Amsterdam Pub Guide (Part Two)
Zeedijk - Nieuwmarkt
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Practical Stuff
Where do I find Pubs?
Dutch breweries (large)
Dutch breweries (small)
Belgian breweries
Amsterdam breweries
Bockbier Tasting 2004

Amsterdam Pubs
Overview Map
Nieuwezijd (Dam)
Oudezijd (Nieuwmarkt)
De Jordaan
De Pijp
Amsterdam East
Amsterdam South
Amsterdam West

This part of Amsterdam is where it all began back in the 13th century (or thereabouts). The route of the medieval ramparts define its boundaries to the East (Geldersekade / Klovernierburgwal) and the Amstel to the West.

Most of the old defences are long gone, dismantled when the city expanded beyond their bounds in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. One of the few visible reminders today is De Waag, once one of the city's main gates. You can see a photo of it above. After a long period of indecision about what to use it for, it's now a posh-ish bar / restaurant.

Today, the Red Light District occupies much of the area. In Dutch it's usually referred to as "De Wallen", derived from the names of its principal canals (Oudezijds Voorburgwal, Oudezijds Achterburgwal). Most of the action happens along the canals and in the alleys connecting them, roughly between Damstraat and Zeedijk

The council has been trying hard, but with only partial success, to revive Zeedijk. The short section that runs East - West at the station end is now perfectly respectable. It's easy for unwary tourists to be lured further along the street, where the efforts at renewal have met with stiff resistance from heroin dealers and their customers. On the nice bit of Zeedijk stands one of very few wooden houses to survive the devastating fire of 1452.

Map Index

For more about Dutch breweries & beers:
Dutch breweries Every Dutch breweries and all their beers.
Dutch beer tasting notes Detailed tasting notes of many Dutch beers.

Amsterdam Pub Guide
Zeedijk - Nieuwmarkt


In an area smaller than a football field, the streets around the Centraal Station end of the Zeedijk has one of the highest concentrations of great pubs anywhere in the world.

Don't go there. You'll hate most of them. And fill up all the seats. Stick to the Rembrandts Plein or Leidese Plein. That will be much more to your taste. Leave Zeedijk to us decadent bastards.

De Ooievaar
Sint Olofspoort 1,
1012 AJ Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-420 8004
De Ooievaar exterior
Opening hours: Mon - Thu 15:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 15:00-03:00,
Sun 12:00-01:00.
Number of draught beers: 4
Number of bottled beers: +-2
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
De Ooievaar interiorYou have to hand it to Heineken the way so many of Amsterdam's most stylish and atmospheric bars sell Brand beer. I don't know if this is some sort of marketing policy, or if the café owners with the taste to have a well-decorated pub also have the nous to get Brand instead of standard Heineken.

This is one of those classy bars, which have such lived-in interiors that you can be fooled into thinking they're very much older than they are. I have a feeling that, although the building itself is a couple of centuries old, the pub hasn't been there for anything like as long.

Most of it looks 17th century - battered, painted wooden furniture, that your grand parents might have thrown out for looking too old and tatty; cracked and faded tiles; creaking, uneven floorboards - yes, it's more like being in part of an open-air museum than in a public bar.

That is, except for one corner, which has the sort of crap varnished wood-panelling, that fits in well with a decade of giant collars and flared trouser, i.e. the early 1970's, that nadir of human visual culture. The ceiling is supported by genuine enough looking beams and the green-painted shelves would appear more at home in an apothecary.

De Ooievaar interior againThe draught beer selection has improved, with fewer Brand products and more different styles. You can't really complain at the choice in a bar so small whose speciality is more jenever.

In much the same way as British pubs were tied to breweries, many in Amsterdam were (in one way or another) tied to distilleries. You can still often spot both brewery and jenever signs on pub exteriors. Ooievaar is tied to the city's last distiller, Wees. Their 10 year old (on sale here) is about as good jenever gets. And a snip at only €7.

Again, like brewers, Dutch gin-makers have a wide range of products. Here, they've got around 20 from Wees. I was knocked out by the half om half, a drink I hadn't taken seriously before. A liqueur whose underlying sweetness was balanced and counterpointed by intense bitter orange.

Oh no. Another set of drinks to investigate. Much as I had foolishly not considered jenever worthy of attention, I had written off Dutch liqueurs without giving them a chance. Just call me a stupid. You would expect me to have more sense after all my beer experiences.
Rating: ***** Public transport: Centraal Station

Het Elfde Gebod
Zeedijk 5,
1012 AN Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-622 3577
Opening hours: Sun, Wed & Thu 17:00-01:00,
Fri - Sat 16:00-03:00,
Monday and Tuesday closed.
Number of draught beers: 7
Number of bottled beers: +-50
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
For a long while the Zeedijk was not the sort of area you would recommend anyone to go wandering about in, especially at night. Now, at least the Central Station end has been renovated, cleaned up and made not only a safe but also an attractive part of the city. Het Elfde Gebod is a good example of the type of friendly pub which have sprung up in this area.

A single room, the front section is mostly taken up by the bar and has few tables. To the rear are rather more tables, but this area seems to operate more as a restaurant. Without doubt the most decorative feature is the giant china cabinet behind the bar, where the bottled beers are displayed. Nice to look at and also a much more visually impressive way of showing what's on sale than a dull list. Though, given the level of lighting it's probably better if you don't have to read anything, unless you've brought your own torch with you. A bit gloomy, though I suppose the yellow lightbulbs do give it a little of the cosy feeling of candlelight. Maybe it will work better in the Winter, when it's freezing outside.

The staff seem pretty good and they were very professional about changing a bad beer, which is always a very good sign. Nothing is worse than being served something only fit for sprinkling on your chips and having to convince the cretin behind the bar that something isn't quite right.
Rating: *** Public transport:

Zeedijk 10,
1012 AX Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-622 5728
Opening hours: Sun - Thu 16:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 16:00-03:00
Number of draught beers: 4
Number of bottled beers: +-6
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
Someone here must be a big Marilyn Monroe fan because there are photos of her all over the place. Given the location in the Red Light District, perhaps this could be taken ironically. Physically, the layout is a bit odd; there is a series of beams just over head height forming a sort of false ceiling. They look original, so perhaps they form an integral part of the structure and cannot be removed. Otherwise it's a fairly standard old Amsterdam pub and has the brown look we all know and love.

