Amsterdam Pub Guide (Part Four)
De Pijp

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Practical Stuff
Where do I find Pubs?
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Belgian breweries
Amsterdam breweries
Bockbier Tasting 2004

Amsterdam Pubs
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Nieuwezijd (Dam)
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De Jordaan
De Pijp
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Buying Bottled Beer

De Pijp
When Amsterdam finally burst its corset (de Grachten) in the 19th century, De Pijp was its love-handle.

One of the first to move here was a certain Mr. Heineken who had just bought into the brewing business. When he built his new brewery in the 1860's, it was surrounded by polder. A decade or two later it was hemmed in by streets crammed with worker's flats.

De Pijp, so called because the narrow streets resembled pipes (see photo right), seems to have been an alternative, multicultural sort of place right from the kickoff. Oh, and a bit dodgy, too, with its street market and red light district (still going strong on the Ruysdaelkade).

For more about Dutch breweries & beers:
Dutch breweries Every Dutch breweries and all their beers.
Dutch beer tasting notes Detailed tasting notes of many Dutch beers.

Map Index

Amsterdam Pub Guide (Part Four)
De Pijp

Café Marie
Marie Heinekenplein 5,
1072 MH Amsterdam.
Tel: 020 223 2096
Cafe Marie, Amsterdam exterior
Opening hours: Sun - Thu 11:00-01:00,
Fri - Sat 11:00-03:00
Number of draught beers: 3
Number of bottled beers: 8
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks €3.50-7.50, meals €9-18. Beer €4.50 - 5.60 for 0.5 l.
Cafe Marie, Amsterdam interiorIt was a sad day when De Beiaard on Marie Heinekenplein (the square hacked from the old Heineken brewery site) closed.That blow has been softeened to some extent by half of its former premises opening as a German pub, Café Marie.

Or German café. With its kitsch lightshades and homely wallpaper, it comes obver moreas a café than a pub. Despite the long pine tables and benches. Who exactly is their target market? I contemplated this as I sat nursing a glass of Salvator whiile Mike got money from a cash machine.

The strüdels and Sachertorte definitely say café to me. But what about the beer? Amstel and Paulaner Hefeweizen on draught, plus one guest tap. Which when I was there was dispensing Salvator. I asked for Dunkles, but was given a glass of Salvator. The lass serving didn't know the difference, which was slightly worrying. As she was pleasant and pretty, I let it pass.

Bottled they've got Paulaner Dunkel, Salavator and another wheat beer. Edelweiss, as German stuff. Plus a handful of 't Ij beers and La Chouffe.

Getting back to Salvator. It looks paler every time I drink it. Which is one reason it was surprising that the waitress confused it with Dunkles. It's now barely darker enough to count as an Amber Bock, let alone a Doppelbock. Look at the colour in the photo. Would you call that dark.

Salvator has turned into a bit of a syrupy mess, sadly. I wish someone would brew a 19th-century version. Not so alcoholic and full of foody goodness. And much darker. I should make it a project. What to call it, though, as Salvator is trademarked? What about Zacherl Doppelbock? There would be a nice irony in that.

Rating: ** Public transport: Tram 16

Carel's Café 1
Frans Halsstraat 76,
1072 BV Amsterdam.
Tel. 020- 679 4836
Carel's Café 1
Opening hours: Mon - Thu 10:00-01:00,
Fri - Sat 10:00-02:00,
Sun 11:00-01:00
Number of draught beers: 6
Number of bottled beers: +-10
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
Prices: snacks €3-10, meals €10-15.
Carel's Café insideWithin my family this pub's name causes great confusion. You see, one of the bars close to my home is run by a bloke called Karel. Which is why my youngest calls it "Karel's Pub". It has no connection whatsoever with this cafe, which begs the question: why on earth have I bothered to mention it in the first place?

One of my favourite pub description clichés (originally coined, I believe, for the 1974 edition of the Good Beer Guide) is back-street corner local. It is particularly apt in this case. The corner qualities are emphasised by one of the finest curved double doors I've found in my travels. And no-one in their right minds could describe either Frans Halsstraat or Saenredamstraat as major thoroughfares.

