Beer is history.
This is one of the phrases heard often at Rick’s, as I’m wont go to into great detail about how various styles and specific beers came to be. One of my favorites is the Belgian Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Kaiser (aka Grand Cru of the Emperor).
Charles V (1500-1558), born in Ghent, Belgium, was recognized as the first King of Spain (as Charles I) and was Holy Roman Emperor in addition to many, many other titles. The life of Charles is a hodgepodge of factoids; He was the last of the Holy Roman Emperors to be crowned by a Pope (Clement VII in 1530). His childhood tutor, Adrian of Utrecht, later became Pope Adrian VI. Here’s a crazy beer factoid; His paternal Grandmother was Mary of Burgundy, known to Sour Ale lovers everywhere as the inspiration for Duchess de Bourgogne, whose label features a painting of Mary.
Charles’ reign was defined by one word: Conflict. Conflicts with France, with the Ottoman Empire, with Martin Luther and Protestants. His personal motto was Plus Oultre (from the Latin Plus Ultra, “further beyond” or “yet beyond”). His tenure had its victories and defeats and opinions of Charles V and his reign vary greatly.
Charles comes to be known to us beer lovers because he was one himself, preferring it to wine. The Het Anker Brewery in Mechelen brews a tribute called Cuvee Van De Kaiser. Brewed every year on Charles’ birthday (February 24), Cuvee is a bigger, rounder take on their Carolus Classic brown ale. It’s high-alcohol, robust and spicy with rich, sweet malts and a smooth raisiny tone.
One of the rare vintage dated beers, Carolus Cuvee Van De Kaiser is built to last and in fact I’m hoping to see some back-vintage bottles in stock soon. If I can get them in time for the weekend, I may just sample a couple years out on Saturday. Until next week.
Nick Anderson, The Beermonger