Tag Archives: Poechenellekelder

144. Anker Gouden Carolus Classic

As this particular Brussels adventure draws to a close, what better way to bookend the trip than with a return visit to Poechenellekelder, back where we started with De Dolle Arabier a couple of days ago.

It’ll be a good opportunity to fortify ourself for the trek home with one last croque monsieur, and to pick off a final beer from the list, Anker Gouden Carolus Classic.

Anker Gouden Carolus Classic at Poechenellekelder, Brussels

Brouwerij Het Anker are based in Mechelen, Belgium and the Classic is one of several beers in their Gouden Carolus range, named after the golden coins of Belgian-born Roman emperor Charles V.

It’s certainly a change from the usual Belgian blonde beers. Dark and sinister with a small tan froth, it’s more reminiscent of a porter. It smells that way too, with smoky tobacco aromas alongside generous helpings of dates and other rich dried fruits.

The counter at Poechenellekelder, Brussels

Gouden Carolus Classic is remarkably easy drinking, and certainly doesn’t taste its full 8.5% strength. Instead it’s smooth and creamy with a tiny bit of sweetness that’s almost reminiscent of a milk stout. That smokiness is evident in the flavour, as are lashings of singed bonfire toffee and liquorice notes.

I like this one. It’s the perfect beer to soothe your system after a hard couple of days of Belgian research, but it would also go very well with rich stews or game.

And with that, we bid farewell to Poechenellekelder and to Brussels for the time being. I don’t think there’s any doubt that we shall return.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brouwerij Het Anker, Mechelen, Belgium
Style: Old Ales, Barley Wines and Vintage Ales
Strength: 8.5% ABV
Found at: Poechenellekelder, Rue du Chêne, Brussels, Belgium
Serving: 330ml bottle

139. De Dolle Arabier

In the previous post, I hinted that a trip back to Poechenellekelder in Brussels might be on the cards, and so it happened that a very pleasant Sunday afternoon saw Threehundredbeers lumber off the Eurostar, blinking in the sunshine, and make straight for Rue du Chêne.

You may remember Poechenellekelder from such poorly-photographed beers as Pauwel Kwak and Bush Ambrée. It’s a unique place lined floor-to-ceiling with intriguing and occasionally macabre artefacts including puppets, musical instruments and various brewery-related memorobilia.

The café is a classic slice of Brussels and a cornerstone of the city’s beer tourist trail. And Threehundredbeers has a little unfinished business to which to attend regarding Poechenellekelder’s extensive beer menu.

De Dolle Arabier at Poechenellekelder

Founded sometime around 1980, De Dolle Brouwers (“The Mad Brewers”) are a relatively young brewery by Belgian standards, but their Arabier has become a bit of a modern classic. It’s classified as a Golden Ale in The Book, but it’s very much in the Belgian style, and nothing like some of the rather drab British entries.

You can tell it’s Belgian with one sniff, as that classic yeast is front and centre and, relatively unusually for a Belgian beer, there are big peppery hop aromas too.

Those hops contribute a huge, pleasing bitterness, lifting the beer clear of standard Belgian blonde territory. In fact the hop bitterness combined with the hefty 8% ABV payload means this one is perhaps more reminiscent of a Tripel than a Golden Ale, and that’s no bad thing.

There are mouthwatering grapefruit notes, and just the slightest sour hint suggesting a yeast such as Brettanomyces might be involved to a minor extent too, although it’s subtle enough that my inexperienced tastebuds couldn’t swear by it.

Either way, this is a hugely satisfying beer, complex and rich, although all of that combined meant that a second might have been a little overwhelming, at least in terms of flavour.

Instead, fed, relaxed, and pleased to be back in one of my favourite bars and favourite cities, I abandoned blogging duties for the evening and commandeered a gigantic 12% ABV Malheur 12°. But just the one: we’ve an early start and a busy day planned for tomorrow.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: De Dolle Brouwers, Esen, Belgium
Style: Golden Ales
Strength: 8.0% ABV
Found at: Poechenellekelder, Rue du Chêne, Brussels, Belgium
Serving: 330 ml bottle

84. Bush Ambrée

Let’s continue on our mission to sample our way through the impressive Poechenellekelder beer menu, this time with a daunting 12.0% ABV Belgian amber beer, Bush Ambrée.

