The inhabitants of the southern provinces of the Netherlands pride themselves on their joie de vivre, their ability to enjoy the pleasures of life. So of course this is an excellent area to go to for a little pub crawl and to explore the local craft beer scene. In this blog I will focus on the city of Breda in the province of Brabant, only 25 minutes south of Rotterdam and on the railway track towards Antwerp. It’s worth a stop over!
Actually I had planned to do a grand Breda tour, combining my 3 favorite pastimes: hiking, discovering new towns and exploring the local craft beer scene. Unfortunately the weather turned out to be wet, very wet. So despite the fact that the town looked lovely I ended up exploring the Breda craft beer scene mostly. I’ll return one day for the hike and the sightseeing. In this blog you can read where to find the best breweries and craft beer bars and learn a little more about the city of Breda.
There are plenty of bars in Breda
To start with: Breda is well known for its many restaurants, bars and café’s, so you’ll never have to search long if you are hungry or thirsty. Most bars serve a lager from one of the big breweries such as Jupiler (a Belgian pilsener), Bavaria or Dommelsch (Brabant based breweries). Being so close to the Belgian border most bars serve some Belgian ales as well. But what if you are looking for local craft beer?
Brewpubs in Breda
If you are looking for a locally brewed craft beer your options are limited in Breda. Which I consider remarkable as the people from this area pride themselves so much on their “Burgundian lifestyle“, which certainly includes drinking beer. Still, there are a couple of places to visit for local brews. You can easily combine these in one pub crawl; they’re not too far removed from one another. I advice you to start or end in the Frontaal brewpub as this is the most remote of the lot.
1. Frontaal brewpub Breda
Frontaal has brewed beers since 2015. They opened their own taproom recently, behind the Breda railway station. It is kind of hidden behind a huge trampoline center. It’s a huge building that yet needs to attract a larger crowd. I suspect that its not so central location isn’t its greatest strength. The potential is there though. They have 30(!) taps, mainly serving their own beers and a couple of guest beers.
Frontaal beers are not your regular kind of beers. The Frontaal brewers experiment with funky tastes. Think of real coffee added to stout beers and of strong IPA’s. They want you to wonder: how was this made? If you are a true beer aficionado and if you enjoy experimental beers, this is absolutely the place to be to drink craft beer in Breda.
This is one of my top 10 Dutch craft breweries! Check out my 2019 top 10 breweries in Holland here.
2. De Boterhal | Brewery St Joris
De Boterhal is a bar/restaurant situated in one of the historic buildings on the central market square of Breda. They serve lunch and tapas style dinner and present themselves as a restaurant as well as a wine bar, as well as a beer bar. I guess this is the kind of place that makes everybody happy in some way. The building has a lot of historic charm and the atmosphere is relaxed. Lunch was good.
The reason I mention it here is that De Boterhal has its own brewery that is led by a young lady (kind of exceptional in the Dutch beer world). This brewery is located in the basement and called the St Joris brewery. It’s a small brewery that does a couple of Belgian style beers, such as a blonde, dubbel, tripel and a witbier. They may have a seasonal special depending on when you’re there. I think the brewery adds to the atmosphere of De Boterhal, with its copper beer tanks behind the bar. The beers are not very adventurous though. I would recommend the place for lunch or for a short visit. It’s especially suitable for those who are more into traditional kinds of beer.
3. De Beyerd
De Beyerd is the oldest craft beer bar in Breda. It’s about as far removed from a trendy bar as you can possibly imagine. It’s rather a typical old fashioned Dutch café, with a pool table at the back and old men at the bar who will stare at you because you are a stranger to the place. In a way this may make De Beyerd an interesting place to visit from a touristic point of view! You don’t see this kind of place a lot anymore.
The De Beyerd beer menu is of above average standard though, and – the reason why I mention them here – they brew their own beers on the premises. It’s a funny mixture of Belgian and German style beers, with the occasional IPA added. If you want to see the brewery head to the restrooms and look through the window at the back of the hallway. They do brewery tours for which you’ll need to make a reservation and bring your own group for this to be financially interesting.
4. Witte Anker beers | Dok19
Het Witte Anker is the only Breda craft beer brewery that I didn’t get to visit. Their beers are always available in a bar called Dok 19, which serves more or less as their taproom. I’ll check it out the next time I’m around.The brewery is run by two guys who were educated as brewers in Belgium, which won’t surprise you if you take a look at their beer menu.
