A Beer Hike to De Leckere café
This is the second pre-publication of the hiking guide, The Best Beer Hikes in the Benelux, which will hopefully be published one day. The first blog post in that series was about our hike to Koningshoeven Abbey near Tilburg. That’s the place where the Netherlands’ most famous Trappist beer La Trappe is brewed. On this second walk we went to the café of a much younger brewery: De Leckere in the city of Utrecht.
The aim of this series is to combine a visit to a brewery or tasting room with a hike of around 20 kilometers. We therefore walk from the station with a very large detour through Utrecht and the surrounding countryside to the café run by De Leckere in the Werkspoor area. For those who want to follow in the footsteps of travel companion A. and me, the map below is useful; click here for a full-screen version.
During this tour we pass through many atmospheres, with architecture from all imaginable eras. I may not come as a surprise that the Utrecht city center with its canals and split level quays is wonderful. Even more so on a sunny Sunday in March. But also the rest of the route is remarkably beautiful.
Parks and waters
We walk along a little old brook, the Minstroom, and through Wilhelmina Park, laid out at the end of the 19th century in English landscape style. Bloeyendael park, which comes next, has a more natural design, with wooden bridges, meandering waters and wild bushes.
When we pass under the A27 motorway, we suddenly get outside the city, into an agricultural landscape with farms and meadows. We pass a fortress of the Dutch Waterline, Fort Voordorp. And we even walk straight through the next fortress, Fort Blauwkapel, which appears to have a village inside.
Back in town
Recreational area Ruygenhoek also exudes a green and rural atmosphere. But if we want to get to De Leckere café we have to go back into the city. The Overvecht district is a combination of apartment buildings from the nineteen sixties and recent urban renewal. We walk a short distance along the river Vecht. Then we cross the Zuilen district, with some picturesque housing from the nineteen thirties.
Juliana Park is already the second English-style landscape park on this walk. And when we pass under the railway, we arrive in yet another environment: the Werkspoor district. This used to be the domain of the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Fabriek van Werktuigen en Spoorwegmaterieel (Royal Dutch Factory of Tools and Railway Equipment). Today it is one of those old industrial sites that are slowly being colonized by small businesses, cafés, workshops and other urban functions.
The De Leckere brewery is located in one of the sheds. The café is built on the northwest side of the largest hall, the Werkspoorkathedraal. I really like the architecture of that café: a black steel construction with glass facades and translucent polycarbonate sheets. And the terrace, on the quay of the former Werkspoor harbour, looks also very inviting. We have now covered 16.6 kilometers so we think we deserve an alcoholic beverage.
Brewery De Leckere was founded in 1997 and can therefore celebrate its silver jubilee this year. The company is an example of corporate social responsibility. All ingredients of their beers are one hundred percent organic. A field of solar panels on the roof of the brewery ensures that the beer can be produced completely fossil-free. And by not using lactose or other animal products, also the label vegan can appear on the bottles. On top of that, the company offers a workplace to people with a distance to the labor market, as it is called.
That’s all very sympathetic, but the most important question is of course: how does the beer taste? The answer is: perfectly fine, at least for our picks this afternoon. We both have a CromHout Dubbel and a special, the Imperial Kveik Ale. The plate with cheeses from the region is also very welcome.
Enjoying the springtime sun, the temptation is great to try even more beers from the extensive list. But we still have to walk 4.6 kilometers to the station, so we say goodbye with some reluctance.
Those four and a half kilometers take us along three canals: Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, Merwede Canal and Leidse Rijn. The atmosphere gradually changes from industrial to urban. At the station we decide, hungry as we are after almost 21 kilometers, to walk a little further to Taj Mahal in the Zadelstraat. It has quite a nice beer list for an Indian restaurant. But unfortunately no De Leckere.
Read also the next pre-publication: the Gulpener Beerhike
In June 2023, De Leckere went bankrupt. The corona lockdowns, an expensive relocation and rising raw material prices killed the brewery. Fortunately, the café with terrace at the Werkspoorkathedraal will be retained: it’s taken over by De Proefzaak, a chain of tasting rooms connected to Kleiburg, a Protestant abbey brewery from the Bijlmer in Amsterdam. Sounds good; that calls for a new visit, which will undoubtedly take place in the near future.