Q&A with Mark Strooker

By Wieneke van Koppen – photo header: Oproer by Carilijne Pieters

In March, a huge new beer bar opened in Overvecht: Oproer Brouwerij. Their selection of home brews and snacks changes regularly, but they’re all plant-based, some even gluten-free. Co-owner Mark Strooker explains: ‘We aren’t just doing our bit for the plant-based revolution; we’re going all out. And we’re here for everyone. For example, we discovered that we could brew good gluten-free beer, so now we’ve got four different ones on the menu. People come here specially for it! If you’re okay with any beer, we can give you personal tips, but Blonde Enigma is a great all-rounder. It’s a non-sweet pale beer that even non-beer-drinkers seem to like. We’re also famous for our IPAs. And then there’s our beer tasting tray – that comes highly recommended! Beer is just great: you can do so much with the flavour. But people who don’t drink beer are also welcome. We have coffee from The Village, wine and soft drinks. Our aim is to be a meeting place for local residents, including children (with their parents obviously). We’ve got a play area so that parents can enjoy a drink without having to balance a child on their lap. The place is full of nooks and crannies actually, which is nice for grown-ups too.’

MAG Utrecht Q&A, Sep & Oct 2022

photo (middle): Oproer Brouwerij by Carilijne Pieters – right: De Bierverteller

The bar used to be in Zuilen, until the building went up in flames in early 2021. ‘I was in shock for the first couple of days. But at the end of the day, you have to pull yourself together. We got so much support: from local, national and international off-licences, to a friend of my youngest child, who donated €5 from his piggy bank. After the fire, the council decided that Oproer was an important municipal asset, and we realised that people missed us. The plans for this branch in Overvecht were already underway. The idea was to liven up the area a bit. So although the building is newer, we’ve given it an ‘alternative’ vibe, but with heating instead of blankets like in Zuilen. Ha ha! We wanted to attract a mixed group of drinkers by providing pub quizzes, films and games nights. This seems to be working. Our customers need to feel as if they can pop in anytime for a whole evening or a quick pint.’

Fruity or serious

‘Fancy a beer at home with friends? Then try De Bierverteller, founded by a real beer buff. It’s all about flavour. There’s a special range of fruity beers, or a selection of heavier, more serious ales if that’s what you’re into. You’ll find special beers from all around the world, as well as local brews.’

Magical spot

‘When you’re young and at university, you don’t always realise how gorgeous the area around Utrecht is. I live in Zeist, just around the corner from acres of natural beauty: from polders, rivers and lakes, to forests, heathland and sand dunes. Take Heidestein at Driebergen, for example. If you go for a walk there, you start off in woodland with a semi-walled, man-made lake. If you carry on walking, you get to some heathland with a pond where you can take a sneaky dip. It’s just a magical spot!’

MAG Utrecht Q&A, Sep & Oct 2022

photo: Koen Peters

Something different

‘I love alternative places, and De Nijverheid has something special. It’s a hotspot for artists and people who want to do their own thing and make a difference to the world. They try to bring Utrecht to life by organising exciting, cultural programmes. I particularly enjoy their musical events; they always have something that little bit different.’

Retro vibe

Koffie Leute café has a great retro vibe. It’s full of old consoles and lamps, stuff from the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties. It’s a bit like my house actually, lots of green, yellow and orange. And they play my kind of music, both indie and electronic. The coffee is great, but I come for the whole scene. They’ve even got a record store.’

Funky ale

‘I love all the local Utrecht breweries, but if I had to choose one, it would be De Kromme Haring. It has a unique vibe and good, wild ales. These ales are brewed with yeast from the Belgian Zenne valley. This yeast makes the beer a bit funky. De Kromme Haring (and our brewery) brew this beer in old barrels to allow the flavours and aromas to mature. If you pay them a visit, you must try their latest wild ale. It’s always one of a kind!’

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