In 1705 Aafke Jelles bought a property on Diepswal (now number 15) for the sum of 1029 Carolus guilders. Here, she and her husband, Hoite Douwes, ran a brewery known as Het Half Maentje. The property was described as ‘a pleasing accommodation, brewery and beer house’. The building had been used as brewery since 1625.
It is not clear whether Aafke also owned the traditional platform for the water drawer next to the Grootdiep waterway at the front of the brewery. This contraption lifted clean water shipped from the spring at the St Boniface Chapel in a water barge. A channel high above the street delivered the water to the brewing kettles at the brewery. This meant that beer was healthier than surface or well water. So beer was the most widely consumed beverage of the day. When the town’s brewing industry was at its height, there were as many as nineteen breweries in Dokkum!
Aafke had a keen eye for business. In 1715, she sold the brewery, the property and its contents, which included casks, kettles, a cooling tank and pitchers, to Jan Jansen for the sum of 1475 Carolus guilders. Ten years after purchasing the brewery, Aafke made a profit of more than 400 Carolus guilders. It was a fortune in those days!
For many years there were no breweries in Dokkum, but today the town has two breweries: Brouwerij Dockum, which is outside the town walls, and Stadsbrouwerij Boniface at Diepswal 5 (behind you). Three centuries later and several properties further on, history is repeating itself! As a tribute to the town’s history, this traditional water-drawing platform was installed in 2020, with grant funding from the LEADER programme and the Dokkum brewers guild (Stichting Dockumer Biergilde). It is the only one in Europe! That deserves a toast: Cheers!