Beer in the Netherlands
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Beer in the Netherlands is known for the pale lagers, especially Heineken and Grolsch, which are exported globally. Grolsch is the leading import lager in the United Kingdom. Heineken is the world's third-largest brewer of beer, after Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller.
While pale lager makes up the majority of beer production and consumption in the Netherlands (95% according to the Centraal Brouwerij Kantoor), most Dutch brewers also brew specials. The most common is 'witbier' (white beer). Also Bok, brewed in Autumn and Spring, a tradition closely related to German Bock beer, is an often brewed special.
The Netherlands exports the largest proportion of beer of any country in the world - approximately 50% of production, according to The Brewers of Europe. In 2004, almost 1,300 million litres were exported out of a total production of 2,300 million litres.
There are three main brewery companies in the Netherlands: Heineken (which also brews Amstel), Grolsch and Bavaria. Belgian breweries also take part in the market. Inbev for example has got Jupiler and the Dutch brands Dommelsch and Oranjeboom on the Dutch market. According to the Centraal Brouwerij Kantoor, Heineken has around fifty percent of the market and the other three fifteen percent each. Between them, the large companies operate eight breweries. In addition to the multinationals, there are five independent lager breweries and around forty five small, new microbreweries and brewpubs. A dozen other companies own no brewing plant themselves and have their beers brewed by third parties in the Netherlands or Belgium. The new breweries mostly brew top-fermenting beers roughly similar to those from Belgium, though there are also examples of British-style ales and traditional lagers.
Although beer is a popular beverage throughout the country, some provinces or parts of the Netherlands have their own 'distinctive' beer. For example, in the south and southeast of the country bitter beers are popular, like Brand beer. Bavaria is popular in Noord-Brabant and Grolsch is a big favourite in the eastern provinces..