Bush Ambrée at Poechenellekelde, Brussels

The deep, rich golden beer certainly looks the part, and as with every single beer I tried at Poechenellekelder—and indeed anywhere in Brussels—it’s served in the correct glassware, in this case a rather nice looking Bush-branded chalice with a pleasing cracked glass effect.

The bottle claims this to be “The Strongest Belgian Beer”, which is a bit of a stretch since the same brewery makes at least two stronger ones, but still, as only the second beer of the evening, I’m already wondering if I’ve peaked too early.

One sip is enough to reassure me that this was a good choice. Sure, it’s boozy, but the warming alcohols are balanced out with a rich, spiced-honey sort of sweetness and a smooth, full body full of delicious sappy malts.

Bush Ambrée is reminiscent of a Barleywine, and while similar in style to Pauwel Kwak, it’s a little lighter and less sticky, making it even more easy-drinking. Which could get dangerous.

But having said that, I really enjoy the culture and civility around beer drinking in Begium. While many of the beers are hopelessly strong, the emphasis is always on quality over quantity. Table service and slow, measured enjoyment of the product are the norm, rather than a fight to the bar and necking as many pints of lager as you can before the bell rings, which is more the British approach.

I rounded off the visit to Poechenellekelder with a delicious, dark St. Bernardus Abt 12. That one isn’t The Book, but it’s probably a good job, since my notes start to become a little less legible at this point.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie Dubuisson, Chaussée de Mons, Pipaix, Belgium
Style: Old Ales, Barley Wines and Vintage Ales
Strength: 12.0% ABV
Found at: Poechenellekelder, Rue du Chêne, Brussels, Belgium
Serving: 330ml Bottle

83. Pauwel Kwak

Beer number 83 is one of those ones that you really do have to travel to enjoy properly. Pauwel Kwak obviously has to be served with its unique glass and wooden stand, and quite frankly you’d feel a bit daft sitting in a boozer in South London with one of these, even if you could find it.

Fortunately, in Brussels no one bats an eyelid, though I suspect this may be more as a result of the number of tourists who order a Kwak just for the glass, rather than the number of Bruxellois who would regularly drink it.

Pauwel Kwak

I ordered this one at the rather wonderful Poechenellekelder—“the puppet cellar”—in Rue du Chêne, an instant favourite bar lined floor-to-ceiling with masques, marionettes, ventriloquist’s dummies and all sorts of black and white photos and assorted historical memorobilia.

Helpfully for 300 Beers, it also has a truly impressive beer menu running to something like 130 beers, almost all of them Belgian.

Poechenellekelder, Brussels

The legend behind the glass, by the way, is that it was designed in the early 19th century by innkeeper Pauwel Kwak—”Fat Paul” to his mates—to be served to coachmen to slip into their stirrup as they rode away on horseback. That’s plainly nonsense, of course, and the truth seems to be that it was invented in the 1980s as a marketing gimmick.

Which is a bit of a shame really, because the fame of the glass tends to overshadow what is in fact a rather wonderful beer.

Pauwel Kwak is a warm, deep, reddish ambrée colour with a big foam head that froths all over the place when poured, but quickly calms down.

It’s thick, rich and a little sticky, and is quite reminiscent of a Barleywine. It’s low on hop bitterness, but full of treacly malt sweetness and warming alcohols.

Kwak is pleasingly strong at 8.4%, though admittedly that’s only the third strongest of three beers I tried in Poechenellekelder that night, thus making the delicious, restorative black coffee I enjoyed there the following day particularly welcome.

All in all, a lovely beer, and one I look forward to trying again some day, perhaps even as part of a return visit to Poechenellekelder before long.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brouwerij Bosteels, Buggenhout, Belgium
Style: Extra Strong Beers and Bitters
Strength: 8.4% ABV
Found at: Poechenellekelder, Rue du Chêne, Brussels, Belgium
Serving: 330ml Bottle