The weather in Amsterdam has been great throughout April and May. And Sunday was one of those perfect, lazy afternoons at Brouwerij ‘t IJ: Sitting on their terrace in the sun, enjoying home-brewed beer, spending time with friends amidst the friendly and laid-back crowd, right under a typical historic Dutch windmill. What else can you ask for?
Brouwerij ‘t IJ – or The Brewery by the IJ River – is different. It’s a Dutch microbrewery making Belgian style beer. It’s located close to the city center, just a few tram stops to the east, but will make you feel as if you were out in the countryside. The brewery and pub are located in a historic bath house and wind mill with a large terrace. The decoration is minimal, mostly a collection of beer bottles from all over the world. Guests sit on simple beer benches and happily stand in line to get their own beer.
Its simplicity and quirkiness has made the brewery very popular. On sunny weekend afternoons the terrace literally spills over as the thirsty crowd claims each and every inch of the brewery’s pub, the terrace and the pavement of the nearby streets. There is an interesting mix of regulars, locals, families, beer enthusiasts and tourists. Most of the staff have worked at the brewery for many years. And somehow, what must look like utter chaos from the outside, gels to an incredibly friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
The secret behind Brouwerij ‘t IJ is its beer. Owner and brew master Kaspar Peterson started the brewery in the 80s and has managed to give the beer a very distinct and individual character. All beer types are yeasty – drinking them is almost like eating a loaf of bread. In general, they also are strong flavored with a very present hopsy bitterness.
My favorite kind at this time of the year is the IJwit, a very smooth and drinkable wheat beer that is slightly cloudy and deceivingly strong for a wheat beer at 7% alcohol. The name is a pun. The name of the river IJ sounds like ei, Dutch for egg. And eiwit – or egg white – is Dutch for protein.
The most popular beer is the Plzen, a light and bitter blond with 5% alcohol. Then there are the two Trappist beers – a bittersweet Trappist dubbel called Natte (wet one) at 6.5% and the 8% strong fruity brownish triple Trappist Zatte (full one). Completing the lineup are two 9% strong, take no prisoners ales – the Struis (ostrich) with dark color and winter flavors and the amber and bitter Columbus (the one with the egg – you get it…).
Brouwerij ‘t IJ only serves the simplest of snacks – cheese (single kind), salami, egg, and peanuts. So be warned. The excellent beer, quirky vibe, friendly crowd and sunshine on a bright day can get to your head!
Brouwerij “Het Ij”
1018 AL Amsterdam