Dutch Pub Guide
Utrecht - beer bars, pubs and brewpubs

Utrecht City

Noord Brabant
Noord Holland
Zuid Holland
You know how the deals goes; I say "this is a guide to beer pubs in the Dutch province of Utrecht". And you know what - that's exactly what this is. A guide detailing beer pubs in Utrecht province. That's Utrecht in Holland, or the Netherlands, if you're being a pedantic bastard.

And that's exactly what I am: a pedantic bastard. You'll soon find out if I have any talent for writing pub guides.

(Note to me: remember to remove this filler introduction before uploading the page.)
Breweries in Utrecht

Brewery location type
Amersfoortsche Bierbrouwerij De Drie Ringen Amersfoort microbrewery
Brouwerij De Leckere De Meern microbrewery
Utrechtse Stoombierbrouwerij Oudaen Utrecht brewpub

For more about Dutch breweries & beers:
Dutch breweries Every Dutch brewery and every Duch beer.
Dutch beer tasting notes Detailed tasting notes for many Dutch beers.
Dutch Brewing Industry Background information, statistics and history.
Drinking in Holland Information you should know.

Dutch Pub Guide

De Drie Ringen
Kleine Spui 18,
3811 BE Amersfoort.

Tel.: 033 - 465 6575
Email: info@dedrieringen.nl
Drie Ringen exterior
Opening hours: Thur 13:00 - 18:00,
Fri - Sat 13:00 - 19:00
Number of draught beers: 2
Number of bottled beers: 4
Regular draught beers:
The tasting room of Amersfoort's well-established microbrewery is simple to the point of being Spartan. Though being in the same room as the brewing kit definitely has appeal. The location - on one of central Amersfoort's cutest canals - could hardly be more picturesque.

As you would expect, drinks are limited to the beers brewed on the premises.
Rating: *** Public transport:

Café Lobbes
De Hof 10,
3811 CJ Amersfoort.

Tel.: 033 - 461 0637
Email: info@cafe-lobbes.nl
Opening hours: Mon 14:00 - 24:00,
Tue - Thur 15:30 - 02:00,
Fri 13:00 - 03:00,
Sat 12:00 - 03:00,
Sun 14:00 - 01:00
Number of draught beers: 8
Number of bottled beers: +-50
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
A beer and whisky café on Amerfoort's central square. No less a person than Michael Jackson has given them a visit.

The beer list includes real lambieks from Boon and Cantillon.
Rating: Public transport:

De Rooie Cent
Hooglandseweg-Zuid 34,
3813 TC Amersfoort.

Tel.: 033 - 475 6035
Opening hours: Mon - Wed 19:00 - 02:00
Thur - Sat 16:00 - 02:00
Sun 14:00 - 02:00
Number of draught beers: 8
Number of bottled beers: +-100
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks
A one-room pub close to the railway line on the northern edge of the town centre. Since the sad closure of Mariposa, Amersfoort's onlt specialist beer pub.

The beer list includes most of the Trappists (Westvleteren included) and even some genuine lambiek beers.
Rating: Public transport:

Cafe van Zanten
Bloemendalsestraat 2,

Tel.: 033 - 479 0592
Opening hours: Mon - Sun 11:00 - 02:00
Number of draught beers: 8
Number of bottled beers: +-30
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
A white-painted corner pub.
Rating: Public transport:

Utrecht Pub Guide
Houten Pubs

Café Eetcafé De Kleine Geer
Snoeksloot 64,
3993 HM Houten.

Tel: 030 - 637 3088
Fax: 030 - 637 2084
Email: geer@dekleinegeer.nl
Opening hours: Tue - Thur 16:00 - 01:00,
Fri - Sat 16:00 - 02:00,
Sun 14:00 - 24:00,
Monday closed
Number of draught beers: 6
Number of bottled beers: +-10
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks €3-8, meals €8-15.
Pub in a building of very agricultural appearance.
Rating: Public transport:

Utrecht Pub Guide
Utrecht City Pubs

The City of Utrecht
Utrecht is Holland's fourth largest city, with a population of around 250,000. It has a history that dates back to the Romans. Yet I could understand why, when arriving by train, you might prefer to remain in your seat. Utrecht Centraal Station sits in a sea of concrete.

