Celebration Drinks Europe

Beer Halls to Visit in Amsterdam

No matter your preferred tipple or discretionary vice, Amsterdam is a city that embraces it. Cafés are plentiful and at the ready to pour a strongly brewed coffee or froth up an exquisitely made latte or cappuccino. Similarly, there is no shortage of bars that specialize in well-crafted cocktails and offer extensive wine lists. And then, for the beer enthusiast, there are brewpubs—dozens of them, all teeming with bottles and numerous taps. Some offer a diverse, international selection; others focus on exceptional beers from the Netherlands’ nearby neighbors; and some make a point to embrace and promote ales and lagers that are brewed close to home. The following six are among the city’s best and are certain to please any lover of hops and barley.
Brouwerij ‘t IJ & Proeflokaal Arendsnest
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Brouwerij ‘t IJ

If you were just passing by and didn’t know any better, you might stop into this beerhall and brewery for its appearance alone—it operates out of an old-fashioned windmill, the only one of its kind in Amsterdam’s center—and that would be a good thing, especially if you love beer. Why? This establishment, with its difficult-to-pronounce name, brews as many as 20 delicious libations, some of which are seasonal but all of which are saddled with pun-heavy names.

Many consider this to be the city’s best brewery. Take an English-spoken tour Friday, Saturday, or Sunday at 3:00 p.m. to find out why. Or you could simply slip into a chair in the tasting room, which is open from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. each night..

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Proeflokaal Arendsnest

Unlike some of the beer halls and breweries on this list, which feature an international assemblage of ales, lagers, pilsners, porters, and stouts, Proeflokaal Arendsnest is patriotic. All of its 30 beers on tap and the hundreds more offered by the bottle are Dutch. That makes sense once you consider that the bar’s moto is “If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much.” In fact, Proeflokaal Arendsnest, which means Eagle’s Nest Tasting Room, may serve the broadest selection of Dutch-made, hop-and-barley-based beverages in the city.

Not only does the bar’s menu feature more than 50 of Amsterdam’s breweries it also showcases Koningshoeven’s La Trappe, the only Trappist beer brewed in the Netherlands. And unlike some of Amsterdam’s brewpubs, like the aforementioned Brouwerij ‘t IJ, which close earlier in the evening, the Eagle’s Nest stays open until midnight Sunday to Thursday, and until 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Café Brecht & Bierproeflokaal In De Wildeman
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Café Brecht

Although The Netherlands has its own rich history of brewing quality beer, the country is also surrounded by esteemed brewers—Germany is its neighbor to the east, while Belgium sits to the south. Café Brecht, as its name suggests, pays homage to that easterly neighbor. The bar is disguised as a Berlin living room, and—as one might expect given its 1960’s German sitting room design and décor—it goes heavy on the kitsch. It also goes all out with German brews, some of which are unapologetically smoky. The café’s broadest selection of beers is offered by the bottle, with recognizable standouts such as Berliner, Schlenkerla, and Augustiner.

If your travel companion says no to suds, Café Brecht has you covered with a respectable German wine list. The tenders of the bar also stir up nostalgic cocktails like Club-Mate and fritz-cola. The living room is open daily from noon until 1:00 a.m., after which patrons likely must return to their own.

a train crossing a bridge over a body of water

Bierproeflokaal In De Wildeman

Given its location adjacent to the Nieuwezijds Kolk, an open-air food court and market, this beer-focused establishment—once a distillery—is a popular spot with tourists. That said, its ambiance also makes it a popular spot among beer-loving locals. Don’t expect dimly set mood lighting or music, however; here, the lights are brightly lit and the only sound is that of conversation and beers being poured.

The bar is open noon to 1:00 a.m. Monday through Thursday and until 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Visitors can expect more than 200 beers available (20 on tap), including some revered standouts that are brewed nearby. For those who prefer a pint of something not made from hops and barley, a variety of hard ciders are also served.

Proeflokaal De Prael & Delirium Café Amsterdam
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Proeflokaal De Prael

The Red Light District may attract crowds for all of its infamy, but beer lovers should make a pilgrimage to the neighborhood, too. There, they’ll find this brewpub, which offers relaxing lounges and almost a dozen year-round beers brewed onsite using traditional brewing methods and home-grown hops. Beyond the fresh, homegrown beer, patrons will enjoy knowing that their patronage supports a business that provides jobs and a second chance to former psychiatric patients. As co-founder Fer Kok explains, “I worked in a psychiatry for years and also brewed my own beer for years. These two passions have come together here.”

Brewery tours with tastings are offered daily; however, those hoping to take a tour in English should call ahead for reservations. Once at Proeflokaal de Prael, patrons will discover that the brewpub’s offerings are quite diverse. The year-long beer menu includes German-style session blondes, Hefeweizens, Belgian tripels, Quadrupels, Scotch ales, barleywines, English-style pale ales, IPAs, and imperial IPAs..

The brewpub is open until midnight Monday to Wednesday, until 1:00 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, and until 11:00 p.m. on Sunday.

A view of City of Amsterdam from a body of water, European river cruises

Delirium Café Amsterdam

Beer enthusiasts will likely recognize the name of this café, as it corresponds with Belgium’s well-known brewery and affiliated beers. They may also recognize it from other Delirium cafes in Belgium, France, Brazil, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates. Much like the original Delirium Café in Brussels, which holds a Guinness World Record for offering the largest selection of beer in the world, this outpost, located only a 10-minute walk from Central Station, might overwhelm patrons given that the beer list features more than 750 brews, about 20 of which are served on tap and rotate regularly.

The café is open from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 3:00 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

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