Amsterdam may be more associated with Amstel, Heineken and, well, other types of highs, but the city's lesser-known, regionally produced craft beer should not be missed. While one of its microbreweries has been around for two decades now, others have opened in just the past two years – and there's no shortage of impressive beer bars that showcase small-scale Dutch brewers. "There are approximately 150 breweries in the Netherlands, of which there are 140 craft brewers," says Nico Lammers, public-relations coordinator for PINT (Promotie Informatie Traditioneel Bier), a nonprofit Dutch beer association. "The number of breweries has grown rapidly in the last few years and is still growing."
Despite their rising numbers, artisanal Dutch brewers, who tend to gravitate toward flavor-forward Belgian-style beers, hold only about 5% of the total market share – meaning you can still find plenty of Heineken in Amsterdam (the behemoth brewing company no longer makes beer there, however; the space has been given over to the popular theme-park-like Heineken Experience). But to sample beers from Dutch breweries so small and off-the-radar that you'll have trouble finding them back home – and to move well beyond the standard pilsners that have dominated Dutch brewing for much of the 20th century – look no further than these Amsterdam breweries, bars, and beer stores. As they say in Holland before you drink (its pronunciation even rhymes with "toast"), proost!
Laura Siciliano-Rosen is the co-founder of food-travel website Eat Your World, a guide to regional foods and drinks in destinations (including Amsterdam) around the globe.
Want to stock the hotel or apartment fridge? Swing by the venerable De Bierkoning, a 27-year-old beer store near Dam Square, and choose from among 1,200 or so bottles, many of which are of Dutch or Belgian origin. Here's your opportunity to create your own sampler of Amsterdam's best craft beers; you'll even find the Tripel and Dubbelbock from Brouwerij Zeeburg, an Amsterdam-based brewer that currently contract-brews in Belgium (the brewmaster develops his recipes in his home kitchen here). Among the sixer you build, we recommend you include a bottle of De Molen's roasty Hel & Verdoemenis, an award-winning 10% ABV Russian imperial stout brewed by the beloved Brouwerij de Molen in Bodegraven, about an hour south of Amsterdam. It's one to savor at home, wherever that may be in this city.
Credit: Herman Wouters