Heineken may be the most famous beer to come from Amsterdam, but some of the best beer in the city is found in the smaller local breweries. One of these smaller craft breweries is Brouwerij de Prael, located right in the centre of Amsterdam. It is not only the delicious beer, made using traditional methods and organic grains and malts, that makes this place special; they also employ people who are facing major obstacles in entering the job market.
Helping people and brewing beer
Brouwerij de Prael was founded in 2002 by Arno Kooy and Fer Kok, two practising psychiatrists who shared a love of beer. They believed that they could help people recovering from psychological issues by giving them meaningful employment and teaching them a new trade; and so the wonderful ethos behind Brouwerij de Prael began.
Today, de Prael brews 11 delicious craft beers (as well as a number of seasonal beers) in their small brewery and serve these in their neighbouring brewpub (one of our favourite places for a drink in Amsterdam). Through their ‘social employment policy’ all of their staff, in both their brewery and brewpub are recovering from, or living with, some type of psychological illness which would limit them in gaining employment elsewhere. The daily interaction with colleagues and customers helps them to rebuild their confidence and the training gives them skills to gain employment elsewhere in the future.
One person might work seven days, another might work seven minutes, but everyone is part of the same big family. Working with people and with beer has turned out to be a brilliant combination – Brouwerij de Prael
For those interested in how they make their beer, Brouwerij de Prael offer guided tours of their microbrewery. As craft beer enthusiasts, we were very keen to learn more and signed up straight away. On the tour, we learnt about how de Prael continue to use traditional methods of brewing beer; they strongly believe that good beer takes patience and craftsmanship rather than depending on the latest technology.
Also, as a small independent brewery, de Prael can experiment with new flavours and combinations. We were shown beers that were being aged in whiskey barrels, wine barrels and sherry barrels to create distinctive and interesting flavours. It’s just a shame that we were a few months early to try any of these interesting sounding creations!
We also had the opportunity to meet and talk to some of the staff in the brewery, who were busy bottling beers for the shop. They greeted us with smiles and their camaraderie with their colleagues was easy to see. It was a perfect example of the great work that Brouwerij de Prael do at giving people a second chance to develop skills, build relationships and re-enter the job market.
Brouwerij de Prael BrewPub
Brouwerij de Prael’s “Proeflokaal”, literally meaning ‘tasting house‘, is down the alley just next to the brewery itself. It became a regular drinking stop for us during our two weeks in Amsterdam due to it’s range of delicious beers and wonderfully friendly service. We recommend getting the 4 beer tasting tray, which will give you a taste of the different range of beers that de Prael produce – along with some of the tasty bar snacks.
As with the brewery, all the staff in the brewpub are also recovering from, or living with, psychological issues. By interacting with other staff and customers, this work is helping them build their confidence and develop their social skills.
How can you help?
There are many places to drink in Amsterdam, especially in the city centre and around the Red Light District. However, Brouwerij de Prael is different; by spending your time and money here, you are helping people who would not be given opportunities elsewhere.
So, if you are in Amsterdam, pop into the BrewPub and order some beer and bitterballen. Or visit the Brewery, take a tour and bring some bottles home. Not only is the beer absolutely delicious – it really does make a difference to people’s lives.
Brewery and Shop
Address: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 30, 1012 GD Amsterdam
Shop opening times: Monday to Friday 10am to 7pm, Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 7pm
Brewery opening times: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (closed Saturday and Sunday)
Tour costs: €8.50 tour with 1 beer, €17.50 tour with tasting of 4 beers
(Also, the Amsterdam Underground tour – tours given by ex-homeless people – starts from the brewery. You can buy your tickets for the tours here. More to come in a later post).
Address: Oudezijds Armsteeg 26, 1012 GP Amsterdam, Netherlands
Opening times: Monday to Wednesday 12pm to midnight, Thursday to Saturday 12pm to 1am, Sunday 12pm to 11pm.
Cost of beer: 4 beer tasting – €10, individual beers available.