Dutch Beer for Tourists I: Amsterdam’s Golden Quartet

amsterdam_braun_and_hogenberg_15741People who read this blog but have only spent little or no time in this country often ask me the what which beer related places they should visit. Since Amsterdam is often the first and only destination it will feature in the first installment of a new series: Dutch beer for tourists!

Amsterdam, the city I was fortunate enough to live in for over a decade. While Utrecht might be a more interesting place to visit when it comes to beer, Amsterdam is making a comeback lately and in one years’ time there will be even more to visit, but for now I am sticking with what some, including myself, call the ‘Golden Quartet’.

Proeflokaal het Arendsnest (Herengracht 90)

If you are only in Amsterdam for an hour but still want to go to an iconic place for Dutch beer, then the Arendsnest is the place. About a 10-15 minute walk from the local railway station you pass one of the most beautiful canals in the city, aptly named the Brewerscanal (Brouwersgracht). Though you could easily linger on the small bridges for hours, tear yourself away until you reach the Herengracht where you will find the Arendsnest. For well over a decade Peter van den Arend has run a bar on the canal and it is still unique. It only serves Dutch beer, and from all over the country. Fourteen taps and countless bottles offers something for everyone. The staff knows everything about what they offer so they can give you the right advice. On a nice warm day you can sit on the terrace on the side of the canal.

BeerTemple (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 250)

If excellent beer is your religion then this is it’s temple. Also owned by the same Peter who owns the Arendsnest, it offers beer from mostly the U.S. and Scandinavia, with some other countries thrown in, including Holland. The BeerTemple has been open for a few years now, can sometimes be empty but what is on offer there is unequaled in the Netherlands, maybe in Europe.

Think the great bigger American craft brewers, but also Mikkeler and Struise. Usually there are around 4 Dutch beers on tap too. What is on offer here is the best of the best craft beer has to offer at the moment.

Bierkoning ( Paleisstraat 125)

Just around the corner is a shop that doesn’t look like much from the outside. But walk through the door and small corridor and you enter beer heaven. This is easily the best beer store in Amsterdam. You won’t find cases of Heineken here but the best that craft brew worldwide has to offer, though most of it is from the U.S., Germany, England, Belgium, Denmark and whatever else is good. Their Dutch section is growing and growing and now probably the biggest section. As I wrote in an earlier piece, they are a big help in spreading the word about the new Dutch wave of craft beer. Here again the staff knows everything you need to know. Other stores might be more comfortable to walk around in, but no other store in Amsterdam offer a selection as this one does. Since it is almost next to the Royal Palace, there is no excuse for you to miss De Bierkoning.

In De Wildeman (Kolksteeg 3)

If you really need to go back to the station with your backpack heavy with the bottles you just bought at de Bierkoning, the ghost of Michael Jackson (the beer writer who once recorded a bit for his series here) will haunt you forever if you don’t go to In De Wildeman first. This is a specialty beer with beer from all over Europe, but you can easily sit here all day and only have Dutch brews either from one of the many taps or bottles. Like the other bars, the staff knows what they are selling. Though surrounded by noisy, busy streets it can often be a haven of calm, especially during the day. The premises once was occupied by a distillery, and the signs of that are still there. While you’re in there, grab a book, drink a beer and don’t forget to look above the door at all the beers on tap.

Go to the 6:00 mark for In De Wildeman, it’s old but legendary

Extra:

If you are staying in Amsterdam longer there are other places worth visiting.

Brouwerij ‘t IJ (Funenkade 7)

A little outside of downtown, but easy to reach by tram, is one of the oldest craft breweries in the country: Brouwerij ‘t IJ. Located in an old bathhouse underneath a windmill it’s a pretty place to visit. Recently they built a new part a little down the road but the tasting room remains. You can sit inside but the best place is outside on a warm spring or summer night. ‘t IJ has also in the last few years ventured into some newer styles and you can now get porters, IPA’s apart from the standard beers they have had for ages.

De Prael (Oudezijds Voorburgwal 30)

If you haven’t been to Amsterdam much you will likely end up in the red light district. Don’t forget to wander into the Prael, a newer brewery with a shop and tasting room.

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  1. […] Amsterdam’s Golden Quartet […]

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