A perfect time to go to Amsterdam is anytime. Which is why we’re here—we were asked to come and we said yes. That’s how it works.
We arrived at 6 a.m. Monday morning, having left the day before around 5 p.m. With the time change, we were facing our first day in Amsterdam on no sleep, which isn’t that difficult to do if you’re lounging about the hotel area—but we weren’t. We were on a mission to explore this city’s amazing bar scene in the next four days. Een missie van God.
Inspired by a fantastic beer guide created by Ron Pattinson, we set out to tap into a local scene and discover what Amsterdam had to offer. While we know we couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface, our goal was simply to delve into and discover, while also spreading American pixie dust on bartenders and fellow patrons. What follows will be a snapshot into that experience. Enjoy.
There are certain things you want to experience while here and the coffee shops are one of them, so we headed straight for the original, The Bulldog. Since the coffeeshops traditionally don’t sell alcohol, we headed over to one of the locations that does, killing two birds with one stone. (They don’t sell marijuana at this location but they do sell Heineken!) We started off with a genuine Heineken draught, followed by an Extra Cold Heineken draught—both amazingly good beers. Enjoy a coffeeshop and if you can, find this location for a cold beer too. Well worth it.
Heineken, Draught 5% (NL)
Heineken, Extra Cold Draught 5% (NL)
Moving on, we stumbled upon a beautiful bar and restaurant called Café Heffer. Super high ceilings and a faux-historic look all its own made for a great setting while we sipped through a flight of Lindeboom beers. (They actually don’t sell flights, but the bartender didn’t bat an eye.) This local brewery is a treat. Short of the Pils, there wasn’t a questionable beer here. They were all great … but the Wit was outstanding. With a clean, spicy dryness, almost citrusy, this beer did not disappoint. Also in the Lindeboom family was an alt and a special, both super tasty; the alt was toffee and grain, the special was a sweeter blonde. We wrapped it all up with a plate of local cheese (Gouda, the regional specialty, both new and aged) and meat that included a raw patty of cured beef. Dank je wel!
Lindeboom Brewery, Neer (NL)
-Venloosh Wit 5% (NL)
-Venloosh Alt 4.5% (NL)
-Gouverneur Special 5.5% (NL)
On our way to the next location we ducked into what literally looked like Uncle Frank’s bar in downtown Natick back in the ’60s. Inside we found three locals and had a quick Heineken draught. #Winning.
Café In de Waag
Located in the Waag, one of Amsterdam’s most historical and interestingly enough non-religious buildings, the outdoor/indoor restaurant and bar is much larger than most of the places we’ve been. We pull up a chair on the patio and had a Jopen Wit. The best part about the experience here wasn’t the beer though, it was a couple about 25 feet from us that were about three inches away from fucking. Coming from Boston, it was nice to finally see people fucking in public. De uitzondering bevestigt de regel.
Jopen, Adriaan Witbier 5% (NL)
On the way to the next joint, it started to rain. No, it started pouring. We ducked into a corner pub, had an Extra Cold Heineken until our feet were dry, then headed back out. There’s a place like this in Amsterdam every 20 meters. It’s great. The sun came out.
Earlier in the day when we tried to plot our travels, we knew that this bar was a must-see. Rated as the best or damn near to it, this little beer bar was a smashing hit. From the bartender, to the history (this was the last bar in town to install bathrooms), and finally to the beers, this gem had it all. We had a fantastic Saison from St. Feuillen, followed by a Zinne Bir in the bottle, an amazing bitter hoppy blonde that knocked us out! On to a Dubbel, from what the bartender said was the only real trappist brewery outside of Belgium (there are two, but who’s counting …) De Koningshoeven Brewery. Outstanding! Our final beer was a classic XX Bitter from De Ranke. This is a must visit, and for any Bostonians interested, you need look no further than the empty bottle of Pretty Things on the shelf for proof. They know their shit.
St. Feuillen, Saison 6.5% (BG)
De La Senne, Zinne Bir 5.5% (BG)
La Trappe, Dubbel 7% (NL)
De Ranke, XX Bitter 6.2% (BG)
Looking to settle down somewhere and rest our feet, this canal-hugging dive was exactly what we needed. Just steps from our hotel, “De Wildeman” as the captain’s ship was actually called, was a dark and playful place. Outfitted with an enormous bell within arms length of almost every person at the bar, we sat down and order a Wieckse Witte, which was clean, tart, and dry with a light body. As we sipped our way through the first one, the bell at hand was too easy not to ring. As soon as we did, the two others at the bar and the bartender all started cheering. Apparently we just bought the house a round. Over the next hour or so, that bell rang several times and each time we all bought the bar a round. There was never more than five of us on this rainy Monday but the room always felt full and it was a great way to end the day. We’ll be back before the week’s over.
De Ridder, Wieckse Witte 5% (NL)