A historical brewery and tasting room in the heart of Amsterdam! Our building stands where a monastery with a rich tradition of beer brewing stood in the Middle Ages. Right here, nuns spent their days brewing beer, a tradition passed down from generation to generation across centuries!
De Bekeerde Suster is a brewery, tasting room, and café-restaurant on the site and grounds of the Bethanienklooster (Bethaniën Monastery,) an Amsterdam institution of beer heritage and history. We honour the Monastery’s legacy by operating a steam beer brewery right in our location, where exclusive beers are brewed for the House and her sister cafés.
Any decent story has to begin at its rightful place, which in the case of De Bekeerde Suster, takes us back to medieval Amsterdam.
In the mid-1450s, the Monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene of Bethany was built to serve as a refuge for women seeking redemption from their sinful lives. The women who showed up at the Monestary's door were taken in and cared for by Converted Nuns "Bekeerde Susters," fellow ex-sinners who had found a new life in the Monastery. As the number of nuns grew, housing, feeding, and keeping them busy became increasingly difficult.
One of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic beverages in the world, beer has been a staple of human culture for thousands of years. The boiling and fermentation process of brewing beer also made it a safer alternative to contaminated water, a serious (even deadly) problem in medieval Amsterdam. The nuns at the Bethaniën Monastery quickly adopted beer-making as a daily part of their diet and a source of income as the local community clamoured for their delicious brews.
Beer-making and selling became a central part of the Monastery's identity, and the nuns' beer was highly sought after and appreciated. They even started hosting feasts for Amsterdam's Civic Guards, serving their guests the Monastery's famous beer and equally popular beef from cows raised right at the Monastery's stables.
However, as Amsterdam grew and the needs of its citizens changed, the sprawling Bethaniën Monastery was deemed surplus to the city's requirements. And so, bit by bit, chunks of the medieval structure were replaced by new buildings better suited to the city's new needs. Today, only a tiny portion of the original Monastery remains in Barndesteeg alley. But the legacy of the Monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene of Bethany and its beer-brewing history lives on in the city's rich tapestry.
Amongst the many, a sober building stands on the site of the former Monastery. It is a unique meeting point of Dutch Baroque-style exterior architecture and avant-garde Amsterdam interior design. Architecture and design aside, the most important aspect of this place is how, every day, it honours the nuns who once lived there, generations of dedicated women who enriched the city's cultural heritage with their masterful beer-making. Step inside, and you'll see a proud copper pot still on display - a nod to beer's cultural and economic significance to this place and medieval Amsterdam. While the walls, windows, and wells of the Monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene of Bethany may not exist anymore, the essence of what happened within lives on. And as a tribute to the ostracised women who redeemed themselves and went on to master the art of beer brewing, this establishment is called "De Bekeerde Suster."