Who hasn’t heard of beer brands such as Heineken and Amstel? Dutch beer is famous all over the world. It is not only one of the most popular beers but also one of the highest quality beers. There more brands, less popular and just as good or even better:
The Best Dutch Beers are from the Brands:
- La Trappe Trappist Brewery
- Brouwerij’t IJ
- Brouwerij De Molen
- Arcense Bierbrouwerij
Not always the most popular is the best one: there are many well-known Dutch beer brands but there are many other produced with higher quality, with a nicer touch, with better varieties and better ingredients that are just not as popular. If you want to find out more about the best not-so-famous Dutch beer brands as well as the popular ones, keep reading!
Best Dutch Breweries
In the Netherlands, there are over 530 breweries, which means there are thousands and thousands of different beers. These breweries have been open for centuries. Among these, there are a top 100 of beers which most of these are from La Trappe, Arcense Bierbrouwerij, Heineken, Brouwerij’t IJ, Brouwerij De Molen, Grolsch, Amstel, and very few more.
This time, instead of start talking about the very well-known and popular breweries internationally consumed, Heineken and Amstel, let’s consider first another four of the best beer brewers in the Netherlands, their story and origins, and, of course, what makes them the best: La Trappe Trappist, Brouwerij’t IJ, Arcense Bierbrouwerij, and last but not least, the famous Grolsch.
La Trappe Trappist
La Trappe is a very famous and one of the best Dutch beers, yet it actually is from French origins.
La Trappe was founded by French Trappist Monks at the end of the 19th century, however, these monks were refugees in Berkel-Enschot, a town in the southern Dutch province of Brabant. Making beer was the way they found to have an income to pay for all the expenses. Therefore, the first beer created by them was: La Trappe Blond.
The Brewery was always a sustainable place to produce, and since day one all the products have been done to pay for the expenses of the monastery but also for charities, working as a non-profit company. La Trappe Trappist is one of the oldest breweries in the Netherlands.
According to Ranker, La Trappe is one of the most popular Dutch beer brands, the top 100 ones are:
- La Trappe Witte Trappist (Koningshoeven): Light blonde, light perfume, lightly sour, lightly bitter and of course, a pale ale. Number 81.
- La Trappe Tripel (Schaapskooi): this is one of the classy beers of the brand, with a fruity flavour (peach and apricot) gold blonde and fresh. Number 80.
- La Trappe Quadrupel XXXX (Schaapskooi): this is a little bit of a special treat, a mix of spices, cloves, nuts, vanilla, raisins and banana. Number 79 on the ranking.
- La Trappe Enkel (Schaapskooi) Number 78
- La Trappe Ambrée (Koningshoeven): Number 75 on the ranking and the most popular beer of this brewery. It is a 5,5% beer, ranked also as one of the best beers in the world, it is a classic spicy beer, typical from the Lower Lands.
Brouwerij’t IJ is a brewery from Amsterdam and another one of the popular and the best beers in the Netherlands, and probably the best produced in Amsterdam (leaving the Heineken controversy aside).
This brewery is the first one in Amsterdam to be inspired in the famous Belgium beer. Its origins bring us back to the Dutch windmill style where the wheat and most ingredients were treated to produce the beer since 1985.
What are the basic ingredients for this beer? First of all, we need to highlight the role of water, and the main ingredients, malt, hops, and yeast. If you are into knowing the process, the brewery offers a tour.
Brouwerij’t Ij has over 40 different beers, and among these, the most”popular ranked ones are the following:
- Brouwerij ‘t IJ Columbus: This number 4 on the beer rankings is a heavyweight beer, a 9% volume with sweet aromas of chocolate, fruit and the typical grain flavour characteristic of Belgian beer.
- Brouwerij ‘t IJ Struis: Another top 10, ranked on the number 8, another 9% with chocolate and fruit, but this time with a darker point. It has a longlasting bitter aftertaste.
- Brouwerij ‘t IJ Ijndejaars: This is the number 16 of the best Dutch beers. Once again, another 9%, this time with aromas of spiced fruit, orange zest and roasted malt that gives the beer a deep maroon colour.
All the Brouwerij’t IJ beers are in this list and even though not all of them are ranked the quality is there, even when the popularity may not be.
Brouwerij De Molen
Brouwerij De Molen is another one of the best yet still a more locally consumed Dutch beers. This craft beer brewery was founded in the early 2000 and it is then one of the youngest breweries in the Netherlands, yet one of the top in the country.
The styles of beer produced by them are: Pale Ale, Sour, Stout, Porter, Saison, Bitter and Barley Wine. Each of the beer has its own taste and original recipe, always looking to innovate in process, products, smells and flavours.
