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Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
Writer of "Probably the best book about beer in London" - Londonist
"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
"A joy to read" - Roger Protz
"Very authoritative" - Tim Webb.
"One of the top beer writers in the UK" - Mark Dredge.
"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor

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Beer sellers: De Bierkoning, Amsterdam

First published in Beers of the World October 2008

De bierwinkel, Amsterdam

Amsterdam has always had a good line in with its celebrated bruine cafés oozing traditional gezelligheid (cosiness, homeliness). But a couple of decades ago you’d have been lucky to find anything other than a foaming but bland Dutch pils with which to soak up the atmosphere. Nowadays the range of beers is massively improved, and, as befits the capital of a trading nation, they are sourced from all over. In fact Belgian specialities can be easier to find than the products of the emerging crop of Dutch micros.

Binnen de Bierkoning: een grote assortiment Nederlandse bieren

City centre beer shop De Bierkoning – the Beer King – has been widening the tastes of Amsterdammers since 1985. Former market trader and sound engineer Jos van Niele opened it out of frustration with the difficulty of buying speciality beer locally. Jos is still in charge, and now employs a staff of three. Though no longer the only specialist beer shop in the city, it’s the biggest and best-established and, with its impressive and well-chosen range and enthusiastic and expert customer service, it’s arguably one of the best in Europe.

Around 900 different beers are cleverly shoehorned into a modestly-sized space, while leaving room to browse in a pleasant natural wood interior while filling up your attractive woven basket. Almost half are Belgian, with several rarities and aged beers, and a small downstairs area devoted to quality lambics. Brits and Germans get a good showing, and there are some well-chosen bottles from the USA, Czech Republic, Russia and elsewhere. But perhaps most impressive is the large range of Dutch specialities, from veterans like Brand and Gulpener alongside relative newcomers such as local brewer ’t IJ, which brews a special beer, Vlo, for the shop, and current international cult success De Molen.

Een glas voor een koning gepast

“We focus on specialities, not supermarket beers,” says Jos, “preferably from smaller brewers. The quality of Dutch microbrewers is improving – we’re particularly enthusiastic about the beers from De Molen right now. And we’ve commissioned another new beer ourselves, Labelle’s Chocoladestout (chocolate stout) from De Schans in Uithoorn, which I just tasted and found sublime.” There are shelves for seasonal beers – visit in the autumn and you’ll find a comprehensive range of Dutch and other boks – and preselected mixed cases. Then there’s around 300 different glasses, plus books, T-shirts and breweriana. Organised tastings can also be arranged. 

De Bierkoning, Amsterdam

Like the beers, the customers come from far and wide including the US and Britain – as usual for cosmopolitan Amsterdam, English is fluently spoken. The shop enjoys a prime site a few paces from Damplein and, fittingly for a beer king, around the corner from the Royal Palace. As beer sellers go, this is one of the crown jewels.

Fact file

Address: Paleisstraat 125, 1012 RK Amsterdam
Phone: +31 (0)20 625 2336
Web: www.bierkoning.nl
Hours: Mon 1300-1900, Tues-Fri 1100-1900, Sat 1100-1800, Sun 1300-1800
Drink in? No
Mail order: Currently selected mixed cases and glasses only, though upgrade is planned. Email for delivery charges if outside Netherlands.

Manager’s favourites: “Hoppy beers, from blond to black”

Beer picks

  • ’t IJ Speciale Vlo 7%, Amsterdam, North Holland. No half for this house beer, a big, vivid golden ale with sweetish body, bready yeast, bitter hop and powerful coriander notes.
  • De Molen 1914 Porter 5.8%, Bodegraven, South Holland. Limited production authentic chocolate biscuit and roast porter from restlessly inventive rising international star.
  • St Christoffel Blond 5%, Roermond, Limburg. One of the world’s best pale lagers, unfiltered, unpasteurised, long, dry and packed with peachy malt and intoxicating hops.
  • Schans Van Vollenhoven’s Extra Stout 7%, Uithoorn, North Holland. Blackcurrant, smoky bacon, malt loaf, nuts, caramel and charred wood mix in a complex and welcome revival of a speciality abandoned by Heineken.
  • Schelde Schoenlappertje 6.5%, Bergen op Zoom, North Brabant. “The only genuine Dutch fruit beer”: real blackcurrants from South Beveland add red tinge and a minty Cabernet Sauvignon tartness to a juicy, malty amber ale.

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