The war had a devastating effect on Dutch brewing, despite The Netherlands being neutral. The unrestricted German U-Boot campaign that began in 1917 caused havoc with international trade. Dependent on imported barley, Dutch brewers began to run out of raw materials. Despite drastic reductions in the strength of beer*, by 1918 production was down to just half of the pre-war level at 0.72 million hectolitres**.
|Dutch breweries by province|
|Nederlands Etiketten Logboek, 1998|
More than half of all Dutch breweries closed: from 522 in 1910 to 223 in 1920. The majority of those that closed were small affairs in Limburg and Nord-Brabant - 243 out of 299. Many had still been top-fermenting which effectively gave a further boost to Lager brewing in Holland.
Amstel slashed their range to just two beers, Pilsener and a dark Lager***. They also started using rice, maize, tapioca and sugar in addition to malt****.
During the 1920’s the Dutch brewing industry bounced back and by the end of the decade output was up by almost 1 million on the pre-war level. This despite the number of breweries having more than halved between 1910 and 1920 . The biggest fall was in the Southern provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg, where there had been a large number of very small breweries.
|Dutch beer output 1925 - 1939|
|year||output (hl)||year||output (hl)|
|European Statistics 1750-1970 by B. R. Mitchell, 1978.|
Once again international developments intervened in the form of the 1929 Wall Street Crash and the worldwide recession that followed. The gains of the 1920’s were more than rolled back and, though the situation improved in the final years of the 1930’s, Dutch beer production was about the same in 1939 as it had been in 1914.
Pils was gradually gaining ground at the expense of other styles, though breweries continued to brew the low-strength Licht (pale)and Donker (dark) Lager as well as the stronger Bayerisch Dark Lager.
* "Amstel, het Verhaal van ons Bier 1870 - Heden" by Peter Zwaal, 2010, pages 59 and 66.
** Bier in Limburg, Sef Derkx, 1990.
*** "Amstel, het Verhaal van ons Bier 1870 - Heden" by Peter Zwaal, 2010, page 59.
**** "Amstel, het Verhaal van ons Bier 1870 - Heden" by Peter Zwaal, 2010, page 66.