You could be forgiven for thinking the guys at De Ranke, Nino and Guido, are keen on living dangerously. Everything they do is like a high-wire act. They don’t pasteurise their beer; it’s not filtered; they don’t even use hop pellets. Their equipment has to be tailor-made because of all these restrictions, so the brewery in Dottignies is one of the few you’ll see that doesn’t look exactly like all the others.
But living dangerously isn’t the motive. Good beer is the motive. “We’re not interested in what the market wants, we want to make beers that we like to drink ourselves. So in that way we make no compromises,” Nino says. They weren’t born into brewing, they chose it. Or maybe brewing chose them. Despite being relative newcomers – compared to the sons of families now in their sixth or seventh generation in the business – they’ve already cultivated a following. At least two lots of young brewers have come up through an apprenticeship here, and are now beating their own paths. That’s what passion gets you: people take you seriously, and people want to have a little bit of what drives you. “It’s all a dedication to quality, simple as that.”