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Brouwerij Pronck - the interview

By September 20, 2015 , , , , ,

Nothing says a good start to the weekend more than visiting a brewery! So on a sunny Friday evening I visited the guys at Pronck to find out more about them and their beers. Friends Frans Meij, Benjamin Wegman, Boudewijn Veenhuizen and Joost Smits were very welcoming and more than eager to talk about their venture and share a beer (or two) while we chatted. They also gave me a grand tour of their current venue as well as the first preview of the soon to be released beer that shall remain for now nameless (which was very nice btw).

Pronck is a recent newcomer to the Dutch craft brewing scene which has seen a huge rise in the number of small breweries in the last few years. They are based in Leiden and have generated a lot of buzz with their range of beers. Their style is simple yet elegantly produced beers with a depth of flavour. Their focus is on quality not quantity, so if they're not happy with the beer it doesn't leave the premises! 

The brewery is currently located in an old school house off the Haagweg in Leiden in shared premises with other creative industries. At the moment their production is 300 litres per day which makes them currently one of the smallest breweries in the Netherlands, though small is not necessarily a bad thing.

How did it all start? 

The four met at Leiden university and were part of the same fraternity, Minerva. They all had an interest in home brewing and the hobby grew into something more as the beer gained popularity with their friends. After many favourable reviews they decided that it should become more than just a hobby. They certainly are new as they started the business in November last year but only started brewing as late as February this year. They also set up a pop up restaurant last year during the Minerva Lustrum festival where burgers with foie gras and also oysters were served (how times have changed since I was a student!).

Why the name Pronck?

The name was originally supposed to be a working title till they came up with something new. They were brewing some beers for a friends album launch and they wanted to put a name on the label, so had to come up with something quickly. Names were thrown about and Pronk became the first iteration, latterly becoming Pronck. 

How would you describe your style and approach to brewing? 
How do you think your beers set you apart from other craft brewers in the Dutch market?

The approach is one of simplicity in the making of the beer with end goal in mind of complexity of taste. The aim has always been beers that people will want to drink, not ones that are overloaded with strong flavours and stand out for that reason alone. They like to make beers that are savoured and enjoyed with every sip. Rather than producing a beer that is akin to a strong Bordeaux or new world wine where the flavours are bold and strong, they liken their beers to that of Burgundy, light and complex all at the same time.

Who would you say has influenced your style of brewing? Are there types of beers that inspire you? 

There are certainly influences from German brewers with the lighter style of beers that they produce. They make use of some German malt in their beers and do not allow themselves to be overly influenced by the craft beer movement which can have a lot of strong flavours. It's through trying other people's beers as well as their own that often inspires them. They like to take elements of what works in other beers and see how they can tweak those to work for them. The glasses that they use have been specially selected to get the best out of all their beers. So rather than taking the approach of many brewers where they may have different glasses for each beer, they have carefully chosen one type (Stolzle, crystal) that works effectively to bring out the best of each of their beers.

Where do you source your ingredients? What sort of hops etc... do you use?

The aim is to source as locally as possible, but the hops are sourced from many different countries. They also make use of a smoked malt which adds a nice complexity to some of their beers. They try to ensure the hops don't dominate as they can with some breweries.

You've recently collaborated with the Twee Spieghels in Leiden to produce a beer. Are there more plans for collaborations with other local bars or even restaurants? What is involved in the collaboration process?

The collaboration process is certainly an interesting one. It's all about listening to what the collaborator wants and translating that into something that people will want to drink, and that will most importantly, sell well. Its also about capturing a certain individuality that speaks for the end client. Sometimes when collaborating they like to set themselves an "in-house competition'' to see whose beer ends up being the one that will be the collaborative beer in the end.

What do you think about Apps such as untappd? It's been said that said apps are educating people and encouraging people to try more variety of beers?

Opinion is mixed around these particular apps as reviews can be absolute rather than constructive, people either like or hate certain beers. It does however show them which beers are popular versus those which are less so. The rating gives them more of a guideline on how the market views their beers. They now stand in the top 30 of breweries in the Netherlands on Untappd, however they acknowledge that it can all change quickly such is the fickle nature of the internet. 

What are your plans for the future?

There are plans to move venue to a bigger venue where they can expand the production more effectively to meet ever growing demand. Their current market is The Netherlands but are looking to expand to other markets in Europe as well as selling in more outlets here in their home country.

For more information on their beers and also where you can purchase them go to http://brouwerijpronck.nl/ 

I heartily suggest you give them a try as the beers are some of the best I've tried out of the recent crop of craft beers on the market. I look forward to trying more of their beers in the future.

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