Amsterdam; the city of canals and coffee shops, but is it also a city for craft beer? Well, yes. Before visiting, I was aware of a few of the Netherlands’ most well-known breweries such as Het Uiltje, Jopen and Brouwerij ‘t IJ but I didn’t know just how many brilliant bars we’d find.
We arrived on King’s Day which is the Netherlands’ major bank holiday, so the streets were rammed with people drinking, dancing and generally enjoying themselves. As a result, our first evening was a bit different than the usual experience particularly as many of the bars closed early but it wasn’t this way all through our stay as the next day everything had returned to normal – as if the street drinking and party boats never happened at all.
Here’s a little run-down of all the places we visited during our three-night stay.
Because it was so busy in the city, we decided our first port of call should be somewhere slightly out of the main city centre. Foodhallen is a street food market located in a former tram depot which has a great variety of street food traders and three bars – one for beer, one for wine and one for gin.
The beer bar has a few beers on draught – it’s the guest ones you should keep an eye out for – and there’s also a fairly good selection of bottles from local breweries. I was recommended one from Two Chefs, a brewery founded five years ago by, you guessed it, two chefs and they also had beer from the likes of Oedipus, De Prael and Brouwerij ‘t IJ.
One thing to note is that some of the traders are card only, however the beer bar does take cash too.
Bellamyplein 51, 1053 AT (Oud-West) – foodhallen.nl/bar/
Craft and Draft
With 40 beers on draught, Craft and Draft has a huge range to sample with something for everyone. As well as beers from the Netherlands, there were also options from Poland, Belgium, Germany and Spain available and pretty much every style on offer.
It’s quite relaxed with seating both inside and outside and it’s also got a bottle shop if you’re looking for somewhere to stock up on goodies to take away.
It’s also the final stop of the MoreBeer tour – if you visit all four bars (Proeflokaal Arendsnest, Beer Temple, Cause Beer Loves Food and Craft and Draft) in a day and a have a drink in each, you get a free t-shirt.
Overtoom 417, 1054 JR (Oud-West) – www.craftdraft.nl
One of Amsterdam’s more traditional bars and a number of locations owned by the same group, Gollem’s Proeflokaal is located on the same road as Craft and Draft (albeit, quite a long road – 10 minute walk away). As well as a couple of draught beers – including their own Gollem’s Precious and Gollem’s Blond – there’s a strong bottle menu featuring a large range of Belgian beers as well as a selection from the Netherlands.
It was decked out in orange for King’s Day and was more locals than tourists (I think we were the only out-of-towners) and it had a jovial atmosphere.
Overtoom 160-162, 1054 HP (Oud-West) – cafegollem.nl/overtoom/
Possibly the best draught beer selection in Amsterdam can be found in Beer Temple and we visited on every single day that we were in the city.
Beer Temple bills itself as an American beer bar – Americans breweries on offer during our visit including Jolly Pumpkin, Gigantic and Cigar City – but there’s an excellent range of European beer on offer too.
Our highlight was Mikkeller Black from 2013 that had been ageing in the cellar – the bar is twinned with Mikkeller & Friends Copenhagen according to a plaque on the wall, so this could be where it came from. This was our night cap for each visit!
As well as the excellent beer, there are also some snacks on offer – including the sensational Orval cheese which isn’t to be missed. The tunes were also pretty decent and it’s nowhere near a party bar, but it’s a fun place to spend an evening.
If you only have time to visit on bar in Amsterdam, Beer Temple should be it.
Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 250, 1012 RR (De Wallen) – beertemple.nl
Cafe de Gaeper
Cafe de Gaeper is a cosy little spot located on back street that’s more traditional – although the music was very modern with Uptown Funk playing as we walked in.
Not the most exciting beer selection (although there were options from Oedipus, Brouwerij ‘t IJ and Jopen) but it’s a relaxing and comfortable spot for a few drinks that’s slightly off the beaten track.
Staalstraat 4, 1011 JL (De Wallen) – facebook.com/CafeDeGaeper/
Brouwerij De Prael
Brouwerij De Prael is a brewery tap in the heart of the red light district (which is an odd place to visit). It’s located down a back street in an area full of back streets.
It’s a large place and the look is part industrial, part butchers and part kitsch with its mis-matched furniture and records stuck to the wall. An odd design, but it works (well, you stop noticing it after a few minutes, anyway).
On entering, you’re at the bar which does really feel like a butchers’ shop with its white tiles and brickwork floor. There’s some seating in this area of the venue but there’s not too much of it and it does feel a bit sterile in the front compared with the rest of the site.
Further back, there’s a larger room which is where most of the seating is – and the brewery. A combination of smaller and larger tables make it suitable for groups and they also do some events and tastings at the back.
