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Holland: Land of Heineken and Windmills

Two beers could sum up the Dutch brewing industry for the U.S. consumer: Heineken and Amstel, two rather similar pale lager-style beers that dominate the Dutch market. Both are made by the same brewing conglomerate of Heineken, the world’s third-largest brewer of beer, after Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller. The Dutch are a confirmed beer drinking nation, though they lack the historic richness of brewing culture that has characterized their Belgian neighbors. This decade has, however, seen some progress. There are now 20 independent craft brewers of ale in Holland, but none has an export presence of note in the United States. The best-known independent brewer at home and abroad is Grolsch, who produces a pale lager of the same name, sold in eye-catching flip-top bottles.

The main alternative to pale lager lies with bokbiers, a toned-down interpretation of the German bock style, though these domestic specialties have yet to be exported. Grolsch produces an amber lager for export, and Heineken brews Heineken Dark for the U.S. market. With a solid presence in the U.S. market, Heineken and Amstel are likely to be the face of Dutch beer here for the foreseeable future.

Holland is host to the one Trappist brewery outside Belgium, Trappistenbier-brouwerij de Schaapskooi, or, more simply, Koningshoeven, which produces four beers under the La Trappe and Koningshoeven labels. La Trappe is currently available in the USA.

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