I must check this pub again, now Maximiliaan (the supplier of the only interesting beer) has gone.
Rating: ** Public transport:

Zeedijk 12,
1012 AX Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-622 2297
Opening hours: Wed - Mon 15:00-24:00
Tue closed
Number of draught beers: 3
Number of bottled beers: +-15
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
It's been a long time since I last dropped by Verhoeff. Too long. I can't understand why. Had I forgotten How good it was?

Look at the photo to the left. It has lots of technical faults, I know, but look at the two big Amstel posters. I'm not going to bore you with any details of the two images, their age or that sort of shit. But their juxtaposition is one of the best pieces of design I've encountered this year.

Why is that bicycle wheel there? I could explain, but, look, I'm not in that sort of mood today. I'll just say he didn't manage to destroy Verhoeff's charm for me. Perhaps I didn't destroy it for him, either.

Given its decades-long role as one of Holland's largest brewers, the removal of almost all physical traces of Amstel is pretty sad. The parent company's museum - the Heineken Experience - pays it the attention you might expect from the name. None, basically. Which is why this modest cafe has the best selection of Amstel posters I've seen in a single location.

Despite banging on about architecture and design (doubtless to your endless annoyance), it's more than bricks and mortar or fine panelling that draws me to a pub. They say you know if you want to shag someone within 5 seconds of meeting them. Prevaricate much less with pubs. I've told my sons that, in Britain, it's considered unlucky to walk past a pub that's open without entering. A small exaggeration, but not so far from the truth. Yet there are times when I turn on my heels, my feet barely over the threshold. For no reason other than that it doesn't feel right. Funny things, emotions. Especially when they leave your intelligence floundering in the dirt. I trust my feelings.

I like Verhoeff. It feels warm, welcoming and (vocabulary burnout - any suggestions of another adjective beginning with a "w" will be gratefully accepted and shamelessly used) w....They don't even mind you putting a bike wheel on their seat - something Uncle David would never allow.

They serve Rutte Oude Jenever.
Rating: *** Public transport:

In de Olofspoort
Nieuwebrugsteeg 13,
1012 AG Amsterdam.
Tel: 020 - 624 3918
Opening hours: Wed - Thur 16.00-24.00,
Fri - Sat 16.00-01.00,
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday closed.
Number of draught beers: 2
Number of bottled beers: 1
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks €, meals €. Beer € for 0.5l.
An ancient jenever house, dating from 1619, Olofspoort is just a few steps away from Zeedijk and Centraal Station. The site was originally occupied by the Sint Olofspoort, built in 1341, one of the gates in the city wall. Despite being made redundant in 1425 by one of Amsterdam's many expansions, almost another two centuries passed before its eventual demolition in 1618.

One of the few Amsterdam pubs to retain a "slijterij vergunning" or off-sales licence, you can buy whole bottles of jenever to either take home or enjoy on the premises. It stocks more than 200 drinks, including 60 Dutch and Belgian jenevers.

"De flessenclub" ("bottle club") allows individuals or organisations to leave their own personal bottle safely locked away behind the bar. They don't seem short of members, judging by the stuffed, glass-fronted cabinets. Jenever tastings can be arranged for groups of at least 12 participants. And for €250-300 you can even get married here. (I wonder if they throw in free drinks for the happy couple?)

The beer choice is limited, but meets my minimum "1 drinkable" criterion with the more than reasonable Affligem. I wouldn't have been so strict, in any case. Not with all those lovely jenevers.

If youīve never tried a proper jenever, you have a real treat awaiting you. But here are a few tips for the fullest enjoyment. Don't think of it as gin. A real old jenever is aged, like whisky, in small oak barrels. Just like whisky, this is where it picks up its colour, from pale gold to deep amber. (The industrial paintstripper variety is distilled, coloured and on the off-licence shelf within a hour or two.) The good stuff is sold by age: starting at one or two years for the lightest and most easy-drinking, progressing through the deeper, more complex 5 and 8 year olds and climaxing with ones of 12 or even 17 years (almost old enough to drink themselves) packed with rich, sherry notes. As you may have noticed, I do have quite a liking for it. But getting back to my essential advice, start with a two year old and work your way up in the ages. But make sure that it is jenever that has been genuinely aged. "Oud" (Dutch for "old") doesnīt necessarily mean old in the weird world of industrial jenever distilling.

Olofspoort has some wonderful jenevers at prices that look laughable compared to those for whisky of a similar (or even far inferior) quality: Rutte 12 year old is a paltry €4.60. A bargain for such a mature and deeply layered drink. It made the Filliers 8 year old (one of Belgiumīs finest) which had preceded it over my tongue, appear shallow and one-dimensional. And I love Filliers 8.

Having shared all of this with you, I now have a favour to ask. If you visit Olofspoort, please donīt make me regret having recommended it. Itīs a special place and I want it to stay that way. So treat it, the staff and the regulars with a bit of respect. Thatīs not too much to ask, is it?

I've also written a much more subjective review of Olofspoort.
Rating: ***** Public transport:

Old Nickel
Nieuwebrugsteeg 11,
1012 AG Amsterdam.
Tel: 020 - 624 1912
Fax: 020 - 620 7683
Opening hours:
Number of draught beers: 6
Number of bottled beers: +-60
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
I've come across many weird and wonderful pubs in my travels. But the combination of budget hostel and beer bar is a new one on me. It seems so unlikely, that I was inclined to distrust the sign outside Old Nickel claiming 60 different beers. But as it's literally next door to In de Olofspoort, it seemed worth taking a closer look.

