Netherlands: Rotterdam Beer Guide (Part 1)

Netherlands: Rotterdam Beer Guide (Part 1)

The best beer bars and breweries in Rotterdam city center

When you think of Rotterdam, it’s probably not the craft beer scene but the modern and daring architecture that first comes to mind. The city has become an increasingly popular visitor’s destination and recently even got its own Lonely Planet city guide! There is craft beer you say? Of course! And this guide will help you find those hidden gems during your visit. Check out our craft beer tips per neighborhood.

De Rotterdam, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas (the Office for Metropolitan Architecture)


Rotterdam City Center beer bars

As soon as you walk out of Central Station, you know you are in a very different Dutch city when you set eyes on the shiny high rises. The term ‘beautiful’ is open to interpretation, but there is certainly no lack of interesting sites. Central Station itself is an architectural highlight with its stainless steel and glass ceilings above the platforms. Make sure to look up as you are walking through the main hall as the station boasts the longest LED screen in Europe (40m). 

Left of the station along the train tracks you will find Biergarten, a fun summer hangout with good bar food. The craft beer menu has definitely improved over the years and includes some great Dutch and international breweries on their bottle list. Their draft beers are provided by Gulpener. The luxury of having a biergarten in the center of town is evident from the higher beer prices. They’re open all week from April to October. In the winter months you can get a beer from Thursday to Saturday.

If you exit the station and keep going straight down Kruisplein and Mauritsweg along the Rotterdam sculpture collection (Beeldenroute), the first beer bar you will encounter is Proeflokaal De Riddert, possibly the smallest bar in Rotterdam and a typical Dutch ‘bruine kroeg’ with a not-so standard beer list.

Just a few doors down is Kaapse Maria, the second bar of Kaapse Brouwers. Located in a wonderful historic building, it covers two floors, includes an open kitchen that produces creative dishes and has 24 craft beers on tap, half of which are top notch guest beers. They also serve natural wines and other increasingly popular drinks like sake and kombucha.

Kaapse Maria, gastropub of Kaapse Brouwers


Rotterdam Witte de Withstraat beer bars

A little further down the road is the most popular street in town, Witte de Withstraat, a bustling and vibrant line of shops, bars and restaurants. Proeflokaal Reijngoud has an extensive beer list, which includes Dutch craft breweries, the classic Belgian favorites and a varying selection on their 16 taps.

Witte de Withstraat, most popular area in Rotterdam

At the other end of the street is Café De Witte Aap, one of the most well-known dive bars in Rotterdam. The bar has doubled in size in the last twenty years (it’s still pretty small, so you may never have guessed) and attracts people from all walks of life, most likely because it’s one of the few bars that is open till the wee hours of the morning. A place with a nice selection of local beers on tap and guaranteed interesting conversations.

Café De Witte Aap in Witte de Withstraat

In for something completely different? You can’t visit Rotterdam without stepping on a boat! Between de east end of Witte de Withstraat and the Blaak market square you’ll find British gastropub V11, formerly a lightship that was in service in the Irish Sea between 1951 and 1988 and is now permanently docked in the Rotterdam harbor. It serves six homebrewed beers on tap and has an interesting food menu, including full English breakfast and other British favorites like Fish ‘n Chips and Hereforshire Hamburger. Downstairs is ‘The Belly Bar’ where they host live music events.

Rotterdam Markthal area beer bars

Next to the market square is one of Rotterdam’s main highlights the Markthal, a big indoor food market with the largest artwork ceiling in Europe, covering 11.000 square meters. Very near it is the Laurenskerk, an imposing church built between 1449 and 1525, and Rotterdam’s only surviving late Gothic building. After the bombing of Rotterdam in the Second World War, the image of the heavily damaged church and the reconstruction works that followed became a symbol of all that the city and its people had endured.

Just in front of the church is a statue of Rotterdam’s most famous inhabitant, Desiderius Erasmus, a Renaissance humanist, theologian and philosopher who was born in Rotterdam around 1468. The statue of Desiderius Erasmus is the oldest statue in the Netherlands.

If you venture from there to the little shopping area behind the market square on Nieuwemarkt you will find Bokaal, a gastropub with one of the largest outdoor patios in Rotterdam. The beer list is somewhat traditional, but you’ll find a few interesting craft beers. A short walk from there is the popular shopping street Meent and another beer bar Haagse Bluf that also serves good bar food. Their beer selection ranges from high quality traditional Belgian (like Trappist) and German beers (Schlenkerla rauchbier!) to popular Dutch craft brews. There is a nice terrace to catch some rays on sunny days. Around the corner BrewDog Rotterdam opened an outpost in 2020 that houses a 5HL brewhouse, 10 fermenters and 10 serving tanks. The brewkit is used to make small-batch exclusives for Outpost Rotterdam customers. Guest beers are being served as well and like all BrewDog bars they serve food, too.

BrewDog Rotterdam

Famous Dutch 'Bitterballen' at BrewDog Rotterdam

Rotterdam Beer Guide, Part 2 covers the north, east, south and west side from Rotterdam. With all this info you most likely will want to stay at least for a week in this bustling city!

Author: Tina Rogers | Picture credits: Tina Rogers

Updated: 14-06-2024