I've seen some urban planning disasters in my travels, but Hoge Catherijne is hard to top. A cacophonic jumble of brutalist monstrosities stretch right over (even through) Utrecht Centraal Station. It's impossible to access the station from street level - you're obliged to walk through a sprawling shopping centre. During the day, shoppers bar your way. At night, it's junkies and alcoholics seeking shelter from the elements. Nice one, planning department.

Don't despair: this is not typical of the whole town. The old core of the city around the cathedral is charmingly quiet and rather beautiful. Well worth battling your way through Hoge Catherijne for.

Take a tip from Hansel and Gretel; mark your route on the way out. If you don't, well, you could spend a week or two wandering around trying to relocate the station. You have been warned.

Utrecht is home to the Dutch national railway museum, which, sadly, will be closed for the next couple of years as they remove all those boring old locomotives and replace them with a modern, multimedia experience.

Pub Index
Café België
't Dorstige Hart
Florin & Firkin
Heen en Weer
't Ledig Erf
Stadscafé Heerenplein
Stadskasteel Oudaen
Café Vanouds Vriendschap
Bert's Bierhuis
Utrecht - its pubs
The city is a big university town and many Utrecht bars in have a definite student feel to them. As in most modern urban centres, the main shopping streets offer few opportunities for refreshment, other than of the fast food variety. The quieter streets around the main canal, the Oudegracht, are better. You'll find 'brown cafés', very like those of Amsterdam. Most offer at least a couple of bottled alternatives to the ubiquitous Heineken, Amstel, Bavaria and Dommelsch pils.

One definite advantage that Utrecht has over Amsterdam, is its more liberal closing times. Unlike most Dutch towns, there are no council-set closing times for pubs. Especially at the weekend, it's not difficult to continue drinking well into the small hours. (I don't like to preach, but do be careful if you're not used to the combination of strong ale and no closing time.)

Utrecht's beer bars may be fewer than Amsterdam's, but their quality can't be faulted. Utrecht has a couple of the very best specialist beer pubs in Holland. Café België has long been one of my favourite Dutch pubs, but it now has a serious rival for my affections in Ledig Erf. Any serious pub crawl of Utrecht should definitely include both.

Those accustomed to drinking in Amsterdam will be pleasantly surprised how much cheaper beer is in Utrecht. Drink enough and that train ticket could pay for itself.

Café België
Oudegracht 196,
3511 NR Utrecht.

Tel. 030-2312666
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 11:00-03:00
Fri - Sat: 11:00-05:00
Sun: 14:00-03:00
Number of draught beers: 20
Number of bottled beers: 150+
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
A long, narrow bar which has a very pleasant view of Utrecht's main canal, which you can fully enjoy in the Summer when there are a few seats outside. Inside, it's modern, but comfortable and the long bar counter is certainly very functional, given the number of beer taps it has to house. The rear wall is panted with a portrayal of former Belgian king Boudewijn and his wife. It's only a shame that it wasn't lined up so that his likeness was on the gent's door and hers on the ladies.

The bottled beer list is amongst the best in Holland, with one or more of the Westvleteren beers quite often available. On draught, the large numbers of taps means there can be some surprising choices. Recently, they appear to quite regularly have something from De Stichtse Heeren, a couple of guys who have beers contract brewed for them.
Rating: ***** Public transport:

Donkere Gaard 6,
3511 KW Utrecht
Tel. : 030 - 2322551
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10:00-03:00,
Sun: 12:00-03:00
Number of draught beers: 3
Number of bottled beers: 7
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
If Heen en Weer is brown and Orloff light brown, then Bartje is most definitely a dark brown café. In fact, it takes brownness so seriously that it's positively gloomy. It's this very studiousness which makes it all rather suspicious.

