I’ll admit, I’ve never been a big fan of beer but when in Amsterdam, you have to at least try it! The Netherlands are known worldwide for their brew so if I was going to be converted into a beer-lover, this would be the place to do it. I went on a tour with Urban Adventures for an introduction to the best of the country’s favorite beverage.
We met up with our guide, Sean (like Sean Connery, he said to help me remember), an American expat who has been living in Amsterdam for the last six years. The four of us followed him to our destinations as he pointed out sites and explained their history along the way. We started off at Cafe Belgica, an old Belgian bar steeped in history featuring walls lined with vintage beer bottles from around the region. As the tour continued, we stopped at three other, more-modern, spots around town, trying a pint at each. Sean did his best to help each of us find the perfect beer to suit our tastes, always asking our preferences before bellying up to the bar and ordering for us.
My favourite stop of the day actually didn’t involve beer at all. Originally opened in 1679, Wynand Fockink is the type of place you’d never just stumble upon unless someone told you it was there. At the end of a small alleyway lies this well-preserved distillery and tasting room specializing in jenever, a juniper-based liqueur (the great grandpa of modern gin) in a variety of flavours. I went with the blackberry variety in the traditional tulip-shaped glass and drank it, as is the custom, by first bending over to take a sip from the full glass before picking it up. This part of the tour was optional and not included in the cost but I gladly paid €2.65 for a delicious glass of it and enjoyed it outside the tiny bar.
Duration: 3-4 hours
When: 4pm, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays
Where: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
More info: Amsterdam Beer Tour
Though I never did find a beer to fall in love with, I did learn a lot about the history and culture of Amsterdam along the way. This tour is perfect for anyone who wants a low key walk around the city with a guide who knows exactly where to go. Urban Adventures makes sure to tell attendees that this tour is definitely not like the pub crawls you’ll see advertised around town. Unlike those gatherings which are more of a raucous, drunken parade through the city, this tour is a leisurely afternoon stroll with lively conversation. If beer isn’t your thing, Urban Adventures also offers a variety of other tours in Amsterdam, all reasonably priced and lead by local experts.