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.
In de Wildeman
Ask a beer lover in Amsterdam where to drink and In de Wildeman is guaranteed to make the short list. The low-key beer bar, located in a former distillery in the center of town, boasts 18 beers on tap and more than 250 in bottles, paying close attention to Dutch and Belgian brewers (a whole section of the menu covers Trappist beers alone), but also British, German, Flemish, and American. On the impressive Dutch list, you'll find a good selection of brews from t'IJ and de Prael, and many from around the country: the pleasantly bitter, dry-hopped Christoffel Nobel (8.7% ABV), a golden-blond extra-strong lager brewed in Roermond; the creamy, citrusy Gulpener Korenwolf witbier (5%), from the south of Holland; the subtly sweet, spicy Jopen Koyt (8.5% ABV), a gruit (mulled beer) flavored by herbs, not hops, according to a 15th-century Dutch recipe. Deciding where to start will be your toughest decision all week.
Credit: Herman Wouters