At first glance, my fears about a cheap hotel lobby were realised. A carpet much too thick and much too red, a cheap bar counter; it wasnīt looking too good. Did they really have 60 beers? The barman wasnīt too inviting, but did pass us the beer menu. A quick count proved the claim to be true. But there was an even greater shock beneath its laminated exterior: the choice was actually quite interesting. More beers I wanted to drink than many bars with a list four times as long. Mahrs Bräu Ungespundet, Schlenkerla Rauchbier. No-one ever sells decent German beers in Amsterdam, Wildeman excepted. What were they doing here? Just as I had been getting ready to launch into my favourite speech complaining that Dutch beer bars rarely sell anything not Belgian. Here the Belgians barely made up half the list. How curious. Local beers are also well-represented: the whole range from both 't Ij and La Trappe, plus Christoffel Blond (the best lager brewed in Holland). Let's have a look at those Belgians again . . . . . St Bernardus Abt, Moinette Blond, Tripel Karmeliet, Boon Kriek, Witkap Stimulo . . . that's enough different decent ones for a whole session.

When I took the trouble to examine my surroundings a little more closely, they were far more intriguing than I had initially assumed. Distracted by the tacky modern additions, I hadnīt noticed the beautiful room they partially covered. Now in the UK, standard practice with a lovely old interior, was to rip it out, throw it in a skip and ship in as much formica and plywood as physically possible. In Old Nickel they hadnīt bothered with steps one and two. Why anyone would want to hide such decorative carved panelling is a mystery. Maybe they though it looked too classy for a hostel reception. But at least itīs still there. Along with a monumental tiled fireplace.

I won't pretend that Old Nickel isn't an odd place. And not always in a particularly appealing way. But it somehow charmed me. I've no real idea why. Call me perverse, but I like it almost as much as Olofspoort. The juxtaposition of so many seemingly incompatible elements make it truly original and full of genuine surprises. You may well hate it and I can understand why. Just don't blame me if you do.

Read more about Old Nickel's strange charms.
Rating: **** Public transport:

Dwaze Zaken
Prins Hendrikkade 50,
1012 AC Amsterdam.
Tel: 020-6124175
Dwaze Zaken, Amsterdam
Opening hours: Mon - Sat 12:00 - 24:00,
Sunday closed
Number of draught beers: 3
Number of bottled beers: 11
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks €5-11, meals €12-20. Pils €1.90 for 0.2l, Westmalle Tripel €4.50.
Dwaze Zaken, Amsterdam interiorI'm continally amazed by:
  1. how many good pubs there are around the Zeedijk
  2. how mant trendy pus are springing up in Amsterdam
Am I getting old or is the city changing quicker than ever? (When I were a lad you could buy six pints of beer, a three course meal, take a taxi home and still have change from a guilder.) Dwaze Dagen - unusually, as most Zeedijk pubs are fiercely traditional - belongs to both groups one and two. Oh - I almost forgot a third group that seems to be growing in size exponentially: very expensive pubs.

Now to get down to the mundane description part of the review. Don't worry, I promise you there will be more bad jokes and outrageuos opinions later. Anyone who has visited Amsterdam in the last 10 years (that's how long it seems to have been going on) must have noticed work on the new Nord-Zuid metro line. One of the trickier operations - sinking a tunnel beneath the water of the Damrak - just metres beyond Dwaze Zaken's front door. So all you civil engineering know where to hang out: the terrace of Dwazwe Zaken.
Dwaze Zaken, Amsterdam interiorInside, the high roof leaves space for the weirdest design feature, but I'll leave the decription of that until later in this paragrapgh. Bare board floor, wooden furniture, so far so brown cafe and my stock of cliches is holding up well. But from now on I'm in virgin territory. Excuse me if my vocabulary isn't up to the task. The bar counter is encased in a skeleton of shiny brass, the like of which I've never seen. I would provide a photo to compensate for my failing descriptive powers, but it turned out crap (see above). Sorry. I'm not a professional photographer. Though you've probably already noticed that. My son, born sloucher that he is, would love the big leather sofa and armchair. I think you can spot them on the photo to the right. No, I haven't forgotten to tell you about the oddest part of the interior: 4-metre high tile murals of quotes from the bible. I'm not quite sure of their purpose, but seem to remember there being a god-botherer's bookshop somewhere around here. Perhaps they're left over from that.

The beer list is more interesting than you would expect from its sparse 11 entries. There's nothing wrong with Duvel, but I do like ocaasionally to have some other options. Here it's a surprising omission, though you do get Tripel Karmeliet and St Bernardus Abt as compensation. Having Pilsner Urquell as standard draught Pils is also definitely an improvement on the usual Heneken/Amstel/Jupiler swill.

I quite like Dwaze Zaken, though at these prices I'm never going to stay for more than one. After all, it is brilliantly placed for a pub crawl, just a few paces away from Old Nickel and Olofspoort.
Rating: ** Public transport:

Café Centercourt
Ouderzijds Voorburgwal 2
1012 GD Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-625 3630
Opening hours: Sun - Thu 10:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 10:00-03:00
Number of draught beers: 2
Number of bottled beers: +-6
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
There have been some fairly radical changes at Mono since I wrote my original review of it a few years back. Pretty obviously the name, as you may have noticed a bit higher up, just above the address. I guess that the 60's music theme was the second item in the skip.

The "smallest pub" competition is fiercely contested in Amsterdam. So much so, that even this tiny bar is playing in the Third Division South. I'm a bit of a loss what to tell you, now I can't ramble on about Paul Revere and the Raiders or the Standells (both excellent examples of mid 1960's American Garage Punk). From what I saw today, the new theme is bland. Not that I could bear to investigate that closely, now that we've swapped our summer weather for Antigua's.

The sweat dripping from my brow was already making a right mess of the football reports, even before the first drop of Wieckse Witte had touched my lips. When I drink beer this disgusting, a couple of questions always cross my mind: is it meant to taste like this? was it like this when it left the brewery? does it always threaten to separate you from your lunch? I wonder where the brewer lives? You're sitting fully-dressed in a sauna with the throttle set to Hiroshima and find a cold beer in your hand. You sip greedily from the glass and . . . . it tastes so revolting, that you nearly retch. A bowl of washing up water with a couple of pounds of diet margarine dissolved in it would be tastier.

