I will begin this post by acknowledging that no-one really needs an excuse to drink beer. It is simply one of those things that happens in the Netherlands, like rainy weather and the trains running on time. However, if ever there was a weekend to plan some lazy afternoon beverages, then it’s probably this one (March 19-20).
The fourth edition of Utrecht’s Streekbierfestival (craft beer festival) rolls into town on Saturday and Sunday. The festival, which happens twice per year, creates a golden, frothy trail through the city, with fifteen participating venues. Each venue will be stocking two specially selected craft beers from sixteen participating breweries, served in tasting glasses for the full flavour hit. Beer tasting glasses are those fancy glasses with a usually narrower base and a wide rim, so you can fully dip your nose in close to the beer to engage all your senses at once.
What makes this festival such a celebration of Utrecht’s culture and lifestyle is the fact that all sixteen participating breweries brew in the actual state of Utrecht, and represent the finest the region has to offer. De Leckere, founded in 1997, brews their beers organically and in 2009 won the Utrecht Hero of Taste award, given during the Dutch Week van de Smaak (Week of Taste). Rock City Beers, out of Amersfoort, perhaps does not have the prestige or the history of De Leckere but what it lacks it makes up for with its inventive offerings, such as an espresso bock. Het Licht Brouwerij, founded in 2014, specialises in seasonal beers and is already working with Cafe Hofman on producing a Belgian Golden Ale.
A few of Utrecht’s favourite destinations will also be unmissable stops on the trail. As ever, the ubiquitous Cafe Hofman is a must, although I’m sure they’ll find it difficult to squeeze two more beers onto their already overflowing menu. The chic and stylish STAN & CO has a mouth-watering beef burger that would pair like salt and pepper with a limited release beer. Finally, check out Florin Utrecht on Nobelstraat. It’s a British style pub just near the Drift.
Streekbierfestival begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, until closing time Saturday night, and again on Sunday from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. Cheers!