Are you spending some time in Groningen in the north of the Netherlands? And are you looking for interesting local craft breweries or good craft beer bars? Read on & learn where to find Groningen breweries, brewpubs and craft beer bars.
The Dutch tend to have some prejudices about the different regions in the Netherlands. One of these is that if you want to enjoy the culinary pleasures of life you should head south, to Brabant and Limburg provinces. And that the inhabitants of the northern provinces keep up a sober lifestyle. There may be some truth in this idea, but I assure you that it doesn’t apply to the northern town of Groningen.
Groningen is the 6th city in the Netherlands and has a large student population which helps, I guess, to keep its pubs crowded. Though most pubs may serve simple Pilsener style beer, there is plenty to discover in Groningen too for craft beer lovers. There are a couple of interesting craft beer breweries and some bars that specialize in craft beer.
Note that this blog is about the city Groningen and not about the entire province, which is, confusingly, also called Groningen.
Baxbier brewery and brewpub
Baxbier is the best known brewery in Groningen. I often see them at beer festivals throughout the Netherlands. They have won several awards at the Brussels beer challenge. Though that sounds good, most of their beers aren’t very adventurous.
I guess that as a commercial company they want to cater for a wide array of customers who may not be ready for too adventurous flavors. So they brew a decent Belgian-style Blond, Dubbel and Tripel like many Dutch brewers do. And though their Smoked Porter sounded a bit more adventurous, it didn’t taste very smoky at all to me. To be fair, I tried their B.O.R.I.S blood orange Russian Imperial Stout which pleasantly surprised me. I liked its bitterness.
Baxbier brewpub, Groningen
Since 2016 Baxbier has its own brewpub. It’s right next to its brewery, about 3 kilometers out of the city center. You can walk there, as I recently did, in just over half an hour. It wasn’t a scenic hike and the fact that it was windy and rainy didn’t help either. I would advice you to catch a bus to get there. I didn’t regret the walk though: the Baxbier brewpub is a pleasant place to be, with cool murals, a view of the brewery, a laid back atmosphere and even some comfy couches to sit on. And a wood stove! At the back of this place is a terrace along a canal which looked like a nice place to hang out on a sunny day.
Should you visit? Depends on how much time you have. It’s a bit out of town and you will be able to find the Baxbier beers in bars elsewhere in Groningen too. On the other hand, this is the nicest brewpub in Groningen. You could combine your tasting session with a tour in the brewery. Check this out at the Baxbier website.
Brewery Martinus is a family business in the center of Groningen. This family used to be in the printing business; you can still see their love for graphic art in their beer labels, some of the prettiest that I know. As the printing business dwindled, in 2014 the family changed to brewing craft beer. They have quite a technical approach to brewing beer, I noticed during a tour I did with them in 2018.
The Martinus brewpub is located on the top floor of the brewery, with a small rooftop terrace. They serve meals here (book ahead!) and organize brewery tours. It’s a rather unique kind of brewpub and I would definitely recommend it. That doesn’t mean that I enjoyed all of their beers. Their Smoked Porter was very pleasant, their Belgian Style Blonde however I didn’t like at all.
De Prael brewpub Groningen
De Prael is a brewery from Amsterdam that was founded in 2002. Their concept is to offer employment to people who would otherwise have trouble finding a job, in the brewery and in their brewpub and kitchen. They brew a wide variety of pretty decent beers.
In recent years De Prael has expanded its business model to other locations, such as Groningen. The Groningen location opened in 2018 as a tasting room and has its own brewery since recently, right next to the brewpub. This doesn’t mean that all beers in this brewpub are brewed at the premises. Most beers are brought in from the Amsterdam and The Hague locations. They have however developed one original Groningen beer: the Groningen Extra Bitter, an English style bitter that is pretty hoppy and that they brew in the Groningen brewery. They brew some other De Prael recipes here too such as the Bitterblond.
This brewpub serves basic lunch, dinner and snacks to go with the beer. As a vegetarian I appreciated the fact that they have several vegan and veggie options on their menu. I thought this was a pleasant and laid back place to hang out for awhile with very friendly staff. And most importantly: good beer!
Dokjard is, in the first place, a restaurant. I didn’t have dinner there but the place and the menu both looked promising. The reason I visited, in the late afternoon, was because they brew their own beers on the premises. On a rather small scale and only two beer styles, but still, how could my Groningen craft beer tour be complete without a visit to this place?
Unfortunately their Belgian style Tripel was not available when we visited. We did try the Klusbaas rawit/kaffir IPA. Now that was something else. It’s flowery and it’s peppery. It is certainly adventurous and I guess that it would go well with an Asian style meal. Dokjard has an interesting beer menu as well. Not too large, but some interesting picks from Dutch and international breweries.
Quite a different reason to pay a visit to this place: right in the middle of their restaurant they have a fireplace with a bench around it. This is a pleasant (yet hot!) place to hang out with craft beer and a snack…
Craft beer bars in Groningen
As a student town Groningen has a great amount of bars and cafe’s, so finding a glass of Heineken will never be a problem. Most bars will serve a couple of Belgian abbey style beers and if you are lucky one or two regional brews. Generally, the staff of such bars will not be able to tell you much about these beers. So if you are really interested go to a specialized craft beer bar, such as:
Specialized in Dutch craft beer, an extensive beer menu, a cool art-nouveau style location and knowledgable staff. What else do you need for a fine afternoon or evening of craft beer tasting? They have a small beer shop on the premises as well.
Café De Pintelier
Originally a Belgian beer bar. Before the Dutch craft beer revolution Belgian beer bars were the place to visit if you longed for a beer that was not a Pilsener. Nowadays the hip and happening beer crowd will often pass by such bars and go to more modern places that serve Dutch or American style craft beer. Let me however plead for a visit to de Pintelier. This is an old style cozy bar in a narrow alley in the city center of Groningen and a pleasant place to spend a couple of hours. Though it still specializes in Belgian ales, they have moved along with the changing times and serve some Dutch and international craft beers as well. Next to that, they have friendly and knowledgeable staff.
Craft beer bar De Koffer
To be honest, I didn’t visit this bar myself yet. So normally I wouldn’t write about such a place. However, while doing some research on the Groningen beer scene I keep on running into this bar. Apart from having a huge beer menu, they seem to be one of the few bars (sometimes) serving traditional Groningen cluyn beer. This is a traditional medieval beer style typical to Groningen. In the past decades several breweries temporarily produced this type of beer; now only Vandenbroek Brewery in Midwolde, a small village west of Groningen town, still brews cluyn. This type of beer contains a lot of oats. It is always good to have something to come back for: next time I will surely visit this bar.
Address: Nieuwe Blekerstaraat 1, Groningen
Website De Koffer
Café De Toeter
The same goes for Café de Toeter. They are specialized in beer and whisky. Apart from having a huge beer menu, they have their own micro brewery: Rocking Ludina, that is located on a boat in the canal right in front of them. Will check this out next time I’m around; it sounds promising!
Address: Turfsingel 6, Groningen
Website Café De Toeter (in English)
Groningen craft breweries without a brewpub
There are more craft breweries in the city of Groningen. These are tiny breweries though and some of them are contract brewers which means that they let other breweries brew their beers. When you’re in Groningen you may well come across their beers in bars, liquor shops or even in local supermarkets. I haven’t tried any of these beers, so can’t tell you anything about the quality.
- De goede verwachting
- Eggens Craft Beer
- Groningse Bierbrouwerij
- Punt (no website!) a small contract brewery.
Reading more about Groningen
Read my blog “Why visit Groningen?”