Friday, January 16, 2009

Trappist Ale by Candlelight.

I've noticed that many young Belgians – like young Germans, I think, and all Europeans for all I know – are attracted to slick, modern, boring bars and restaurants. It's like they want to reject the old, cozy, authentic pubs of their grandfathers and embrace something all their own – even if it sucks.

As a foreigner from a much younger country, having seen that anything "modern" only lasts about 10 years at most before it looks stupid, I much prefer a more venerable place – even if it sucks. I don't want to drink in a shiny factory. I want to drink in the Middle Ages. And yes, this does explain the bizarre phenomenon of Medieval Times.

That brings me to the Pelgrom in Antwerp. in the 15th Century it was a cellar to store victuals for the city's trade fairs. Now it's a pub. We popped in there for the first time recently. It offers exactly that sort of arched-brick-ceiling, candlelit, metal-beer-tankard ambiance that so delights naïve American and Japanese tourists. Like us. I half expected our server to limp out with a hunched back and take our orders with the simple question, "Yar?" Then we would clap and cheer and take flash pictures and happily part with many duckets. I loved the feel of the place, even if the beers lean a bit to the corporate side.

At least they had Westmalle Dubbel on draft. What a tasty, sneaky concoction that is. I reckon the pressurized tap and fresher hop presence help make it so dangerously, dangerously, drinkably light compared to the bottles. If only they'd serve it those large tankards instead of a chalice. Maybe if we ask nicely next time.

The Pelgrom is at Pelgrimstraat 15 in Antwerp. It opens at 5 p.m., generally.


  1. While it may be true that young people like to drink in trendy bars, I am fairly sure that once the said same people will return to the traditional pub when they reach their 30s and decide they want to drink good beer, hear their friends talking, those kinds of things.

  2. Opps, forgot to delete a couple of words there - you know what I mean though.

  3. Yeah, you may be on to something there. We all get better with age.

  4. I am drawn to dark and dank, preferably where the locals hang out. My favorite right now is the t'Poatersgot (monk's Hole) in Brugge. Check it out next time you are there: Vlamingstraat 82,
    8000 Brugge

  5. Yeah, I know the Poatersgat. Cool cellar atmosphere, likewise with the Zolder across the street. I've heard the beer list may be going downhill at Poatersgat (any recent reports?), but I'll forgive a lot for ambiance.