Amsterdam is a capital city of many wonders; cheese, weed, late night clubbing, picturesque canals, classic brown cafes, windmills, darts and of course beer, more than just your Heineken and Amstel too. I've been going to Amsterdam since the mid-90s, it used to be a yearly trip around Queen/King's Day, the national royal holiday (Koninginnedag in Dutch), where basically everyone transcends on the Dam to party, with sound systems out on the streets and all sorts going on. Then again in July for the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, always ensuring a stop over in the capital. But it's been three years since our last visit and there's been an explosion in Dutch breweries and beer bars since then. Here's our guide to a few beery spots to hit if you're visiting anytime soon:
You'll spot the windmill a mile off, helps greatly when you're out of the city centre and everything looks very similar! Those repeating rows of classic Dutch canal houses. Brouwerij T'ij (pronounced eye) produces a range of quality, flavoursome beers and this tap room boasts a beautiful outside terrace area to enjoy them in.
An American inspired craft beer bar not far from Central station. An impressive tap list with a meat and cheese board offering to accompany those big US IPAs. (I managed to find and drink the Belgian lambic on tap though!).
Owned by the same person as The Beer Temple and Arendsnest, Craft & Draft opened in 2014, in a neighbourhood spot near Vondel park. Over 30 taps, plus a mini bottle shop situated in the venue's entrance. This was one of the friendliest bars we visited on our trip and we visited a number of times, as we loved the atmosphere. The bar manager was welcoming, informative and helpful in letting you sample before buying. If you time it right, there's a mid-week free tasting session showcasing a particular brewery each time.
A neighbourhood beer shop with a US and Dutch focus plus beer on tap for growler fills. Not far from Craft & Draft and worth a visit if you're in the area.
I was smitten by the beer choice in this classic Dutch venue, with its long, thin, brown bar as it's the only place I found with a dedicated Dutch focus on the taps. Over 30 taps, plus a detailed bottled menu. Table service on offer here, so just sit down and peruse the menu at your leisure. I'd put a couple of hours aside for this bar, so you can discover the diversity of the Dutch brewing scene.
One of Amsterdam's classic brown cafes - dark wood interiors, different hues of brown covering the walls (it use to be a distillery). We discovered a cask of Weird Beard on the bar which was a big surprise (in a good way as it was a big dark beast). Varied selection of beers from across the world and just off one of the main shopping streets, so a great place to seek refuge from the central madness.
A short trip on a ferry from the back of Amsterdam central station takes you to the northern part of the city, where young experimental brewery Oedipus have taken up base in a warehouse. We called in on the open Sunday session with a welcoming atmosphere and party vibe - Redlight Radio DJs were set up playing a mix of jazz, funk, soul and house. The taps mainly featured their own beers such as the delicious saison Mannenliefde; they did have one guest tap, which was a nice addition.
From the quite unassuming exterior in the main redlight area near central station, De Prael hides an expansive space once inside. Housing a shop, brewery and a connection to the street behind which hosts their bar venue. An impressive use of space and inter connections of different areas. Sign up for the brewery tour where you end up with a tasting paddle at the main bar.
A little on the outskirts past Vondel park way lies Butchers Tears. Its worth the trip and the Proeflokaal (tasting room) is a low key, white tiled, pristine wonder. Very laid back and you could easily loose a few hours here working your way through Butcher's Tears beers. Make sure you ask about any one-off specials in bottle, as we found a few available on our visit.
A specialist beer shop since 1985 and it's just around the corner from The Beer Temple. Stocking over 1500 different beers, the Dutch section is mightily impressive, let alone the beers from all over the world - I spotted some Cascade Brewing and tasty gueuzes in the lambic cellar on the lower floor.
Situated in the west of the city this food hall opened in 2014 in a huge converted building. Inside is an array of food vendors, each with their own space, with group seating and bar areas dotted between. We visited a few times on our stay trying Vietnamese banh mi and Dutch specialty bitterballen (a savoury deep fried meaty snack usually containing minced beef of veal). The beer choice was a mix of macro Amstel and indie Dutch - I tried a Oedipus' Gandalf The Pink - a tart cherry sour bomb.
As a lover of tattoos I had to visit Angelique Houtkamp's beautiful tattoo parlour Salon Serpent. It's very near Food Hallen. Even if you're not up for a bit of ink, I'd highly recommend a visit to buy her artwork prints and posters.
Haarlem is just a 15 minute train ride from central station. Head over for the day or afternoon and make sure you visit these two beery places whilst you're there......
Loved this small and welcoming neighbourhood bar. 25 plus taps with one of the most interesting selections we spotted on our holiday. We tried beers from the brewery itself plus Italian White Pony, Spanish La Quince Brewery and Cervesa La Pirata. The bar has taps US style on the back wall, nice exposed brick interior and a bar cat which mooches around looking for friendly strangers to become friends with. Het Ulitje are brewing some of wildest, tastiest beers in the new wave of the Dutch brewing scene, in my humble opinion.
The panoramic photo I took of this converted church doesn't even touch the impressive space of Jopen. A copper shining BrauKon brewkit lies to the back in front of a set of stained glass windows, inside is a long thin bar, with lots of seating and a restaurant on the mezzanine level. A very slick, grown up beer venue. I sipped a small glass of Harlem Shake (an Oedipus/Jopen collab - big dark stout wth raspberry and black pepper) and took in the view.