Café Briljant, Haarlem.

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Haarlem is a small city to the west of Amsterdam. Far more than just a satellite town, Haarlem has an important history itself, and provided the name for a suburb in New York. The heyday of beer brewing in Haarlem goes back to the 15th century, when there were no fewer than 100 breweries in the city. And it’s twinned with Derby, England.

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There are a good number of cosy and warm Dutch pubs (brown bars), and a jewel in the crown is Café Briljant. They stock around 50 beers, with a heavy Dutch and Belgian prevalence;  offer 5 changing taps; and 29 whiskies. They also offer a real community vibe, nestled as it is in a quaint suburb. There is  great window seat to watch people go by (above) or an equally appealing alcove seat at the back.

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Venue: 8/10

A relaxing venue, and perfect for gathering some energy after a wander around some very pleasant suburbs.

Beer: 7/10

A good range with 5 changing taps to keep you interested.

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The 22nd Best Café in the Netherlands: Café Koops

Every year Misset Horeca publish the top 100 café/bars in the Netherlands. There is no obvious criteria and the rankings change wildly between years. 2013 sees Café Koops, Haarlem, in 22nd place.

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An Art Deco frontage belies the much older, much more worn interior. If you are lucky enough to get outdoor seating, you can enjoy a good view of Haarlem’s historic centre and striking church.

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I can think of 21 bars better than this place in Amsterdam alone, but that reflects more an embarrassment of riches than insults Café Koops. It is certainly in Haarlem’s elite clutch of bars and the warm soup in the window is hard to pass up on a windy, rainy Dutch day.

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Snow Falls on Haarlem

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The radar promised ten centimeters of snow overnight, and we awoke to see this still falling with the skies looking like they’ve plenty more to give.

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Almost as soon as dawn broke however, the snow started to rot away.

IMG_9560As the Siberian winds continue to blow over western Europe, there’s every chance of more snow kissed vistas.

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