The Netherlands are not only one of Europe’s most popular study abroad destination for international students. They are also known for a number of popular lager brands - think Heineken, Grolsch or Amstel.
This remains a mystery to the Netherlands’ snobby neighbours, Germany and Belgium - both of which take pride in their remarkable history of beer brewing. But they don’t know the first thing about the Dutch art of brewing. Without further ado, consider this your travel guide for the next semester break:
Amsterdam is home to possibly one of the most successful export beers of the world: Heineken. The brewery is the third-largest worldwide, and Heineken can be found virtually anywhere on the globe. You can take tours of the old brewery, called the “Heineken Experience”.
But the presence of one of the world’s largest breweries is not the only reason why so many international students choose to study in Holland. After all, Amsterdam is home to two of the best universities in the Netherlands, the University of Amsterdam and the VU Amsterdam; the large Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences; as well as a range of smaller institutions and branch campuses.
Although many breweries were based in Rotterdam throughout the centuries, none were left from the 1970’s on. This changed when the Stadsbrouwerij De Pelgrim opened its doors in 1996. This lovely microbrewery is located close to the city center and in comfortable walking distance to the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences as well as Erasmus University’s hospital.
One of the youngest breweries in the country is located in The Hague (Den Haag): Kompaan. This up-and-coming craft brewery was founded in 2012 and offers a handful of traditional and non-traditional beers. Their official bar is located only a stone’s throw away from the campus of The Hague University of Applied Sciences.
Another noteworthy local producer is the Brouwerij Scheveningen. It has been in operation since 1996 and brews four classic beers that are local favourites. The brewery is located in the same part of town as the renowned Hotelschool The Hague (HTH), close to the waterfront.
Enschede, close to the German border, is one of the Netherland’s most popular student cities. It is home to Saxion University and the University of Twente, as well as one of the campuses of ArtEZ art school.
Enschede is also home to one of the oldest breweries in the country: Grolsch, located in the outskirts of Enschede, looks back at a history of more than 400 years. While it is the third-largest brewery in the Netherlands, its 3.2 million hectoliters per year are but a fraction of Heineken’s annual output. Grolsch is not only popular at home, but also a staple in countless student pubs across the UK.
If you are looking for tradition, Maastricht is where you will find it. The Steam Brewery De Keyzer N.A. Bosch - located a short walk from Maastricht University's main campus - offers tours that focus on the history of beermaking. The exhibited original equipment dates from a period between 1885 and 1930; and the entire brewery was classified as a historical industrial monument.
If you study at one of the southern or western universities in the Netherlands, chances are you won't ever make it up to Groningen. But that would be a mistake, because no other town offers this special brand of Frisian charme. And in recent years, Groningen has become something of a hub for craft brewers - much to the delight of students at the city’s two schools, the University of Groningen and Hanze University of Applied Sciences.