The disorder and jumble of knickknacks is just a shade too soothing on the eye to be real mess. I know all about the genuine article. My house is a shrine to clutter and the inability to ever throw anything away, no matter how unlikely it is ever to be of any use between now and the final destruction of the universe.

All these personal digressions have probably already given you the hint, that there isn't that much you can say about Bartje. A brown café like hundreds of others. Not particularly bad, quite comfy for a beer, but not a bar I would walk across town especially for (well, perhaps if I were in Assen).
Rating: ** Public transport:

't Dorstige Hart
Lange Nieuwstraat 47,
3512 PC Utrecht.

Tel. : 030 - 231 1769

Opening hours: Mon - Sun - Thur: 17:00-01:00
Number of draught beers: 5
Number of bottled beers: 30
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.

A small single-room pub, which again has some vague pretensions to being a British pub (they seem very keen on the idea here in Utrecht - maybe a Friday night in Wakefield would rid them of their delusions). It's not particularly a specialist beer bar, though it does have an above-average selection of that beer-style stuff.

The Lange Nieuwstraat runs parallell to the Oude Gracht, meaning that this pub can be used as a staging post betweeen Belgie and Ledig Erf (if you get the time of day right).

Inside is a simple bar, formica-topped tables (these are becoming quite quaint with the passage of time and their increasing rarity) and a dart board. The game is getting popular now that Holland has had a world champion. Not that I hardly ever see anyone actually playing it.

My summary would be: a bit off the beaten track, despite being fairly central (there's lirttle else on the street); the opening hours aren't very convenient if you're in town for a daytime crawl; worth dropping in if you're close by, but not worth making a special trip for.

Rating: ** Public transport:

Florin & Firkin
Nobelstraat 2-4,
3512 EN Utrecht.

Tel. : 030 - 231 9957
Fax: 030 - 231 0090
Email: theflorin@planet.nl
Homepage: http://www.florinutrecht.nl

Opening hours: Monday: 12:00 - 00.00
Tuesday: 11:00 - 01.00
Wednesday: 11:00 - 01.00
Thursday: 11:00 - 02.00
Friday: 11:00 - 03.00
Saturday: 11:00 - 03.00
Sunday: 14:00 - 23.00
Number of draught beers: 5
Number of bottled beers:
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks 7-8 euros, meals 10-12 euros.
The Florin & Firkin is, as the quicker amongst you might have already guessed, another member of the Firkin chain. Unlike its sister pub in the Hague, there has never been a brewing operation here. Beer used to be supplied by the Fiddler & Firkin. but this is not currently the case. There are still handpumps, but none are in use. The barstaff didn't seem to expect it to re-appear, but, not looking that interested in the topic, it's quite possible they didn't know what the f*** they were talking about.

The pub itself is a single-roomed barn, very much in the tradition of an English town-centre circuit pub. It's very authentic to the style, but that isn't necessarily a compliment. It's in a building which was formerly a bank, hence the Florin part of the name.

My rating is based mostly on the availability of cask beer (which currently doesn't apply), rather than any wonderful décor or ambiance. The ouside of the building - an ornate brick structure typical of Dutch 1920's architecture - is far more attractive than the inside. My photo makes it look much nicer than it really is. Just call me an artist.

This bar is a bit of walk from the station, just within the old city limits. Lazier drinkers might prefer to take one of the many buses which run past it (2, 3, 4, 5,8 and 11) to the stop Janskerkhof to save wear and tear on their legs. However, the sort of saddos who, like me, love staring inanely at old steam engines, will be delighted to learn that the Florin is about exactly half way between the Dutch National Railway Museum and Utrecht Centraal Station.
Rating: * (without cask beer) Public transport: bus 2, 3, 4, 5,8 and 11 from Centraal Station.

't Heen en Weer
Donkere Gaard 13 ,

Tel. : 030 - 2311175
Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 11:00-01:00
Number of draught beers: 3
Number of bottled beers: 5
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
It's difficult to imagine a much more interesting location for a bar: on a corner, with its bum, metaphorically speaking, hanging out over the Oudegracht . It's in bog-standard brown café style: wooden floorboards, panelled walls and accumulated (rather than bought-in) old cack on the walls. Sadly, the collection of beer memorabilia surpasses the selection of beers on sale.

