David Brockington's Tasting 
Notebook

Brouwerij 't IJ
(short notes)

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
September, 2002; July 9, 2000, and many times in between.

First off, it is spelled 't IJ.  The apostrophe is before the t; it is short for "Het", one of the Dutch words for "The".  Second, both the I and J are capitalized.  Among other things, IJ is a single letter in Dutch (although classically, the I sits on the seat caused by the curve of the J, but this is seldom seen anymore.)  IJ also refers to the body of water on which Amsterdam occupies a southern shore.  The IJ (or Het IJ) leads to the IJsselmeer.  The brewery, located in an old public bathhouse connected to an older windmill, is named after the body of water.  It also rhymes with the Dutch word for egg (ei), so the brewery's mascot is a goose egg.  Clever, eh?  I see this misspelled more often than Guinness.  Understandable, but with a little attention simple linguistic nuance is not hard to sort out.  If I can get this, most people should be able to handle it.

't IJ is one of the few breweries operating in the city of Amsterdam, where I lived for 18 months before moving to Rotterdam.  They opened in 1985, and produce a range of beers inspired by Belgian styles, but with 't IJ's unique interpretation.  Consistency is spotty (it's a variable beer, man), although this seems to have improved over the course of 2002.  The so-called pilzen still encounters problems, so I rarely order it.  These notes are brief, but as this beer is widely available in Holland, I'll enhance them as time allows.  Stylistic conventions are not relevant to this brewery.

Columbus 9% abv
This beer can be very, very good.  Darkish in color, with a depth of maltiness not often found in a Dutch beer, also full of esters.  Sometimes hits 4.5 stars, sometimes 3.5.  Worth seeking out.

 
Zatte Tripel 8% abv
One of the few IJ offerings that can have a style pinned to it: this beer is clearly a tripel.  Pale, fruity aroma, nice soft maltiness in the flavor, with a hint of breadiness.  Not a bad beer at all.

 
Natte 6.5% abv
This one is more manageable.  It is remniscient of DeKoninck, the classic pale ale of Antwerp.  Some estery funk in the aroma and flavor, quite likely a function of a house effect, and hints of banana.  Otherwise, finishes dryish.  Not bad.

 
Pilzen 5% abv
This one is.  I've had this beer several times, and only once was it not off -- and then there was not much to praise.  Pale, cloudy, an attempt at an ale like pilsner, or more possibly a kolsch.  Often I have experienced strong negative reactions to the sulphur dioxide aroma that seems to typify this product.  I have not tried it in about a year, so perhaps it has changed.  I'd avoid, but that's just me.