If you are interested in craft drinks, I highly recommend checking out this new shop in Amsterdam.
J&B Craft Drinks is located at Jan Pieter Heijestraat 148, just off the Overtoom and therefore conveniently located just a couple of blocks away from the Vondelpark. J&B stands for owners Janne & Berend (we know him as “Beer”, one of the aptest name abbreviations you will ever find. 😏)
There already was a specialty beer store there, Bierbaum, which worked together with Bottlemonkey, the J&B Craft Drinks’ online webshop. And since Janne is a colleague of Chantal, I gladly volunteered to test the Bottlemonkey webshop last year. Then last fall, Janne en Berend took over the Bierbaum shop, remodeled it, renamed it and reopened in November 2018.
Pilsners, Lagers, Saisons, Sessions, Fruit Beers, Ales, IPAs, Sours, Stouts, Weizens, Porters, Barleywines; you name it, and they have them in stock. Also, vegan and gluten-free options are available, as are low-and non-alcoholic beers that put the “near beer” nickname to shame. As the name suggests, the J&B assortment is not limited to beers; various ciders and sodas are part of the craft drinks assortment which rotates regularly to offer the best seasonal drinks and one-off specials. Their current selection is towards the higher end and award-winning craft drinks from the Netherlands and abroad, but will have an increasingly international focus with sourcing directly from producers and local distributors. Specialty items like fruit liquors, snacks, dried sausages from Brandt & Levie and organic Ethiopian Limu coffee beans are also in store.
If you don’t fancy dropping by the store, you can also order your chilled craft drinks online via the bottlemonkey.nl website (free next day delivery in NL for orders over EUR 50). I do understand that the J&B Craft Drinks website and a revamped Bottlemonkey webshop are in the works.
A rather unique aspect is that J&B uses a so-called “Cold Chain” approach. Almost all products are refrigerated at all times – from producer to the customer – which definitely benefits the quality and shelf life, especially with unpasteurized fresh craft beers.
Don’t expect to find too many items that you would find in supermarkets or regular off-licenses. With a current offering of about 300 beers, 70 ciders, and 50 sodas, there is a lot to choose from. There is a fair chance that you end up “liquidizing your assets” and return home with more than you anticipated. The ample choice is not an issue as Berend is very knowledgable; you can just mention your (dis)likes and favorite brands, and based on that, he’ll give you excellent recommendations. J&B regularly organizes beer and cider tasting events that are announced on their Facebook page.
Last time – after a couple of online orders – we went to the shop to buy something for our friends’ housewarming. Our selection of Reverend Nat ciders from Portland, Oregon, and some no/low alcohol beers were well received. We also got a big shopping bag of beers to try at home. Despite the good weather that we had in April, it has taken some time to go through the lot and compile this post.
A large part of our bounty came from the Fat Lizard Brewing Co. from Espoo, Finland, which has a great all-around selection of IPA’s and ales and lagers. We enjoyed them very much; accessible and drinkable beers, although their lager was a tad plain compared to the rest. An added bonus is accessibility: with their 440ml “topless” cans, you don’t need to bother getting a glass.
- 51 Roadkill – IPA (6.5% ABV, 65 IBU)
- Conan Juice – Vermont IPA (6.5% ABV, 80 IBU)
- Haze Oddity IPA – New England Style (5.0% ABV, 45 IBU)
- Bikini Top Pale – Wheat Ale – American (4.3% ABV, 17 IBU)
- 101 – California Pale Ale – American (5.4% ABV, 30 IBU)
- Smooth Lava – Red Ale (4.7% ABV, 25 IBU)
- Lake Bodom – Pre-prohibition Lager, (5.0% ABV, 25 IBU)
J&B also has the Track Day Session IPA and Backdrop Porter on offer.
From Dutch and Belgian breweries, we tried the following batch (at least these were the ones that I remembered to take a picture of):
- Maibock, Brothers in Law Brewing, Amsterdam; 7.1% ABV
- Zinne Bir, Golden Blond Ale, Brasserie de la Senne, Brussels; 6% ABV
- Dulle Teve, Tripel, De Dolle Brouwers, Esen (Belgium); 10% ABV
- Polyamorie, Mango Sour, Oedipus Brewing, Amsterdam; 5.0% ABV
- Vink Heerlijk, Rye IPA, Bird Brewery, Haarlem; 6.2% ABV
- Hosanna, Double IPA, Oedipus Brewing, Amsterdam; 9.0% ABV
- Les Perles du Homard, Saison Forte, De Kromme Haring, Utrecht; 8% ABV
- Den Dorstige Tijger Single Hop IPA, Ramses Brouwerij, Hooge Zwaluwe; 6% ABV
- Van Vollenhoven Falcon Ale, Brouwerij Poesiat & Kater, Amsterdam; 6.2% ABV
Again, all were very nice, the Rye IPA from Bird Brewery and the Saison Forte from De Kromme Haring the most memorable. Polyamorie from Amsterdam’s Oedipus brewery still didn’t succeed (yet) in Berend’s efforts to win me over for the sour beer category; I will chalk that one down to a matter of personal taste…
I just stocked up again for my upcoming birthday. As you can see, our guests will have a lot of drinks to choose from. Now I just need to find space in my fridge to keep them cold and not drink them all ahead of my birthday…