City of Beer

As a brewery from Weesp we are connected with our town and its history. Weesp, along the river Vecht, is built on pleasure: beer, jenever, cigars and chocolate. These products have made the city great. But it all started with the first breweries, or actually with the clean water from the Vecht.

Clean Water from the River Vecht

Thanks to the remarkably clean water of the river Vecht, beer has been brewed since 1333 in Weesp. At the end of the Middle Ages the brewing industry grew fast, the beer was known far beyond the national borders. In addition to beer, Weesp also did export its brewer’s ingenuity to various cities in the Netherlands.
In the seventeenth century – the heyday of the Weesper brewing industry – Weesp produced about 20,000 barrels of beer annually, which amounts to about 500,000 liters. More than thirty breweries offered work to more than half of the inhabitants of Weesp. Ten percent of the beer was drunken by the Weespers themselves. The rest was shipped within and outside the Netherlands.


In particular the export to Amsterdam made Weesp a rich city. The water in the Amstel, the main river of Amsterdam, was too polluted to brew beer with.

Much of the beer from Weesp went on board of large merchant ships that sailed from Amsterdam all over the world.

Almost all of the breweries in Weesp were owned by Catholics. As a result, only five breweries remained after the Peace of Münster (1648).

The Last Brewery

The last brewery in Weesp closed its doors in 1920, Brewery De Leeuw, founded in 1863. This brewery of two brothers was located at the lock, opposite the St. Lawrence Church.

The St. Lawrence Church itself was taken into use by the Catholics in Weesp on August 24, 1876 and dedicated to the patron saint of beer brewers. With a tower of about 65 meters, which was built in 1900 because of lack of money, this is stil the highest building in Weesp.

The Return of the Brewer to Weesp

After exactly 100 years, three brothers established a new traditional craft brewery in Weesp. Reviving the rich brewing tradition of the city, the Wispe Brewery opened its doors in 2020 in the St. Lawrence Church.

Flemish Doctor

The fact that Weesp has a long tradition of brewing special beers is evident. Already in 1333 Menso van Wesepe, originally from Flanders (part of Belgium), had a beer brewery in Weesp. His beer was shipped to numerous places in the Netherlands and had the reputation of healing the sick. Medicinal characteristics were attributed to his spicy. The beer of the so called “Flemish Doctor” was especially popular in the city Leiden.

Vlaamsche Doctor

First Poem

Lying just to the south east of Amsterdam, Weesp is a quaint town famed for its historical buildings. The town dates back to the 14th century and contains many fortifications and battlements which form part of the historic defence line of Amsterdam. From the fourteenth century, first the beer breweries and later on the gin distilleries created great periods of prosperity. The oldest known poem about Weesp refers to the glorious brewing history of the town.

This city is famed for its palatable beer,
and an art of chemistry that deftly removes the forces from the wheat:

a drink, to which many eagerly await.

(Freely translated from the original poem in Dutch).

Gedicht Weesp en bier


In 1585, the malt maker Jan Thymansz from Weesp moved to the rapidly growing city of Amsterdam. Together with his wife Weyntgen Elberts he establishes a malt house in the capital, which was to be called the Hooischuur. Not much later they opened a brewery called the Hooiberg. The brewery was a success and became the largest beer manufacturer
of Amsterdam. In 1863 Gerard Heineken took over the Hooiberg and renamed the brewery as Heineken & Co. His brewery became one of the largest beer companies in the world.

Brouwerij De Hooiberg

Town Hall

Between 1772 and 1776 the town hall of Weesp was built. Located on the Great Square of Weesp, the town hall has been paid with excise duties and taxes, levied on beer and jenever. The richest beer brewers and gin distillers were in the town council of the municipality.

If you look closely in the mayor’s room, you will see that most of the predecessors of the current mayor, who are immortalized in paintings, have a somewhat red nose. This gives the idea that they were constantly aware of whether their merchandise was of good quality.


Church of Saint Lawrence

Before the St. Lawrence Church was built at Herengracht 16 in Weesp, their was a beautiful jenever distillery here. This distillery was owned by Jean d’Arrest and built in the seventeenth century. When the company was no longer in operation, it served as a church for the Catholic community in Weesp. Only in 1876 the current St. Lawrence Church was taken into use. The Wispe Brewery is now located in this church with a gin distillery. So things have came full circle.


If you’ve ever wanted to know what makes Wispe beer taste so good, you’ll discover the secrets on a tour of the Wispe Brewery. It’s a unique opportunity to see behind the scenes of a Dutch working craft brewery and jenever distillery and learn more about the rich beer history of Weesp.

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