Gouden Carolus from the Het Anker brewery takes us on a journey through history.
The history of European wars and economic developments.
Before going into the details of the story, I will let you admire the beautiful orange color of this powerful Belgian triple. On the nose, there is no doubt, the yeast fills our nostrils, it smells triple. On the palate, there is little doubt about the high alcohol content of the beverage, the 9% alcohol will perhaps already be felt even before the end of the reading.
The current owner, Charles Leclef, is from the 5th generation of the largest family brewery in the Mechelen region. The Gouden Carolus Tripel did not yet exist at the time. It only saw the light of day in 1960 and the walls which shelter it have undergone many changes.
In particular two important changes: dismantling and vertical integration.
In 1914, at a time when there were ten breweries in Maline, the Germans only authorized one brewery to continue its activities. The selection is made by drawing lots. The copper tanks are dismantled.
At the same time, the Het Anker brewery built its own malt house to guarantee its supply of barley malt. A classic example of economic vertical integration.
A large building is erected in which the grain goes through several stages: moistening, germination and drying.
Humidity allows germination which induces the development of enzymes which transform non-fermentable starch into fermentable starch. Without them, no sugar, no sugar, no alcohol, no CO2. The drying stage is also crucial because it determines the color and taste of the malt, which defines its use for a pilsner, blonde, brown, black beer, etc.
Bags of malt stopped leaving the walls of the malt house in the 1960s, which marked the great turning point towards economies of scale and large companies swallowing up smaller ones in order to rationalize costs and the market.
Today, breweries brew, malthouses malt and farmers grow barley but there are some exceptional cases such as the farm brewery Hof ten Dormaal which grows, malts and brews its own cereals, barley and wheat.