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Brewery Het Anker is one of the oldest breweries in Belgium. It first appears in the records of the city of Mechelen in 1369. That year "Jan in den Anker" was already paying his penny membership to the St. Rombouts Chapter of the Brewer's Guild. The brewery appears for the second time in the year 1433 when Matthijs "Jan's zone" took over the city brewery after not being profitable. In approximately 1400 the brewery occupied one third of the city. The buildings, some from the 15th century still stand at the outer parts of the city. Among them are the old Beguinage of Mechelen and the "Crankenhuys".

The third appearance of the brewery was in 1471 when Duke "Karel de Stoute", Count of Flanders and Lord of Mechelen, declared that all beer brewed by brewery Het Anker that was destined for beguines and her officers was free of duties and excise taxes.

In the city of Olen they are very proud of their mug with three handles, but know this, Emperor Karel ordered beer from Mechelen to be shipped to the distant Spain. There he enjoyed the beer brewed in Mechelen amid the vineyards.
In 1872, Louis Van Breedam and his sister acquire control of brewery Het Anker and transform it into one of the most modern steam-operated breweries of that time. On 31 December 1904, NV Het Anker was created from the existing company NV Boonaerts en Van Breedam. In 1912, the first malting place in reinforced concrete was built by Victor Van Breedam. From this day on Het Anker produced malt night and day as well as for the own brewery as for surrounding breweries.


During World War I, the German occupiers decide that only one brewery is allowed to keep on brewing beer in the region of Mechelen. A lottery decided that Chevalier Marin got that honour. The brewing hall of Het Anker gets dismantled since the red copper is used for war machines.

After WWI, the brewery flourishes with a number of new beer that are born. It is also during this period that Charles Van Breedam is chosen to be the new chairman of the Belgian Brewer's Guild.
Due to the economical crisis during the interbellum and the diminishing number of breweries that buy their malt from Het Anker it became clear that the malting place had too much spare capacity. Alternatives were sought after. During this period researchers also experimented on how to create and mix dry foods and diet meals on a dry substance and wheats.



This experience was found useful during World War II. Less and less malting took place and more ration-foods were produced. The German command only allows one type of beer, the so-called "Zéro-huit" (named after its alcohol level which was 0,8°C) Because the brewery continued to produce during the war, many people that were employed by the owned were spared the faith of having to go and work in German work-encampments.

After the war ended, Het Anker took a fresh start. A brand new and in those days state-of-the-art brewing hall was erected with hanging kettles. Some activities that weren't regarded as core-activities were rejected so that Het Anker could concentrate itself on the most important task, brewing beer. The old malting place is shut down and the brewery will from here on buy malt from other malting places.

Starting from the '60, Gouden Carolus conquers the Belgian and foreign beermarket. Aside from the "emperor's beer", Het Anker also starts to brew beer like "Mechelschen Bruynen" and the blonde "Triple Toison d'Or".
It's 1990 when Charles Leclef, fifth generation of the Van Breedam family takes over the family business. The copper kettles are still used in production but cooling, fermenting and lagering are renewed to assure a better and more stabile quality. The old Riverside situated in the Guido Gezellelaan is being renovated and renamed into "De Twee Palen", a restaurant/brasserie and becomes the sign of recognition of the brewery.


After two short commercial agreements together with Riva (1991 - 1993) and with John Martin (1995 - 1997) Charles Leclef decides to become 100% independant again. New beers like, Blusser, Cuvée van de Keizer, Mechelse Reuzen en Gouden Carolus Tripel are launched with great success.

In August 1999 Hotel Carolus is opened in the old stockrooms. This hotel is unique in Belgium, it is the only hotel that is on the site of a still functioning brewery.

With the motto "To build upon traditions" there is to be further built to a firm anchorage of Het Anker in Mechelen.

The beer Gouden Carolus of brewery in Mechelen Het Anker grew into an international laurelled beer. The brewery thanks that success in large degree to its authenticity. The old recipes still form the basis of the brewing process, chemicals are never used and a variety of hops and herbs such as coriander, caraway and liquorice brings the beers on taste.

The brewery itself, which as one of the oldest in Belgium (1369), can count on a rich history, reminds of former times. The courtyard lies strewn with excellent cobblestones; on a tympan shines in grey stone the year 1625, and the three copper kettles in the brewing hall dates of just after the second world war.

The brewery, which as the years pass by had fallen into decline, got in the nineties a considerable overhaul. Charles Leclef, the fifth generation of the family which had bought the brewery in 1873, started with the restoration of the old buildings and modernised the refrigeration, fermentation and lagerings installations.

In spite of that small-scaliness , a large part of the beer has been nevertheless intended for the foreign country. The foreign consuming market is rather large. For example Japan, Mexico, United States, Denmark, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Canada, Australia, Poland, Vietnam and others : they all belong to the export countries of the brewery. And the beer is really tasted in more than 25 countries. Proofs of it are the international prices which Gouden Carolus, named after the golden currencies of Charles the Fifth, has pinched. In 2004 the christmasbeer of the same name won a silver medal on the biennial World Beer Cup, a competition with participants from forty countries. The Gouden Carolus Triple won two year before already in the same competition.

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