Raising a Glass at Amsterdam Breweries

badge_AmsterdamInterNationsHolland is synonymous with beer, so it’s only right to raise a glass in the city where Amstel and Heineken had their humble beginnings in a De Pijp brewery. Beyond these pale ales, you can find out what Amsterdam beer is all about at local breweries offering tours, tastings and sometimes competitions with live music. In addition, pubs throughout the city showcase Dutch and international beers. Proost!

Brouwerij de Prael: A Microbrewery in the Red Light District

Browerij de Proel
Craft beers named after iconic Dutch singers are brewed at Brouwerij de Prael.

Who’d guess you’d find a working microbrewery in the heart of Amsterdam’s Red Light District? Yet there it is on tree-draped Oudezijdsvoorburgwal: Brouwerij de Prael, a 17th century canal house where Golden Age auctions were held, transformed in 2002 into a beer tasting room, shop and brewery outfitted with Persian rugs, comfy furnishings and pictures of popular vintages.

Open daily, Brouwerij de Prael boasts a modern plant yet keeps beer history alive using centuries-old brewing techniques that predate the Industrial Age. More than a half-dozen craft beers named after iconic Dutch singers are brewed on-site, in addition to seasonal and special edition brews.

Watch the brewing process while sampling Johnny, named after beloved Dutch crooner Johnny Jordaan, or try heavier German beers, British stouts, or caramel-laced Willy, a beer that packs a punch with 11.5% alcohol. To go with your ales, a menu of beer-inspired selections and Dutch specialties includes bitterballen, croquettes, and local cheese and sausages. Beer packages featuring several craft brews, as well as T-shirts, beer mustard, beer chutney, beer schnapps and beer books, are available in the shop. If you’re a real fan, purchase a beer stein so you can raise a glass at home!

Brouwerij ‘t IJ: A Brewery at An Urban Windmill

 A large outdoor terrace makes Brouwerij 't Ij a great place to chill in the shadow of an urban windmill.
An outdoor terrace makes Brouwerij ‘t Ij a great place to chill in the shadow of an urban windmill.

You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see a tall windmill rising from the skyline on Amsterdam’s east side: Brouwerij ‘t IJ, a small brewery and pub in what was previously a bathhouse, adjacent to the De Gooyer windmill. Opened in 1985 by former musician Kaspar Peterson, Brouweij ‘t Ij takes pride in its large selection of unfiltered, non-pasteurized beers and seasonal offerings, all certified organic and made onsite.

IMG_3671Belly up to the bar next to the big mill and order your beer from a chilled tank. Follow the scent of hops onto the large outdoor terrace, where you can enjoy your brew with peanuts, boiled eggs, local cheese, salami and ossenworst. The adjacent pub serves more substantial meals, as well as drinks and snacks. Guided tours are offered on weekends.

Heineken: Brewery Turned Touristy Beer Homage

Would you pay €18 for a few glasses of Dutch brew served against a backdrop of old Heineken commercials and a quasi-3D movie starring a guy swimming in a pool of beer? You will at The Heineken Experience, where the 19th century buildings that housed one of the world’s three largest beer producers are preserved. From 1864‒1988, the Heineken Brewery perfumed Amsterdam’s De Pijp neighborhood with the scent of its popular ale. But even www.Amsterdam.info suggests you get drunk before visiting The Heineken Experience, a touristy homage to a beer now produced by a huge multinational company that “must have been arranged by people who had too much beer themselves.”

Find more daytrips from Amsterdam at Afar.com.
Find more cool spots in the Dutch capital in my AFAR Guide to Amsterdam.

When the brewery closed in 1988, the Heineken family preserved its history in a museum with tours encompassing the giant brass beer tanks and horse stable on the property. For a small admission fee, visitors learned about the famed pilsner and imbibed from bottomless mugs. Following a 2008 renovation, the entry charge went up and a friendly brand promotion became a touristy homage to beer: The Heineken Experience.

Folks still line up to view the authentic interiors, old photographs and honors the Heineken family received over the years, including a gold medal from the 1889 World Fair in Paris. Buy your tickets online, get a €2 discount and skip the waiting line. Just know, the beer may taste different after watching someone bathing in it. You’ve been warned!






  1. I just wanna have a cold nice beer when I read about this. I’m gonna try find the microbrewery in the red light district! After reading your blog we even more looking forward to visit Amsterdam!