5. Beers & Barrels
Completely different from the Beyerd, Beers & Barrels is a hip and happening kind of place with a younger crowd. First of all: the location looks amazing as this bar is housed in the brew house of former Breda brewery De 3 hoefijzers that was operational from 1538 to 2004. There are two massive copper brewing kettles in the building. These are not in use anymore and form an exciting decor to the bar. On the ground floor, you’ll see the bottom part of the kettles in the ceiling, and on the first floor they’ve done some creative things with the tops of the kettles. For example they’ve made a round bar in one of them.
So this place looks absolutely stunning. What about the beer? They do have their own brews, apparently, but not when I visited, and these are not on their regular menu either. So in a way, this is not really a brewpub, rather a beer bar in an old brewery. There are local beers on tap though, from Frontaal, Het Witte Anker and Brouwerij Bliksem, next to a wide choice of Dutch and foreign craft beers. Our barman was knowledgeable, though I felt that most of the crowd came mainly for the location and the vibe, not so much for the craft beer. They do dinners here too.
6. Brouwerij Bliksem
Brewery Bliksem in Breda is into the heavy stuff: dark beers, high in alcohol, lots of barrel aged beers. I love it! However, when I visited Breda in November 2019 they didn’t have their own taproom or brewpub. Apparently they had such a place in the summer of 2019 and plan to open one again in spring 2020. I’ll keep an eye on it and add info to this blog when I know more.
Other Breda bars specializing in craft beer
If you’d rather go to a regular bar, so that you may get to taste different brews from different brewers, the following 9 café’s have an above average selection of craft beers on their menu’s:
- Publieke werken, St Annastraat 12 (mainly Belgian ales)
- Sam Sam, Grote Markt 2 (usually a couple of Dutch craft beers on tap)
- Zeezicht, Ridderstraat 1 (30 taps, lots of international craft beers)
- De Bruine Pij, Kerkplein 7 (old style Dutch bar with some craft beers on tap)
- De Kleine Wereld, Grote Markt 59 (tiny bar with some interesting beers)
- Studio Dependance, Vismarkt 2 (10 taps with international craft beers)
- Catch 22, Vismarktstraat 14 (many local and regional craft beers on tap and bottled)
- Café Bruxelles, Havenmarkt 5 (as the name suggests, Belgian ales here)
- Oagse Markt, Haagse Markt 5 (wide range of Belgian and Dutch craft beers, including local beers)
A short introduction to Breda
The noble house of Nassau
Breda is a late medieval town that was originally home to the noble family of Nassau. This is a name you will come across a lot once in Breda, in the names of hotels, a bar, a school etc. The Nassau family lived in a castle that is now home to the Royal Military Academy. Which means that you will see a lot of military in Breda too.
You may wonder: what’s so special about this one family? Well, Nassau is the name of our present royal family. And of the person who is considered the founding father of the Netherlands: William of Orange (In Dutch: Willem van Oranje-Nassau) who lived in the 16th century. He actually moved away to The Hague to lead his revolt against the Spanish King. His descendants still live there. But the early members of this family are buried in the main church of Breda.
Things to see and do in Breda
I will write more about Breda in a future blog. For now let me just give you some quick suggestions in case you’re in Breda during better weather circumstances than I was:
- If you are a shopper: go shopping in the many independent shops in Breda
- Take a look at the old courtyard of the beguinage
- Visit the Municipal Museum, if something interesting is on
How to get to Breda by public transport?
Getting to Breda is easy as it is the main hub for trains to and from Belgium. This means that there are direct trains to Breda from most major Dutch cities. When coming from Amsterdam or Rotterdam, pay attention to which train you catch. If you travel on the Intercity Direct train you’ll need to pay a surcharge. This train is infamous for not riding on time and for being cancelled all the time, so you may want to avoid it altogether.
Where to go after your visit to Breda?
Though you could easily visit Breda as a day trip from Rotterdam or Amsterdam, it might be worth hanging around in this area a bit longer. Try the neighboring city of Tilburg for example. Though close, this is a completely different kind of town with quite a few interesting museums and things going on (on the beer front too!). Or the provincial capital of Den Bosch.
Breda offers good connections by public transport towards the province of Zeeland, in particular towards Middelburg and Vlissingen. Or, though we hate to see you go, towards Antwerp and Brussels in Belgium.