterness at all.

Certainly, this is not a bad beer by any stretch of the imagination, just not what I was expecting when I plucked a bottle labeled “IPA” off the shelf, and as the priciest of the beers I bought, I was hoping for something a bit different.

Kees' Session IPA

The real surprise came when I spied a session IPA on the shelf. I’ve become quite fond of these low-alcohol session beers of late, but I’ve found that they can be all over the place in terms of delivering a satisfyingly bitter yet drinkable experience. There’s no point in a session beer if you don’t want more than one, after all. The Session IPA from Brouwerij Kees came through in spades, with an astringent hoppiness rare to find in a 3.5% ABV beer. Like Jopen’s offering, this IPA only hints at floral and citrus notes, allowing the hops to shine through. A very solid, and very drinkable, find amidst a shelf filled with Heineken.

Again, these beers were all plucked from the shelves of a Dutch supermarket, not procured from a specialty beer store, and I was very impressed with the breadth of offerings from local breweries. There are many reasons to visit the Netherlands, and the beer must surely be included amongst them.

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