Amsterdam has a lively bar culture and a great love for beer and you’ll find evidence of both at almost every turn as you’re walking through the city. We are always in search of great places to drink beer around the world, so we were very excited to embark on an Amsterdam beer tour to find the best beer in Amsterdam.
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We were under the impression that Amsterdam was all about Heineken, with possibly a few Belgian and Germany beers factored into the mix, so we certainly didn’t expect to find such a big microbrew scene there.
Amsterdam has quite a few microbreweries beyond the big names and you can visit many of them on foot, so it’s a great way to see the city and try some great beer and food.
Where to Find the Best Beer in Amsterdam
Turns out there are tons of great places to drink beer in Amsterdam. Our tour began at a small beer bar called BeerTemple, which actually focuses on small-batch American beers.
We were happy to see a number of our favorite Northwest beers lined up along the wall next to the extensive, 60+ bottle list. But we weren’t in Amsterdam to try American beer. We wanted to try some unique and interesting Dutch beers.
I’m not big on hoppy bitterness, so I tend to stick with darker, maltier beers. I was able to find quite a few locally brewed beers that showed the character and depth of Dutch microbrews.
I tried the Birrificio del Ducato Mikkie + Cattivella Creme Brulee Imperial Stout, which rang in at 9.5% ABV and was creamy and delicious.
Nick loves all things hops and believes the higher the IBUs the better, so he tried the Big Fat Five Double IPA with 75 IBUs, which was brewed by Het Uiltje especially for the 5-year anniversary of BeerTemple, and utilized some of our famous Northwest hops. Best of both worlds.
Earlier in our stay in Amsterdam, we noticed a small urban brewery called Bier Fabriek. It was closed at the time, but we saw that it had a handful of beers on tap and brewing equipment in the window, so we knew we wanted to stop back by.
As luck would have it, Bier Fabriek was stop number two on our beer tour. It’s only been open for a short time and already has a strong following.
It was such a nice day that we sat at an outdoor table and ordered their two beers that are brewed in-house. I had the Nero, a dark porter with chocolatey and toasty flavors. Nick had the Rosso, a ruby red ale with fruity, malty flavors. Then we took a quick tour of the interior. Despite the small facade, the place is enormous inside.
How cool is this? They have beer taps at every table. You can actually serve yourself beer at your own table. While they don’t have a ton of food options on the menu, they do serve a house specialty of charcoal-grilled, free range chicken that looked pretty delicious.
They also serve peanuts at the table to eat with your beer, and Sean told us they had quite a time training people to discard their shells on the floor. Apparently it’s not in their DNA to litter like it is in the U.S.
Since we were already in the neighborhood, we took a slight detour from the beer tasting to visit a liquor distillery that’s located nearby, called Wynand Fockink.
This place has been around since 1679 and has grown into one of the largest distilleries in the Netherlands. They specialize in flavored liqueurs and jenevers (gin) and you can have a taste of anything on their shelves for 3€.
We tried the Oude Jenever and had to employ a new technique we’d just learned called slurping to make sure we didn’t spill it all over ourselves.
They fill the tulip-shaped glass right to the brim so you have to hold the glass steady on the bar and slurp enough out to then pick up your glass without it spilling. Alongside the tasting room is a shop where you can buy your own tulip glasses.
Browerij ‘t IJ
The final stop on our beer tour was to a small local brewer with a big local following, Browerij ‘t IJ. I still have no idea how to pronounce that. But they have great beer, so I’ll just let it go. Browerij ‘t IJ was opened in 1985 by Kaspar Peterson, a former musician, who was responding to the outcry for more hand-crafted beer in Amsterdam.
The main brewery is located in an old bath house next to a famous windmill and has a lovely outdoor patio where you can sip one of their eight standard beers and three seasonals.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to journey the 16 kilometers outside of town where the brewery is located, so we had to make due with the brewpub in the city center. Brouwerij de Prael is in the Red Light District and is a bit hidden on a side street.
There’s plenty of room inside the bar to grab a stool and hang out at the bar, or you can sit outside at one of the few picnic tables. There’s no shortage of beer choices here. In fact, they have the most in-house brewed beers of all the places we visited in Amsterdam.
At any given time, there are probably 10 or more beers on tap. They have their regular lineup — a Weizen, an IPA, a Scotch Ale — along with a few seasonals. Nick had the Red Rye IPA and I had a Rauchbier they call Liquid Bacon, because why not.
Along with our beer, we had a traditional Dutch bar snack called Bitterballen. These little fried balls typically contain a mixture of beef or veal, beef broth, butter, flour for thickening, parsley, salt and pepper mixed together and resulting in a thick roux.
They are then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried. They look harmless, but you can easily be caught unaware of the molten-hot interior when you bite into one. Luckily, Sean had warned us ahead of time so we didn’t burn ourselves.
Three beers and a shot of gin were more than enough for us in one day. We had such a great time walking around Amsterdam for three hours acquainting ourselves with the city’s best drinking holes. Now we knew where to go back when we return.
If you’re looking for something else fun to do in Amsterdam, we highly recommend a food tour with Eating Europe. They have two neighborhood tours to choose from: Jordaan Food Tour and Food Tour in Haarlem. We love these tours because they include great stops and lots of tasty local foods.
Do you have a favorite Amsterdam beer spot? Tell us about it in the comments.
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited over 75 countries. Her work has been published in numerous guidebooks, websites, and magazines.