A beer tour of Amsterdam
A beer tour of Amsterdam
Amsterdam has a long history in lager, but its craft beer scene is thriving. Thanks to the Netherlands' brewing heritage the new wave of breweries in Amsterdam is highly eclectic, as are the bars where you can try their beers.
You can find great local beers in traditional cafes now, or take your pick from new-school craft pubs or the proeflokaals (tasting rooms, or taprooms) of Amsterdam's breweries.
If you're looking to book a holiday to Amsterdam, here's our guide to enjoying the city's best brews. Enter our competition before 31 May 2017 and you could win a pair of flights to Amsterdam, leaving you with extra beer money.
The original independent on the Amsterdam beer scene, Brouwer't IJ was brewing craft beer almost 20 years before craft beer existed. Many of the beers are organic and the tour here is great value. The outdoor terrace at Bourwerij't IJ's brewpub makes it a perfect spot for relaxed drinks in the summer sunshine on a trip to Amsterdam, and it even overlooks the canal next door to a windmill – it doesn't get any more Dutch than that. Come here for great beer and a classic Amsterdam experience.
Oedipus Brewing is decidedly new-wave craft – which is no bad thing. Its innovative beers include Thai Thai, a Belgian-style tripel brewed with coriander, galangal and chilli, which the brewery describes as 'like a complete Thai dish in a glass'. The brewery also has a taproom open Thursday to Sunday. On an industrial estate by the Motorkanaal, the Oedipus taproom recalls the best East London breweries and it's a laidback place to enjoy some excellent beers on a sunny afternoon – there's often live music and the brewery sometimes invites popular local food trucks along so you can enjoy some of Amsterdam's best street food with your beer.
The BeerTemple's concept is a celebration of US brewing culture, but the house-brewed beers from MoreBeer are the real reason to come here. There are names here that beer geeks and casual drinkers alike will recognise, such as Brooklyn and Lagunitas, but the lesser-known local brews are excellent. Hardcore beer enthusiasts can go for super-strength double IPAs and imperial stouts, but there's always a good balance of easy-drinking pales and lagers on draft too.
One for purists, this bar serves only Dutch beers. Don't think that means a limited list, though – there are over 50 beers on draft alone. You probably won't see any familiar names on the seriously impressive beer list, but don't be put off – the Netherlands' variety is showcased, from fruit beers to dubbels, but there are still lots of well-known styles on offer, including blondes and wheat beers. Proesflokaal Arendsnest is from the same owner as the BeerTemple. In central Amsterdam, it's just 10 minutes on foot from Dam Square and a few minutes' walk from the Westerkerk and the Anne Frank House, so it's the perfect end to the day if you're planning a cultural tour or a stroll around the main sights of Amsterdam city centre and need some refreshment.
Firmly at the hipster end of the craft beer scene, Butcher's Tears is hidden away in Amsterdam-Zuid, but it's worth seeking out for some of the best beer in Amsterdam. The proeflokaal has a regular events programme, hosting live music and arty film screenings. With its industrial cool and obscure beer names (glass of La Condition Humaine IV, anyone?), Butcher's Tears wouldn't feel out of place in Hackney or even Brooklyn, but it has a distinctly Dutch vibe that makes it just as worth visiting to uncover the character of modern Amsterdam.
Brouwerij de Prael
This brewery refers to its flagship blonde (which is 5.7% ABV) as a 'session beer' – that should give you an idea of the average strength here. You might not be sinking too many, but it's well worth a visit to the brewery's pub, tucked away on Oudezijds Armsteeg, centrally located near the Church of St Nicholas. The brewpub also does good food and it's a great place to pair the modern brews with traditional Dutch beer snacks, such as bitterballen or a frikandel.
What to eat
Of course if you're planning on touring Amsterdam's beer highlights then you'll need something to soak it all up. As you'd expect from a city with a proud beer heritage, Amsterdam excels in beer snacks.
Bitterballen are deep-fried breaded balls of deliciousness with a meaty filling – a little like Spanish croquetas, they're the ultimate beer snack and you'll see them on most bar menus. Don't be fooled by the name; they're named after the stuff you drink them with and aren't bitter at all.
A frikandel is another bar snack staple in Amsterdam. Something like a skinless, deep-fried hot dog, it's better than it sounds, and it's great with an ice-cold fizzy pils or blonde.
Keep an eye out for kibbeling at street food stalls and markets like the Albert Cuyp and Lindengracht markets. It's battered cod, cooked in smaller chunks than our chippies do, and makes a perfect snack whether you're enjoying a beer or not. Add a portion of Vlaamse frites and you've got Dutch fish and chips.
Read our quick guide to Amsterdam for more tips on eating out and getting around the city.
And the obvious
There's no getting away from it – the Heineken Experience is one of the top attractions in Amsterdam. There's a reason the brewing giant refers to it as an 'experience' rather than a mere brewery tour. While Heineken might get a bad rap among beer aficionados, the original brewery is an icon of the city and it does include some interesting exhibits. Sure, it's touristy, but the rooftop bar does give some excellent views over Amsterdam – check whether it's open if you plan to visit.
For more top tips on getting the most from your visit to Amsterdam read our guide to Amsterdam's most stylish bars and our blog post on the city's alternative art galleries.
If you're fully clued up, then book your flight from London City Airport to Amsterdam today. It's just 1 hour 10 minutes to the Dutch capital from the heart of London, making Amsterdam perfect for a no-hassle short break from the city.