Dutch term – Brouwer

Brewer, print by Jan and Casparus Luyken, 1694.

Brewer, print by Jan and Casparus Luyken, 1694.

A brouwer is a brewer. Since most of the water was not safe to drink, most people drank beer. ‘Small beer’ only had a low alcohol percentage so it was safe to drink for children.

In larger towns, brewers were organized in guilds. In smaller towns, they operated independently. In most places, brewers had to pay tax on the beer they produced. Some of these tax records can be found in local archives or city ledgers. Also, their measures and pints were sometimes calibrated by town officials to make sure they did not cheat their customers. Some of these calibration records can also be found in the archives of the towns.

Because there were so many brewers, Brouwer is a very common last name. According to the Family Names Database of the Meertens Institute, there were over 25,000 people named Brouwer living in the Netherlands in 2007; not counting variations like De Brouwer or Brouwers.

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for almost 25 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Elaine Feldhacker says:

    Hi Yvette,

    I checked out your list of 10 most common names in the Netherlands, and did not find the name Brouwer in the list, or is it in the top 20 most common names in the Netherlands?

    • You are absolutely right! I did a search to see if the word ‘Brouwer’ appeared on that page, and it does, but as an example for occupational names under number 6: Bakker. I have updated the article.

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