Pub/Bar of the Month November 2011: In De Wildeman, Amsterdam, Netherlands
In De Wildeman, Amsterdam, Netherlands
‘The “Wild Man” is one of the world’s great beer bars and you should not leave Amsterdam without visiting it’.
So says the excellent Around Amsterdam in 80 Beers and I, for one, will not quibble with that.
This internationally-renowned bar has been a Dutch beer institution for many years, luring in connoisseurs with its extensive range of beers and homely, down-to-earth atmosphere.
While newer rivals have sprung up all around Amsterdam, this place still seems like the spiritual home of the true believer in the city, doing the basics right in a take-it or leave-it sort of fashion.
In truth, In De Wildeman is a bit sit up and beg, with scuffed tables and functional chairs and benches beneath brown-stained walls and ceilings, but, when you’re leaning over your glass, deep in music-unhindered conversation with your mates, or even just making the acquaintance of the stranger at the next table, you need nothing plusher.
Light trickles into the front of the bar through small panes and casts feeble shadows on the black-and-white tiled floor of the main bar. At the rear, where a few steps lead to a raised seating area dominated by a pyramid of old wooden casks, low-key lamp lighting chases darkness into the corners.
To the right of the entrance stands a second bar, about half the size of the first, but equally simple in its furnishing, with bare-board floor, green half panelling and a handful of asymmetric tables.
Familiar and Arcane
The beer provision extends to a choice of nearly 20 draught beers and some 200 bottled beers. The draughts are marked up on boards headed ‘Tapbieren’ and present a mixture of the familiar and the arcane, with plenty of local colour in the mix.
In line with international trends, it’s not just Dutch and Belgian brews that catch the eye (although these still dominate). American craft beer elbows its way in, and there are sometimes British offerings.
You may even spot a cask propped up on the low-level bar, dispensing perhaps Fuller’s London Pride or Chiswick.
The bottled beer range is outstanding, displayed in plastic table-top holders and divided by region. Hence you have sections for beers from Flanders, Wallonia, America, Germany and, of course, The Netherlands itself.
Take your pick from breweries such as Het Anker, Dupont, St Bernardus, Schneider, Jopen, De Prael or Flying Dog.
Food is limited to a range of simple bar snacks, with cubed cheeses and dried sausages piled up on popular platefuls to share with friends as you work your way down the beer lists.
The beer selection aside, perhaps the real pleasure of In De Wildeman lies in its location, right in the heart of the city centre, just a stone’s thrown away from Centraal Station.
When you’re battling your way through the teeming shopping streets, dodging the boorish stag weekenders and keeping your gaze firmly away from the shady characters that hover on the fringes of the Red Light District, it’s a genuine relief to slip through the open door of this sidestreet bar and find yourself among like-minded people.
The neon, the volume, the tackiness of all that swirls outside is quickly forgotten once you’ve selected your beer and let the Wild Man work his magic.
In De Wildeman, Kolksteeg 3, 1012 PT Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tel. +31 (20) 638 23 48
Opening Hours: 12–1am; 12–2am Friday & Saturday; closed Sunday