101. Bierproeflokaal In de Wildeman, Amsterdam, Holland

A music-free emporium of beer housed in an old distillery, In De Wildeman is in a very exclusive class of beer bars.

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Unfortunately, a smear of tourist gash has spread insidiously around In De Wildeman, but don’t let that confuse your navigation; yes, there really is a coffee shop opposite, a souvenir shop next door and a frat house down the road.

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Trappist beers are, blessedly, becoming quite common. Much rarer, is a barman asking if you want a room temperature or cold Orval, who then expertly pours the bottle into two glasses (above) so that you can enrich to your tastes. Brilliant. Even better, you can marry your Orval with some Trappist cheese or a soft, melting cheese and chutney pie.

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IMG_9950The decor is wood, beer and dust. There are some old, rare bottles and glasses, and old books. An entrance tucked away beside the bar leads to a second room, where one can find space at peak times, and solitude at others. All this charm comes at a price, and the beers are expensive, even for Amsterdam.IMG_9919

There is a small selection of outdoor seating. With your back to the wall and a beer in hand, this is a great people-watching spot.

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Venue: 9.5/10

It’s hard to imagine a better drinking den. Maybe upgrade the tacky plastic menus?

Beer: 9.5/10

18 drafts, ~250 bottles, a carefully selected guest range and regulars chosen by the regulars’ whims. The range is stunning, well-kept, poured and presented.

Worthy? Yes

Is there any better?

14. U Fleků, Prague, Czech Republic

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U Fleků is a brilliantly preserved Bohemian experience in the heart of Prague. The first written reference places a brewery on this site since 1499, making this the oldest continuous brewpub in Central Europe.

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If you’ve ever been to Prague, especially if you’ve stood on Charles Bridge, you will have a sense of the strangling number of tourist cloying the streets. It is remarkable U-Fleku-Beersthen, that U Fleků retains such Medieval charm and unspoilt grandeur. There is space inside for a staggering 1,200 patrons siphoned through eight distinct rooms, each with their own character. These range from the chthonic ‘Sausage’ room with arched beamed ceilings, to the resplendent and decadent Academy room which has hosted Czech socialites and celebrities for centuries.

Venue: 10/10

An excellent example of Czech Bohemian grandeur surviving through the ages and coping with the huge summer tourist numbers.

Beer: 8/10

There is literally one beer, the Flek Thirteen; a dark lager whose names derives from its Plato rating of 13 degrees. One could make the perfectly reasonable argument that my rating is far too high for a single-beer bar. To one, I say “Go drink some”.

Worthy? Yes

Legendary.