What is more enjoyable than drinking a freshly brewed local beer at the brewery itself? In the city of Utrecht there are a couple of brewpubs, most of them outside of the city center. However, if you rent a bike, you could easily visit them all.
1. De Kromme Haring brewpub
In my opinion, De Kromme Haring is the best of the brewpubs in Utrecht. It is located in a small business park 25 minutes walking from Utrecht central station or 20 minutes from railway station Vaartse Rijn. This neighborhood is not that attractive and the brewpub is a bit hidden away, but as a true craft beer lover you won’t regret your visit!
The two guys behind De Kromme Haring are specifically interested in yeasts. They experiment with wild yeasts and different kinds of hops and can talk about this with great enthusiasm. In their brewpub, that opened in late 2016, and that is situated right next to the brewery, you can taste their (experimental) beers. They have some guest beers – on tap and bottled – that you won’t find elsewhere so easily.
This is one of my top 10 Dutch craft breweries! Check out my 2019 top 10 breweries in Holland here.
In my experience, the people who work at De Kromme Haring brewpub know their beers and are helpful in finding you the beer that suits you best. The atmosphere is laid back, the people are friendly, the beers good, and the terrace is sunny (if the sun shines, OK). Try some of their special brews and of course their Original Smokey, a smoked beer.
2. Oproer brewpub and restaurant
Oproer brewery is another recent addition to the Utrecht craft beer scene. They are actually a merger of 2 older Utrecht based micro breweries: Rooie Dop and Ruig, that became Oproer in 2016. Their brewpub/restaurant is located close to Utrecht Zuilen railway station. Coming by train from Utrecht central station you pass by Oproer on your left hand side. It is easy to recognize by the modern and cheerful artwork on their terrace.
The area is a bit of a wasteland and the building that houses Oproer is a bit of a barrack, so don’t expect a fancy place. It is quite big though and I liked the way they make use of recycled material. Also don’t be fooled, despite its seemingly remote location, this place is quite popular. When I visited, their (vegetarian!) restaurant was completely booked for the evening and we could only have drinks in the Biergarten outside.
Oproer prides itself for using organic ingredients and being a sustainable company. Now however much I support sustainability, in the end, a brewpub is about the quality of the beer. And about the taste. Objectively I can’t say anything against Oproer: they do collabs with some pretty good brewers, both Dutch and foreign, such as UK brewer Brew By Numbers.
Subjectively I can say that I was not overly impressed by their beers. Maybe this is because they are very much into sours and IPA’s, and I am not. And that their barrel aged saison sounded much more promising than it actually tasted. Still this is a relaxing place to hang out. Apparently they do outside film screenings in the summer sometimes which sounds cool! And you can always combine a visit to Oproer with a visit to nearby brewery De Leckere (see below).
3. De Leckere brewpub and restaurant
From Oproer brewery or Utrecht Zuilen railway station, it is about 1 kilometer, or 12 minutes walking, further out of town to the next of the Utrecht brewpubs: De Leckere. De Leckere is located next to a former factory that used to produce bridges and trains, a huge building! On the other side it’s next to a harbor of Amsterdam Rijnkanaal, a man made canal connecting Amsterdam to the river Rhine. This is an important transport route and you will see many big river ships passing by when you sit at the terrace.
The Leckere brewpub is a restaurant as well as a bar and looks quite fancy. During dinner time you may find the place full with diners. So it might be smart to make a reservation before you come all the way out here. During daytime and especially on sunny days, when the terrace is open, you will surely find a spot to sit down and taste some beers.
De Leckere has been around for a while; they started brewing way back in 1997. I used to think their beers were a bit bland, but recently I’ve tasted some that pleasantly surprised me, such as their barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout. Anyway, it’s an amazing location and they work completely biological which needs to be supported :-).
4. Maximus brewery
Even further out of town, in the residential neighborhood Leidsche Rijn, you will find the next of the Utrecht brewpubs: Maximus. Leidsche Rijn is a typical modern Dutch residential neighborhood. Affordable & comfortable houses, so popular with young families. Yet boring from a touristic point of view. You either love it or hate it. I belong to the second group, but went over to the Maximus brewpub anyway. Sometimes you just have to suffer a bit to taste your beers…
To get to this brewpub you’ll need to catch a bus from Utrecht central station or rent a bike and cycle there. Read my tips on using public transport in Holland. I think it’s worth it though: it is a nice pub and they brew decent beers. I like their stouts especially.
5. Oudaen brewpub and restaurant
After all these modern breweries you might long for something a bit more…traditional. So why not head back to the city center of Utrecht, where you will find brewery Oudean along the Oudegracht (main canal). The brewery is situated in a medieval building that dates back to the year 1280. Beer was already brewed here in the late middle ages! The present brewery started in 1986 and is more or less part of a restaurant.
In the 1980’s there were hardly any craft beer brewers in The Netherlands, so they were pretty special at that time! Now, as we craft beer aficionado’s are spoiled by a wide array of flavors, the beer menu of Oudean seems a little boring: a witbier, a dubbel, a pilsner and some seasonal bocks. The main reason to visit is the location in that medieval building. You may want to have dinner here and combine it with some beers.
Other craft breweries in Utrecht
When researching for this blog I found some more Utrecht microbreweries. None of these have their own brewpub (yet), so you can’t visit them. However, you may find their beers in bars and restaurants in and around Utrecht, at local beer festivals and online. Check out their websites:
- VandeStreek (has recently opened its own brewpub; I will check this out soon)
- Eleven brewery (no brewpub, but organizes events and open days in the brewery from time to time)
- Het Licht
- The Sisters brewery
Utrecht is the 4th city of the Netherlands and one of the oldest cities of the country. It is a popular town due to its central location and its great amount of bars and restaurants. It’s also an attractive town to visit because of its historical city center, canals and a couple of interesting museums. Actually it could be a nice place to stay during your trip to Holland as it is only 25 minutes from Amsterdam, yet a lot less touristic. And as Utrecht is more central, you can easily visit other Dutch towns from here.