The best bars in Amsterdam
Love beer? Drop that Heineken – no wait finish it, dropping it would be abusive – and take a trip to the Amsterdam microbreweries for a real taste of local Dutch beer. Thankfully the Dutch have also caught on to the craft brew trend in the past few years, giving you so many more options than just the corporate giants.
Sure, Heineken is the Netherlands’ infamous home based beer brand and is exclusively brewed in Holland. But, dear reader, let me tell you, it is not brewed in Amsterdam. It’s brewed in a small town 30 minutes south of Amsterdam called Zoeterwoude, which you won’t be touring. Maybe its the northern Californian in me that insists on drinking local beers whenever presented the opportunity. Or maybe its the millennial in me. Or maybe that I took Intro to Beer and Brewing in my last quarter at UC Davis and have an inflated appreciation of brewing. Or maybe both… but after living in Amsterdam, I’d hate not to share the wealth and invite you to visit Amsterdam microbreweries to get a real taste of the city.
First things first. If you must, visit the Heineken Experience. As a someone who appreciates beer and brewery tours (yes, I judge the quality of brewery tours), I cannot recommend this tour to you at all. As someone who also works full time in brand marketing, I can definitely recommend it. If you want to walk into the most overwhelming brand experience, be bombarded with Heineken ads you will pay €20 to see which you could watch for free on YouTube, and get the tiniest possible “free” beer at the end of your tour, be my guest! As a marketer, I admire it for shamelessly pumping the brand at all given moments. As a beer lover, you can get a much better beer experience in Amsterdam, and in my opinion these are some of the best bars in Amsterdam.
Brouwerij ‘t Ij
This Amsterdam brewery is better known to tourists as the “windmill brewery,” Brouwerij ‘t Ij (brow-er-eye et eye) is a must visit in Amsterdam. In English the name means Ij Brewery, because guess what, Ij is the name of the body of water sitting to the north of Amsterdam. “Ij” is also pronounced the same as “ei” in Dutch, meaning egg. So that’s why instead of seeing water in their logo, you see an ostrich with an egg. Got it? Alright good.
Brouwerij ‘t Ij is a local both among visitors and Amsterdam locals. Lucky for Amsterdammers, the beer has gotten so popular that it is distributed in nearly all bars and restaurants in Amsterdam (and in many cities outside of it), so we don’t need to visit the brewery to get the beer. But it’s always fun to go. Brouwerij ‘t Ij is packed during the weekends and packed on pretty much any day warm enough to sit on its terrace. If you’re getting hungry while drinking all this beef, don’t miss this list of 15 foods to try in Amsterdam.
Get a beer sampler, take a tour (offered in English as well), and enjoy the scene. My personal favorite is Ij Wit (wheat beer), which I will need to bring barrels of with me if I move away from Amsterdam.
Watch out: make sure you are actually at Brouwerij ‘t Ij. At the base of the windmill is also another bar, but it is not the brewery. Double check before assuming you are there!
Funenkade 7, 1018 AL Amsterdam
Troost (troste) is more of a local spot than Brouwerij ‘t Ij and with three locations throughout the city, it’s one of the easiest of the Amsterdam microbreweries to visit. Luckily, Troost also serves a full menu (try their burgers) so you soak up all your beer with a hearty meal. Troost is located in De Pijp located in a former monastery, Amsterdam East (Oost) where they also distill gin, jenever and bourbon, and Amsterdam West at the Westergasfabriek.
At the Westergasfabriek location you can join an organized tour and pay a visit to their store.
Troost De Pijp: Cornelis Troostplein 21, 1072 JJ Amsterdam
Troost Westergasfabriek: Pazzanistraat 27, 1014 DB Amsterdam
Troost Oost: Land van Cocagneplein 1A, 1093 NB Amsterdam
The perfect location to visit before setting off on a night of Red Light debauchery, de Prael is located in De Wallen, better known as the Red Light District. De Prael is actually located in the very location that a brew quay was located in Amsterdam in 1300 – waaay long ago, where beer was imported from Germany.
One of the best parts of de Prael is that you can buy an hard boiled egg along with your beer (actually you can do this at Brouwerij ‘t Ij also). Why buy an egg with your beer? It’s supposed to help with the hangover. It’s also one of the folk traditions you’ll find in some of the most local brown cafes of Amsterdam, mostly in the Jordaan.
Out of all the Amsterdam microbreweries this one sticks out with one of its simple rules. By all means, do not ring the bell in the bar. Or else you’ll owe the entire place a round.
While you’re there, join one of their tours and learn more about how the brewery founded on a plan to combine people facing obstacles in the job market with brewing beer.
Oudezijds Armsteeg 26, 1012 GP Amsterdam
Oedipus is the most colorful of all the Amsterdam microbreweries, and with its location in Amsterdam Noord, its takes the most effort to reach – but this diamond in the rough is worth a few minutes of extra travel time. Bright colors and hand drawn cartoonish labels are just as delightful as the beer. Their website is even an experience to visit. Oedipus started with a mission to bring the taste of craft beer to the Netherlands, which was formerly dominated by corporate brews (Heineken, Amstel, Jupiler), and make tasty craft brews available to everyone. What a noble cause!
My favorite of Oedipus’ brews is Mannenliefde – maybe just for its name, which in english means Man Love. Mannenliefde is Oedipus’ first beer and has a soft, somewhat fruity taste, which they developed just to poke fun at the cliche of a macho man drinking beer that advertising typically portrays. Beer and a social statement? Yes, please.
Reach Oedipus by taking the 902 ferry (free) from behind Central Station and walking the rest of the way, or alternatively bring your bike along on the ferry (yes, again free!) and bike the rest of the way to the taproom. Its off the beaten path, and will definitely set you apart from the tourist crowd.
Gedempt Hamerkanaal 85, 1021 KP Amsterdam
Other Amsterdam microbreweries to visit… but not must visits
De Bierfabriek is located in the heart of Amsterdam’s tourist ground zero just down the street from Dam Square.
If you’re pressed on time, check this one out – or alternatively walk just a few minutes further to de Prael for something that feels a bit more local and little bit less overrun.
Nes 67, 1012 KD Amsterdam
Poesiat & Kater
Located in Amsterdam East, Poesiat & Kater is the newest Amsterdam brewery, having opened its doors in March 2017. This beer is made with the same recipe as Van Vollenhoven beer, a beer that used to be one of the country’s favorite beers until Heineken bought it in 1949. Now that authentic Dutch beer is brought back to life at Poesiat & Kater.
Polderweg 648, 1093 Amsterdam
If you make it out of Amsterdam to visit the darling sister city of Haarlem, be sure to visit Jopenkerk (yo-pen kerk), Haarlem’s own local brewery in an old church. Grab a beer, a sandwich and your set for lunch on your visit to the city.
Gedempte Voldersgracht 2, 2011 WB Haarlem
Where to stay in Amsterdam
There are countless great places to stay in Amsterdam. Here are a few picks for each budget:
What to pack for Amsterdam
Did this post help you find the best beer in Amsterdam? Let me know in the comments below!
Looking for more tips for Amsterdam? Check out these posts:
Gabby is a native (Northern) Californian who spent the majority of her 20’s living the expat life in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, exploring Europe and beyond. 27 countries later, she’s relocated back to her home base in California where she explores her passions for the travel and the outdoors.