Fighting FOMO with festivals

enjoying some frieten at the Amsterdam Craft Beer Festival at Bret Bar in Sloterdijk

Living in Amsterdam necessarily means reckoning with FOMO in one form or another. There is so much that you could be doing that you cannot, within the limitations of space-time, do it all. Some weekends, Trenton and I cope with FOMO by resisting the pressure to experience life and deploying a willfully ignorant response, buckling down with the Xbox and DVR and refusing to leave the house or check twitter. It doesn’t take long before that strategy starts to wear on our patience and we overcompensate by swinging to the other side, a full-tilt immersive engagement with the community where we do ALL THE THINGS. food truck selling frites at food festival Amsterdam Kookt in Oosterpark

This past week fell into the latter category. Thankfully, I’m now staring down the barrel of a week’s worth of rain in which I can stay home guilt-free, nursing my second-day hangover and wearing glasses to cure a minor bout of please-don’t-let-it-be-pinkeye.

It all started innocently enough, when Trenton and I went for a casual neighborhood walk last weekend up the street to Oosterpark. Frankendael and Flevopark are our locals, so we thought we’d go wild, mix it up a bit and hang out in a park slightly farther afield. I’d brought my camera, a book and a blanket, and the plan was that we were just going to relax under the trees, on the grass to which Trenton is allergic, until his throat closed up and I guided him, snot running down his face and tears clouding his eyes, peacefully home. Sounds lovely, right? Instead, when we arrived for our peaceful commune with nature, we were greeted by a cloud of hipsters and food trucks, complete with a 12-piece folk-pop band playing on the raised gazebo in the middle of the park. A food festival!

crowd at food festival Amsterdam Kookt in OosterparkFood festivals are my second favorite type of festival, and Amsterdam Kookt was particularly wonderful. Although there were fewer vendors than at Rollende Keukens, Amsterdam Kookt at Oosterpark was significantly less congested, allowing you to actually enjoy the atmosphere and choose your favorite food truck based on your own free will, instead of at Rollende Keukens, where your meal was chosen for you, based on the location where the random biology of the super-organism mass of people happened to spit you out.

boats in the harbor next to a chapel in Nieuwendam, Holland, part of Amsterdam-Noord
harbor in Nieuwendam, technically still Amsterdam

Much to our dismay, we were totally unprepared, no cash and raging appetites. We wandered up and down the main drag a few times before getting overwhelmed by hunger and choice, and deciding we were better off just walking home. I took a few photos of the crowd and we promised each other that we would do more stuff and take the next festival opportunity that presented itself. The next day we went on a 35 km bike ride through Amsterdam-Noord, enjoying the modern architecture and cool graffiti, and trying to ignore Trenton’s ever-constant stream of snot and allergen-swollen face. Poor guy.

This past weekend, still high on our re-entry into society, we went to the Amsterdam Craft Beer Festival. As beer festivals go, this one was an absolute steal, short train ride to Sloterdijk notwithstanding. For about €15 (after returning the tasting glass and getting the deposit back), we were able to sample six generous pours of different local craft beers. The venue, BRET, sits in a pile of shipping containers directly outside the train station. They are oddly suited to a festival with just enough open space and not too far to stumble when it’s time to catch the train back home. There was a live DJ bumping afrobeats and a handful of food trucks, including self-proclaimed disciples of seitan, Seitan Chefs.

Over the course of four hours or so, Trenton and I tried a variety of beers, ate two cones of frites and grinned our faces off. My favorite part of a beer festival is trying the really weird experimental shit. The bizarre tiny batches that you’re not likely to find on tap anywhere else. Here’s a rundown of the great beer we got to try:

enjoying some frieten at the Amsterdam Craft Beer Festival at Bret Bar in Sloterdijk
afore-mentioned face-removing grinning

Thai Thai – tripel with Thai herbs
Salty Dick – gose with seasalt, grapefruit and lime
Mannen Liefde – saison with szechuan pepper and lemongrass

Ramses Bier
Den Dorstige Tijger – American-style IPA

Butcher’s Tears
Midnight Ride – golden ale

Gebrouwen Door Vrouwen
Gin Weizen – herby hefeweizen
Ijsbeer – spicy witbier

Sori Brewing 
Havana gose – mojito-inspired gose

Walhalla Craft Beer
Ashnan – Belgian blonde

Tanker Brewery
Masinaõli – rye black IPA

After several miserable years of a gluten-free existence, there’s not much that makes me happier than good beer in good weather. We had an abundance of both on Saturday and I’m already starting to count down to the next beer festival in early July, by which time I assume we’ll be swinging back around from another phase of self-imposed cabin fever and that my please-don’t-let-it-be-pinkeye will be all cleared up.

Oedipus is hosting this one at their taproom over in Amsterdam-Noord. Slightly more expensive at €20 for five samples plus a commemorative glass, but drinking craft beer by the water in the sun with funny looking hipsters from all over the world is the life I came here to live. Proost!

two of the many varieties of beer offered at the 2nd annual Amsterdam Craft Beer Festival held at Bret bar in Sloterdijk
black IPA from Tanker Brewery and Belgian blonde from Walhalla Craft Beer
2nd annual Amsterdam Craft Beer Festival held at Bret Bar in Sloterdijk
Amsterdam Craft Beer Festival at BRET Bar



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