Cafe De Blauwe Parade

The Netherlands is known for many things and although it might not be for Bar-Bodega ‘De Blauwe Parade’, it’s certainly worth the time to give this bar a visit. Why? Because of its rich history that goes back all the way to 1585, and it’s involvement in the history of global beer brand Heineken. So please, sit back and relax while we tell you the wonderful story of ‘De Blauwe Parade’.

A long time ago, back in 1585, maltster Jan Thymansz started his malt house ‘De Hooischuur’. After he passed away, his wife Weyntgen Elberts continued the company and she even started brewing beer. This was such a success, that in June 1592, she could afford herself a place on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, complete with a house and barn. In this barn she established brewery ‘De Hooiberg’. This is where ‘De Blauwe Parade’ is still situated today.

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After Weyntgen Elberts established the brewery, many owners came and went, all with a different vision and story, which brings us to the year 1863. An ambitious young man whose name probably sounds familiar to you, wanted to buy the brewery with his father’s inheritance. Unfortunately this appeared to be insufficient, to which the current owners suggested they buy shares one by one. According to this young man this would take way too long. It was all or nothing as he wrote to the shareholders. Due to his mother’s help in his search for capital, Gerard Adriaan Heineken was able to buy the brewery ‘De Hooiberg’ on 15th February 1864.

In 1868 it was necessary to move the brewery because the canals were filled up, it made transport impossible. At that time the Hulscher Brothers came in. They made an agreement with Gerard Adriaan Heineken, who relocated the ‘Hooiberg’ brewery to the ‘Buitensingel’ in Amsterdam, now known as the ‘Stadhouderskade’, where the current ‘Heineken’ brewery developed. The Hulscher Brothers started a beerhouse situated behind the brewery on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, by the name of ‘Gebroeders Hulscher’. In order to do this, two neighboring storehouses had to be rebuild. During this reconstruction, an old tablet was found in a wall. It had a representation of several buildings in the Old-Neurenberg style and ‘Die Port van Cleve’ was engraved in this tablet. The Hulscher brothers decided to name the new beer house after this tablet.

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On the 5th of September 1870 beer house ‘Die Port van Cleve’ officially opened and from the opening night onwards it was packed to the rafters. The beerhouse only served beer brewed in brewery ‘De Hooiberg’, ensuring excellent quality. A location as large as ‘Die Port van Cleve’ was a completely new concept in Amsterdam. Although the brewery was moved, the beer bottling of the ‘Hooiberg beer’ still took place in ‘Die Port van Cleve’, from where it was shipped all over the country and even abroad. A few years later in 1874, it was time for another highly successful chapter. After a restaurant was added to ‘Die Port van Cleve’, the world-famous numbered steaks made their appearance and even partly overshadowed the ‘Hooiberg’ beer’s fame.

‘Die Port van Cleve’ was a success and everything was going steady in the capable and ambitious hands of the Hulscher brothers. In January 1879, they did something remarkable again. Large festivities were planned for the entry of King William and his spouse Queen Emma. For this occasion The Hulscher brothers designed a great project and although the festivities were cancelled, the brothers continued their project. And so it happened, during the first week of February, ‘Die Port van Cleve’ was lit electrically every night. The people in those days had already heard a lot about electrical lighting, but they had never seen it. Therefore this project attracted a great amount of attention from people from everywhere, and from then on ‘Die Port van Cleve’ was overrun by people who wanted to have a beer and bite under the bright electrical lightning.

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The story continues in 1888 when the building next to ‘Die Port van Cleve’ was partly transferred into the possession of the Hulscher brothers. This became Bar-Bodega ‘De Blauwe Parade’, which opened on the 3rd of July 1888. Herein the biggest tile frescos of the world took its place. The fresco shows a parade of children, simulating the historical triumphs from the Golden Century in honor of the emperor Maximilian. The emperor is recognized by his crown and the three crosses on his chest. These days the Andreas-crosses are still visible in the Amsterdam city sign. They stand for heroism, determination and mercifulness.

In the meantime nothing much has changed in ‘De Blauwe Parade’ and almost everything is still in its original condition. From the start we have served Heineken draught beer, and traditional jenever has always had a prominent place in ‘De Blauwe Parade’. This makes sense if you know that the first malt wine produced from corn was made in Amsterdam. Also, the famous numbered steak has never vanished from the menu and is still being served since 1874.

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