One of my main reasons for including this bar is its strategic position (between Belgie and town) in a Utrecht pub crawl. Though, it is also worth a quick beer for its authentic interior and magnificent setting.
Rating: *** Public transport:

Jan Primus
Jan van Scorelstraat 27-31,
3583 CJ Utrecht.

Tel. : 030 - 251 4572
Fax: 030 - 230 2554
Email: loes.kramer@soneramail.nl.

Opening hours: Sun - Thur: 15:00-01:00
Fri - Sat: 15:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 10
Number of bottled beers: 150
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
A specialist beer pub slightly inconveniently situauted outside the town centre. It has no music or slot machines. To get there, take the number 4 bus to Jan van Scorelstraat.
Rating: **** (based on what I've been told. Yes, I've never been arsed to actually go there myself.) Public transport:

Ledig Erf
Tolsteegbrug 3,
3511 ZN Utrecht.

Tel. : 030 - 231 7577
Fax: 030 - 234 2229
Homepage: http://www.ledigerf.nl

Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 11:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 12
Number of bottled beers: 50
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
There was a point during the fairly lenghty walk along the Oude Gracht, when it did cross my mind as to whether it was going to be worth the effort. The number of photographs I've included below should give you some indication of what my conclusion was. Though the interesting mixture of specialist shops (see Bert's Bierhuis below), pubs (Belgie is one) and other generally colourful sights, make the journey a pleasure in itself, on sunny day.

Ledig Erf is a cosy corner pub in a building dating from around 1900. The setting is wonderful; where the Oude Gracht meets the city's former defensive moat, Singel.

It styles itself as a beer and chess pub. Not being much of a player myself, I can't really comment on the latter claim. The fact that most of the tables had chess boards built into then, does sort of hint that they're being serious about the chess thing. One look at their beer list (which is easy to do, as it's there on their website) is enough to confirm the first. One thing that no-one can doubt, is that this is a brown café in the best tradition.

As befits what ended up as being a very enjoyable afternoon in a good pub, parts of the later stages are slightly blurred in my memory. What did stick in my mind was a striking 1920's enamel sign for the Lutterbach brewery. I have a French beer book with the same image and have always wanted to make a T-shirt of it. I can tell you for certain that it's a cracking pub. The staff are a good laugh, there is a mixed and interesting bunch of customers and then they have all those beers, too.....

Now, I suppose that you would like some more explanation of what these beers might exactly be. A salient fact is that, unlike many Dutch beer pubs, their stock isn't mostly limited to Belgian beers. Almost half the bottled beers are Dutch, the rest, unsurprisingly, being Belgian. If you want a more details of the precise beers on sale, take a look at their website, which has a full list.

The beer list may not be the largest, but I couldn't personally care less, if there's Westvleteren. Anywhere that can satisfy my ludicrous dependence on that lovely brown Trappist stuff counts as a specialist beer pub to me. I can't quite remember what else they had in bottles. Look - it was the end of a long afternoon of exhausting research, and they had Westvleteren. Do you expect me to recall anything in any great detail? If you do, I suggest that you try a Westvletern 8 or 12 as soon as possible. (Believe me, no matter how stupidly expensive it is, it most definitely is worth it. Though, the 9 year old Rochefort 10 I had last week was one of the best beers I've ever drunk. I'm just saying this to annoy you, as I know that a Rochefort of this age is virtually impossible to obtain. I've got one more bottle and it's going to be a test of my character to see how long it remains in the cellar.)

It was love at first sight for me with Ledig Erf. I would heartily recommend any of you spending time in Utrecht not to get stuck in Belgie (extremely tempting though that is), but to strap on your walking boots and make it down here. If that's too much effort then get yourself a taxi. It will be well worth it. I almost forgot - the outside seating is both extensive, gives beautiful views and is partly shaded.

It's a member of the Alliantie van Biertapperijen, an organistion for specialist beer pubs in Holland.

