Do you know how many brewers there are in Rotterdam? Until recently I thought I knew. At least six. Most people I asked can name three or four. Then I did a little research. I counted fifteen!
Some of them you will have heard of, even outside of Rotterdam. Many of the beers, however, are produced in limited batches, sometimes making them hard to find. I went to at least six stores to hunt them down.
Initially I wasn’t going to do a list. Too boring and obvious. So I organized a beer tasting with friends to give you a little more insight into our local beers. I spent a few weeks trying to think how I could turn that into a fun blog, but writer’s block hit. The quality gap between Rotterdam’s top 6 brewers and the rest is far and wide, which doesn’t make for an interesting blog. So I’m back to the list! The plus side: it’s easier to read and remember!
1. District 010
Started by contractor Herman van der Post in 2015, District 010 makes two local beers, a red ale (Rooie Maas) and a witbier (Witte Maas), which he brews at his neigbor’s brewery Brouwerij Maasmond. I came across them by accident at my local wine store in Kralingen! Rooie Maas is in the style of the traditional Belgian beers, without being sweet, and has a pleasant malty taste. The witbier is in my fridge, waiting for the perfect summer’s day!
Where to buy: Kralingse Wijnspecialist, Bier&zO, Plan B. For more sales locations check out the website at www.district010.nl
2. Drift Brouwers
Drift launched its first beer, Hijs IPA, in April 2016. In their own words “a hommage to the new beer world”. Not as hoppy as most IPAs out there, which is good news for those of you that don’t like your beer too bitter. Soon after came their second beer, Beetje Stout. And recently they launched a brand new summer beer Neustadt Weizen, which I am curious to try!
Where to buy: available at many locations in Rotterdam, e.g. Bier&zO, Mitra Kleiweg and more. Also at a few local bars, like Proeflokaal Faas and Proeflokaal de Ridder. For more locations, check www.driftbrouwers.nl
Definitely one of my favorite new discoveries, everything about Eurotrash is distinctive. The name, the bottle labels, the Eurotrash bar and of course the beers themselves. Not surprising, since the founders Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam (2007) are both known for the impressive design of the ceiling of the Markthal in Rotterdam. Their goal is to make ‘Newskool Beers from the Old World’. Their flagship beer, Kaiser Küttlipp is a very drinkable blond beer, but they have many other interesting ones, like their bock beer Schwule.
Where to buy: available at the Eurotrash Brewery in the Vijverhofstraat; www.eurotrash-united.nl
4. Kaapse Brouwers
They’ve only been around for three years, but Kaapse Brouwers has made a name for itself and symbolizes Rotterdam high quality beer. Their brewing philosophy is based on the English ‘3 pint rule’. If you can drink three of the same beer in a row, then it is a good beer. The brewery is located within the Fenix Food Factory on the Kop van Zuid (Katendrecht), although now they brew most of their beers at Brouwerij De Molen in Bodengraven, due to high demand. In my opinion their beers, together with Brouwerij Noordt, are the top range beers in Rotterdam at the moment. Their collaborations with other brewers are also outstanding, Azala and Rosemary’s Tears being my favorite so far!
Where to buy: the beers are available at any beer store in Rotterdam and the Albert Heijn supermarkets. For more information, go to www.kaapsebrouwers.nl
5. Kaf & Koren
What started as a hobby turned into a serious project in 2014 when Kaf & Koren introduced their first beer Alpha, an English India Pale Ale. Although not brewed in Rotterdam anymore from what I understand, the brewers are real Rotterdammers and have helped boost the local craft beer revolution with four good quality beers. I haven’t tasted the stout yet, but can definitely recommend the IPAs and saison!
Where to buy: Bier&zO, World of Drinks, Plan B. You can find all the beers on their website: www.kafenkoren.nl
A relatively well-known local blonde is Ketelbink, created by a group of beer enthusiasts, who felt Rotterdam deserved to have a real Rotterdam beer. They launched this blonde in 2013 and currently brew it on site at Pelgrim. It only comes in 75cl bottles, because their motto is ‘beer is shared with friends’. It is a malty blonde with a heavy and creamy mouthfeel. I thought it had too much of a soapy taste like some Belgians beers do, but hey, that’s just me!
Where to buy: Groos, Bier&zO, World of Drinks. Website: www.ketelbinkbier.nl
7. LMNOP Brewing
In true Rotterdam fashion, LMNOP (not an acronym, just a piece of the alphabet) brews what they call ‘no-nonsense’ beers, classic style with an American twist. Only two years old, but already a household name in the urban scene, these brews are not your typical blonde or IPA beers. The Vienna Pale Ale is similar to the Brooklyn Lager. The Rye Saison is good too, with a slightly bitter after taste.