RateBeerBest places them among the Top 100 of the world, as they do Ranker, where they are included in the Top 100 of the world and top 30 of the Netherlands. Among their best beers we can find the TOP 5:
- Brouwerij De Molen Mooi & Meedogenloos: an American Imperial Stout beer combined with the Belgian-style beer. It is a spicy, chocolaty, plummy beer with a 10,5% volume.
- Brouwerij De Molen Amarillo: Amarillo, yellow in Spanish indicated is pale amber colour as well as the citric notes in the beer, orange, marmalade and grapefruit aromas, bitterness and fruity undertone for an Imperial IPA.
- Brouwerij De Molen Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout: another high volume imperial IPA, a heavy and bitter beer crafted only once or twice a year.
- Brouwerij De Molen Vuur & Vlam: another Indian Pale Ale, lower in volume and with a stronger citric flavour. Added bitterness and paleness.
- Brouwerij De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis Misto B.A.: Russian Imperial Stout Beer, also ranked on the top 100 of the world, with a dark brown colour, slightly roasted with a woody and liquor undertone.
Arcense Bierbrouwerij (Hertog Jan)
Hertog Jan Brouwerij is now known as Arcense Bierbrouwerij due to its location in Arcen, province of Limburg, another beer producer in the southern part of the Netherlands. In this case, it was the union of 4 different breweries in 1915 that originated this big company that is now on the top of the Dutch beer producers. These beers are ranked on the top, following this order:
- Hertog Jan 0.0, the best 0.0 of this list
- Hertog Jan Grand Prestige Vatgerijpt – 2018 – Bourbon V.O.C. Kruiden, with added Barley, wheat wine, spices and rye wine
- Hertog Jan Grand Prestige Vatgerijpt – 2019 – Hooghoudt Jenever
- Hertog Jan Grand Prestige Vatgerijpt – 2018 – Bourbon Vanille
- Hertog Jan Grand Prestige Vatgerijpt – 2019 – Zuidam Jenever
- Hertog Jan Grand Prestige Vatgerijpt – 2019 – Rutte Jenever
- Hertog Jan Grand Prestige Vatgerijpt – Cognac
- Hertog Jan Grand Prestige Vatgerijpt – Bourbon
- Hertog Jan Grand Prestige Vatgerijpt – Port
Out of all these breweries, Grolsch is the oldest and possibly the most famous one. It is one of the top beer producers in the Netherlands, since 1615. At the beginning of its production, it was only made in Groenlo until 1922 when it was moved to Enschedesche BierBrouwerij in Enschede.
Grolsch is one of the Dutch beers with the highest ingredient standards, with 99,8% of recycled materials, including the bottles and avoiding artificial ingredients.
Grolsch Premium Lager is listed as the top 1 Dutch beer in the market, beating other more popular ones. This beer has a crispy and deep flavour with greenish aromas. Another characteristic that makes it special is the distinctive green Grolsh appearance, and the crown cap bottle, with a 5%.
Other Grolsch specialities are:
- Grolsch Weizer, a white beer fluity, spicy and wheat taste.
- Grolsch Radler, a pale ale with lemon juice, with sweetness and bitterness.
- Grolsch 0.0%, the same taste as the Grolsch Premium Lager without the 5%.
Most Famous Dutch Beers
Heineken and Amstel are two companies founded around 1870 in the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. These two breweries have had, in a way, very similar upbringings and paths, yet these are two different beer styles that instead of competing with one another, they open up the scene.
Heineken is possibly the most famous and popular Dutch brewery and beer. It was founded as brewery De Hooiberg in 1864 to become Heineken in 1869. It became a family business of the young Gerard Heineken who passed it down to his grandchildren.
What made Heineken gain so much popularity? Well, they say it is all in the inside, natural and organic ingredients (the typical malted barley, water, yeast, and hops). However, it is concretely in the yeast the power to make a balance in the taste, the bitterness and the sweetness.
What did they introduce to the brewery world? Heineken invented a horizontal process where the beer has to pass from one tank to the other, making it richer in flavour and gaining that golden colour all their beers have.
According to them, around 25 million Heineken beers are served every day all over the world, in over 190 countries. And this is definitely the number one reason for the popularity of Heineken: like most beers they follow the recipe for a blond Dutch beer, yet they have been promoting their product all over the globe, giving the product visibility that most Dutch beers don’t have.
Heineken’s popularity equals their visibility as much as their product.
- Heineken International: according to Ranker, this is not only the most classical but also the second most popular Dutch beer and definitely one of the most consumed in the world.
Unlike some of the other breweries, besides the format where the beer is sold and the 0.0% version of the original one, Heineken skips all the tests and inventions and remains original with the one and only original taste.