This is my favourite part of De Pijp, its very western edge, between Ferninand Bol Straat and Ruysdaelkade. One of the few unspoilt bits of 19th century Amsterdam. I've always found a good spot for unearthing new pubs but the unbeatable combination of laziness and paranoia (that I might reveal some of my special, secret reserve locations) has kept it out of my pages so far.
I suppose that I owe you some more of a physical description before I stray too far off-message. Inside, we have the usual dark brown café styling, along with a barrow-load of old enamel signs. This time, as we're not is a specialist beer outlet, the subject matter is quite eclectic. The volume of the interior has been almost doubled by the addition of a shed (quite a long time ago, judging by the design) that stretches over the pavement.

Carel must have done quite well with this boozer, because there are two other Carel's close by - a restaurant (Mexican cantina) next door to the pub and a Carel's 2 at Saenredamstraat 32-34.

Though not beer specialists, they do practise the civilised custom of keeping their trappists at two different temperatures: "koelkast" (fridge) and "plank" (shelf). Don't disappoint me by going for the wrong one.

Sadly, due to close soon, as the owner is selling up to property developers.

*** CLOSED ***
Rating: *** Public transport:

Dopey's Elixer
Lutmastraat 49,
1072 JP Amsterdam.
Tel. 020 - 671 6946
Dopey's Elixir
Opening hours: Mon - Thu 12:00-01:00,
Fri 12:00-02:00,
Sat 15:00-02:00,
Sun 15:00-01:00
Number of draught beers: 8
Number of bottled beers: +-19
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks. Duvel €3.50 for 33 cl.
I do believe that it was in Dopey's that I tried my first Dutch special beer - Gulpener Dort - back in the 1980's.

Don't ask me why it has such a strange name. A casual visitor could easily assume that it was a coffeeshop, which it isn't. The change in the Amsterdam beer scene over the last 15 year is demonstrated by the fact this used count as a semi-serious beer café.

The beer list may be quite short, but that doesn't mean it lacks quality. Two each from St. Bernardus, Rochefort and Boon add substance to the lineup. Last time I was there they had Weihenstephaner Korbinian on draught (you can see the barmen pouring my glass to the left). I've never spotted that before in Amsterdam.

There's nothing particularly special about the interior, but it's comfortable and lived-in. Medium to dark brown on the brown café index.

Dopey's is on the border of the part of De Pijp built in the 1920's and 30's. Head a little further in the direction of the Amstel and you can wonder at some of the best architecture of the 20th century - the neighbourhood around Takstraat. (Maybe Rem Koolhaas should take a good look and realise just what a talentless git he is. I would try to find something you're good at, if I was you, mate.)
Rating: *** Public transport:

Ferdinand Bolstraat 180,
1072 LV Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-671 7389
Opening hours: Sun - Thu 11:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 11:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 5
Number of bottled beers: +-10
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks €2-7, meals €9-14.
Gambrinus interiorGambrinus lies on the main shopping street in De Pijp, the Ferdinand Bolstraat. You have to admire a city that names such a prominent street after a gin-maker. Getting back to the point, the pub (and I think that's what we're really interested in here) is a fairly modest corner establishment, in café/bar style.

Upon entering the corner door you're immediately confronted by the bar counter (not as frightening as it sounds, even if its mates, the barstools, are hanging around looking threatening). Those little tables - well, they don't scare me. I could take them on any day. Where was I again? I remember: estate agent mode. To the rear, the room splits into upper and lower levels (this is very typical of older Amsterdam buildings originally designed to be shops). These bits are where customers do that eating thing . . . restaurant, that's the word I was looking for. It is these sections of the property which serve more as a restaurant.

The décor has clean and simple lines, but the floors and furniture are still traditionally wooden. The enormous windows on two sides let the light flood in and the interior is very bright, even on a gloomy Winter's day. I think we can assume that there is no plan to change the name, since the cast-iron balcony rail spells out "Gambrinus".

I quite like this type of trendy Amsterdam café, though perhaps I shouldn't admit it so readily. Amsterdam is a pretty down-to-earth sort of place and it's rare that things get too posey and pretentious. Am I so sure that I should be enjoying hanging around in such places? No, I'm not. I sometimes worry that I've been here too long.

