Top 5 Amsterdam Beer Bars
Top 5 Amsterdam Beer Bars
I love beer. IPAs get me through the summer and Autumn Bok Beers get me through the colder months. Amsterdam has a great selection of beer bars and a growing number of microbreweries. This list is really my favourite 5 in the city but really I could make a list of 50 great beer bars so please forgive me if I have left your favourite off this list.
HET ELFDE GEBOD
Het Elfde Gebod means The Eleventh Commandment and I’ve always like to think that must have been ‘Thou shalt brew beer’. The bar is at the top of the Zeedijk, a stone’s throw from Central Station. I love this place, it is very dark and cosy in the brown cafe style with rugs on the tables kind of place where I plan to spend many winter hours in beer-fueled meandering chats. The pannelling came from a grand canal house that was being gutted and the previous owner made it look like it has been there forever. Actually it used to be a Surinamese takeaway before they bought it. They have loads of beers by the bottle and about 8 on tap so plenty to choose from. The owner is really knowledgeable and helpful if you are struggling to make a choice from the beer menu. My personal favourite for years and I’m certainly not alone here is the Karmeliet Triple that they have on tap. It is a strong, smooth, slightly creamy, slightly citrusy, perfect beer! Careful though, they are strong and have a kick so 2 or 3 do the trick.
Another update, from 2019 this time. This place is still going strong. It changed ownership some years ago but has still kept its character. The staff are friendly and the place is intimate. They have a delicious IPA on tap called ‘Precious’, so named because this bar is now one of the ‘Gollem’ group of beer bars in Amsterdam. I’m a frequent visit here and always pop in for a quick Gollem Precious IPA before giving a Red Light District Tour.
De Prael is a brewery located right in the centre of town, on the edge of the Red Light District. They have a shop on the canal and the entrance to the large bar down a side alley and those 2 places are linked together by the brewery. The bar area is split level with lots of seating in various arrangements. You can find a cosy corner for 2 or a long table for 20. The beer is varied and good and also cheap by Amsterdam standards. There is one corner that is set out as a retro living room with a sofa and 4 armchairs and this is an excellent place to hunker down on an afternoon, hole up and read a book. The place can be very chilled but it can also get very loud and vibrant at night. They have the occasional bingo evenings which are chaotic and fun.
As if all the above wasn’t enough to justify a visit, there’s more. De Prael a great example of what makes Amsterdam special. Fer and Arno, 2 friends who worked in psychiatry teamed up to brew beer and wanted to combine their brewing with their work so started De Prael in 2001. They had a plan to brew beer and to provide employment for people who traditionally have difficulty finding work. 170 people work at De Prael, 150 of whom have a work disability, either physical or mental disability, some ex-convicts, former addicts, or homeless. Fer and Arno provide a safe nurturing workplace that enables people to find their feet and flourish in a meaningful job.
Arendsnest (Eagles Nest in English) is famous for having 130 different Dutch beers and you’re not going to find Heineken or Amstel amongst them. These are real Dutch craft beers from smaller breweries, not global brands. And yes, 130 Dutch beers instead of Belgian beers for a change! The bar snacks are good too, for when the high percentage alcohol beers hit a little hard! The bar staff are extremely knowledgeable and will take the time to discuss the right beer for you. Don’t try and order from the menu, rather explain what sort of beer and flavour you want, how light/dark/bitter/sweet and let them guide you. In thee summer there are a few tables on the quay side and actually when I go to Arendsnest , I tend to do that by boat and tie up nearby. Just because I can!
BROUWERIJ ‘T IJ
Everyone knows this place as the brewery in the windmill which is not actually true. It’s the brewery next to the windmill. Brouewerij ‘t Ij is a name of the estuary that is behind central station,” Het Ij”, but the brewery is not actually on that patch of water anyway. Then the work “Ij” in Dutch sounds a bit like the word “Ei” in Dutch. And “ei” means “egg”. And there’s an ostrich with a large egg on the company logo. It is all becoming clear now? I didn’t think so. They brew many excellent beers, it used to be 10 but that number seems to grow each year. The beers here are historic and all need to be tried although perhaps not in one sitting. They also offer a short brewery tour on Fr, Sat, and Sun at 15h30 and 16h00, €6.50 incl 1 beer – more info on their website. Open every day from 14h00 to 20h00. It closes early but it is a ‘tasting room’, and not a bar. Some of their beer is also quite strong and known to make people a little rowdy, noisy, and sometimes downright difficult! I live nearby so have often popped in for one of their wonderful IPAs on tap. The place always had a great summer terrace but inside was a bit sticky underfoot and grimy. But they have done a wonderful job of upgrading it. There is lots of indoor seating now, it’s clean and has a vibrant feel and the bar has loads of access to it all around now. It’s really a great place to sink a few lovely beers, and is very reasonably priced too.
This is a great little, and I mean little, bar right in the center of Amsterdam, in the alley behind the New Church, that’s the one on the Dam Square. The name gives it away a little, Cafe Belgique stocks only Belgian beers, 50 of them with 8 on tap. Most people stand outside in the alley and drink but there is a very cosy little sitting area inside for a handful of people. There are literally 2 tables, one either side of the door and if you can establish yourself and a few friends at one of them it makes an excellent place to work your way through a number of their fine Beligian beers. They serve kwak in the correct glasses which is fun and are open daily from 3pm to 1am and on the weekends they open earlier and cclose later.
I hope you enjoy the above bars, they certainly are my favourites in the inner city. There are a whole host of other places to visit too, here’s a quick list of breweries and bars around Amsterdam that are well worth a look in:
Bars: In de Wildeman, all the Gollem bars, de Zotte, de Druif
Brewewries: Two Chefs Brewing, Brouwerij Troost, Oedipus Brewery Taproom, Butchers Tears,
I’ve recently started doing a Red Lght District Private Tour where you get a regular Red Light Tour but we have 3 cafe breaks, one before, one during and 1 after and sample at least 3 good beers and talk in more detail about the district around a table. It’s a fun way of killing 2 birds with 1 stone! I’m also planning a Cafe Crawl, which will also be avialable as a private tour where we will visit about 5 cool cafes around town and just have general Amsterdam chats.