Brouwerij 't IJ Brewery, Amsterdam
Forget Amstel and Heineken: this is where you go for good Dutch beer. It's a small microbrewery offering up ten varieties or so ranging from light to dark, hoppy to smooth, and alcohol content from 5 - 9%. Some of them, like the Maibock, rotate in and out seasonally so the full menu isn't on tap at certain times of the year but no matter: we liked just about everything we tried. They make testing easy with a sampler of 6 generous pulls for the bargain price of €5 (at time of this writing).
Here's the only caveat: I don't know as you can call this "nightlife" as the sampling room is only open from 2:00 - 8:00 (every day) but it's one popular venue. We got there really early to grab a seat on the big (nearly empty) patio but we weren't alone for long - the place was rockin' when we left several hours later.
I won't go into best brews as everyone's preference for hops, bitterness and whatnot is different so just order up a sampler and go from there. Pints run under €3 - no more expensive, really, than the usual pub fare in Amsterdam and a good price for craft/organic brews. NOTE: prices may have gone up a bit since our last visit.
The tasting room/patio is right under the De Gooyer windmill - one of only 6 remaining in Amsterdam - so it's easy to see from a distance. It isn't in an area known for tourist attractions so you'll be a bit off the beaten but that was just fine with us. For €4,50 (includes 1 pint) you can take a short tour of the brewhouse on weekends, and they have a small menu of eats to help soak up the alcohol. The tasting room staff was friendly and helpful, and we were chatted up by some cheerful locals on the patio who were obviously BIG fans judging from the number of pints they put away!
Dress Code: Come in whatever
Located in the Eastern part of the city is Amsterdam's only truly official Windmill,nesteled on the water at 'Zeeburgerdijk'.Next door is where the action is at the organic craft brew centre.The Brewery is so close to the Windmill that the locals simply refer to it as the Windmill Pub.Boasting homemade organic brews made on location,the bar is akin to a tasting house where beer enthusiasts sample their five standard,unfiltered,unpasteurised and top-fermented brews.The brewery also produces several seasonal beers as well as a handful of speciality varieties throughout the year.
Open all week till late.Tasting room open 14.00 till 20.00.
Dress Code: Casual.
A brewery under a windmill in Amsterdam, there must be a mouse in there somewhere. As well as the brewery there is a 'proeflokaal', or tasting room which is a very basic bar, although there is a fantastic collection of beer bottles around the room. To accompany the beer, you can buy the ubiquitous cheese and salami or nuts, which it has to be said are the perfect companion to some of the stronger brews.
The brewery is built in what used to be a bathhouse, which was still used until the early '80s. The bar is open for very limited hours, three till eight Wednesday through Sunday, with free brewery tours on Friday at four. The beer output is approximately 180,000 litres per year, and they don't seem to have a problem selling that, hence the short opening hours.
The brewery was started by a gentleman called Kasper, who used the money that he had earned from a couple of Dutch top twenty hits as capital. The brewery was opened in October '85, and by November the first brew, Zatte, had been produced.
The brewery now produces five regular beers, three seasonal beers and a special beer, Vlo, for De Bierkoning (off-license), although I have spotted this beer available on draft in Belgique. There is a definitely a common theme to all the t'Ij beers which is possibly down to the yeast.