Microbrewery craze sweeps the Netherlands

Microbrewery craze sweeps the Netherlands

Groningen has De Kromme Jat, Rotterdam hosts the Ketelbink and Amsterdam has the windmill-based Brouwerij ‘t IJ. A growing galaxy of craft beers, or speciaalbier in Dutch, is emerging, with brewers popping up all over the country.

According to the Klein Brouwerij Collectief the number of Dutch microbreweries has tripled in the last 11 years. When the KBC started in 2003 they counted just 64 breweries. In 2014 that number has jumped to 220.

The KBC is the largest collective of microbrewers in the Netherlands, with 109 member breweries across the country.

Speciaalbier is extra special

KBC chairman Constant Keinemans says "special beer is really booming," with more than 60 new breweries opening in the last year alone. Keinemans anticipates even further growth in the years to come, citing people’s constant search for something special as a driving force.

A spokesperson from PINT, the Netherlands’ biggest beer enthusiast association, confirms that craft beer has become more hip. The regional nature of the microbrews means "you can only get it at the local licensed shop and two or three bars. That makes speciaalbier extra special."

The variety of beers adds to the appeal: sweet, fruity, smoky, there are flavours to please everyone. According to the PINT spokesperson, one does not drink microbrews simply for the sake of drinking. Instead it is a "form of perception," with one or two glasses often being enough.

Locally produced, locally consumed

Many small brewers start as hobbyists, only distributing within their region. The limited local distribution generates scarcity and exclusivity, contributing to the craze.

If the taste of a microbrew catches on, hobby brewers can grow from one or two people to a larger workforce, as has happened for the Brouwerij ‘t IJ and the Jopenkerk bierbrouwerij in Haarlem.

More brewpubs emerging

Microbreweries are also increasingly opening brewpubs, pubs that brew the house beer on site.

One such example is Oedipus Brewing in Amsterdam, who launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise money to open a brewpub. With the funding they bought a second-hand brewery from Belgium and will now install it into a new Westerdok location.

Who knows, maybe next year the best summer terraces in the Netherlands will all be brewpubs!

Beatrice Clarke


Beatrice Clarke

Beatrice is a native Melbournian who moved to the Netherlands in 2009. With a background in independent publishing and fashion, Beatrice honed her understanding of Dutch language and culture working...

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