Where to buy: Bier&zO. Website: www.lmnopbrewing.nl
8. Brouwerij Noordt
To the locals just known as ‘Noordt’ the brewery was started in 2015 in an old fire station in the north part of Rotterdam. Already the winner of several prizes and well-known throughout Holland, this brewery needs no further introduction. Years of brewing experience combined with ambition and passion has resulted in a diverse range of good tasting beers. And a few fun ones too. Running Brew is a light 4,0% beer that was brewed around the time of the Rotterdam marathon. You can imagine that went down very well during our beer tasting! With their new brew New England IPA they have again outdone themselves; it’s my current Noordt favorite!
Where to buy: available at most beer stores in Rotterdam. Bier&zO and Admiraliteit Dranken have the most extensive stock from what I have seen. More info at www.brouwerijnoordt.nl
9. Stadsbrouwerij Pelgrim
Pelgrim is the oldest new brewery in Rotterdam. Located in the beautiful historic Delfshaven district, they have been brewing here since 1996. The flagship beers are Stoombier and Mayflower. I was really surprised by their summer beer Zonnelief. I normally don’t really like white beers or fruit beers, but this is a perfect combination, smooth, not sweet, and very refreshing.
Where to buy: Pelgrim is a well-known beer in Rotterdam and probably available at several stores. I have found it at Bier&zO, Admiraliteit Dranken, World of Drinks. For more information or brewery tours, check out: www.pelgrimbier.nl
It has taken over the west coast in the U.S. and is slowly taking over The Netherlands as well. If you find blonde a little boring, maybe you believe in IPA! ROTT.Brouwers, who just launched their first beer at the start of 2017, certainly do. Their IPA is called Rott.Straf and indeed tastes like one. Not as hoppy as some IPAs out there, so don’t expect a west coast hops blast.
Where to buy: World of Drinks, Gall & Gall (Peppelweg), Café Walenburg. Website: www.rottbrouwers.nl
My friends had a lot of nice things to say about Steffelaar, a completely new beer for me, that I had never seen before and accidentally stumbled upon in my local wineshop in Kralingen. The beer is almost as gold colored as the label. It’s brewed at Brouwersgilde Maasmond, Wouter Steffelaar’s own brewery. Before that he had a brewery in Ecuador. If you like the Belgian golden ale flavor, then this beer will suit you. Hard to come by though; I haven’t seen it in any other stores!
Where to buy: Kralingse Wijnspecialist. Website: www.steffelaarbier.nl
Blondes are usually a safe bet, because almost everyone likes a blonde. That certainly applies to Trots, a relatively light and drinkable beer that has a very recognizable label: the Rotterdam skyline! Started by students several years ago as a graduation project, Trots also makes a witbier, a nice light beer, suitable for a wide range of palates.
Where to buy: World of Drinks, Bier&zO, Coop Oostzeedijk, Mitra Kleiweg and several bars and restaurants. Website: www.trotsbier.nl
13. Vet & Lazy
Last, but certainly not least! Vet & Lazy brewery, located in Blue City’s glass dome building, has been actively experimenting with ingredients such as apples, citrus peels, spent coffee or oyster mushrooms from RotterZwam. Their pale graff Eva’s Appels is still my favorite, something between a beer and a cider, depending on the apples. The Rapture (made with rhubarb) is interesting. I can’t decide if it’s tart or bitter. Every beer holds a surprise!
Where to buy: Bier&zO, Hop-In (Delfshaven), Aloha bar, Pardoen, Locus Publicus. Website: www.lazy.vet
Enjoy your Rotterdam beer experience!
There are two more brewers in Rotterdam, but I didn’t get a chance to try their beers and am not sure how available they are. De Bebaarde Brouwer is the side project of Etienne Vermeulen, masterbrewer at Kaapse Brouwers (www.bebaardebrouwer.nl)*. Hillegonda beer, made in Hillegersberg, is only available on site (www.hillegondabier.nl) or in their webshop.
* update July 15, 2017: I have just seen that De Bebaarde Brouwer has come out with a new beer ‘Mosaic Moustache’ a wheat IPA 6,5%, available at the pop up beer store ‘Hop-In’ on Zwaanshals, at bottleshop Bier&zO and on tap at Kaapse Brouwers. It’s delicious!