Sometimes I resent my commitment to relate all the relevant facts in my possession. I'll feel strangely guilty, perhaps for the rest of my life, if I neglect tell you about the numerous tables, serviced (with drinks) from this bar, over the road on the canalside. There. Now I'll be able to sleep tonight. This next bit could well be important for your safety: Centercourt is somewhere near the ragged edge of the Red Light District. It's immediate vicinity is safe, in the central Amsterdam sense of the word, which is something quite different from the feeling of security experienced by the brothers at Westvleteren (one of my emergency retirement plans involves the abbey). The Red Light District can be a dangerous place for the unwary to wander about in, particularly at certain times of day. After pub closing time, don't stray off on your own. One part of the Zeedijk steadfastly refuses to be cleaned up. It pays to keep your wits about you here at any time of day. Certain restaurants offer excellent views of smack dealers going about their business.

Sometime between dropping a handful of sweaty coins into the barmaid's hand and the bile beginning to jump around in my gut, it crossed my mind that I wasn't sure that I could recommend the oven, where my bum was unwisely parked, to anyone, if I was taking my beer drinking theme (the only one that I have thought of so far and one that I was planning on sticking with, unless another suddenly pops into my head) seriously. Call me Mr. Run-Home-and-Hide-Behind-Mum, but I'll be staying loyal to Mono, sorry, Centercourt (which is a crap name, isn't it? ISN'T IT, anyone who thinks that this name has a single word that can be said in its defence, should walk over to a mirror and ask themselves some serious questions about their judgement) even if I haven't the vaguest idea why.

This is the plain text version: the beers have been thinned to the point where my choice of drink has pretty much been made when I walk through the door. The best bottled beers are: Speciale Palm, De Koninck and Duvel, though I didn't hear the last one offered when I asked first what bottles they had, or when I later asked for a tripel. Could my fragile Dutch language skills be to blame? (Though she could have spoken some English to me - it happens so often that it makes little impression on my memory.)

Wieckse Witte seemed my best bet, at the time. No temperature under 220º C can excuse such a stupid mistake. I'm not sure that I should be telling you this, if I want to cling onto my dreams of one day being taken seriously for this writing stuff. (I mean get paid real money - accepted by pubs, off-licences and train stations across the world - for once. Look, since a tragic double ankle injury finally killed my hopes of playing professional football, I'm down to my last handful of unrealistic ambitions. I'm not prepared to relinquish my hopes of multi-million euro royalty cheques just yet.) I should have known better. I've always thought it was shit, even when it was brewed (as the name sort of still implies, in Dutch, a language in which a surprising number of the target consumers are competent) in Wyck, on the wrong side of the river (though it would be the right one, if train travel were included in your plans) in Maastricht.

Too busy frying myself, I didn't notice if they still do a full cooked breakfast. Best ask them yourselves.
Rating: * Public transport:

De Haven van Texel
St. Olofssteeg 11,
1012 AK Amsterdam.
tel: 020 - 427 07 68
fax: 020 - 427 07 68
Haven van Texel Amsterdam
Opening hours:
Number of draught beers: 5
Number of bottled beers: 6
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks €4-10, meals €9.50-17.50.
Haven van Texel Amsterdam interiorAmsterdam has many stunning canal views, but the one from Haven van Texel is hard to beat. At the junction of two canals, it's one of the bits where the houses, Venetian style, back directly onto the water. The outside seating has everything I seek - shade, space and no cars. And, of course, that view.

Inside, it's all that you would expect of a pub on one of the oldest streets in town. Though thankfully roomier than your average Amsterdam pub. Panelled walls, wooden floor with wide boards, low ceiling - it has the lot.

But what makes Haven van Texel so special has nothing to do with its location (wonderful though that is) or decor (traditional as that is). It's their draught beer selection. You don't see Dutch microbrews (other than Het Ij) on draught much in Amsterdam. In fact, outside of a couple of specialist beer cafes, you don't see them at all. Which is why the presence of two draught and one bottled (Texels Tripel) from Texelse brouwerij is so welcome. Obviously, there's a nice tie-in with the name of the pub, but it still demonstrates admirable imagination.
Rating: *** Public transport:

't Loosje
Nieuwmarkt 32-34,
1012 CS Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-627 2635
Opening hours: Sun - Thu 11:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 11:00-03:00
Number of draught beers: 8
Number of bottled beers: +-15
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
One of the advantages of living in Amsterdam (OK, there are others, but this is a family publication) is that I can regularly update this guide. Reading back my description of Loosje, I understood where my duty lay. To the centre, tramdriver, and don't spare the electrodes.

Loosje is the perfect antidote to depression. Who could feel miserable here? They do everything the wrong way around: improve the beer selection and leave the stunning interior alone. Not a specialist beer café by any stretch of the imagination, yet when I visited they had three draught beers I could happily have drunk all day. I'm a notoriously fussy git, so perhaps such occasions are more frequent in your life.

The winning formula (and judging by: 1. large number of customers: 2. opinions of my friends; 2. listing in everyone's Amsterdam guides, that's beyond doubt) gives me a warmer feeling in my loins than a toileting accident. Beautiful pub, reasonable prices, good atmosphere, steadily improving the beer range. No, I'm sleeping, aren't I? This is all just some horribly tantalising dream. (Like the one where I was pubcrawling around Newark in 1941)

One of the advantages of being occupationally challenged (OK, there are others, but potential employers have been known to use search engines) is that I can do my research during working hours. If you've been looking carefully, perhaps you've spotted all the newspaper reading going on in my photos. Yup, my days are free.

Here we have a style seldom seen in Holland. Magnificent tilework covers the walls, bar, floor and just about every other surface, except for the ceiling. One wall has a 3-metre wide depiction of the old ZHB (Zuid Hollandsche Bierbrouwerij) brewery in Den Haag. Other bits portray the pub in the 17th century and peasants hanging around some polder. There are even old hard-coded adverts, for products which surely no longer exist. That's what I call a successful advertising campaign: one that goes on forty or fifty years after manufacture has ceased.

Behind the main room, through a pretty etched glass door, is a billiard room which also has many tiles, albeit in a somewhat less flamboyant style.

