I remember when I was in my final year of study, I was assigned to a project for beer brewery giant Inbev. Our task was to come up with creative solutions for the Belgian specialty beer brand ‘Leffe‘. As I had no believe in an emerging specialty beer market whatsoever, I remember I had rather been assigned to the distribution project for Jupiler, which was as much as a given succes. Indeed, the specialty beers in the segment, mostly Belgian abbey beers, were preceived as for old men, tough to drink and got you drunk without compare.
I never expected when a year ago a friend ordered my first ‘Tripel‘ in a long time, I would be totally hooked to specialty beers a year later. Like a complete master plan that’s coming together, Amsterdam is now filled with bars offering all kinds of small-batch-brewed beer, from both Belgian and local brands. Inevitable is the trend that we are all searching for rarities and small produced products, rather than overexploided mass production. But the way some of the most unknown beer brands are positioning their products and distribution right now is simply spot on and Amsterdam is loving it.
One of the most remarkable and therefore one of my favourite styles is India Pale Ale, or known as IPA. This strongly hopped beer was invented by the English, to last during their boat travels towards India. Where normal beer got spoiled long before their 5 month trip was over, this bitter beer with higher alcohol percentage lasted the whole way.
Drinking an IPA for the first time is a strange experience. The smell is undoubtedly sweet from fruits, mostly lychee. The taste on the contrary is dry and far bitterder than the smell, but without being overly bitter or not thirst-quenching.
My favourites and absolute must-tries are Vedett Extra Ordinary IPA and Brouwerij ‘t IJ I.P.A, but there are loads to explore! And with cool names like ‘Raging Bitch’, ‘Punk’ and ‘Hoodoo Voodoo’ the fun already starts with ordering them..