  2. Beer, Bier (de), Cerveja (pt), and so on.

    They come in all shapes and sizes, tons of brands… and that’s when you actually realize that they are part of not a particularly culture but currently, of humanity itself.

    It’s really great to see that even in the centre of a multicultural city, surprisingly inside the Red Light District, there’s that really nice Microbrewery. As a Portuguese, we don’t have any of those, as we are more of a country of wine, and traditionally is more common to see and visit our ancient wine cellars than our off city modern breweries, so it’s quit interesting to find it in the middle of Amsterdam (at least in these foreigners eyes!). And if we get marvelled by that small one you are able to present us with a traditional windmill, brewery and Amsterdam!
    Oh and Heineken! Globally know and globally respected!

    What more can I say? The Dutch really know how to make the best of what they have!


  3. Craft beer has just become popular in my country, however you don’t see much of an organic range. I’m really interested in how they brew organic seasonal beers at Brouwerij. Great post! I was thinking of taking the Heineken tour before I read this but now I’ll definitely go to Brouwerij instead. Or maybe I’ll do both! 🙂

  4. As a homebrewer and lover of fine microbrews (I’m spoiled by California culture, and envious of the Oregon, Washington, and Colorado brew scenes), I was stoked to read this post. When I was in Konstanz, Germany, I happened upon a brauhaus (Jon. Albrecht) that still uses traditional methods in crafting their beer (and I was one week too late in trying their version of an IPA…). Hopefully I’ll show up in time for a tour to compare notes.
    Thanks for the research! 🙂

  5. I will definitely be raising a glass at Brouweij ‘ t Ij when I find myself in Amsterdam. I just love having a victory brew (or a let’s-take-a-break brew) after a long day of hiking or exploring.

  6. After a long trip throughout the wine renowned countries of Europe I am looking forward to some quality craft beers in Amsterdam! Since moving to Durango, Colorado my love for microbrews has grown as Durango houses the highest number of breweries per capita in the US!

    I look forward to exploring the quality establishments mentioned in this article, perhaps Amsterdam beer will be able to shake my infallible confidence in Colorado brew.

  7. Thanks! I’ll definitely be referring back to this post for my upcoming trip to the Netherlands. I got more excited about the trip throughout the read-especially as I got to Brouwerij ‘t IJ. Great insight!

  8. Micro breweries …… increasingly popular in UK as well as mainland Europe. As well as a huge growth in bottled beers (the Tesco contract is what all small breweries want) there is now an intriguing movement towards real ale pubs offering “taster” glasses (to be savoured) in small one-third pint glasses, which kicks against the more common UK culture of Friday night binge drinking and its inherent anti social connotations.

    Favourite MBs of lindsay400 include Hall and Woodhouse…

  9. There’s nothing better than enjoying a locally brewed craft beer on a terrace in Amsterdam! I really enjoy the offerings of De Bekeerde Suster, especially De Blonde Barbier. They have a small restaurant/brewery near Nieuwmarkt, or you can find all of their beers on tap at De Brabantse Aap in Spui.

  10. Heineken is my favourite “mass-production” beer and it would be nice to see how it’s done, but when I come to Amsterdam I’ll focus on trying some local beers. And for 100% I’ll go to Brouwerij de Prael, I have never seen anything like it, it must be en extraordinary experience 🙂

    • Whatever you do, DON’T go to Heineken. It’s a tourist trap, not a working brewery. Do you really want pay 18 euros to see old commercials of a guy swimming in beer, plus 2 “free” glasses at the end?

      • lindsay400’s first ever brewery trip is fondly remembered…..the now defunct Mansfield brewery, Notts/Derbys border (hardcore coal mining country before Thatcher intervened) – 30 minute whistle stop tour of big vats of “stuff” followed by three pints of real fresh bitter…..the coach trip back to Chesterfield was “interesting”…. and singy…

  11. I have been traveling for the last two weeks. Micro-breweries are such big business in the states (which I am a huge fan), I found it strange that some of the countries I traveled hadn’t adopted it as well. Sweden, Denmark, Norway…none of them appeared to have them in bars or grocery shelves (I asked). Glad to see when I am in Amsterdam I will be able to try a few. Brouwerij ‘t IJ Ijbok sounds the most tempting.

  12. With all the things to do in Amsterdam, for some reason, beer was not on my list. That is, until I read this article. A beer advocate with a soft spot for stouts, pretzels, and beer mustard that stings the nostrils, I am now very intrigued in what Amsterdam has to offer in the world of microbrews.

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