The snacks are very good value. The tortilla looks very tempting.

The draught beer selection is pretty varied, though the choice of bottled beers is predictable. Worth coming to for the La Chouffe alone.
Rating: ****
Public transport:

De Bekeerde Suster
Kloveniersburgwal 6-8,
1012 CT Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-423 0112
Opening hours: Sun - Thu 11:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 11:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 10
Number of bottled beers: +-25
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
Formerly the brewpub Maximiliaan, which went bankrupt after about 10 years in business. De Bekeerde Suster is now owned and run by De Beiaard Groep, who have another cafe in Amsterdam on the Spui. The beer range has been expanded from the Maximiliaan, when the pub only sold half a dozen or so varieties, all except the pils being brewed on the premises. After a worrying delay, when it operated solely as a specialist beer cafe, the brewery is back in regular operation. (If you want to catch them in the act, their website reveals they usually brew on Wednesday or Thursday.)

De Beiaard had already been getting a couple of house beers contract brewed for their pubs, most notably the witbier Witte Ros and the seasonal Bock Ros.  One can assume that the intention is to take the production of these beers in-house. Whether this has occurred yet with the Witte Ros is not clear. Blonde Ros definitely is brewed on the premises, as they say will be the Bock Ros in autumn.

Amsterdam's first (and so far only) brewpub, it opened in 1992. It's situated in a group of historic buildings close to the Waag, a gothic pile in the middle of Nieuwe Markt that was once a gatehouse in the city wall. I had read that the bar area had been altered but, unless senility is closer than I had thought, that's not true. All I could spot in the way of change was an increase in the Grolsch adverts, sorry, memorabilia, which stay just the right side of irritating.

One of the reasons I sometimes tire of visiting new homebrew pubs, is the thought of the hours it might cost finding some new way of combining the words vessel, copper and gleaming without repeating myself. I'm short of time today, so you'll have to use your imagination. It's probably my mind playing tricks on me, but I thought the brewing kit was looking a bit sheepish, there in the corner. Had I been lead in blindfold (which, I admit, was unlikely), I might have feared that my eyesight was slipping away. Hopefully, someone had just knocked against the dimmer. They must have a dimmer . . . You must be able to get it brighter than this.

The custom of using the bits that brew the beer as decorative features, doesn't seem to mean that we ever get to see it used. In Maximiliaan I had seen real live brewing not once, but several times. Seeing all that gear lying around unused was saddening. I'm pleased it's been resuscitated.

I trust that an established operator like Beiaard has a clear idea of how to solve the problem that sank the old owners - who do you run such an enormous place at a profit? Maximiliaan never did work out how to attract enough customers to cover their high fixed costs. Being part of a chain should assure the brewery of a certain steady trade. When Witte Ros really is moved here, then I'll believe the intention is to brew seriously. Imagining the expanses of space in the function rooms, I wonder how anyone can fill them on a regular basis.
Rating: **** Public transport:

Oude Hoogstraat 11.
1012 CD Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-626 0604
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 10:00-01:00
Fri - Sat: 10:00-03:00
Sun: 12:00-01:00
Number of draught beers: 4
Number of bottled beers: +-30
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
Though I'm too much of a respectable family man to talk about it very much, I'm aware that some visitors to Amsterdam intend consuming more than just beer. After the sad closure of De Hoogte, I realised that my guide had lost it's primary "smoking café". I haven't ever mentioned it until now, but I feel I owe you at least one such bar. A replacement was easy to find. Tapvreugd, just down the street, was the obvious candidate.

In various guides, I've read claims that Café Whatsit or Bar Thingummy is the only place in Amsterdam where you can enjoy a decent beer with your space cigarette. Total crap. Truth be told, I could fill several web pages and still have enough pubs left over for a short book. I'll let you in on a secret, as long as you promise not to tell anyone; there are at least three other bars in this guide, where, under certain circumstances, it's also allowed. I would tell you which ones, but:
  • I don't want my favourite pubs filled with stoned zombies
  • I'm not daft enough to urinate on my fried potato snacks by irritating the landlords of pubs I use myself
  • you should be able to work it out for yourself, if you're that keen
Warning: the combination of drinking and smoking can affect your ability to remain conscious. I take no responsibility for anyone who wakes in the gutter with an embarrassing wet patch on their trousers.
Even before I learnt of Hoogte's demise, I had been toying with the idea of including Tapvreugd. Looking at the beer choice - just Heineken on draught and perhaps 20 bottled beers - you may well wonder why. Well, this is my guide and I can do what the hell I like. It's in because I say so.

One aspect of Tapvreugd does merit your attention: the prices. When I saw 2.30 euros chalked next to Duvel on the blackboard, my first reaction was that it must be a mistake. It isn't. This - and Ter Brugge - are the only pubs I know still charging the old guilder prices converted to euros. It's great value for this part of town, where more backpackers and teenage hippies than you can shake a stick at (and who doesn't dream of doing just that?) can be seen with their faces pressed against headshop windows.

Putting to one side the financial aspects, we have an uncomplicated brown pub (somewhere between chocolate and tar in its degree) like dozens of others in Amsterdam. Narrow, but deep, a long bar counter occupies most of one side. At the front, barstools - clumped around the bar and small, high tables bolted to the walls - form the only seating option. You'll have to penetrate the darkest regions of the interior, should you wish to sit on a proper chair at a normal-height table. The walls are hung with enough beer-related artifacts to shame some professional beer bars. God knows where the rest of the clutter comes from or why it's there. Best not disturb any of it, in case it's load-bearing.
Rating: *** (for the user-friendly prices) Public transport:

Wijnand Fockink Proeverij
Pijlsteeg 37,
1012 HH Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-622 5334
Opening hours: Mon - Sun 16:00-21:00
Number of draught beers: 3
Number of bottled beers: +-5
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
The name Wijnand Fockink is guaranteed to provoke raised eyebrows, at the very least, amongst English-speakers. On this occasion, I can manage to refrain myself from cracking any puerile jokes, happy to leave you that innocent pleasure for yourselves. I expect that you'll have plenty of time for thinking them up while you're searching for the pub. You aren't likely to wander past accidentally, it being hidden away down alley into which few would venture. The easiest way to find it is to look for the Krasnapolsky hotel on Dam Square. Pijlsteeg runs down its right hand side.

