With a range between innovative and edgy young local breweries to more established historic tasting houses and well-stocked beer tap rooms, Amsterdam’s craft and specialty beer scene is vibrant and strong. I visited five notable haunts from Amsterdam’s heady beer scene drinking it all in.

Brouwerij ‘t IJ

Brewing some of Amsterdam’s best-loved craft beers since 1985 in a formerly vacant municipal bath house next to the city’s largest wooden windmill is Brouwerij ‘t IJ,  founded by local musician Kasper Peterson who was looking to grow his experimental home brewing into a commercial enterprise by producing Belgian style beers that weren’t being brewed at the time in Amsterdam.

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The old municipal bath house proved a perfect place for a brewery since it had a water supply and drainage system, easy-to-keep-clean tiles and steam generator. Some of the original physical features of the building remain including separate entrances for men and women.

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After more than twenty years into Brouwerij ‘t history Peterson stepped back and Bart Obertop and Patrick Hendrikse took over and continue brewing the distinctive kind of quality beers ‘t IJ has become known for.

Since demand far exceeded supply a new brewery was opened near the original location in 2013. Public tours are offered regularly at the original brewery and at EUR 6 with a free beer won’t soak beer enthusiasts but note only twenty spots are available for each tour and are only sold at the brewery the day of the tour and no advance reservations are accepted.

I tried the Amarillo Red IPA which is less hoppy to me than most IPA’s so is an easy drinking beer which is available only at the brewery. The name is taken from the Amarillo hop and not the city in Texas.

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There’s more about the brewery and its history in this video but a quick look at all of Brouwerij ‘t  beers posing around Amsterdam.

Brouwerij de Prael

The Brouwerij de Prael is tucked away on a narrow side street in the Oudezijds (Old Side) neighborhood of Amsterdam which is one of the oldest parts of the city known for its famous or infamous Red Light District. The current notoriety of the area notwithstanding the brewery is sighted on a canal that as early as 1300 was a beer quay where beer was imported from Germany on wooden ships before later being the site of Amsterdam’s first breweries.

The brewpub, which is off an alley and not too easy to find, welcomes thirsty patrons with a street level bar as well as an upper seating level with a funky assortment of wooden tables, chairs and modern chic industrial lamps.

Around the corner from the brewpub is the brewery itself and tours are offered frequently seven days a week. I joined a Friday afternoon tour with friends opting for the admission with one beer for EUR 8.50 through the online reservation site.

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Brouwerij de Prael was founded in 2002 and of its beers are brewed on site only using organic ingredients.

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In keeping with the handmade and authentic ethos the beers are all brewed, bottled, and labeled by hand on-site.

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After a few pints before and after the tour my favorite beer is the Weizen, a light and fruity German-style Hefeweizen beer  as I prefer the Weizen and Kolsch beers to IPA.

Proeflokaal Arendsnest

The Dutch word proeflokaal translates as ‘tasting room’ and with 50 craft beers on tap there are no other Amsterdam ale houses that own the word like Arendsnest. Located on the grand Herengracht canal a short walk from Centraal Station, Proeflokaal Arendsnest has rustic copper pipes, mahogany walls, and bartenders sharply dressed in waistcoats. An extensive list of craft beers greets visitors and after a long while trying to decide I chose Dutch Eagle Pale Ale, a light, fruity beer that went well with the warmer end-of-Summer evening. Note that the lower prices on the board are for smaller 220 ml glasses which are a good way to sample a variety of beers without investing in a whole pint of each.

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Beer Temple

The owner of Proeflokaal Arendsnest, Peter van der Arend,  opened the BeerTemple in 2009 and this hole-in-the-wall steps from Dam Square specializes in American craft beer with some 35 beers on tap and another 200 in cans and bottles.

 

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Unlike the bright & pristine  Brouwerij ‘t, the Beer Temple is a little rough around the edges with a narrow, dark interior and stickers covering the walls but its the location and beers that keep the masses returning.

Beer tastings are held every Sat.  at 12:30 PM and the day-long tour More Beer Tour combines the Beer Temple with affiliated watering holes Proeflokaal Arendsnest, Craft & Draft, and ‘Cause Beer Loves Food for a movable feast of craft beer.

Cafe ‘De Laurierboom’

History is around every corner in Amsterdam quote literally as I found while wandering the Jordaan district and happening upon Cafe ‘De Laurierboom’, a local pub for the past 150 years. It wasn’t the history however but rather the sidewalk seats that drew me in so I ordered a pint and plopped down to watch the neighborhood glide by.

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With locals far outnumbering tourists De Laurierboom is one of the last real ‘brown’ cafes, local watering holes with dark wood and smoke-stained walls. 

I ran out of time to visit all the exceptional brewpubs, tasting rooms and breweries in Amsterdam so will plan a return trip to visit those I was unable to sample this time around. Any reason to return to my beloved Amsterdam…