To the west of Utrecht lies De Meern. Once a small town formed around a Roman castellum but with the expansion of Utrecht it has now become a suburb dominated by modern houses for the average Dutch family. It is not exactly a must-see part of Utrecht. Yet in the middle of De Meern is an island of green. At the tip of the huge Maximapark, greenhouses and an orchard dominate the store of the Broers Goes, who have been there for over a century. Not too far from de Broers Goes is the Maximus brewery, in a building they share with a woodworking school for almost a year now. I asked manager Ewald some questions after running into him during a hike, where I regained some energy at the brewery.
I have raved often about the great beer coming out of Utrecht, and Maximus deserves extra credit for having their own brewing installation. The brewery is very open. You can see the kettles from outside through the windows. Inside you sitting next or under them. It reminded me somewhat of an Oregon brewpub.
Its location in the middle of a suburb means the people who come here are often the middle class people with smaller children. Maximus not only caters to the beer drinker; Fruit syrups and juices from Goes for example. Bikers are another group they are targeting, for them there is even a radler on the menu. This area is great to cycle or hike through.
I could have fitted this article into the series of articles about breweries with a social function because Maximus has one. It in fact has more than one. Different from for example De Prael, Maximus is a place where people can do internships during their education. There’s a job there for cleaners, serving staff etc. up to helping the brewer. A brewery needs attention: taking care of all the products but also the interaction with the guests in the tasting room. Ewald sees this combination of both attention to the product on the one hand and practicing social skills on the other side as a perfect tool for jobs in their future.
Maximus is trying to be more than just a brewery and to become an active part of the local community. De Meern, as a new neighborhood, lacks places where people can gather socially, apart from Maximus. It is friendly to all ages with space around the brewery to sit and play. They give something back to the community by holding a neighborhood dinner every Wednesday night.
Maximus uses as many local products as possible, like the fruit juices from neighbor Goes and cheese and sausage from Utrecht. Soon they want to make their own beer cheese and mustard as well. You can get sixpacks of Maximus beer too, something I saw a lot of people buy and take home.
Through a deal with the city they had a chance to occupy the wooden, open, building they are now in and that they share with a woodworking classroom. There is cooperation, the tables in the tasting rooms are made by the neighbors who also give advice on the learning through experiencing programs. They are now looking to see if they can be helpful in making things for shipping or promotion.
That Maximus is doing so well is no accident. The three main men behind the brewery are no newbies to the brewing scene but have heaps of experience in the Dutch beer world. This experience shines through in how Maximus is set up: well thought through and professional. For brewer Marcel it is the usual story. He started brewing in his student room and this hobby slowly got out of hand and the last ten years he has been brewing in larger installations and now in his own brewery. Ewald and Arend-Jan worked for a long time at Kafe België (A Belgian beer café in Utrecht), the last years as manager. Ewald’s first contact with beer was shelving bottles in another Utrecht beer institution: Bert’s Bierhuis.
Maximus brews the beers they want to brew and so far that has meant beers with a fairly low alcohol percentage. The advantage of this is that after having tried three different beers you can still enjoy a few more. The two main beers are the Pandora (an IPA-style beer) and Brutus (more an amber-style beer). Apart from this they have some stouts and a few seasonals. Their saison is nice and the Coffee Stout I had was good too, and made with espresso’s from their own espresso machine.
Your friendly neighborhood brewer
Maximus is a unique brewery. A combination of experience and location makes it a true part of the local community. I also shows that often when you think there is a good new brewery there often is a long history before that already. With good management, good beer and a great brewpub Maximus will be a De Meern hotspot for years to come.