For those unwilling to indulge in a healthy walk, Ledig Erf can also be reached using the number 2 bus from the central station.

Rating: ***** Public transport: Bus 2

Donkere Gaard 8 ,
3511 KW Utrecht

Tel. : 030 - 2321679
Opening hours:Mon - Sat: 08:00-02:00
Sun: 10:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 4
Number of bottled beers: 6
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
You're probably getting the idea now that my main concern is in finding places convenient for a crawl starting/ending or including Belgie. Orloff is very handily placed in this respect: directly opposite Heen en Weer and next door to Bartje.

Orloff is what the Dutch would call a "light" brown café (a sort of apprentice brown cafe), where the nicotine stains have not yet totally obscured the original colour of the walls. OK, it's as trendy as a sundried tomato sandwich, but it has just about enough of a 20's feel to be stylish. Super, as in superficial. Top marks for the clock behind the bar, which bears a striking resemblance to my Dad's watch (now that really was 1920's) and I find the portrait of the Dutch royal couple very touching.

In the Summer, there is outdoor seating (between the pubs lining the street in this part of Utrecht it is occasionally possible to find a piece of pavement on which to walk).
Rating: *** Public transport:

Stadscafé Heerenplein
Lucas Bolwerk1,
3522 EG Utrecht.

Tel. : 030 - 231 7571
Email: heerenplein@planet.nl

Opening hours: Sun - Thur: 16:00-02:00,
Thur - Sat: 16:00-04:00
Number of draught beers: 5
Number of bottled beers: 6
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks €3-6, meals €9-14, La Chouffe €2.40.
If you head straight West along the number 2 bus route, you'll find the Stadscafé diagonally opposite the Stadsschouwburg (theatre). A detached building, it must have started life as an elegant villa (there are plenty more further out towards the railway museum).

Inside, despite my fairly unrepresentative photo (sorry about that), there appears to have been an effort to make this something like an English pub. I don't know how else to explain the English pubs signs - I loved the one "The Exchange Vaults - Banks's". The wooden panelling in parts of the room extend this theme to at least some degree.

There is an island bar with to one side a raised area of partitioned booths and to the other the more informal seating that you can see pictured to the left. A bit schizophrenic, but a bloke as deeply distuburbed as myself can live with that easily enough.

I'm sure that my visit, very soon after opening time, found it in a quite atypical mood (it seeems more of a night-time place). My impression was of a slightly trendy, vaguely studenty, type of place. But the natives were friendly and the price of Chouffe even more accommodating. Those of us with the good fortune to live in the nation's capital, are unused to anything under 3 euros.

There is a seating area outside on the canalside.
Rating: *** Public transport:bus 2, 3, 4, 5,8 and 11 from Centraal Station.

Stadskasteel Oudaen
Oudegracht 99,
3511 AE Utrecht

Tel. : 030 - 2311864
Fax: 030 - 2367377
Homepage: http://www.oudaen.nl

Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 10:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 4
Number of bottled beers: 5
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
A very strange location for a pub, an imposing nobleman's house which dates back to the 13th century. It only acquired its current function in the 1980's, having spent the previous 100 years as an old people's home.

Cosy is definitely not a word that springs to mind when describing its interior. If you want to drink your beer in a baron's banqueting hall, then make straight for here. The massive scale of the rooms and the imposing high ceilings make it more like a stately home than a boozer. The prices reflect the grand nature of the surroundings. I've never stayed for more than one or two, myself. The surroundings are too intimidating and the beer just not interesting enough to persuade me to stay any longer. I can't really describe it as a serious beer bar as, if your tastes are more exotic than witbier and pale lager, you're likely to get very thirsty.

Since 1990, the Utrechtse Stoombierbrouwerij has been housed in the cellar. It provides the draught beers for upstairs and it's possible to tour the brewery. There are different options, lasting 30, 60 and 90 minutes, all of which should be booked in advance.
Rating: **** Public transport:

Café de Stad
Lange Jufferstraat 58,
3512 EE Utrecht.

