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By Audrey Sykes in Amsterdam—
In a city drenched with every conceivable vice, the one sin that pulls me in is good beer. I’m a sucker for a freshly-poured brew that’s flavorful, cold and tasty. And I don’t mean mainstream pilsners.
If you like the satisfaction of enjoying a well-crafted beer at a good price, here are my top beer bars in Amsterdam.
Welcome to the only Dutch beer bar in the city. Sure, others might have a Holland brew on tap, but Arendsnest’s beer selection is strictly national, with dozens to choose from on tap and in bottle. A tripel from Texel or dubbel from the south, take your pick and marvel at the brass taps and classy décor as you watch boats float along the Herengracht.
This is my favorite beer bar, hands down. Their Belgian beer menu is extensive enough to satisfy an array of patrons. The place is tiny and hard to move around in, but that only makes it cozier. Take a seat on the outside benches – they’re heated during winter – and make small talk with the “unique” locals amongst an artsy, gritty downtown alley. Smoking of all sorts is allowed inside and out, and live music by bands or DJ starts after 10 p.m.
Zotte is another Belgian beer bar, located right behind Leidseplein, and is larger than Belgique in size and selection. The dark, candlelit room is usually packed with students and young professionals thirsty for flavorful brews and hungry for typical small dishes like stinky cheese and smoked meats. Things can get rowdy as the night progresses; however early evenings are relaxed and the music is always a great blend of indie and classic rock.
Cafe de Spuyt
Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 86
Located on a side street off busy nightlife center Leidseplein, Spuyt is a small beer cafe listing specials on tap and a menu of bottled brew on a chalkboard. I can always depend on this place having a decent Amsterdam beer on tap, along with a few other specials from the Netherlands. Their cozy atmosphere and friendly staff makes Spuyt a great stop before a night out or a post-concert drink.
Tip: Get brewed
If your eyes are set on the local brew scene, Amsterdam has two microbreweries that are free to enter, authentic in décor, delicious in drink, and cheap!
The Brouwerij ‘t Ij (Funenkade 7) is nestled against an old windmill and a relaxing canal setting, complete with a beer garden for summer and a cozy beer room for winter. Fresh beer starts at €2 for a pilsner, but tasting glasses are the way to go for sampling (brewery tours happen on weekends and cost €4.50).
Brouwerij de Prael (Oudezijds Voorburgwal 30) is in the heart of Amsterdam’s red light district, hidden by tourists along a narrow alleyway that only the locals seem to wander down. It’s the city’s first brewery, enjoyed best by an afternoon hang out in their tasting room with a classic brewery beer mug.
Your favorite beer bar?
Have a bar to add to our list? Tell us about it in our comments section below.
Also in our guide: Heading to Amsterdam and looking for an affordable hotel? Be sure to check out our editors picks for great cheap sleeps, all visited, inspected, and photographed by our team. And just think, you can relax at any of the bars above with all those euros you’ll be saving on your hotel bill. Read more in our Amsterdam guide.