Candidate #3- De Prael, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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Craft brewing has snowballed in the Netherlands recently, with powerhouses such as Brouwerij de Molen emerging on the international scene.

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Amsterdam is home to a few stalwarts, such as the unpronounceable Brouwerij ‘t IJ. Although, deserving the most attention, in my humble opinion, is De Prael.

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For some time they existed only as a beer shop (proeflokaal), and in the last year they have enjoyed thriving business in a tucked-away venue in the Red Light District. The decor is excellent, a tasteful blend of individual adornments: framed beer bottle label art; old Dutch country house tiles; beer tap bathroom taps, blended with classy contemporary: spotlights; a shiny racing bike.

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The beers are named after old Dutch music ‘icons’, of which they have some vinyl sleeves on the walls. It’s hard to go wrong in the beer choice, and choosing a favorite is like deciding which of your kid’s should be handed over to the Nazis. Willecke, a lovely La Chouffe-type triple blond and Mary, a strong copper triple, are highlights. In the winter, Willy, at 11.4%, will warm you up.

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Despite being located between the red light district and the very popular, very touristy, very garish Warmoesstraat, De Prael enjoys a predominantly local crowd. Presumably partly because it is tucked away up an alley, and partly because the alley looks like this:

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Venue: 9.5/10

Quite possibly the best bar in town. Younger than it looks, De Prael is cleverly designed to accommodate groups, couples, loners and a band. The decor is completely original. There is a section that recreates a lounge from a typical Dutch house, adorned with Delft tiles and comfy armchairs.

Beer: 8/10

Obviously limited by selling only their own beer, this small brewery is world class and it would take years to get bored of their regulars. There are always seasonal brews too.

Worthy?

Yes. Without hesitation, I can say this is better than some on the list I’ve already frequented, so logic follows that it will be better than many more.

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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?