The beer selection is quite limited (especially considering the name), but reasonably priced.
Rating: *** Public transport:

Gollem Café en Bierkeuken
Daniel Stalpertstraat 74,
1072 XK Amsterdam.
Tel: 0641 - 656238
Opening hours: Sun - Thur 16:00-01:00,
Fri - Sat 16:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 14
Number of bottled beers: +-150
Regular draught beers:

Food: Snacks, meals.
The second Gollem café. It's an event to be celebrated, when a new specialist beer pub opens in Amsterdam. Even more so when if offers beer cuisine in addition to all those pretty bottles. I'm just wondering how I managed to miss it (the opening was November 2004). And it's a stone's throw from the former Heineken brewery.

Compared to the Gollem in the city centre, this one's positively spacious. The pale-coloured walls contribute to the effect of roominess. The usual enamel beer signs are used with positive restraint.

I'm not so sure about the "starburst" lights over the bar counter. They don't really fit with the brown café theme that's going on here.

The beer list is exclusively Belgian, the Ij beers and Pilsner Urquell excluded. Which is a bit disappointing. I almost forgot, they do have La Trappe, presumably to give them the full set of Trappists (yes, Westvletern is on the list). It would have been nice to see a couple more beers from Dutch micros.

****** CURRENTLY CLOSED ******
Rating: **** Public transport: 16, 24, 25

Weesperzijde 130-131,
1091 ER Amsterdam.
Tel. 020-665 1202
Fax: 020-463 0085
Cafré Hesp
Opening hours: Mon - Thu 10:00-01:00,
Fri - Sat 10:00-02:00,
Sun 11:00-01:00
Number of draught beers: 15
Number of bottled beers: +-20
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
Prices: snacks €3-10, meals €10-15.
Cafré Hesp interiorI'll put this at the start so you don't miss it. Hesp is worth the trek.

What is Hesp? Hesp is a dark brown café in a very odd corner of Amsterdam, sandwiched between the river and the railway line, just about the length of a particularly long train of irate commuters away from Amstel Station. As the colourful leaded glass front door says, it's been going since 1890. (I wonder for how many people this statement of chronological certitude has been the last sure memory of a memorable night?)

Let's be honest: this is a part of Amsterdam I hadn't yet got around to visiting, before seeking out Hesp. Now, having house-hunted (and searched for afterparties) here, I've seen pretty well every corner of the city, in the course of one fruitless journey or another. My son's determination to travel every tram route from terminus to terminus has also taken me to places you really don't want to go to. And still; the closest I had ever come to Hesp was sitting aboard an ICE to Dusseldorf.. Let's say that it's slightly out of the way for the casual visitor. Unless you happen to fall out of a train.

The main section has two rooms - at the front is the bar counter and a couple of tables (you should be able to see most of that in the photo above . . . or, if you have a microsoft browser, somewhere below . . . perhaps). At the rear are some more bits leaded glass, and very pretty they are, too. You can't knock the Dutch for their commitment to leaded glass in a domestic context. (If anyone, in your presence, ever tries to belittle the commitment of the Dutch to leaded glass in a domestic context, just remember my words.) It has the usual mismatched wooden furniture, bare floorboards and nicotine-dark walls. A collection of beer memorabilia brightens up the place a little. (After a while, it starts getting difficult to come up with anything very new or engaging when writing these descriptions, even when the pub in question is as good as this one. I just can't be arsed to try.) An opening has been knocked through to the house next door, where there is a restaurant kitted out in a similar style. I've not eaten here, so don't ask me about the food. I'm not so affluent that I can dine out in my home town.

The draught beer selection is wide and varied, the German-style wheat beer being a particularly refreshing variation. De Blonde is a house beer, brewed by van Steenberge in Belgium. The bottled beer selection is surprisingly limited, barely equalling the draught. But, look, I'm not going to get through all the draught beers in one session, anyway. Hesp's good points - and there are plenty of those - easily outweigh quibbles about numbers.

Overall, an excellent specialist pub, worth the journey out of the city centre. The easiest way to get there is with a train or metro to Amstel Station, from which it is a 5 minute walk. However, depending on the weather, it can seem so much longer. Try, as I did, to select a very wet and windy day for your first visit. There's a bit of a price to pay in terms of soggy misery, but I guarantee you in return at least one half hour of pure magic.
(I would like to point out that this "guarantee" in no way, shape or form implies that I actually guarantee (in a legal sense) any magic, or even slightly interesting, experiences for anyone, their spouses, or their next of kin. I reserve the right of real life to be deathly dull and disappointing.)
In the Summer there is outside seating alongside the river. Very pleasant, if the weather's good. But as 2003 has been so terrifically hot, that isn't likely to be the case for a decade or two.
Rating: ***** Public transport:

Brewery historians may like to note that the Deli-Brouwerij was located in the next block to Hesp, behind Weesperzijde numbers 110, 111 and 112 (the house at 112 used to be the brewery offices).

