Brewing beer is a centuries-old tradition in Holland, going back to mediaeval monasteries, where monks would perfect their brewing recipes and methods. Nowadays, Amsterdam has plenty of excellent beer-related activities and places to visit. Take a tour of a former Heineken brewery, where you can learn all about one of Holland’s most famous exports, or explore the city’s thriving craft beer scene. There’s even a brewery in a windmill! And of course, don’t forget to enjoy a small but refreshing glass of beer in one of Amsterdam’s many cute canal-side bars.
- Get to grips with Dutch beer culture.
- Learn more about the history of Heineken, Holland’s most famous beer export.
- Visit a local brewery housed in a windmill.
Amsterdam’s beer culture
It is no exaggeration to say that Holland is a nation of beer drinkers. Walk along an Amsterdam canal on a summer’s evening and you’ll pass countless little cafés and bars where people are thoroughly enjoying their vaasje – a quarter-liter, or roughly half-pint, glass of lager. Brewing beer has a very long tradition in Holland, beginning with monks in the middle ages, and leading to famous brands such as Heineken, Amstel, and Grolsch. The Dutch even have their own version of craft beer. Speciaalbier, or simply ‘special beer’, is often served from bottles and is usually much stronger – both in flavor and in alcohol content – than the standard lager. More Anglo-American styles of craft beer such as American Pale Ale are also widely available.
Visit famous breweries in Amsterdam
The most famous beer from Holland is undoubtedly Heineken, and the Heineken Experience pulls out all the stops to cater to international visitors. Located in the first Heineken brewery to be built, in Amsterdam’s De Pijp neighborhood, this museum experience offers a self-guided interactive tour where visitors can learn about the history of the brand and the brewing process, and, of course, enjoy a taster. Those who prefer their experience a bit smaller scale should opt for a visit to Brouwerij ’t IJ, just east of the city center. The brewery produces various beers that are much revered throughout Holland, and best of all, it’s located in a towering windmill. Brouwerij ’t IJ offers tours, but you can also just go and sample their wares in the cozy bar or on the spacious terrace.
Independent craft breweries
The global craft beer revolution hasn’t bypassed Amsterdam, and noteworthy proponents that can be visited include Oedipus Brewing, an arty, industrial space north of the River IJ that offers live music to go alongside your beer sampling, while Butcher’s Tears is a hip but dedicated craft beer brewery in the south of the city. Another great brewery to visit is De Prael, an inclusive social enterprise serving delicious, organic craft beer in laid-back, cozy surroundings – plus they also host tours and tastings. And at the two locations of the popular Brouwerij Troost, you can also indulge in some hearty food, such as burgers.
Please note that brewery tours typically only admit over-18s.
Amsterdam boasts countless small breweries that produce specialty beers with dedication and expert craftsmanship. For an overview, please go to the I Amsterdam breweries blog.
More to tantalize your taste buds
We always recommend you have some good, hearty food alongside any Amsterdam beers. Dutch bar snacks are often deep-fried and always delicious. And later, you could do worse than trying some traditional Dutch food for dinner. That should equip you for a pub tour taking in some of Amsterdam’s most atmospheric, famous or infamous traditional bars. And just in case you’ve had enough beer, you could always check out one of Amsterdam’s ‘best-of-both-worlds’ culinary concepts, where you can combine, for example, mussels and gin or hot dogs and champagne.