April 22, 2004
The brewery dates back to at least 1369, and it specializes in brewing "grand beers" that are quite strong. The buildings have been renovated, including old houses formerly belonging to the local Beguinage. The beer is still brewed here, but the bottling and kegging processes are now performed elsewhere. After a tour of the facilities, visitors can sample some of these Mechelse beers.
A better way to complement your tour is by having a meal at its restaurant. The Brasserie Het Anker has a comfortable dining area with a charming assortment of props you would expect to find in a brewery. Sit by the glass wall that overlooks the back of the brewery and enjoy the ambience. Whet your appetite with a brew like a Mechelschen Bruynen, a bold brown beer from a recipe dating back to the earliest days of the brewery. Note that this brewery is the only one still producing this special beer. The Gouden Carolus is perhaps its most common and popular beer, and it is sold in many other establishments across town.
There are full set meals you can order, or you can do it a la carte. The menu includes meat dishes, pastas and sandwiches. My entree was the Mechelse koekoek, vaguely translating into Mechelen cuckoo. This local specialty with the funny name consisted of a chicken filet cooked in a rich beer-enhanced gravy. It was accompanied by a bundle of asparagus spears wrapped by a strip of bacon. I also ordered a side of potato croquettes, which were a taste sensation. Imagine spoonfuls of creamy mashed potatoes jammed into fried crunchy cocoon-shaped shells and you will get a bowl of these delicious nuggets. You can order the familiar Belgian fries here too, but these croquettes were the best potato items I have ever tasted in all of Belgium. If you are watching your euro, have a beer and some croquettes and you will be a happy camper.
If you want to go for the full experience, stay at the Hotel Carolus that was added to the complex in 1999. There are 22 serviceable rooms that are not too pricey at less than 100 euro a night. The rooms are en-suite and the breakfast buffet is included in your rate.
From journal Bill in Belgium - MECHELEN (side trip from Antwerp)