In the group in the photo to the right, number 112 is the rightmost, which I cleverly managed to only half get in. The other houses post-date the brewery.

In September 2003 part of the original 1885 Kelder (on Wibautstraat, recognisable by the brickwork) seemed to be about to be demolished.

To your right, you can see the darker brown brickwork with a circular window of the brewery structure that has been built over by a later factory.

The Image archive of Amsterdam council has drawings of this and other parts of the Deli Brouwerij available online.
Deli brouwerij

Café Kale de Grote
Marie Heinekenplein 33,
1072 MH Amsterdam.
Tel. 020 - 670 4661
Café Kale de Grote
Opening hours: Mon - Thu 10:00-01:00,
Fri - Sat 10:00-02:00,
Sun 10:00-01:00
Number of draught beers: 4
Number of bottled beers: +-15
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks 3.50-7 euros, meals 7-16 euros.
Marie Heineken pleinOn an arial photo from 1915, a huge industrial shed of a lagering keller covers what is today Marie Heinekenplein. This pub would have been the southeastern corner. About. In case you didn't realise, the shed in question was part of the Heineken brewery, which used to occupy every square inch of two blocks. It's a shame I would be infringing copyrights because I would love show you the image.

You can get an impression of the brutality of the architecture from the Amsterdam City Archive, where they have dozens of drawings. If you imagine that the square represents about a quarter of the total site, you can appreciate how cramped it was.

Which makes it very odd that the only pub on the old brewery site sells the beer from Heineken's arch-rival, Amstel. Before you whack out those emails, I am well aware that:
  1. Amstel is owned by Heineken
  2. the Amstel and Heineken breweries have both closed

But don't start crying into your euro-lager just yet, because you have got a couple of real-live Amsterdam-brewed beers from het Ij to try. Columbus is, perhaps, the best beer brewed in Amsterdam. Much rather that than Heineken from an unnamed factory somewhere in the South.

You've probably already guessed that I've included this place primarily, if not exclusively, because of its location. Inside it tries very hard to be a brown café, but when you're in a building of such monstrous mediocrity, there's little hope of success. Around the bar, it works well enough. But the part to the right of the entrance, where I spotted one of my pet hates - old books, bought by the yard, plonked artlessly on a plank - is a bit naff.

Rating: ** Public transport: Tram 16

Café Krull
Sarphatipark 2,
1072 PA Amsterdam.
Tel. 020 - 662 0214
Café Krull
Opening hours: Mon - Thu 10:30-01:00,
Fri - Sat 10:30-02:00,
Sun 10:30-01:00
Number of draught beers: 10
Number of bottled beers: +-10
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
Café Krull interiorI've been meaning to include Café Krull in these pages since about the day I started them. I somehow never got around to it, despite having taken a few scrappy notes once or twice. This should do the job properly.

You'll know how long I've been knocking about in De Pijp, when I tell you that I can remember the café - a dingy hole with carpets on the tables - that preceded Krull. (I seem to remember trying to go in once and basically being told to b* off.) Believe me, the current situation is a big improvement.

Its survival for more than 10 years pretty much unaltered is a testament to the quality of the refurbishment. The architecture - with enormous windows on two sides - has given them a hand in creating a space flooded with light. Delightful on a sunny summer day, when the streets around the Sarphati Park get a mediterranean air. No, I'm not kidding. This global warming is really starting to pay off for us punters. Burn more coal is what I say. The pine furniture seemed jarring when they first opened, but it's grown on me with age. One of the two of us must have mellowed.

Perhaps the Guinness rep threw in the posters as part of the deal to get a tap installed, but the classic toucan adverts from the 1930's don't look at all out of place. And not so many of them as to get annoying, that's important.

Krull's beer selection has changed considerably since swapping from Heineken to Inbev. Despite increasing from 8 taps to 10, the number of interesting choices has decreased. I suppose draught Chimay is pretty rare in Amsterdam, it's just a shame that it's no longer that good.
Rating: **** Public transport: Tram 3.

