Amsterdam, the crown jewel sitting high atop the Netherlands’ head, is known and appreciated for many different reasons — all enjoyed by its inhabitants and the almost-16 million tourists who grace its streets each year. The city’s rich history and culture are readily seen in its many museums, bright tulips and an impressive system of canals. However, if you are a beer lover, like me, it’s Amsterdam’s history and culture of beer that are its main attraction.
From celebrating in the beer tents of Oktoberfest to sipping the infamous Chang Beer on the Island of Thailand I have been a beer connoisseur all over the world and Amsterdam is a country that is home to some of my favorite beer in the world.
So this week I thought I would vary from my usual topic of traveling the world and share my favorite breweries in Amsterdam.
You certainly don’t have to love beer to enjoy a holiday in Amsterdam, but if you do love beer, Amsterdam is a piece of heaven. While the most popular Amsterdam brew, Heineken, is known the world over, the city boasts many smaller, excellent breweries that can only be found and experienced when you’re in the city itself. Here’s a closer look at a handful.
While it certainly isn’t easy to spell or pronounce, Amsterdamsche Stoombierbrouwerij — or Amsterdam Steam Brewery — makes some excellent beer. In fact, their White Antonia was declared the tastiest beer of the year by Mokum Magazine.
A large and contemporary brewery next to an excellent restaurant, the Steam Brewery offers extensive tours and elaborate tastings. If you want to experience beer as envisioned by the 21st century, Amsterdamsche Stoombierbrouwerij is unparalleled. Tours commence at 12:30pm each Friday.
Brouwerij De Prael
A more recent addition to the Amsterdam brewing scene, Brouwerij De Prael opened in 2002 and is located in the center of the city. They have some excellent beer offerings, and nearly all of them are named after famous Amsterdam singers. One of their most popular brews is a pilsner called “Johnny,” which is named after local singer, Johnny Jordaan. They have a comfortable tasting room staffed by friendly, knowledgeable people, and tours of the brewery are available as well. Sundays, you can taste the beer while listening to live jazz.
Brouwerij ‘t IJ
Besides being a place you can get good beer, one of the best things about Brouwerij ‘t IJ is its location — it sits directly next to an impressive windmill, which makes it an ideal brewery for anyone craving a photo op to prove they drank beer in Amsterdam. Brouwerij ‘t IJ specializes in pilsners and ambers, and they just recently released a Double IPA. Touted for using organic ingredients as often as they can, the brewery offers tours Friday through Sunday with times that can vary, so you’re best off checking their website for updates. They have a tasting room with a large terrace open every day from 3pm – 8pm.
Butcher’s Tears is an excellent brewery located in the city’s more industrial south side. They love to indulge in seasonal and special edition beers, and they usually work from old and traditional recipes — especially those that are unfiltered and unpasteurized. Their tasting room is open in the afternoons from Wednesday through Sunday, and they’ll fill your glass with everything from saisons to pale ales. They regularly have live music and DJs, so if you’re looking for something to do while you drink some excellent beer, Butcher’s Tears is the place.
Another brewery working from traditional recipes is Jopenkerk. Located in Haarlem, this brewery and restaurant are located in an old church, which makes the drinking and eating experience even more interesting. Their beers really are from another time, too. The Jopen Hoppenbier uses an old Haarlem recipe hailing from 1501, and the Jopen Koyt’s recipe is from 1407. It uses “gruit” — a herb blend originally used in the Middle Ages to make beer before hops were known or fashionable. If you want to taste the beer your forebears would have been lucky to drink, spend some time in Jopenkerk.
To a beer lover, there are few things as satisfying as visiting the place and experiencing process that makes a really good beer, along with sampling the beer itself, of course. A trip to Amsterdam is the chance of a lifetime for the beer connoisseur because its beer and beer-making techniques are so unique. Make your plans and pack your bags. The breweries, the beer, and the city of Amsterdam are waiting for you.