Food & Drink

Dutch beer and breweries

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Mention Dutch beer today and usually only the biggest brewers come to mind, namely Heineken and Amstel. But we also have many specially brewed beer to quench your thirst!

  • Take a tour of one of Amsterdam’s breweries.
  • Try the specialty beers at the local pub.
  • Enjoy the company!

Traditionally tasty

Beer has been brewed in Holland since the dawn of humanist. Holland's hop gardens first appeared in the 14th century and breweries blossomed during the Middle Ages. Every Dutch city had a brewery, and Haarlem, Delft, Gouda, and Amersfoort produced enough beer for export to Flanders.  Amsterdam became a major brewing center in the 15th century. By the 17th century there were 700 breweries in Holland and an increase in demand for beer as it was used for both drinking and cooking. These days, we drink beer for fun and relaxation. But in that period of time, it was one of the few things that could be consumed safely since water was often contaminated and milk had a very short shelf life. Because beer is made with boiled water and the hops also contribute to the sterilisation process, both adults and children drank a lot of beer in the past.

Today the well known Dutch beer brands include Heineken, Amstel, Grolsch, Brandt, Skol, Breda, and Oranjeboom.  There are numerous specialty beer bars throughout Holland, these typically serve well known Dutch brands but also a large selection of Belgian beers.

Enjoy Holland with a beer

he Dutch often drink their beer in one of the ‘bruine kroegen’ or old-fashioned pubs. These cafés can be found in virtually every city and village. They have that typically Dutch ambiance called ‘gezelligheid’, a term that has no exact English equivalent but means something like pleasant, relaxed, friendly and sociable.

Most pubs serve beer in 0.25 liter glasses, about half an American pint. The Dutch are generally easy to talk to, so feel free to start a conversation while sitting at the bar.

Visit a brewery

The Heineken Brewery used to be located in Amsterdam’s city center. Today, this is where you will find the Heineken Experience. Inside, you can take a very popular interactive tour about beer brewing and the Heineken company.

Brouwerij ‘t IJ is a small independent brewery located in a windmill in Amsterdam. They brew regular and seasonal beers. The neighboring café is the perfect place to try the beers and enjoy the lovely terrace.

Always tasty

After a long day, pick a nice-looking pub and let the barman advise you. Whether you choose a well-known Dutch beer brand from the keg or a specially brewed beer from a bottle, Dutch beers are always tasty and an excellent way to quench your thirst. Be careful, though, since specialty beers can be surprisingly potent. Cheers!