Candidate #2- Bier Fabriek, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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Bier Fabriek is a micro-brewery in Amsterdam, currently hidden behind the metro development on the Rokin. This doesn’t keep the numbers down; the weekend demands a reservation. And rightfully so.

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They brew two of their beers on site in the middle of the bar. Size demands that extensions to their range are brewed offsite on their behalf.; this is currently an unfiltered pilsner crafted in collaboration with the family run Brewery Alfa and is bloody splendid. It is quite similar to the “Lager” at 1516, Vienna, if that helps?

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The menu is extensive so long as you want barbecue chicken. Which you should, as it is moreish. And there are great sacks of monkey nuts to snack on and discard their shells all over the floor.

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Venue: 8/10

Industrial-chic isn’t easy to pull off, but De Bierfabriek does it and then some; there are even parts that feel cosy. The service is splendid too, which in Amsterdam is like a virgin behind a window in the Red Light District. There are also monkey nuts everywhere; I don’t think I need to explain why that is brilliant. Some of the tables have their very own taps for you to dispense the beer yourself according to you rwhim.

Beer: 7/10

Only three beers on the menu to choose from, but they are all their own and cover pils, amber-weisse and black. They are good, undoubtedly, but not as fine as the frustratingly micro-brewed offerings at “1516″ in Vienna.

Worthy?

This blog is very young still, so it is hard to opine with conviction. I really enjoy this bar- there is an undefinable quality, a quality that no amount of old beer memorabilia can guarantee. So they have done something right. One of the top 150 in the world though?

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108. McMenamins Kennedy School Hotel

The Kennedy School Hotel is a converted elementary school in Portland housing guest rooms, several bars and a movie theatre. The educational theme is quirkily retained; one can drink in the “Detention Room”.

Credit to: ww.darngooddigs.com

Credit to: ww.darngooddigs.com

It is owned by the McMenamins brewpub empire. If I’m going to a pub, I like one with the ‘brew’ prefix. I was naturally hesitant when I found out the size of the McMenamins micro-brewing; fearing for a loss of character and rustic charm. 4785179782_66f3580d6cThat may well be the case to some extent, but it takes the profits of a successful chain to bankroll the renovation of such a unique venue.

Kennedy School Hotel is reviewed quite favourably over on RateBeer; however, these reviews are bolstered by the impressive venue, not the beers. There are some eminently quaffable brews, such as the Hammerhead and the Ruby, but they don’t stand out in the craft brewing scene.

Venue: 9/10

Striking and tasteful. The mezzanine floor is really charming and, despite the size, cosy. A very tasteful and successful conversion.

Beer: 3/10

The brews are really rather good compared to the common swill, but this list deals with the worlds elite, and they struggle for a footing in such company.

Worthy? Yes

There will be few venues as good as the Kennedy School and that alone holds a strong argument for inclusion.

Candidate #1- Biercafé Gollem, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Trappist beer cheese

Trappist beer cheese

Until very recently, Biercafé Gollem and the original, Café Gollem near Spuistraat in the centre, were closed for business. Their third venture, Gollem’s Proeflokaal on the Overtoom in Oud West, was the sole survivor. The public feared the end of an era: Gollem was the first to import quality ales from Belgium, back in the 70s, and helped to reinvigorate the craft beer traditions of the Netherlands. Gollem’s Proeflokaal persevered through the tough economic climate and the financially draining infighting within the tri-chain, and a few months ago Amsterdam celebrated the re-opening of Café and Biercafé Gollem.

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The decor enjoyed a lick of paint and the beer list benefitted from some very enthusiastic and competent staff to bring Biercafé Gollem into the small elite of Amsterdam’s brown bars.

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Venue: 7/10

A decent bar length for solo drinking, a mezzanine nook for privacy and vertical drinking outside offer a variety of ways to drink beer. Biercafé Gollem lies in the heart of the vibrant De Pijp area of town, so there is a real buzz around this bar and plenty of alternatives for afters. And there is a Scrabble set should you feel like displaying your vocabulary-based prowess.

Beer: 9/10

It’s hard to imagine a better beer list. Sure, it might be a little light on imports from the States or further, but beers can lose their quality over those distances. There are 14 taps to choose from (7 regulars, 7 guest) and >150 bottles covering local breweries here in Amsterdam, craft brewers around the Netherlands and all the big and small players from Belgium.

Worthy?

It is debatable whether Biercafé Gollem is even the best Gollum in town. In most places, this bar would be top dog, but Amsterdam bats above its weight in the beer bar arena.

135. Brouwerij’t Ij

It’s a windmill and a bar. Dutch Nirvana.

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Brouwerij’t Ij (try “eye” brewery, and you are pretty close) is situated on the eponymous Ij canal in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The entire range is strictly organic, unfiltered, unpasteurised and brilliant.

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The walls are adorned with beer bottles from the world over, however you will only find Ij Brewery output on sale. Which is no bad thing. They were at the forefront of the craft brewery resurgence in the Netherlands and have casually swatted off emerging competition.

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As of writing, they produced a limited batch of IPA which is already sold out at source, and can only be found in dwindling supplies at stockists around town. So try it very, very soon, because if they don’t make this again, then you will miss out on an exceptional incarnation of the style.

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Venue: 9/10

Slightly outside the centre, so it cannot offer splendid views of 17th century canal houses (instead, think messy 60s and 80s housing blocks). But there is a windmill to look at, so it’s swings and roundabouts. The interior is genuinely classy: the old washroom tiles provide continuity in style, if a little sterile; the old beer bottles permeate this feeling and add some warmth.

Beer: 8/10

The Ij brewery have got a lot right. There is history in their craft and this comes through in the enthusiasm and taste. Obviously though, I cannot give this a 10 as that would imply there are no beers better than those produced at the Ij.

Worthy? Yes

Blessedly, there are a growing number of microbreweries, and the 150 Perfect Beers list is resplendent with many. Brouwerij’t Ij was brewing before it was cool, and the resurgence in the Netherlands owes a lot to this flagship. And there is a windmill.