In the past few months an opportunity for me to regularly visit Amsterdam has arisen. My girlfriend has moved there for six months and this allows me to visit around once a month. Mainly to see her but also have lots of time for beer related activities. I think perhaps I was being Naive but I wan't expecting all that much from Amsterdam in terms of beer or anything else for that matter. I think the images of stag parties, legalised drugs and prostitution had given me a pretty jaded impression of the place. I couldn't have been more wrong, both about the beer scene and the city in general. I have fallen completely for the place.
The variety, quality and availability of beer was amazing. I did not drink a bad beer in the eight days in total I have spent there so far. Here's where I went and where you should go!
De Bier Koning- this absolute treasure trove of a beer shop is just a short walk from Dam Square. Friendly and spectacularly knowledgeable staff and beer arranged by nation. I picked up a bottle of Pliny the Elder here which was under two months old and some great Lambics. Bottles of Westvletern casually hanging around as well. Just a must visit shop.
The Beer Temple- the American Craft Beer bar in the heart of Amsterdam. This place has around 20 taps and an amazing bottle selection. Draft was a delight of American Breweries such as Flying Dog and Clown Shoes, also offerings from BrewDog, Evil Twin and Mikkeller. The staff here were amazingly friendly and had a genuine love for talking about beer. Bottles of Dark Lord in the fridge would have been a decadent treat but alas too expensive for me. This place also stays open until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Contrary to what I was told this is not owned by the same people as De Bier Koning, they just have a close working relationship.
't Arendsnest- the sister bar to the Beer Temple. A bar that serves only beer from Dutch microbreweries.
I only had around an hour here before catching a flight so asked the bar man for great recommendations. He did not disappoint. His name was Thomas and he gave me three awesome beers. One from De Molen, the Vuur and Vlam. Unfortunately I can't remember the other two breweries. I know I had a double IPA and an imperial stout aged in oak casks. Both were great and really opened my eyes to the diversity of the Dutch beer scene. Definitely need to spend more time here.
Brouwerij 't Ij- The brewery in a windmill. What a place, a microbrewery in a windmill, in Amsterdam. The tasting room is open daily from 2pm-8pm. A selection of beers in a Belgian style with names like Natte and Zatte. Their Struis is a strong Belgian which is spectacular and widely available in off licences around Amsterdam. They have also brewed their first IPA but it had all been drunk when I was there, so hopefully next time I'll catch it.
One of the best things was the availability of good beer everywhere. Almost every cafe I went into had Duvel or La Chouffe on tap or bottles of Westmalle Dubbel and Tripel in bottles. It was so easy to enjoy good beer anywhere. Off licenses also carried a great selection, often having a couple of Geuezes and a good selection of Belgian beers as well as often stocking Dutch microbreweries.
So go to Amsterdam, the food is great too, people are friendly and the city is relaxed and easy to navigate. It's so much more than legalised prostitution and drugs and groups of men and women from the UK behaving badly.
I'm sure there are plenty of places I have missed out, I am in no way an expert so tell me where else I should go.