Fockink was founded in 1689, originally functioning as the tasting room of the distillery behind it. It's quite easy to imagine that not much has been done in the way of home improvements since. (I know the feeling: you keep promising that you'll put that shelf up next week and, before you know it, three centuries have gone by.) Behind the bar hugely bending green shelves bear old bottles whose faded painted labels can still just about be deciphered. You could be forgiven for thinking that you had wandered into an old chemists. If you look more closely, you'll see that the labels say "Oranje Bitter" or "Oude Jenever" not "Arsenic" or "Laudanum".

The beer taps are stuck in a corner in a strange glassed in booth, which resembles a little the 'Beichtstuhl' to be found in certain Rhineland pub breweries. There are some interesting old newspaper cuttings and postcards illustrating the traditional technique of avoiding spilling any genever from a glass filled right to the brim: bending over and taking the first slurp before picking it up.

Long after the closure of the original, a new distillery was established in the 1990's. It was the only pub-distillery I knew. Sadly, their house-distilled genevers are gone. Some misunderstanding with the revenue men provoked the distillery's closure. However, they do still have their own genevers and liqeurs, now distilled elsewhere. The fruit genevers, unsweetened and made from whole fruit, are particularly tasty and at only 21% alcohol not too bad for the brain cells.

The staff are friendly and seem only too pleased to talk about the traditional method of producing genever. Like malt whisky it gains smoothness and colour from years of maturation in small oak vats. Sadly, few are still made this way. Having tasted some of the commercial varieties, it doesn't surprise me. More like an industrial cleaning product than a drink to savour. In my ignorance, I thought this was all Holland's national tipple had to offer. Something they've been patient enough to leave in oak for 5 years (like WF superior) is well worth your trouble. Not just for binge-drinking or paint-stripping. (If I've stirred your interest, Cafe Belgique sells the excellent 5 and 8 year old Villiers from Belgium, Ooievaar stocks a decent oude genever from the Amsterdam distillery of the same name.)

Not content with having their own spirits, they also sell one of Belgium's most obscure beers, De Rijk Special, which is vaguely in the same style as Palm or De Koninck. It comes from a small, family-run brewery, which only produces 6,000 hl per year. Their beer is extremely rare in Belgium and totally unknown in Holland. How they come to have it on draught here is a mystery. Unfortunately, having said all of that, it isn't such a great beer. But give it a try yourself and see what you think.

Note the extremely limited opening times. Fockinck's garden bar, quite cleverly hidden behind the pub, has more reasonable hours. It too serves the house genevers.

One of Amsterdam's "must visit" pubs.
Rating: *****
Public transport:

Rapenburgerplein 1,
1011VA Amsterdam.
Tel: 020 - 624 8101
Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 11:00-01:00
Fri - Sat: 11:00-03:00
Number of draught beers: 6
Number of bottled beers: 11
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
It may not have escaped your notice that "bier" is the Dutch word for beer. And, yes, that is what it means in the name "Scharrebier". It's the Dutch equivalent (or was in the 17th century) of English "Small Beer" or "Table Beer", that is a low-alcohol beer made from a second or third mashing.

If you think "Small Beer" is a pretty strange thing to call a pub, I would have to agree with you. The explanation lies in the bridge directly opposite, named Scharrebiersluis. They supposedly sold Scharrebier from the canalside at some point.

I like to think that I know Amsterdam pretty well, but this area to the east of the Red Light District is new territory for me. A bit of a walk from Centraal Station (the closest point most trams get), but I think it's well worth it. On the way you'll see some fine 17th century houses and get a close-up look at the Scheepvaarthuis, a faintly Gothic structure that was the first great Amsterdamse School building.

You're probably thinking "this is all very interesting, but when is he going to tell us something about the bloody pub?". OK. But don't be disappointed if I fall back on my usual adjectives. Here's a selection - brown, traditional, worn, wooden, cosy, friendly, local. They all apply. Technology is a wonderful thing. Rather than strain my poor old brain, I'll let the pictures do the talking for me.

Want a little help? Alright then. Careful observation of the above photo will reveal: a chessboard (they have games), a magazine rack (they follow the civilised Dutch custom of providing reading matter for their customers), beer posters (they take beer semi-seriously).

Now that we're on the subject of beer, let me say a few words in praise of Scharrebier. The beer count may not be that high, but you can't complain about the quality. Rochefort 10 and Schneider Weisse aren't seen much outside specialist beer cafés. It's hard to spoil my day when, after ordering my trappist, back comes the question "From the fridge or from the shelf?"

I just hope that my photos can do it justice because Scharrebier is a gem of a pub. It's the sort of place where, when it starts raining you're glad of the excuse to stay a little longer. If you want to experience a real, unspoilt, locals pub - look no further.
Rating: **** Public transport: Bus 22 Kadijks Plein

Kloveniersburgwal 59,
1011 JZ Amsterdam.
Tel: 020 - 625 3772
Engelbewaarder Amsterdam
Opening hours: Sun-Thu 11:00 - 01:00
Fri-Sat 11:00 - 03:00
Number of draught beers: 12
Number of bottled beers: 8
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
Engelbewaarder Amsterdam interiorEngelbewaarder used to be a beer café, so I remember reading. Well, it isn't any more. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it isn't worth visiting. Just don't expect a beer pub, OK?

I was truly gob-smacked when I realised why I had never noticed this pub before: I had never walked down this bit of the canal before. It sounds crap doesn't it? "Not walked along this bit of city centre street, ha ha ha. How dare you report on Amsterdam, sir." It's a lot harder than you might imagine, tramping every single yard of pavement in this city. You try it.

I've got lost again. Excuse me. Short attention span. Must go to pub ... It's a pleasant long brown pub with mustard yellow panelling. Sounds vile, doesn't it? Couldn't be further from the truth. The enamel gas stove and tunnel-like nature remind me of Lucas's old pad in De Pijp. (I realise this will only make sense to 5 or 6 of my readers, but I think that I owe it to them.) Except clean. And with 12 draught beers. Lucas's place didn't feature either.

