Charles V’s passion for beer

Of all beverages, beer was arguably the one he was most passionate about

Emperor Charles V loved beer. Perhaps because he was born in the land of his birth (Flanders), and perhaps also because he grew up in Mechelen, where the beer he loved most was brewed.

Charles V was a great lover of beer. So much so, that nowadays you can find some brands that use the emperor as a claim; and that claim to follow the tradition of the beer recipe that he liked to drink so much. In this case, it can be said that the beer that most resembles that beer is Gouden Carolus.

A beer which, as we have said, is brewed according to the recipe – and the emperor’s taste – already in use at the Het Anker beguinage since the 15th century, where the women who lived there in a semi-monastic regime brewed a creamy, roasted and bitter beer. It was undoubtedly the beer that went best with the meat dishes she loved so much.

A beer that, as a curiosity, «has a dark colour and a delicate foam, balanced on the palate as a result of the mixture of aromatic and caramelised malts, and the use of a top-fermenting yeast. It is thanks to this that we obtain a variety of beer that combines hints of banana, cherry and port wine, since it is in barrels of this wine variety that this beer ferments,» explains Jacobo Olalla, general director of the Spanish Brewers’ Association. And with a high alcohol content, we add, 8.5 degrees.

Gouden Carolus beer.

In short, Emperor Charles V was so passionate about beer that he had a brewery set up at his retreat in Yuste. The brewery was run by Henry Van der Hesen, a master brewer from Flanders.

The beer this master brewed for him was so good that he paid him two hundred and fifty guilders a year during his lifetime. In addition, Charles V specified in his will that he should be given a pension of one hundred and forty guilders for life and fifty thousand maravedis for costs. A lot of money for the time, no doubt.

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