Since eternity Night shop Sterk in De Clercqstraat has been a beacon in many lives – when I still lived in Bos en Kommer, it was often a place on my way home to stock up on ‘supplies’ after an evening’s work in the pub, or hitting them. Also Sterk has been a customer of my employer, Bier&cO: we held tastings there and practiced the StiBON tasting exam with Helma who then gloriously passed the test (of course!) Because of a Spring Beer tasting for Het Parool, I found myself there again and was just flabbergasted – what a beer gem!
For a long time De Bierkoning was the only serious beer store in Amsterdam: like Bier&cO, In de Wildeman and Brouwerij ‘t IJ they started in the mid-eighties of the last century and thereby constituted the first Amsterdam Neue Beer Welle. Over the years there have been attempts to start a second ‘beer jeweler’ (Bert’s Bierhuis, The Cracked Kettle) but they were either too far ahead of their times or were affected by personal misfortune. Of course Mitra Slijterijen have been offering a wonderful beer selection for a long time and in recent years we saw the Beer Tree, Van Bieren and Craft and Draft open their doors. But to my amazement Avondwinkel Sterk has overtaken them all and just maybe is the leading beer shop in Amsterdam just now!
The range is huge, and with more than thirteen hundred beers, probably the largest in the city. The presentation is like in many other places: every square millimeter is used, but with a plan. There is a shelf with only Trappist beer, a station with gift packaging and a dedicated Amsterdam beer selection shelf. From a quality point of view, they are lightyears ahead of the competition by offering various cooled sections, holding beers with a vulnerable aroma cool. Bravo!
The most surprising of the range of beers – due to its history as an alternative to the supermarket that previously used to close at six – is that in addition to hundreds of international specialties they also offer a wide range of lagers, both canned and bottled. An extremely democratic beer shelf so to say, offering something for everyone. To top it off they boast a ‘growler station’: you can choose from four draught beers and take a bottle of freshly tapped beer home. Avondwinkel Sterk is, in short, a wonderful gem in the Amsterdam beer scene. It illustrates how well off consumers are today, for awesome beers are becoming more easily accessible and available. Pure gain, I’d say!