Clear Brew

Beer in The Netherlands

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by Tim Skelton

If you're a fan of CAMRA's Good Beer Guide Belgium, then you'll welcome this new publication.

Beer in the NetherlandsUntil 2002, The Netherlands actually featured as part of the Belgium book but it was squeezed out in later editions to give more space to the major partner in that alliance.

In beer terms, The Netherlands was not on the same level as its next-door neighbour at the time but here, as in many parts of the world, things have changed, and considerably for the better.

There are now more than five times as many brewers and twice as many specialist beer bars, so it's high time that our Dutch friends once again had their own comprehensive beer guide in print.

The book this time is not a CAMRA publication, although its publisher, Jo Copestick, was once head of publishing at the consumer group and GBG Belgium author Tim Webb is acting as series editor (which hopefully promises similar titles in future).

The book also employs the same designer, Dale Tomlinson, whose crystal-clear layouts make the information very accessible and the book a pleasure to read.

Sensibly, the team has commissioned a writer who actually lives in the territory. Tim Skelton (also author of Around Amsterdam in 80 Beers) has lived in The Netherlands for twenty-five years and brings a level of knowledge only a local can offer.

His words provide all you'd hope to find in a national beer guide – from tips on how to get there, to where to stay, what to eat, how to get around and all the vital beer details.

Dutch beer styles and influences are comprehensively covered, all the breweries are listed, together with comments and star ratings for their beers, and there are regional chapters detailing the best bars in which to drink.

But, apart from practical guidance, what the book also provides is context, explaining how beer in The Netherlands has come back from the dead in a section that supplies historical data as well as informed opinion on the state of brewing today.

Refreshingly, the book does not paint a picture of a garden filled with roses. Dutch brewing can still be hit and miss, it declares, reinforcing the idea that a book such as this is a particularly useful traveller's tool.

Full colour throughout, with a good sprinkling of interesting photographs and useful maps, the book is a totally professional and handsome piece of work.

The next time I head across the North Sea, it'll be the first thing I pack.

First edition (2014)
224-page paperback (The Homewood Press)
£13.99
Available now from booksaboutbeer.com

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