There is a Dutch beer which shares its name with a river which runs through The Netherlands’ capital city, Amsterdam – so, what is it called?
This brand is known as Amstel, and it takes its name from the river due to the fact that the brewery that makes it was located on its riverbanks when it was established in 1870 and the river’s clean water was used for making the beer.
Water was diverted by the brewery to its factory where it was used for chilling its stock. During the winter, ice was also taken from the river so it could be used for refrigerating the products. The river ice was crushed before being put in insulated cellars containing Amstel beer.
Originally established in 1870 by Charles Antoine de Pesters, Willem Eduard Uhlenbroek and Johannes Hendrikus van Marwijk Kooy, the Amstel brewery produced its very first brew in 1871 and delivered its first products to clients in 1872.
When it was first set up, the brewery could produce only 10,000 hectoliters per year, and the beer that it produced was primarily consumed in the capital city of Amsterdam itself. It wasn’t until the railway network began to expand in The Netherlands that Amstel beer began to reach the rest of the country and, by 1883, the brewery’s products were being exported to the Dutch East Indies and Great Britain.
Demand was so high for exports that a specialist bottling plant was constructed in 1884 where beers produced specifically for overseas markets were pasteurized before being packed in metal kegs.
By the mid-1910s, Amstel production had increased exponentially to 20 times its original capacity, and by 1926, Amstel beer represented a third of all beer exports from The Netherlands.
1968 saw the brand being purchased by another well-known alcoholic drinks brand – Heineken International. Within four years, the original Amsterdam Amstel Brewery had been closed down with production being relocated to Zoeterwoude where Heineken’s main plant is located.
Today, a number of beers are sold by Heineken under the Amstel brand name. Amstel Lager is one of the most popular which uses light pilsner malt with a little dark malt in its manufacturing. This lager is sold in no less than 75 countries worldwide.
Another popular option is Amstel Light which is a lower alcohol beer. It contains different ABV levels depending on the country in which it is being sold – 4.0% ABV in Mexico, 4.1% ABV in the UK, 2.5% ABV in New Zealand and 3.5% ABV in the Netherlands and the USA.
A darker 5% ABV lager available from this brand is Amstel 1870, while Amstel Free has only around 1% ABV and Amstel Zero contains, as you might imagine, no alcohol.
The Amstel brand also sells Amstel Radler, a shandy which contains only 2% alcohol, in many countries. This beverage contains a mix of lager and lemonade and is a popular addition to the brand’s collection.