The beer was OK; I didn’t try anything ground-breaking but it’s a decent spot if you’re in the area.
Also worth noting that around the corner, they also have a bottle shop if you want anything to take away.
Oudezijds Armsteeg 26, 1012 GP (De Wallen) – deprael.nl
Brouwerij ‘t IJ
This is the famous ‘windmill brewery’ you hear so much about. As it’s listed to all the guidebooks, it’s extremely touristy and very busy but isn’t particularly large inside with more seating outdoors. In fact, we overheard the lady in the queue in front of us ask about taster boards and the chap behind the bar replied that they were just for tourists, highlighting its touristy credentials.
However, as it was a sunny day there was limited seating outside too. It wasn’t my favourite place and we only had one as I couldn’t really be bothered queuing again!
Funenkade 7, 1018 AL (Eastern Docklands) – brouwerijhetij.nl
A good place to go to after ‘t IJ as you can walk to the boat that takes you across the water to the side of the city where the brewery is.
From the outside, it doesn’t look like much; a generic grey building on a regular industrial estate with only the bright yellow door and blue shutter hinting at what’s inside.
Open the door and you’re transported to a vibrant, bustling and most importantly, colourful, brewery tap. Think bright murals, palm trees and hanging plants which have transformed it and makes you forget that you’re on an industrial estate.
The bar has 12 taps, most of which are the brewery’s own regular range but there are also some seasonal specials and occasional guests on offer. Each week there’s also the Fresh Beer Friday event where they have one of their beers available in bottle straight from the bottling line and food is also served at certain hours.
A place that’s definitely worth venturing out of the city centre for.
Gedempt Hamerkanaal 85, 1021 KP (Amsterdam Noord) – oedipus.com/taproom/
We wandered past this place and had to pop in and have a look (even though we were travelling hand luggage only so couldn’t take anything home) and we were not disappointed. There’s a fantastic range from across Europe on offer. Glass collectors are also well catered for with shelves full of glasswear from various breweries behind the till.
Paleisstraat 125, 1013 ZL (De Wallen) – bierkoning.nl
Bierproeflokaal In De Wildeman
Located on a small, vehicle-free street, Bierproeflokaal In De Wildeman is a character-filled bar which feels and looks very traditional. It’s a busy little place to visit with two rooms and a few outdoor tables which soon get snapped on up on a sunny day. The bar is located in the middle of both rooms so you can get served on either side although table service is also available (but, they don’t seem to frown on you wandering over to the bar to order like we did.).
As for the beer, it’s a diverse range. They offer 18 beers on draught with Dutch, German and British beers generally featured (on our visit this included Wild Beer) alongside mainstream brands such as Guinness and Meantime. It also boasts a significant bottle range.
Nice spot if you’re looking to visit somewhere which feels a bit more olde worlde but still has modern and interesting beer on offer.
Kolksteeg 3, 1012 PT (De Wallen) – indewildeman.nl
Looking for somewhere with a huge amount of Dutch beer to sample? With 50 (50!) beers on draught and many more in bottles, Proeflokaal Arendsnest is the ideal place to get to know some of the Netherlands’ many microbreweries.
Unlike some of Amsterdam’s other craft beer bars, Proeflokaal Arendsnest only serves Dutch beer and therefore providing a fantastic introduction to some breweries you may not be familiar with.
It’s not huge – there are more beers on draught than seats in the main bar – but this keeps it cosy and intimate, however there is outdoor seating right by the canal if the weather permits. They’ve gone for a historic feel with the staff traditionally dressed, wooden fixtures and fittings and a pretty spectacular copper bar, and we were pretty lucky to get seats right at the bar which allowed us to soak up the atmosphere and get a great view of the beer board!
Herengracht 90, 1015 BS – arendsnest.nl
This is a traditional cafe close to the red light district located on a bustling square. It’s a quirky, old building – we were asked to move tables because we were sat above the entrance to the cellar. I didn’t envy the staff making the descent into the darkness down some very steep stairs! Not a huge choice of beer but nice looking venue and a good opportunity to experience one of the more traditional Amsterdam bars.
Nieuwmarkt 15, 1011 JR (Nieuwmarkt) – cafefonteyn.nl
This was about 10 minutes away from Brouwerij Troost and our last stop before heading to the airport (it’s near Amsterdam Zuid station which goes straight to Schipol). It’s a neighbourhood style bar which was popular with small groups of friends and families.
We’d mainly gone for some lunch and it had decent food – mainly burgers with a veggie option on offer – but it did have a decent beer selection too.
Probably a visit if you’re in the area.
Maasstraat 70, 1078 HL (Scheldebuurt) – tapzuid.amsterdam