Tel.: 030 - 2369913
Fax: 030 - 2369913
Email: info@cafedestad.nl
Opening hours: Mon - Thur 16:00 - 02:00,
Fri - Sat 16:00 - 03:00,
Sun 15:00 - 02:00
Number of draught beers: 7
Number of bottled beers: 7
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
A typical brown café in the centre of town.
Rating: Public transport:

Café vanouds de Vriendschap
Wed 1,

Tel. : 030 - 2318 813

Opening hours:Mon - Sun: 07:30-02:00
Number of draught beers: 4
Number of bottled beers: 8
Regular draught beers:
De Vriendschap is an interesting pub which I can quite easily believe, as is claimed, to be the oldest in Utrecht. Even before you enter, you're struck by the oddness of the place. You have walk up some steps to a room half a storey above ground level.

Once inside, you can only marvel at the magnificent, peeling, brown-painted (well at least I think that's paint) ceiling. The most unusual feature is the bar counter, or rather its absence. In its place is what can only be described as a hole with a wonderful carved wood surround. It must be an original feature as no-one in their right mind would now design a pub this way.,. It's similar to genuine old English country pubs where you are served through a simple hatch.

The walls are covered in the sort of flotsam that only washes up on pub walls with the ebb and flood of decades. I wouldn't like to guess at the function and origin of most of the objects, but they form a bizarre gestalt that is most charming.

It doesn't have the most exciting beer selection but, hey, there's more to this world than beer, isn't there? I can heartily recommend Vriendschap just for its unusual interior. I have to hand it to the Dutch when it comes to not ruining pubs. A skill which somehow seems to have eluded pub-owners in many parts of Europe. (I haven't forgotten you bastards, Greenhall Whitley, despoilers of pubs and ales. Wem, Shippos and Davenports - quite an impressive number of excellent beers to kill off for what was, after all, only a regional brewer.) There are surprisingly large numbers of totally unspoilt bars in Holland. The beer selection may be pretty limited, but, if you're happy to drink Duvel or Westmalle, then you have a huge choice of pubs. Personally, I can live with drinking Westmalle Tripel every now and then.
Rating: **** Public transport:

Bert's Bierhuis
Twijnstraat 41,
3511 ZH Utrecht.

Tel. : 030 - 234 1339
Fax: 030 - 234 3166
Email: bertsbierhuis@hetnet.nl.
Homepage: www.bertsbierhuis.nl

Opening hours: Mon: 13:00-18:00
Tue - Sat: 10:00-18:00
Number of draught beers: n/a
Number of bottled beers: 800
Regular draught beers: n/a
Food: n/a
Bert's is a specialist beer off-licence on the way to Ledig Erf. It's nothing very fancy inside: just plain white shelves full of beer. And who cares? All I could give a toss about is the selection of beer. It is bigger than it looks in the photo, by the way.

I can't say that I went around counting all the diffferent types, so the figure of 800 is the shop's own claim. It's hard to guess this sort of thing, but I would reckon that there were at least 500 when I was in there. I tend to judge beer shops not so much just by the number of different beers that they have, but by these criteria:
  • how many interesting or rare beers are there?
  • is the beer reasonably fresh?
  • do they have Westvleteren?
This Bert's scored well in all of these areas (Westvleteren 8 and 12 in stock). The great majority of the beers are Belgian or Dutch, with also a decent number of British beers. The German selection (around 30 beers) wasn't so great, but did have a few that I hadn't tried before. There was also an interesting bunch of Russian beers, which might have attracted my attention, had there been no Westvleteren. A pretty good shop for the true beer-lover. I really recommend a visit if in town.
Rating: **** Public transport:

Dutch Pub Guide

Tap en Happerij De Schavuit
Steynlaan 21,
3701 EB Zeist.

Tel.: 030 - 691 7714
Opening hours: Sun - Thur 16:00 - 02:00,
Fri - Sat 16:00 - 03:00
Number of draught beers: 8
Number of bottled beers: +-20
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks €3-8, meals €9-17.
Dark brown café in a corner bungalow.
Rating: Public transport:

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