Beer in Holland
While it may not enjoy the same reputation for quality beer as its immediate neighbours Belgium and Germany, Holland is still home to a number of famous breweries and bars. Dutch cities maintain a relaxed, easy-going drinking culture, with canal-side cafes aplenty in Amsterdam and Utrecht, and classically-Dutch pubs galore all across the country.
If you’re interested in sampling the delights of Dutch beer, you can take a trip on our Newcastle to Ijmuiden overnight ferry and start your tour of the Netherlands fresh and ready to go. Or, if you’re traveling from southern England, our ferries sail to Dieppe, Calais and Dunkirk so you can drive cross-country to your Dutch holiday.
Header image credit: Maria Eklind
The Netherlands exports the largest proportion of the beer it brews compared to any other country in the world – over 50%.
So, while they may not have the brewing heritage of other European countries, they certainly know what beer drinkers like.
Around 95% of beer brewed in Holland is considered a pale lager, but many Dutch brewers also create speciality beers too.
Most produce Bok beers in the Autumn and Winter, as well as witbier, an unfiltered wheat beer popular in Belgium.
Image credit: Calflier001
Holland's most famous export is, of course, Heineken - in fact, Heineken is the third largest beer exporter in the world! The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam is like a theme park for beer enthusiasts and is one of the Dutch capital's biggest tourist attractions. However, it is by no means the only brewery worth touring in Holland.
The relatively modern brewery Brouwerij 't IJ – also in Amsterdam – produces organic blonde and dark beers, as well as making its own cheese on-site. Take a tour of the facilities, and enjoy sampling beer before sitting down to a drink and a meal at the outdoor restaurant beneath the brewery’s own quirky windmill.
The Limburg region of Amsterdam was once home to 512 breweries, but today only a few remain. The most famous of these is the Alfa brewery, still family-owned and with a serious dedication to quality. Visit the brewery for a museum tour, tasting session and film.
Image credit: Richard Leonard
Holland is well-known across the world as a country with a true appreciation for going out and enjoying yourself. So, it’s no surprise that Holland has a fantastic bar culture offering some of the finest beers found anywhere on the continent. Most bars in Holland will serve the ubiquitous pale lager, but dig a little deeper, especially in the capital, and you’ll find hidden gems to satisfy even the most discerning beer connoisseur.
Situated in an alleyway off Dam Square, Café Belgique is one of the smallest bars in Amsterdam, but still finds space for eight Belgian draught beers and more than 30 bottled varieties.
The Delirium Café in central Amsterdam is a sister pub to the popular Brussels bar and offers over 750 varieties of beer from across the world. A must for craft fans visiting Holland.
Offering up to 30 beers on tap, and hundreds of bottled varieties, Gollem bars are found in four locations in Amsterdam and provide a cosy getaway from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets.
Image credit: Sam Greenhalgh
Despite the fairly limited breadth of beer types brewed commercially in Holland, there are many beer festivals taking place across the country, featuring a range of craft beers from small independent brewers, including many international guest beers.
With 70,000 visitors over three days, the PINT Bokkbier Festival is the biggest and arguably the best beer festival in the Netherlands. Taking place in late October each year, the festival hosts over 50 types of beer to sample and is held in the cultural centre Berlage van Beurs right in the heart of Amsterdam.
2015 also saw the first ever Craft Beer Festival taking place in Amsterdam, with a number of locally-brewed craft beers available to buy, sample and generally enjoy. The two-day event boasts DJs, live music and delicious food from local vendors, and is hosted in a unique craft beer pub called BRET.
Image credit: Quinn Dombrowski
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