This part of town (Red Light district fringes) isn't over-blessed with pubs where you're safe from impromptu tattooing. Engelbewaarder is cosy, friendly and without psychos. What more could you ask for? I know, a good beer selection.

Engelbewaarder Amsterdam interiorThere seems to have been some sort of takeover of the beer list by Palm, though it's worth noting that they have that brewery's most interesting products - unfiltered Palm and Rodenbach Foederbier Along with Boon Oude Geuze (another rarity) that makes a, for Amsterdam, unique combination. All three are served on low nitrogen pressure. In fact, it's earrned them an extra two stars.
Rating: **** Public transport:

De Druif
Rapenburgerplein 83,
1011VJ Amsterdam.
Tel: 020 - 624 4530
Opening hours: Sun-Thu 12:00 - 01:00
Fri-Sat 12:00 - 02:00
Number of draught beers: 4
Number of bottled beers: 6
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks

Sometimes I feel this guide is becoming an extended mea culpa for my lack of adventure. Even after being dragged along to Scharrebier, I still hadn't noticed Druif. Sit outside Scharrebier and you'll realise the full extent of my idiocy.

Druif is Heineken's house contender for the Oldest Pub in Amsterdam. The one huge advantage it has over its competitors is the relatively remote location. Obviously, it's in a part of town built in the 17th century, but one so difficult to reach by public transport that it could just as well be in Haarlem. No tourist hordes inside, just a hardcore of locals.

Somewhere in the distant past Druif was a distillery. Though the only reminders of this are "Likeurstokerij" sign under the gable and the spirit barrels behind the bar.

Spend some time inside and, as you try to make some sense of the layers of junk, you'll start wondering if the owners have ever thrown anything away. From the ceiling hang 5 or 6 times as many lights fittings as are - or could be - in use.

The furniture is characterful to the point of dilapidation. Generations of drinkers have worn away the slightest trace of varnish. I guess the next stop will be the bonfire. As in some other venerable ex-distilleries, there is a weird vertical glass and brass spirit dispenser on the bar.

I did give serious thought to adding Druif to my "secret list". But, with Scharrebier already covered in this page, how could I expect Druif to go unnoticed? Only an idiot like me could fail to spot it.
Rating: ***** Public transport: Tram 14 to Hortus Botanicus

Cafe De Doelen
Kloveniersburgwal 125,
1011KC Amsterdam.
Tel: 020 - 624 9023
Cafe De Doelen Amsterdam
Opening hours: Sun - Thur 11:00 - 01:00,
Fri - Sat 11:00 - 03:00
Number of draught beers: 6
Number of bottled beers: 6
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks. Pils €2.40 for 0.3l, Duvel €3.40.
Cafe De Doelen Amsterdam interiorThis part of Amsterdam - effectively two small islands - has escaped my notice until now. Undeservedly and I'm surprised that a pub like De Doelen hasn't been brought to my attention earlier. (I know; my apologies for lack of thoroughness are starting to wear thin.)

For an Amsterdam pub, it's pretty big, Which only means that it has more than three tables. There's the usual brown wood theme going on but hang on a minute - are they picnic tables? Or have they escaped from a HO heritage pub? Mmm not quite as groovetastic as you might expect in somewhere with some pretensions to chic.

The beer menu is small but perfectly functional and at least offers me multiple choices. That's all I need. That and a pleasant view over the canal have me sold. "Nog een Chouffe, graag."
Rating: *** Public transport:

Café Heffer
Oudebrugsteeg 7,
1012 JN Amsterdam.
Tel. 020 - 42 84 488
Café Heffer Amsterdam
Opening hours: Sun - Thur 10:00 - 01:00,
Fri - Sat 10:00 - 03:00
Number of draught beers: 5
Number of bottled beers: 10
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks €2-5. Beer: vaasje Pils €2.30, Duvel €4.
Café Heffer Amsterdam interiorGlobalisation throws up some weird cross-cultural mixes. Heffer is like Amsterdan brown cafe combined with an English circuit pub. I'm confused. What is this? Where are we?

Friday night and it's full of the after-office crowd - ties off, collars loosened. I shouldn't sneer .Iused to be (who am I kidding, still am) one of them. I just don't wear a jacket and tie to work any more.

Low-quality, sub-dance, vocal music is played just loud enough to make you shout when trying to converse. Brilliant. An hour of this and I'll be hoarse all weekend.

A silver-haired old lady sidles up to our table. Would we like our forunes told though the number of letters in our name? What is this, some sort of new-age pensioner? "I don't believe in all that nonsense, so no thank you." She gives me some weird spiel about Pythagoras and having an open mind. "OK, fair enough. I shouldn't dismiss it out of hand. But, the answer is still no because I don't want to have my fortune told, thank you." My bluntness does the trick, and I'm left alone with my shouting companion. It's been an experience, the last 15 minutes.I'm just tryiing to work out which kind.

The waiter was very apologetic about serving our Choffe in Duvel glasses. The overmeasure that entails almost offsets the excessive price (€3.60). Though, just back from Paris where Duvel was over €7 it doesn't seem that bad a deal.

Almost forgot - there's a sawdust-strewn wooden floor, a beamed ceiling. I have to include the clichés somewhere. Pine-topped tables, small mezzanine, old prints of Amsterdam. I'm on a roll .... nicotine-stained walls ..... oh no, I'm all clichéd out.

Surprsingly, not a tourist in sight.
Rating: ** Public transport:

De Deugniet
Oudebrugsteeg 12,
1012JP Amsterdam.
Tel.: 020 - 620 4427
De Deugniet Amsterdam
Opening hours: Sun - Thur 15:00 - 01:00,
Fri 12:00 - 03:00,
Sat 10:00 - 03:00.
Sun 10:00 - 01:00
Number of draught beers: 4
Number of bottled beers: 10
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks. Beer: vaasje Pils €2.30, Duvel €4.
De Deugniet Amsterdam interiorThis is Lindeboom street, well, alley. They have 3 pubs within flobbing distance of each other.

