Holland 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
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
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.
Belly 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.”
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!