When you visit Amsterdam you should visit a Dutch pub, or a kroeg as the locals call it. Sample some of the locally brewed beer or give jenever a shot. Marco Polo takes a look at the Amsterdam drinking traditions.
In medieval times, the Count of Holland decided to boost the fledgling city’s coffers. In 1323, he designated Amsterdam one of only two ports in his province allowed to import beer from Hamburg, the most important ale-producing town in northern Europe. At that time, beer was far safer to drink than water.
The Heineken Story
Heineken started brewing lager in Amsterdam in 1864, and is now one of the largest brewery companies in the world, selling beer in 170 countries. The firm attributes much of its success to the cultivation of the Heineken A-Yeast in 1886: every month the yeast cell is still flown out from its main brewery near Amsterdam to its 100 breweries abroad. Though its Amsterdam brewery stopped production in 1988 and is now a tourist attraction, Heineken’s presence in the city is still unavoidable. The famous De L’Europe hotel is home to Freddy’s Bar, named after Freddy Heineken. The Heineken empire also includes a number of other brands such as Amstel and Murphy’s Irish Stout.
For Good Measure
Beer is usually served in a 25cl flower pot-shaped glass, and will be presented with a two- finger thick head. The bartender usually makes a point of skimming off the extra froth with a plastic spatula. In brown cafés, you usually need to order at the bar, and can either pay on the spot, or, if you’re staying for a few, ask for a tab.
Gin – known locally as jenever, the Dutch word for juniper – originated in the Netherlands in the 17th century before being exported to England. It is still produced in distilleries around the country that date back from this time and can be sampled in a number of traditional tasting houses. At the House of Bols (Paulus Potterstraat 14, tel:0205708575, www.houseofbols.com, Sun-Thu noon–6:30, Fri noon–10, Sat noon–8) visitors can learn about the history and traditions of both the company and the spirit.
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