Navigating Amsterdam’s artwork, bridges and canals can be thirsty work, and whilst the city’s traditional lagers are served with a hefty head of foam, an ever-growing cache of cool craft beer bars offer something more unique. From hip microbreweries to canal-side hangouts that ooze Dutch charm, these are the best spots for ale enthusiasts in Amsterdam.
The word proeflokaal translates as ‘tasting room’ and with 50 full-flavoured beers on tap, no Amsterdam ale house quite earns the accolade like Arendsnest (arendsnest.nl). Located on the grand Herengracht canal, the copper pipes, mahogany walls and waistcoat-clad bartenders will have drinkers thinking they have stepped back in time. If you’re feeling peckish, delve into a cheese or sausage plate from the chalkboard, the perfect accompaniment to a superior beer.
If you don’t go for the knock out beers brewed on site, go for the sheer thrill of being able to toss your peanut shells on the floor. Feeling the crunch under your feet on the way to the bar is all part of the Bierfabriek (bierfabriek.com) experience. If dinner is on the cards be sure to sample their famous grilled chicken, before washing it down with a pilsner, porter or ruby ale, all of which are prepared a peanut's throw away.
Tucked away at the end of an industrial street in the Zuid neighbourhood, the secluded location of Butcher’s Tears (butchers-tears.com) only adds to its unpolished charm. This brewery-cum-tasting-room attracts an eclectic crowd from hipsters to pensioners, with a minimalist white-tiled interior that reinforces the fact that it’s all about the beer. The offerings on tap alternate regularly, and peckish patrons will often find a fresh loaf of bread to dig into.
Oedipus Brewery and Taproom
Take the free ferry to Amsterdam Noord for a tipple at the warehouse-style taproom of Oedipus Brewery (oedipus.com). Started by four friends with a shared taste for international beers and experimental brewing methods, Oedipus has forged a legion of thirsty fans through creations like their delicate and citrusy Mama pale ale. Oedipus beers are instantly recognisable by their colourfully illustrated labels and the taproom pays homage to their iconic branding with elaborately painted walls.
Falafels and craft beer might not be a conventional pairing, but with a fabulously bright, Matisse-like mural and hanging plants bathing in natural sunlight, Kauffmann (barkauffmann.nl) is not your average watering hole. The drinks menu pays tribute to some of the lesser-known craft beers from around the Netherlands, so expect pots and potions from Utrecht, Nijmegen and Tilburg, alongside prized portions of delicious falafels.
Craft and Draft
With an ever-rotating selection of 40 beers on tap, the encyclopedia of international and Dutch beers at Craft and Draft (craftdraft.nl) change almost daily. The bar itself is small and humble with exposed brickwork, wooden furnishings and friendly staff. If you’re finding the beer board somewhat overwhelming, opt for a tasting set of three beers.
Brouwerij 't IJ
Popular with tourists and locals alike, the novelty of enjoying a beer next to Amsterdam's largest windmill never seems to wear off. However, this is more than just a photo opportunity. Brouwerij 't IJ brews some of the city’s best-loved beers (try the chocolatey Columbus ale at an eye-watering 9%) and boasts an attractive bar to boot. Located in an old municipal bath house, many of the original features remain, including separate entrances for men and women.
Embark on a divine journey of an altogether different kind at this monastery turned brewery, located in the vibrant De Pijp neighbourhood. At Troost (brouwerijtroost.nl), the beers are brewed on the premises, so you can keep an eye on the vats as you sip your Session Indian pale ale. The cosy, candlelit bar is a relaxed place to while away an evening with 10 tasty beers on tap to work through.
Brouwerij de Prael
Hidden away in one of the oldest parts of the city, the warm atmosphere of Brouwerij de Prael’s tasting room welcomes beer-loving souls with open arms. The large space incorporates a mishmash of industrial lighting, twee vintage furniture, long wooden benches and tiled walls, whilst the beers on offer are all brewed on site only using organic ingredients. Tours are also available at the brewery entrance just around the corner.
Just a hop, sip and hiccup from the hubbub of Dam Square is BeerTemple (beertemple.nl). Stickers messily adorn the walls and bottles line the shelves of this narrow, dimly-lit drinking hole which specialises in American craft ales. Whilst the interior might be a little rough around the edges, the beer selection keeps the crowds coming, with 35 brews on tap and a countless bottled varieties that swig from well-known wheat beers to rare reserve ales.