It's hard to find out what they actually sell here. They're using the menus from Heffer over the road. Given the lesser number of beer taps this side of the street, I can't imagine they can provide all the beers on the list. Unless they pop over the road, which I guess isn't as unlikely as all that.

A bizarre hybrid - Dutch pub music meets disco - is turned up just loud enough to make it impossible to ignore. What a brilliant pub to slightly annoy friends in. I've been looking for such a venue for years.

Who's that at the bar? Oh no, it's the hippy pensioner trying to tell fortunes again. Lluckily, she seems to have remembered my firm "no".

The back window is Deugniet's trump card, offering a lovely view over the water with Centraal Station in the distance. Just don't look down and see the pit full of dead chairs.
Rating: * Public transport:

Batavia 1920
Prins Hendrikkade 85,
1012 AE Amsterdam,
Tel: 020 - 625 6634
Opening hours: Sun, Tue-Thusr 10:00 - 01:00,
Fri-Sat 10:00 - 03:00,
Monday closed.
Number of draught beers: 5
Number of bottled beers: 22
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks €, meals €. Beer €2.10 for 0.25l.

I'm always pleased to learn of new pubs with a decent beer selection. Especially ones as conveniently-placed and attractive as Batavia. It's just along from the Zeedijk, facing Centraal Station. Very handy for a pub crawl. There are half a dozen other pubs in this guide within 100 metres.

I noticed the building years ago, I have a thing for 1920's architecture and Batavia is a particularly fine example.Lost of decorative 3D brickwork. Insides is almost as nice. There's curvy wooden panelling that looks original. At least to me it does. But I've been fooled before.The light fittings are great, too. I would show you a photo, but all ones I took are too blurry.I should have taken them before I started on the Maredsous 10.

The beer list has a couple of real surprises - Liberty Ale and Titan IPA from the USA, for example.Much better than your standard Amsterdam bar. About 53% of the way to being a proper specialist place.

Mike had a couple of reservations. And not for dinner. He wasn't keen on the music. Not the music they were playing, but the fact that there was any at all. It wasn't even that loud. Or particularly crappy. Low-key jazzy-type stuff. I didn't even notice it after the first 2.4 minutes.

Young people. There were some of those in there, too. Talking to each other and having fun. That pissed Mike right off. That they were obviously tourists only made things even worse. And I thought I was a grumpy old bastard.

The Maredsous 10 went down nicely. Or do they call that Maredsous Tripel now? It doesn't reeally matter. It tastes nice and has a bit of poke. I like beers with a bit of poke, especially in the winter. Warming, alcoholic without any weird extremeness. That's how I like my beer. Which is why I hadn't chosen Titan IPA.Who wants to drink an inauthentic US-style IPA when it's cold, wet and windy?

Almost forgot, They stock a couple of beers in 75 cl bottles. La Chouffe and a proper gueuze. For those days when a just 33 cl won't do. I have plenty of those. Now I think about it, every day's like that.

I couldn't persuade Mike to stay for more than three beers. The pull of Ooievaar just down the road was too strong. I wasn't going to argue with him. Not with all those jenevers. And boiled eggs, too. I'd not had any tea. A boiled egg would do just fine.

Rating: *** Public transport: any tram to Centraal Station

De Prael Proeflokaal
Ouderzijds Armsteeg 26,
De Prael outside
Opening hours: Wed - Sun 15:00 - 20:00,
Monday and Tuesday closed
Number of draught beers: 11 (2 by gravity)
Number of bottled beers:
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks €, meals €. Beer €3 - 4.50 for 0.33l.
De Prael new pub outsideYes, I've finally goy t around to visiting Prael's new pub.

Brand-new and purpose-built, I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise that it doesn't have the cahram of the old breweruy on Helicopterstraat, nowr the quirky temporary pub. What it does have is lots more space. Lots, lots more.
Rating:***** Public transport:Any tram to central station.

Rokin 75,
1012 KL Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-528 9910
Bierfabriek Amsterdam exterior
Opening hours: Sun - Thur: 10:00-01:00
Fri - Sat: 10:00-03:00
Number of draught beers: 3
Number of bottled beers:
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
Bierfabriek Amsterdam insideWith the opening of Bierfabriek Amsterdam now has a third brewery in the city centre. Hooray! But before we rejoice too much, let's take a look inside.

Bierfabriek is large. Tell a lie. For Amsterdam, it's mega-ginormous. I reckon you could fit in a dozen Café Belgiques and still have room for a Wildeman or two. If you were being kind, you could call the interior clean and minimalist. If you you were being more cynical, you could say Spartan and soulless. Like anywhere that's been created from scratch, it'll need a while to to find its identity. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt for the time being.

Currently there are three house beer: an unfiltered (and slightly beefed-up) version of Alfa Pils brewed at the Alfa brewery; Rosso, an unfiltered red beer in no particular style; and Nero, supposedly a Porter. Don't get me wrong, I like a good dark beer, but Nero is unlike any Porter I've tasted before. Imagine it as a strong Dark Mild and it seems much better. I did wonder why the beers had Italian names. Until I discovered that the man behind the project is an Italian, Andrea Possa. Still a bit strange, but at least understandable.

The beers are a bit worrying. It's very like the classic (dull) German brewpub unholy trinity of pale, amber and dark. It makes you wonder who the intended audience is. Not beer geeks, that's for sure. The presence of a DJ booth is a hint: the young, beautiful and trendy. That's me excluded on all three counts.

The location, at least, is good. A short stumble from Dam Square. Which may tempt me to occasionally wander in. Probably in the vague hope of finding a more adventurous beer on tap.
Rating: ** Public transport: Tram 4, 9, 14, 16, 24, 25 to Rokin

The Amsterdam Pub Guide Continues:
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part One Dam Square - Leidseplein
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Two Zeedijk/Nieuwmarkt
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Three De Jordaan
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Four De Pijp
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Five Amsterdam East
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Six Amsterdam South
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Seven Amsterdam West
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Eight Utrechtsestraat

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