This post is the second in a series of posts describing the beers I tried and bars I visited on my April/May 2013 trip to Europe. Read Part One- The Micro Bar, Reykjavik here.
When researching bars with a good selection of beers to visit on my couple of days in Amsterdam, Cafe Gollum was the one name that kept coming up over and over again. Almost 40 years ago, it became the first cafe in Amsterdam to serve Belgian beers (Hard to believe since they are neighbors…). The story, told by the cafe’s own website, is that the first batch of Belgian beers were brought in by a local Dutch lawyer who brought them back in a rental car, and they proved to be so popular that a local distributor started importing them shortly there after.
Today. there are 3 Cafe Gollums, the one I visited on Raamsteeg, a short walk from the courtyard known as Spui, and two other locations a little further afield. The Raamsteeg location has over 200 beers available, 14 of which are on tap, with seven rotating taps, and they say that 95% of the beers they have are Belgian beers.
I visited Cafe Gollum on two separate occasions, and was able to sample their vast beer selection. For my first beer, I had to have a Pawel Kwak, not only because it is an excellent beer, but also for it’s truly one-of-a-kind glass.
I also had a Gregorius, from the newest Trappist Brewery, Stift Engelszell in Austria, and was actually pretty impressed with this abbey-style dubbel. I also tries Mont des Cats, a beer from the French Trappist brewery Mont des Cats, although only the cheese from this brewery is, as of now, an officially sanctioned Trappist product.
The friendly and knowledgeable bartender also gave me a small sample of Chimay Red on tap, something rare in Belgium itself, and unheardof in the United States. Their rotating taps list was extensive and impressive.
On my second visit, I was able to try a Westvleteren 10, the middle beer from the only Trappist brewery not available in the United States. Gollum had the Blonde and the 12 (one of the highest rated beers in the world), but I was saving those for my scheduled visit to the cafe near the Sint Sixtus Abbey (Westvleteren’s brewers) a few days later.
Cafe Gollum is a great bar, combining a cozy environment with an outstanding Belgian beer selection. Due to the short length of this visit, I didn’t visit any other beer bars in Amsterdam, but it is hard for me to believe that there is any place with a better selection.