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The Breweries and Cafes of Amsterdam PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chuck Cook   
Thursday, 31 January 2008 16:00
Amsterdam is a city known for world-class museums, coffee shops (where coffee is not really the main source of income!) and a red-light district with, well, the kinds of things one expects to see in a red-light district. Amsterdam is also a great beer city, with excellent specialty cafes and breweries. One of the superb cafes is ‘t Arendsnest (The Eagles Nest) which is unique in that it only serves Dutch beers, as well as jenevers (gins) and liqueurs. “We have 23 beers on tap, and about 120 in bottles” said owner/publican Peter van der Arend. “Our goal is to always have at least one beer from each of the 50+ breweries in the Netherlands, as well as special seasonal beers. There are about 350 different beers brewed in this country, and perhaps another 250 seasonal brews. So, there are plenty to choose from!” he said, emphatically.

Education and beer expertise are an important part of the successful recipe at ‘t Arendsnest, which is located on the Herengracht canal in a cozy building with a warm, welcoming feel. See for more info, and get to Herengracht, #90!

Another very cozy locale is Cafe Gollem, a small cafe with a big beer list. There are 10 brews on tap, and 200 in bottles, offered in a building that was a liqueur distillery in years past. Gollem was the first cafe in the city to specialize in Belgian beers, beginning in 1974, and is a classic “bruin” (brown) cafe. Owner Rick Hermans regularly organizes beer tasting events. Live music and stand-up comedians are a draw here as well. See for more info.

Located not far from Central Station in a small alley is another very special pub: In de Wildeman (“The Wild Man”) which has 18 brews on tap and about 200 in bottles. Belgian beers are well-represented here, including most of the Trappist brews. There is also a fine selection of Dutch microbrews on the beer menu, as well as German beers, and occasionally, even Real Ales from the UK.

In de Wildeman is one of the few places outside Germany where beers from Bamberg and Franconia can regularly be found — and on draft at that! I have tasted brews from Fassla, Schlenkerla, Spezial, and more here. Anchor Old Foghorn has also appeared on tap, so expats and locals alike can get a taste of USA Barleywine — a rarity in Europe.

The draft list at this cozy, pleasant cafe (which is located inside the tasting rooms of a former jenever distillery!) always includes several special brews. It is easy to enjoy your beers here as there is no music — -only good conversation from patrons and knowledgeable bar staff! There is a non-smoking room as well. See for more info.

Another spot with a good beer selection, primarily of Belgian brews, is De Zotte (The Jester) which is located near Leidseplein and the Vondelpark at 29 Raamstraat. There are eight beers on draft and about 100 bottles, and good food as well.

Cafe Belgique, a very small bar on Gravenstraat near In de Wildeman, offers six beers on draft and about 30 in bottles. Given the name, it should come as no surprise that Belgian brews are the focus here! See

De Beiaard, at Spui 30 is part of a chain of beer cafes, and offers 16 brews on draft and about 25 in bottles. See

De Bekeerde Suster is a brewpub owned by the same group with several interesting beers, such as Witte Ros and Bock Ros. See

Brouwerij ’t Ij is another local brewery, which crafts some very good brews in Belgian, Dutch and German styles. Their tasting room/brewpub is located inside an old windmill, which is perhaps a 30 minute walk or short bus ride from Centraal Station. There are usually four to six brews on draft and others in bottles. The interior of the brewpub was a former bath-house where local residents came to bathe...once a week! Not everything was better in the old days, for sure.

Standout beers include a Bockbier, with 6.5%; Struis, a dark, strong ale of 9%, in the Belgian style; and Vlo, a mildly hoppy pale ale with 7%. There are many others, as Brouwerij ‘t Ij produces over a dozen different brews, which are offered both in bottles and on tap. See

Another local brewery is De Prael, which opened in 2002. De Prael offers interesting brews such as Mary Tripel and Johnny Belgian-style pale ale, and many others. See

If you fancy carrying some brews back home, there are two beer stores with great selections in the city: De Bierkoning (“The Beer King”) at Paleisstraat 125, and De Gekraakte Ketel (“The Cracked Kettle”) at Raamsteg 3, which is mere steps away from Cafe Gollem. See and enjoy your visit to Amsterdam!
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 May 2009 09:49

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