We were in Antwerp yesterday and, on stopping at a rather nice bar across from a French restaurant to which we later went, I was rather impressed to be served a tankard of Keizer Karel in an authentic pot.
The story, in case you hadn’t heard it is as follows…
In Olen there was an inn famed for selling good beer. When Emperor Charles visited Olen on his annual hunting expeditions, he would never forget to partake of a tankard of that good beer. He would canter up to the front door on his horse, order, and wait for the woman to come outside with the foaming brew. But she always held the tankard by its handle, so that the Emperor could never get a good grip of it.
“Woman, by next year, get thee a beer tankard with two handles, for that will make it easier.”
“Yes, my lord,” replied the woman.
Next year came and again Emperor Charles stopped off at the inn. The woman had indeed bought a beer tankard with two handles, but she held the tankard with her two hands, so that again, the Emperor was unable to get a good grip of it.
“Woman, it is still not good. By next year, get thee a beer tankard with three handles, for that will make it easier.”
Next year came and again Emperor Charles stopped off at the inn. The woman had indeed bought a beer tankard with three handles, but she held the tankard with the third handle pointing towards her breast.
“Woman,” said the Emperor, “it would be still no easier than last year, were I not to know that a third handle there is.”
And so saying, he reached under the tankard and grasped the third handle firmly.
“Behold, a clever trick there is,” proclaimed he.
And the inn where this merry story happened all those years ago still exists in Olen. And the famous three-handled tankard is still preserved there too.
– From “Van stroppendragers en de pot van Olen” [Of Rope Wearers and the Tankard of Olen]