Written by Franz D. Hofer for A Tempest in a Teapot

An entry from my beer notebook describes a day trip from Brussels in June 2019: “By shortly after noon, I had found my way to Het Anker, the ‘real’ reason for my visit to Mechelen. I love how beer, breweries, and their history get me out to places I wouldn’t otherwise visit!”

When you think about all those dazzling Belgian cities like Bruges, Antwerp, or Ghent, Mechelen probably isn’t the first place you’d think of visiting on a trip to Belgium. But with its magnificent St. Rumbold Cathedral, historic béguinage quarters, and vibrant squares, Mechelen is well worth the 30-minute train ride from Brussels.

Mechelen is also home to a dense concentration of classic beer cafes that exude a time-worn charm you just won’t find in many of today’s sleek but curiously anodyne establishments. And if that’s not enough, it’s also home to Het Anker, brewers of Gouden Carolus, a range of weighty beers named after Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

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