If you are curious about the process and the history of Heineken and you are planning a visit to Amsterdam in the future, it is definitely worth checking out the Heineken Experience, where you will be able to have a guided tour inside the factory. I strongly recommend it for beer lovers, of course. These are some of the things you can expect:
- Pre-book your tickets here
- You will get free beers and more free ones if you answer all the questions correctly: about beer, about Amsterdam and about the Netherlands
- You will see the original factory from the inside and get explanations about everything
- Children are allowed.
Believe it or not, Heineken is the owner and producer of many international beers that we thought were from other countries but that all in all belong to the Dutch empire of beers. These are some of the brands belonging to the Heineken group, are they influenced by the Dutch style of brewing? maybe some of them, but most of them have kept it local and original:
- AMSTEL: we will talk about Amstel in a moment, yet I couldn’t help but mention that one of the most iconic Dutch beers belongs to another one of the big ones. As we will learn in a moment, it has kept its essence.
- Desperados: tequila and beer, popular all over the world.
- Sol: Mexican beer
- Tiger: Singapore beer
- Birra Moretti: obviously Italian
- Harar: Ethiopian-produced beer
- Windhoek and Maltina: Namibian-crafted beers
- Dos XX: Mexican beer
- Red Stripe: Jamaican beer
- South Pacific Export: Papua Nueva Guinea
- Bintang: Indonesia’s most famous beer
- King Fisher: Indian-crafted beer
Amstel was on its origins a Dutch founded beer, a brewery created in 1870 in Amsterdam by two brothers who decided to adopt the name of the river that also gave the name to the city for their brewery. It is another one of the most popular beers in the Netherlands: sold in over 110 markets.
One of the characteristics of Amstel beer is the higher degree of bitterness, in comparison to most Dutch beers. This is the main characteristic kept in all their different beer brands and varieties: Amstel Lager, Amstel Premium Pilsener, Amstel Light, Amstel Bright and Amstel Radler.
Among these 5 different Amstel brews, the most popular one on the online rankings for the consumers is Amstel Lager. However, this is what makes them all unique:
- Amstel Lager: it is a 3,5% beer with a mix of pilsner malt and a bit of dark malt, pale, slightly bitter and the most popular one of all the Amstel beers and on the top 10 of the Dutch beers.
- Amstel Premium Pilsener: is the original recipe with 11% volume and caramel look and smell.
- Amstel Light: this is another 3,5% volume craft beer, a pale lager popular in the Netherlands and the USA.
- Amstel Bright: the Antillian version of the Amstel Lager beer with a 5% volume.
- Amstel Radler: a 2% alcohol, shandy-style lemonade and beer drink.
Moreover, once again, a reminder. Even though as of today the brewery Amtel belongs to Heineken, it is still one of the most popular Dutch beers all over the world and it is mostly produced in the Netherlands.
Most Popular Beers: Ranking
Besides these 7 famous Dutch breweries that have more than one beer in the top 100 of the Netherlands and many in the list of the top beers in the world, there are many others worth mentioning that are also considered to be some of the best, the top 100 among the thousands of beers produced in the Lower Lands:
- Oranjeboom Premium Lager
- Gulpener Bierbrouwerij B.V. Mestreechs Aajt
- Jopen Koyt
- Jopen Bier B.V. Haarlem Ongelovige Thomas
- Tilburg’s Dutch Brown Ale
- Jopen Haarlems Hoppenbier
- Texels Speciaalbier Everlander
- Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout
- De Gans Scotch Ale
- Brand UP (Urtyp Pilsener)
- De 3 Hoefijzers 3 Horses Holland Lager Beer
- Christoffel Nobel
- Gulpener Bierbrouwerij Dort
- Stichting Noordhollandse Alternatieve Bierbrouwers SNAB Pale Ale
- Alfa Edel Pils
- Brouwerij De Horste Beatrix
- Hel & Verdoemenis Wild Turkey B.A.
- De Hemel Nieuw Ligt
Recommendations: Beer in the Netherlands
If you are planning a trip to the Netherlands or you have the chance to drink Dutch beer, my recommendation is always to either to a tasting round with the most popular once in the brewery or bar where you are drinking, or directly asking what is their specialty or if they have any new invention to try: the best part is to be adventurous and discover other breweries besides the old-time Dutch favourites.
Moreover, you can also find more about prices, the rules and legislation surrounding alcohol and the best places to try this beer in some of our articles:
- How Much is a Beer in Amsterdam? it is great not only for prices but also for places.
- What time can you buy Alcohol in the Netherlands? to find out more about the alcohol culture, where to buy and how people consume it.
- What is the Drinking Age? for those of you from the US or other countries where the legal drinking age differs from most European countries.