Published on March 4th, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Five get exceptional in Amsterdam
When it comes to Dutch beer, Andy Hickson knows his stuff. He was so keen to share his knowledge and experience he founded Café Amsterdam, a pop-up event that has already brought some of his favourite brews and snacks from the Netherlands to Newcastle, North Shields and Whitley Bay – with McCall’s Brewery in County Durham to come this month.
Here’s a rundown of Andy’s favourite beer bars in Amsterdam – authentic “brown bars”, renowned for their dark wood interiors and tobacco-stained surfaces:
In De Wildeman
This place is the most like a traditional brown bar that I have found in Amsterdam, but still has the kind of amazing beer I like to drink. Centrally-situated, but hidden away down a side street, you need to know that the unassuming In De Wildeman is there, otherwise you could easily walk past and not notice it. The staff are lovely and there’s always something interesting on tap, as well as the likes of Fuller’s London Pride, which excites the locals. Don’t overlook the extensive bottle list, as it features a steady supply of Cantillon. It’s like having a beer in someone’s living room, but in a good way. Oh and, a few years ago now, Flying Dog made it its own house beer, which is a ringing endorsement.
In a seriously pretty setting, on one of the concentric canals in the Nine Streets district is Proeflokaal Arendsnest (Eagle’s Nest). It’s the eyrie of Peter Van Der Arend, a real hero of the local beer scene and an absolute institution of Dutch craft beer, serving only ales brewed in the Netherlands. And the tap list is 52 beers-strong, so you won’t run out of things to try. This is where we first drank and instantly fell in love with beer by Tommie Sjef, shared with an American guy while checking the Premier League football results. Get a stool at the bar, watch the waiters as they work, eat cheese, and try to work out what the hell to drink next.
Brewery ’t IJ
A craft brewery tap in the bottom of a windmill that you need to catch a boat to get to. What’s not to love? Of course, all of those wonderfully atmospheric elements would be no good if the beer wasn’t excellent too, which thankfully it is. It’s all organic and seasonal, giving you the perfect excuse to return each time you visit Amsterdam, so you can try something new. This approach obviously works well for Brewery ’t IJ, as it’s been going strong since 1985.
A very recent addition to the Amsterdam beer scene (Foeders celebrated its second birthday last month), but an instant hit with anyone who loves beer and appreciates hospitality. It’s a proper neighbourhood bar, a little way out of the city centre, but oh to have this place as your local! Owned and operated by Belgian Yuri, it offers the best of both cultures, with easily the best selection of lambic and the friendliest welcome you could ask for in Amsterdam. There are peanut shells all over the floor too.
So, we are allowed a short train ride to Haarlem, right? Holland’s best and most innovative craft brewery right now is Uiltje. Conveniently, it also runs an amazing beer bar, complete with the best toasties in town. Obviously it stocks loads of its own beers – including the freshest, world-class IPAs – but they sit alongside tons of other offerings from around Europe. With Jopenkerk brewery, café and restaurant nearby too, a beery visit to Amsterdam really needs to include the short trip to Haarlem.
To find out more about Café Amsterdam’s pop-up events (such as McColl’s Brewery, Evenwood, County Durham, on March 29-30, head to: facebook.com/CafeAmsterdamWB
Andy Hickson is manager of The Green in Wardley, Gateshead, one of the Sir John Fitzgerald group of pubs. Article prepared in collaboration with travel writer Emma Dodd (barefoot-em.com).