Named after the gold coins from the time of Charles V, this beer brewed in the then capital town of Mechelen had to be something special, the brewers naturally wanted to prove they were the best and could brew the best beer for their beer loving Emperor. Reports from that time tell us that the beer was mainly consumed during fox hunting; it apparently enflamed both rider and horse for the ensuing chase with the hounds.
That’s as may be, but the beer remains and is truly world class, having won the World Beer Awards in 2012 as the best dark ale and best belgian style dubbel.
Brewing at the Het Anker site in Mechelin goes back even before the reign of Charles V and owes its origins to the strong Beguine presence in the city; the present day site incorporates some of the 15 th century buildings from the Beguine hospital. In 1471 Charles the Bold (great grandfather of Charles V) declared that the Beguine order shouldn’t pay any taxes on beer brewed for the hospital.
401 years later the van Breedam family bought the brewery and progressively turned it into what we can see today.
The best place to drink the beer has got to be freshly drawn at the brewery tap. Comes with a good head and has a red to dark brown colour. The aroma is not overwhelming, sweet malt with some herbs and alcohol. In the taste the dark fruit ( plum/prune/raisin) comes though but the sweetness doesn’t overpower, blending nicely with the malt and fruit topped off with a herbal dryness and some hop bitter. Just the right amount of alcohol ( 8,5% vol.) to hold it all together and allow you to go off sightseeing in the old town.
A good Belgian dubbel/ strong dark ale; well worth drinking and certainly one of the best (if you exclude the Trappist brews!)