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A Dutch Beers Primer
If you think Dutch beer begins and ends with Heineken, think again! The Netherlands has a thriving little industry of microbrews and produces some top-notch stuff. While most of the beer can be roughly broken down into three mouthwatering categories (pils, wit bier, and bokbier), pils (pilsner) is by far the most popular and commonly consumed. A refreshing light golden lager, it is served in smaller glasses and with more foam (two fingers' worth) than you're probably used to.
In summer, Amsterdammers find refreshment in wit bier, a white zesty brew served with a slice of lemon. Bokbier, a stronger variety of pils, is made with warming spices. The Dutch also love Belgian brews, so you'll have no problem finding Trappist beers, Lambics, fruit beers, wheat beers, and dark brown ales.
Our Favorite Watering Holes
Brouwerij 't IJ. Perched under a windmill on the eastern outskirts of the city is an evocative, if out of the way, microbrewery where Kasper Peterson offers Natte, Zatte, Struis, Columbus, and other home brews, enjoyed on the large terrace, weather permitting. Funenkade 7, East of Amstel, Amsterdam, 1018 AL. 020/320–1786. www.brouwerijhetij.nl. Daily 2–8.
Café Belgique. As the name suggests, this welcoming little café, located right behind Nieuwe Kerk, has an excellent selection of Belgian ales. Gravenstraat 2, The Old City Center (Het Centrum), Amsterdam, 1012 NL. 020/625–1974. www.cafe-belgique.nl.
De Zotte. The name of this little pub off the Leidseplein translates as "the drunk" in Flamish, and with around 100 Belgian beers available, the place is aptly named. Raamstraat 29, Leidseplein, Amsterdam, 1016 XL. 020/626–8694. www.dezotte.nl.
Het Elfde Gebod. Right in the heart of the Red Light District, this cozy bar has seven Belgian beers on tap and more than 60 bottled. Zeedijk 5, The Old City Center (Het Centrum), Amsterdam, 1012 AN. www.hetelfdegebod.com.
In de Wildeman. A wide range of beers and ales from around the globe and jolly surroundings attract all types and ages. There are 250 bottled brews to chose from, 17 beers on tap, and a featured beer of the month. Kolksteeg 3, The Old City Center (Het Centrum), Amsterdam, 1012 PT. 020/638–2348. www.indewildeman.nl.
Best Beer Store
Bierkoning. Located behind Dam Square, Bierkoning is the best beer store in Amsterdam, and possibly even the Netherlands, with more than 1,100 international brews in stock and tons of glassware and other accessories. The friendly, knowledgeable staff can tell you everything you ever wanted or needed to know about beer. Paleisstraat 125, The Old City Center (Het Centrum), Amsterdam, 1012 RK. 020/625–2336. www.bierkoning.nl.Updated: 11-2013
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