At Het Anker in Mechelen, Alan Hope discovers the roots of a brewery with a long and eventful history
There’s only one brewery left in the city of Mechelen, where once there were many. Brouwerij Het Anker wouldn’t be here, either, were it not for a decision made in 1962 by Charles Van Breedam, who was either a prophet or a madman.
Het Anker is now in the hands of Charles Leclef, the fifth generation of the founding family, though the brewing history of the site goes back centuries further. This was originally a beguinage where they brewed beer for the sick. Louis Van Breedam bought it in 1872 and installed steam power. In 1904 it got its new name, one of the many names associated with a brewery with deep historical roots.