Dutch Beer and Windmills at Zaanse Schans and Amsterdam

After Amsterdam and its bicycle, canal packed turmoil (see last post here), we require a direct injection of Dutch kitsch.  So we day trip to Zaanse Schans: one of Europe’s oldest industrial centers: aka the Disneyland of Windmills, wooden shoes, tulips, and cheese.

Wooden Shoe AaronLike a wildlife preserve for endangered species, Zaanse Schans has provided refuge for Holland’s ancient windmills and dying handcrafts since 1925.

We walk along mini canals, over mini bridges, passing mini clapboard homes, and, consumed by all the adorableness, well, try to paddle our way to somewhere… Tracy Paddles Wooden ShoeInterpretive centers and gift shops abound inside each home and mill.  We taste milled mustards, cheeses, and grains, but the cold, gray day beckons us outward.More Windmills WindowsMonet came to paint here over a century ago.  Zaanse’s chill, still, timelessness remains.

But along the half moon bay we finally find some hot action. Brace yourself for some 16th century linseed oil grinding, wind mill heat!!!!

Honestly, we fear for our lives. The whole place creaks, cracks, and crunches. We yell over the din in vain.  Ancient beams barely hold these multi-ton granite stones as they fly at full tilt.

Flying Mill StoneNow deaf, we enjoy a mute drizzle outside.

Tracy on a WindmillWe walk out of mill Disneyland and into the suburbs of Zaandam.  Here, even modern modern industrialism sits beside its heritage:

Windmill Amidst IndustryBut back in our AirBnB wedge of a loft, a ferry ride from Amsterdam, we finish of the best Dutch beer suburban grocery stores could provide.

Grimbergen, Abdijbier Dubbel 1128, Beer, Enschede, Holland. €1.05/30cl

Grimberger Abbey Dubbel 1128 Beer Enschede Holland.APPEARANCE: a clear, rich, ruby brown, with rapid small fizz and a cream-colored head. AROMAS: medium intense raspberry, cranberry sauce, chocolate, and vanilla. PALATE: seemingly sweet, mildly tart and bitter, yet plump in alcohol (6.5 %) and body. FLAVORS: tastes of buoyant cranberry juice and sauce, caramel, toffee, and chocolate icing. At least the wheat toast reminds us that this is beer.  The length was medium plus. CONCLUSIONS: Grimbergen Dubbel Abbey Beer is complex, cloying, and very good (4 of 5) but a bit too enjoyable to be taken seriously.

Next up, we give can a chance:

Hertog Jan Traditioneel Natuurzuiver Bier Arcen HollandHertog Jan, Traditioneel Natuurzuiver Bier, Arcen, Holland. €1.21/500ml can

APPEARANCE: looks a clear, mild gold, with a thin white head. AROMAS: smell of chopped hazelnuts, grapefruit, golden pear, steel, and honey. PALATE: feels dry, pretty tart, with medium hopped bitterness, and medium alcohol 5.1% and body. FLAVORS: taste of moderate orange, clove, nuts, and steel. The length is medium. Good (3 of 5) but a bit lacking.

Well, let’s give Hertog Jan another chance. Maybe a 750ml bottle with a cork might gain our respect.

Hertog Jan Grand Prestige Zara Donker bier HollandHertog Jan, Grand Prestige, Zara Donker bier, Holland. €4.09/750ml cork bottle

APPEARANCE: looks a clear, intense ruby copper, with a thin, cream colored head. AROMAS: smell full-some with oranges, coffee, mint, and toffee. PALATE: feels dry, full of twangy acidity, extra bitterness, a high alcohol: 10%, and full body. FLAVORS: taste of pronounced black cherry syrup, prune, brown sugar, orange, and toasted oak.  The length is long and complex. CONCLUSIONS: Hertog Jan’s Grand Prestige is greater than the sum of its parts. That sounds cliché, but nothing here tastes of grain or hops anymore.  This is Outstanding (5 of 5), demanding beer. It completely overwhelms our palates. Well done Dutch!

Windmills Holland AmsterdamNext EU Austerity Drinking Tour Monday sends us to Rotterdam, for more beer and travel.


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