Just outside the busiest part of the city center of Utrecht (but not too far) you find Café DeRat which of course translates to The Rat. That wasn’t a huge translation leap there. This small bar offers a relaxed, quiet place to enjoy some good beer and boasts an impressive selection of sours for such a small place.
Let’s start with the actual beginning of the place. The name of the place goes back to when the bar first opened in 1973. While remodeling they found a fossilized rat or perhaps I should call it petrified, like the wood. It now proudly adorns the wall. It’s also the only rat you will find in the place as it’s being ruled over by two cats, Stip and Josefien. I only met Josefien during my visit and she loves to be in pictures.
The current owner Erik Lebbing acquired this bar in 2008 and later on opened Taplokaal Gist. Yup, it’s another little beer empire! When Erik took over he started selling craft beer with some special focus on sour beers.
DeRat is small and comfortable, the interior uses a lot of wood. The sour collection is kept in the attic and the other bottles and cans are behind the bar. That same bar has 6 taps with changing beer. Well, mostly changing. De Kromme Haring is the local brewery that DeRat always has on tap in the form of their beer Whitebait. Together with Jupiler these are the beers that never change.
Beside the beers on tap there are over 80 bottled beers. There are printouts of the menu all over the place and if something’s no longer available they just scratch it out. Simple but effective. I also noted that there is quite a lot of whiskey available for such a small bar. There were at least 20 different ones!
There are no beer flights available but you can always get a taste of one of the beers on tap. I was there mostly for the sours though and outside of Foeders in Amsterdam (which I still have to visit) I think I haven’t seen a better collection of this kind of beer in the Randstad area. Well, not ‘seen’, more like heard of in the case of Foeders.
The clientele just wants a quiet evening, catch up with friends and just enjoy life with a good beer. That was why I was there as well with a friend I hadn’t seen in about a year. Some other patrons who were not regulars were not there for that though. They were loud and annoying which in turn annoyed the bartender. At some point he told them that this wasn’t what DeRat was about and perhaps they should just leave and go to a bar where they can party and be drunk (which they clearly were). Good job if you ask me.
There’s also no food other than some bar snacks like nuts and cheese but you can do what I did. Meet up here before dinner, go somewhere in the lovely city of Utrecht to get a real meal and return to finish the evening. Perfect way to spend a Saturday or any other day if you ask me.