In booze we Troost
Beer52's Phil Hall and Nicky Carter get up to a spot of Dutch mischief
Phil Hall & Nicky Carter
Thursday 01 August 2019
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No two hangovers are quite alike. They can shock you awake, like emerging from water, gasping for air, only to be tossed ashore into the barren afternoon of dehydration and headaches. Some arrive with a rush and a panic, swinging off doorways and buses straight into a slew of morning engagements, fooling you into a false sense of sobriety and catching you unawares after lunch. Others, can provide an uncomfortable glimpse into what Oppenhemier meant by the ‘destroyer of worlds’...
I am sure I’ve had this hangover before. Pinned down by the glaring mid-morning sun, twisted up in the kilt that I had so proudly worn the night before, now it inelegantly wears me. Boots on, shirt off, sprawled out like a chalk line figure fallen from an open window. Trousers restored, balance regained, I find Nicky splashing his face in the kitchen sink, attempting to satiate his own delirious drouth. In disbelief, it’s out into the blinding June heat-wave we go.
These particular strains of hangover were cultivated the night before at a friend’s wedding just outside of Amsterdam. Countless bierjes served with a shot of jenever, gin’s rugged ancestor, (colloquially known as a 'Kopstoot' or head-butt) were heroically drunk with the Dutch dearly beloved, gathered at the reception bar late into the night.
Hangovers like this demand the attention of a professional consultant.
Through baked, bewildering streets, toward Westerpark, we set off in search of Andreu Blai Herrero, from Brouwerij Troost. Perhaps he can provide us some kind of remedy for this intoxicated malady? "Het haar van de hond", if you will... Our first soothing balm comes in the shape of the brewery itself. Separated from the heaving city by the Haarlemerweg Canal, the brewery is housed within the red brick buildings of an old gas works. Nestled within the leafy dappled light of the park, it truly feels like an oasis of calm.
Founded back in 2013 in the De Pijp area of the city, Troost expanded quickly and now has four venues in town. Their express intention: creating delicious beers in beautiful surroundings. Once within the courtyard of the tap room, the weight of the city heat lifts from our shoulders. Trellises of hops grow tall from between packed picnic benches filled with contented patrons, busily attended to with table service in the sun. A beer drinker’s idyll. In the middle of this merry scene, in shorts and t-shirt, stands Valencian Andreu, utterly at home. He welcomes us in. The tap-room is light and airy. Of course on a day like today, the capacious beer hall is close to empty. A space given up by the industrial machinery that once lived within, it seems especially spacious on this occasion. Set behind, the bright tanks of the brewery stand proud to the full height of the building, reflecting light back into the bar. Euro beats ricochet off the high ceilings and table tops.
After Andreu shows us around, it’s time to begin the tour in earnest at the bar. As it turns out, Troost’s beers are as easy-going and inviting as their surroundings. Club Tropicana, their take on a Berlinner Weise, is slightly sour with a fruitiness that can only be truly expressed through its appealing shade of pink. Instantly it raised our moods from jolly nausea to picnic spirit. It really should be kept in a glass case marked: ‘break glass in event of an early summer heatwave!’. The standout brew of the bunch, Troost’s superlative New England IPA deftly blurs the lines between a smooth and hoppy IPA, and something altogether lighter, fruitier and lush. Equal parts beer hall and the sun terrace, it is absolutely delicious. Their Belgian-style Tripel elevates traditional foundations of coriander and citrus to produce something distinctly modern and of real quality. This symbiosis with their surroundings is concurrent in all their practices. The whole place runs on green electricity and they use the by-products of their brewing to bake bread. Sustainable honey is sourced for their award winning Honigblond, with a portion of the proceeds going to the hives in Troost De Pijp and to wild bee cultivation across the city. Organic waste is recycled to help fuel their biogas vehicles. Everything is considered and everything works, it’s the brewing version of the Good Life.
We sit outside as the beers keep coming. Cerveza, their Dutch/Mexican offering, complete with lemon wedges arrives glistening at the table. Another concentric layer of last night's revelry begins to evaporate in the bright sunshine. To help aid this quickening revival, it’s time to eat. Troost produce a menu to complement their beers. From bar snacks to pub grub, all the dishes come out in instagrammable perfection, and most are infused with beers from their core range. Renovating the old to produce something new and inspirational is a theme that spills onto the pages of their menu, manifesting itself in the form of Bitterballen. These meaty, ragout-filled delights are popularly served in Holland as part of a traditional 'bittergarnituur', a selection of savoury deep-fried mysteries, dunked in mustard and dished up alongside beer. It’s their Vegan Bitterballen, however, that commands our attention. Vegan? Bitterballen?! Crisp on the outside and ‘meaty’ in the middle, these ingenious plant-based versions of the perennial Dutch bar snack go just as well with the beer they produce.
It's hard to believe Valencian Andreu Blai has only been applying his meticulous brewing standards to the Troost model for just six short months, but you can already sense the place wouldn't be the same without him. "I like things to be done my way" he affirms, sipping away at a freshly poured NEIPA. In Troost, he has found a brewery fully aligned with his exacting standards that affords him the time to focus his full attention on making us great tasting beer.
We listen intently as he describes his working practices and what he wants to achieve with his beers. Articulate and engaging, he’s a rising star on the brewing firmament. Andreu’s conversation frequently takes us far away from the dishevelled drought of our respective morning crises. We’re back to the land of the living, and living well! Libations flow as we discuss beer, European politics, Valencian independence... travel.
Finally, the shadow of the previous night’s bibulousness has drifted off into the clear blue skies. To celebrate, Andreu orders a round of Kopstoots; Troost make their own Jenever of course, in both young and old varieties. We toast to Andreu and the continued success of everything they do at Troost. After a few more Kopstoots, we realise eight hours has passed in the pleasure and comfort of this red-brick paradise. We bid farewell to our new friend, and stumble back into the city with a renewed capability, in search of the other two Troost bars.
Bukowski once said that drinking is like killing yourself and being reborn into a new life the next day. Chuck thought he must’ve lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives. The one we spent there in the Westerpark was certainly one of our best.
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