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.
Proeflokaal de Prael
While wandering the Red Light District, rest your eyeballs at Proeflokaal de Prael, the cozy tasting room of the adjacent Brouwerij de Prael (De Prael brewery), established in 2002 (the tasting room opened in 2011). The brewery is known for filling its staff with recovering psychiatric patients – a social mission stemming from the founders' own backgrounds working in psychiatric care – and for naming its 10 house beers after Dutch folk singers. Try the Willeke (7.5% ABV), a spicy, golden tripel named for – who else? – Amsterdam-born (and blonde) actress-singer Willeke Alberti, or the spring-seasonal André (6.6% ABV), a smooth, medium-bodied maibock (namesake: singer André Hazes). All beers are organic, unfiltered, and unpasteurized, and pair well with the Dutch bar snacks on hand, like bitterballen and krokets (croquettes).
Credit: Herman Wouters