Getting to know: Brouwerij Pronck
Brouwerij Pronck is fiercely proud to be a brewery in the historic Dutch city of Leiden, a city known the world over for its university. Leiden has been the home of Brouwerij Pronck since it was founded there in 2014, and the brewery shows its reverence for the city by magnificently displaying the city’s name proudly as part of its logo.
It is uncommon in other countries for a brewery to place its local and regional background and heritage front-and-centre in its marketing, publicity and image, yet it’s quite customary in The Netherlands, a country with a lengthy history of beer production and global influence.
However, despite the country’s beer antiquity, the omnipresent, ubiquitous ‘Holland Beer’, with its domination of global beer sales, is not representative of a current Dutch beer-scene that focuses on crafty, artisanal production with an abundance of taste, aroma, quality and social awareness. Brouwerij Pronck focuses on classic styles that have a “Leidse” twist and is a great example of the latter: a great representative of the crafty, artisanal Dutch beer-scene, and a benchmark model of a brewery that cares.
The Leiden skyline is dominated by the city’s tallest landmark: the “Lichtfabriek” electricity power station with its 1952 chimney, 80-metres high and characterised by its flared crown that is oft-described as tulip-shaped. It would be fair to say Brouwerij Pronck in one of the breweries dominating the skyline of beer in Leiden, especially when the chimney can literally guide people to the brewery, which is located at its base.
Founded by friends Benjamin Wegman and Frans Meij, Brewery Pronck is a young, dynamic endeavour that is not only steered passionately towards great beer, but is also underpinned by a resolute set of ethics and ideals that emphasise the integrity of Benjamin, Frans and the similarly impassioned Brewery Pronck team of disparate nationals and internationals, all of whom bring something unique and distinct to the Pronck party.
In mediaeval Dutch, to “proncken” was to be showy or to flaunt something; in modern Dutch, to “pronken” means the same. It is very apt, perhaps, that Brewery Pronck likes to flaunt its beliefs and conscience. Beneath the city name on Brewery Pronck’s logo are the words ‘Eerlijk Gebrouwen Bier’ — Honestly Brewed Beer — which in another indicator of the brewery’s determination to brew honest beers that are fair, local, socially and environmentally responsible, pure and natural.
Local ingredients are sourced for the beers as much as possible, and several of the brewing by-products go straight back into the local economy. Local bread, for example, is baked using some of Brewery Pronck’s spent grain. A natural cycle of produce and quality that avoids anything artificial is certainly important, especially when the quality produced by using all-natural ingredients is evident.
Brewery Pronck does not have a taproom at its Lichtfabriek brewery, at the base of the chimney, although regular or pre-arranged brewery tours are possible if you would like to learn more about the brewery’s values, local social involvement and, indeed, the beers themselves.
With its focus on Leiden, that city would be the best place to find and taste Brewery Pronck’s honest beers, although they can usually be found in beer stores across the land — and their draught beers occasionally find their way into the beer-bars and -cafés of other cities. If you’re fortunate enough to visit a local beer festival or event, look out for Brewery Pronck’s sleek and stylish wooden Pronckbar. And we urge you to seek it out!
(Thanks, too, to Fraukje Vonk for the photography.)