Stadsbrouwerij Pelgrim (‘Pilgrim Town Brewery’) is located in Delfshaven in West Rotterdam. If you’re new to the city or have never ventured beyond the city centre, this picturesque neighbourhood is definitely worth paying a visit. Because it’s one of the few areas that survived the bombing of the old town during the Second World War. Strolling along Delfshaven’s canal, surrounded by centuries-old buildings, it feels as if you’re in a different city altogether.
In the Netherlands, having a drink surrounded by old buildings isn’t particularly special. But this historical setting offers something unique, and the fun thing about this bar is that they’ve been brewing their own beer here since 1996. Of course, photographer Amber and I will be sampling a few for your benefit. The bar-brewery is found next to the Pilgrim Fathers’ Church. This old church is named in commemoration of the English settlers who sailed from this port in the 1600s, bound for the Americas. So that explains the name of the brewery.
It looks cosy already from the outside, and after entering, we end up in a spacious hallway. The door on the right takes us to the café proper. The place is nice and busy, but we still find an open spot along the bar. People of all ages are clustered around the high and low tables, enjoying themselves. We’re given a friendly welcome by the bar crew. They don’t sell regular pilsner here, so they offer us one of their own brews, Stoombier, instead. An excellent alternative: this fresh pale ale goes down really well.
So the various liquids in our glasses are actually brewed on the premises. The barman points us to the area where the magic happens: opposite the door to the bar in the hallway we just entered. You’re free to have a look around. There are big kettles with all sorts of gewgaws that we don’t claim to understand, but the place definitely looks the part.
Moving on to the menu, we find all sorts of dishes that – how could it be otherwise – have beer as an ingredient, like Pilgrims’ Cheese and beef stew with bock beer. The snacks menu lists the usual deep-fried treats, but also more left-field options like beer pâté and veggie dippers with baba ganoush. We decide on a platter of Parma ham with toast and some green garnish for the looks. The slices are a bit thick but taste none the worse for it. No point hopping around on one leg, so we correct that situation with a second beer. This time, we go for the Zonnelief: a mild wheat beer with raspberry, which turns out to be a lot less sweet than expected, but delicious nonetheless.
Both the bar-brewery itself and the surrounding area feel like one big museum. The collection of old beer mugs hanging over the bar and Pelgrim’s array of different beer glasses take you back to the olden days. If the weather’s right, you can sit along the canal or in the establishment’s courtyard. But today, we’re staying inside where it’s nice and warm. It’s a great place to have a drink or grab something to eat with your date, but it’s equally suited for playing a board game with friends on a chilly afternoon. And if you prefer, it’s also a great spot to while away a few hours on your own, enjoying the view and musing about bygone times.