I had all my Dutch barbecue houses laid out on a grid; I had vectored in on the city’s best fish mongers and coffeeshops; I had secured what I hoped would be a world-beating plate of rookworst and stamppot (sausage and potatoes) and I made certain my rental apartment was a quick hike from De Gollem, the best beer bar in Noord Holland.I’d also drawn a trajectory on what many Dutch beer snobs are calling the finest craft brewery in Amsterdam: Butcher’s Tears.
The tiny proeflokaal (tasting room) in Amsterdam Zuid is the young business of Felicia von Zweigbergk, Erik Nordin and Herbert Nelissen. Zweigbergk is the aesthetic director, Nordin brews the beer and Nelissen makes sure the bills get paid in a timely manner.Nordin began homebrewing in 2005 and together with Zweigbergk started a tiny kitchen brewery in 2009 in the Tensta district of Stockholm. The pirate venture proved to be a success and eventually Zweigbergk founded a speakeasy called Lost Property in Amsterdam West. Along the way Nordin worked at Fuller’s Brewery in England where he further honed his technical skills.
At first, all the Butcher’s Tears beers were contract-brewed at Brouwerij Gulden Spoor in Belgium but as the venture gained capital they secured equipment and now produce all their own beer.Walking down the lonely little alley Karperweg, I duly note the typical trappings of a tiny brewery: remote location, various light industry/mechanic shops nearby, the hum of a nearby train yard.
I feel like I’m at the end of the line. As I enter I note the barman who could pass as the bass player for Skeletal Earth with a long, black mane of hair and plentiful facial hair.A Rudimentary Peni LP is spinning round and round on a phonograph as a small group of drinkers gather up their beers and head for the parking lot/courtyard.
It’s a brilliant scene.Green Cap is the beer that put the brewery on the map and it’s easy to see why as it’s hopped up in the fashion of a Vermont Pale; it’s grassy, bitter and pleasing, and goes down way too easy.
Over the next two hours I march my way through the draft wall but do not have a beer the equal of my first although Trial And Terror, a golden ale is a fine effort.As I drank around town the next few days I always asked for Butcher’s Tears’ brew and the barmen always expressed surprise that an American knew about the tiny beer maker. Oh, and all the bars were completely sold out of Nordin’s various elixirs.
The secret is out, at least among the Amsterdam cognoscenti. The Netherlands is tiny, roughly one third the size of Kentucky but there are nearly 200 craft breweries crowded into the Kingdom. This is a golden age of craft beer for the Dutch and Butcher’s Tears is helping define the modern industry in the North Sea region.And their creed?
Butcher’s Tears is “a place where art, science and magic can work together upon the four elements to create the liquid in which joy and madness dwells.”
Karperweg 45, 1075 LB
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