Slightly outside the centre, so it cannot offer splendid views of 17th century canal houses (instead some messy 60s and 80s housing blocks). But there is a windmill to look at, so it’s swings and roundabouts. The interior is genuinely classy: the old washroom tiles provide continuity in style, if a little sterile; the old beer bottles tone this sterility down and add some warmth.
The Ij brewery have got a lot right. There is history in their craft and this comes through in the enthusiasm. Obviously though, I cannot give this a 10, as that would imply there are no beers better than those produced at the Ij.
Quite possibly the best bar in town. Younger than it looks, De Prael is cleverly designed to accommodate groups, couples, loners and a band. The decor is completely original. There is a section that recreates a lounge from a typical Dutch house, adorned with Delft tiles and comfy armchairs.
Obviously limited by selling only their own beer, this small brewery is world-class and it would take years to get bored with their regulars. There are always seasonal brews too.
Classy brassy. The beer garden is the most beautiful canal in Amsterdam.
Dutch beer is so much more than just Heineken and Amstel (both are actually the same thing too). There are 30 beautiful brass taps here and they are all very well maintained.
A decent bar length for solo drinking, a mezzanine nook for privacy and vertical drinking outside offer a variety of ways to drink beer. Biercafé Gollem lies in the heart of the vibrant De Pijp area of town, so there is a real buzz around this bar and plenty of alternatives for afters. And there is a Scrabble set should you feel like displaying your vocabulary-based prowess.
It’s hard to imagine a better beer list. Sure, it might be a little light on imports from the States or further, but beers lose their quality over those distances. There are 14 taps to choose from (7 regulars, 7 guest) and >150 bottles covering local breweries here in Amsterdam, craft brewers around the Netherlands and all the big and small players from Belgium.
In de Wildeman
In de Wildeman is a haven amongst tacky tourist shops and dirty, filthy tourists. The interior is the product of a lifetime of gradual accumulation of beer paraphernalia: bar crawl books from the 90s, metallic beer brand art and wooden barrels from yesteryear. Cosy yet spacious, with some very public outdoor seating.
18 tap brews, >250 bottles: without a doubt, this is one of the world’s best beer bars.
Sky Lounge Amsterdam
The views are unrivalled. The decor is not to my taste, but if you tire of brown-cafés, there is swanky respite here.
Nobody is pretending that this is a beer bar, but they do have La Chouffe and the crisp and refreshing Kirin.
Genuinely classy (apart from the ‘sports room’ which is dingy, smokey and quite out of character). Dante fronts Spuistraat and plenty of people-watching seating, whilst the back entrance offers canal views.
The cocktails at Dante are splendid; beers are a token afterthought.
This is what they mean by ‘brown-café’. The walls are plastered with Polaroids; faded and old nestled with glossy and new, suggesting a work in progress. The bar is high and layered, offering a perfect leaning perch to imbibe and enthuse.
The beer list is small but well-chosen, often with a few seasonal brews.
Industrial-chic isn’t easy to pull off, but De Bierfabriek does it and then some; there are even parts that feel cosy. The service is splendid too, which in Amsterdam is like a virgin behind a window in the Red Light District. There are also monkey nuts everywhere.
Only three beers on the menu to choose from, but they are all their own and cover pils, amber-weisse and black.