Café Belgique, Gravenstraat.

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Café Belgique hides in plain sight- amidst chain retail outlets, it’s easy to not notice this gem of a beer warren.

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One of the smallest bars in Amsterdam, you’ll find yourself wondering, “How can this be one of the smallest?!”. Unbelievably, they host live music. I’m not sure how, or why- as appealing as music is to some, it won’t make this one-room cubby-hole any bigger, so it’s not like they can pay the DJ off the back of increased customer revenue- it’s always full. And heed that advice- turn up very shortly after opening (3pm) and you might get a seat.

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In truth, it thinks it’s way cooler than it is. And by ‘it’, I partly mean the clientele. If this were London, we’d call them scenesters. The website states “It’s frequently visited by a varied public of locals, expats, musicians, artists and dj’s”. See what I mean? Who cares if artists go there? Do I feel better about my Orval because the guy with an unkempt beard sat too-closely next to me sticks wires through books encased in styrofoam and calls it “A Critque on the Abandonment of Western Values”, and his dreadlocked girlfriend photographs litter blowing in the wind for her forthcoming exhibition in a disused plastic bag making factory? No, I do not.

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For the size, the beer choice is broad- 50 bottles and 8 taps, but even this is too many as evidenced by the foul taste of the Floreffe Blonde.

Venue: 9/10

The only real criticism is the size, but that’s also part of the atmosphere. And when you do finally get that corner seat by the window, boy does it feel cool.

Beer: 6/10

Decent range, but unfortunately not all the taps are very well maintained (I’m looking at you Floreffe Blonde).

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Café Lusthof

Let down by a tacky conservatory-style street awning, Café Lusthof is inside a brown bar with real character.
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Massively underrated on the bar scene of Amsterdam; perhaps due to being slightly disjunct from the more popular night spots, and a sorry omission from “Around Amsterdam in 80 Beers“.

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I’ve spared you a picture of the exterior- very misleading.

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Venue: 9/10

Rare multi-layer grotto. The walls are full of browning old crap and seal in the charm

Beer: 5/10

Honestly, I can’t remember. I know I had a Trappist, so that’s a floor of 5 I should say.

Café Gruter

In the den of Amsterdam’s social elite, south of the park, Café Gruter is a vestige to honest and grimy drinking. The seating sprawls outside, some of which is sheltered by a conservatory, all of which enables patrons to watch the wealth go by.

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The walls are plastered with polaroids; faded and old nestled with glossy and new, suggesting a work in progress.

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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.

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Caf Gruter is a sorry loss form the drinkers bible Around Amsterdam in 80 Beers.

 

 

Freshest Heineken in Amsterdam

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Opposite the original Heineken brewery is a quintessentially Dutch brown bar- Café Berkhout. If Heineken was still brewed there, then this would be the freshest; straight from source.

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Old Heineken Brewery behind the tram

As Heineken is crap, thankfully, they sell other beers: some of the excellent trappist beers in bottles and the increasingly popular but still good De Koninck and La Chouffe.

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The real appeals of this snug little bar is the cosy, welcoming atmosphere and the excellent people-watching opportunities- especially from the comfy seats in the bay window at the front.