Café Quibus
Van der Helstplein 7,
1073 AR Amsterdam.
Tel. 020 - 673 6085
Café Quibus
Opening hours: Mon - Thu 16:00-01:00,
Fri - Sat 16:00-02:00,
Sun 16:00-01:00
Number of draught beers: 7
Number of bottled beers: +-15
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks

When I had a good look at the building wrapped around Quibus, I realised how long it must have been since my last visit. I hadn't noticed the beautiful wood and wrought-iron detailing before. But then again, there are plenty of distractions.

Should I tell you all about this? OK, I will, but don't pass it on - right? Van der Helstplein is Amsterdam's loveliest little square. But it's tucked away (between the Sarphati Park and the grotesque Okura Hotel) in a homely residential part of De Pijp quite well-served with pubs. Quibus is one in a row along the east side of the square.

All those years ago, when my first Dutch employer was kindly paying most of the rent of my apartment on the Churchilllaan, I can remember drinking in Quibus. It was before the calamitous events of the Summer of 1988. At the time, it struck me as a beer café. I can't understand why, now I think back. My standards must have changed. Which isn't saying that there is, or was, anything at all wrong with Quibus. It's a simple, dark-brown bar with a decent enough choice of beer in a cracking Amsterdamse School building. (You're lucky that I haven't been able to conjure up any joke bad enough on the topic of education for me to bother pestering you with it.)

Planning a pub crawl in De Pijp? I would definitely include Quibus, if I were you. But remember to take a good look at the building.

Rating: *** Public transport:

Café Sarphaat
Ceintuurbaan 157a,
1072 GB Amsterdam.
Tel: 020 - 675 1565
Opening hours: Sun - Thu 10:00-01:00,
Fri - Sat 10:00-03:00
Number of draught beers: 6
Number of bottled beers: 6
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks €3-7, small meals €6-11.
Another pub I noticed years ago, it being on the number 3 tram route. It's only taken me 10 years to go inside.

There are views of both the trams and Sarphati Park (from which the pub gets its name). If you don't mind traffic noise too much, it's quite a pleasant spot. The terrace has bounding it on all sides, sadly.

Mikey would love it here - it's packed with girlies. Why are women in the majority so often in Amsterdam's trendier pubs?

The big, old windows on two sides (it's a corner pub) inundate the bar with light. Just as well, as the interior is a surprisingly dark shade of brown. The trendy name and Dommelsch tie led me to expect a somewhat lighter brown café. I'm not complaining. The darker the better, as far as I'm concerned. After all, my kids go to a black school, why shouldn't I go to a pub of a similar hue?

Back towards the kitchen there's a slight illumination issue, but the bits by the window are great. I would illustrate this with a photograph, but I'm an incompetent twat. You'll have to make do with the one below.

The spread of Jupiler in Amsterdam spells doom for the Dommelsch brewery. I told you so. (Just getting that one in early). If Interbrew seriously intended brewing pils in Holland, they would have kept open the Oranjeboom brewery in Breda. I always suspected that Interbrew's long-term plan was to introduce one of their Belgian pils brands into Holland. It looks like Jupiler is the lucky one. Not tried it yet? Not to worry, you'll be forced to sooner or later.

Disappointing lack of Westmalle amongst the bottled beers. So my star rating may seem generous. It's a sunny day and my spirits are high. Even the mindlessly repetitive thumpy-thumpy music can't spoil it. . . . . What am I saying - the next track is even more annoying. They must be playing a "Mazzo Favourites 1995" CD. I'll have to re-evaluate that unspoilable mood theory.

There must be a firm of bar fitters supplying these pseudo-art deco light things that feature in all of Interbrew's trendy pubs. I hate to say a good word about Interbrew, but their Amsterdam pubs are mostly pretty good. Though presumably that can change, should they get hold of a large enough share of the market. Take a look at Liège, if you want to see the full horror of Interbrew dominance.

The techno track now playing thumps with exactly the same rhythm of - ho, ho - a thumping headache. My mood appraisal is going into full-blown interactive review mode. No. Still happy.
Rating: *** Public transport: Tram 3 to Van Woustraat, tram 4 to Ceintuurbaan.

The Amsterdam Pub Guide Continues:
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part One Dam Square - Leidseplein
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Two Zeedijk/Nieuwmarkt
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Three De Jordaan
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Four De Pijp
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Five Amsterdam East
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Six Amsterdam South
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Seven Amsterdam West
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Eight Utrechtsestraat

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