A beery adventure in one of Europe’s great capitals

This month we had the enormous pleasure of visiting Amsterdam, fast becoming one of my favourite cities in Europe. Our mission was simple, to find out if they make good beer here yet… a noble cause to which our editor Rich and I dedicated four days and a few late nights.

Originally founded in the 12th century as a finishing village build around the Amstel river, today Amsterdam is home to more than 2.5 million people who, for the most part, live four meters under sea level, among its Golden Age canals lined with precariously tilting buildings. This city is unconventional, intriguing and beautiful in equal measures.

Of course, I know what comes to mind for many when you mention Amsterdam. The response is usually a cheeky grin or a look of horror depending on who you are speaking with... sure, this place does have a reputation for partying, red lights and cannabis smoke-filled coffee shop, but it’s got so much more to offer than that in creativity, mind-boggling architecture, laid-back lifestyle and a thriving foodie scene.

For us though, the trip was to get to know what's going on in craft beer over this neck of the woods. Historically, the city has always been proud of its beer; you'll find cafes and bars serving up popular Belgian blondes or 'local' macro lagers. No matter the venue, big or small the bartender always taking great care to serve the lager, usually in a small glass called “fluitje” (pronounced ‘fla-out-ya’) with a three-finger deep bright white head, which then is chopped off with spatula to sit level on the top of the glass.

The question is, could they do that with good beer instead? Over the course of the four days, we explored far and wide to discover everything beer-related the city has to offer and met the incredible people on the front line, fighting the fight for good beer, knocking the big brands off the taps in the local bars and cafes and replacing it with super fresh and juicy US-style IPAs, or twists on traditional Belgian styles. We left feeling massively inspired by their bold ambition and enthusiasm to get great beer out to as many people as possible and we’ve included a selection of our highlights from the trip in this month’s Beer52 box. 

So as the old Cole Porter song goes "Oysters down in Oyster Bay do, let’s do it...let’s fall in love" (with this wonderful city and its beer).

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