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Dany Prignon, Fantome

One of Belgium's master artisan brewers on why he can't take it all too seriously.
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The following is part of a three-part series on the hard-working folks behind Belgium’s most magical beers. Read the entire series here.

Portrait

Fantome’s Dany Prignon // photo by Matt Furman

“I think it’s not a miracle to simply brew beer. There is no great intelligence, from me, surely. At first, I just took old, simple recipes from people like my grandparents, who were brewing—like all people from small family farms—only to have something at home to drink from natural ingredients. Not anymore!

“Always I try to have originality in my recipes, not a small copy of another good beer. Creativity must be for me a—the!—main interesting part. To craft brew is also to try to have a simple life—even if not always easy in this life, and in this world of money. I really try to keep my real friends, and have good time for them.

“Now, there are always some brise-bonbons who want to be the best, the first, the fat cat, the better brewer. No chance; I don’t want to be this at all! And surely not a businessman—even if a few more riches would help me a lot at this moment. About the main brew work here, it’s all a bit too ‘handmade.’ It’s true, this work is from another century. And the equipment, too. But it’s so… I cannot change it all. It’s too expensive for me!

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Now THIS is aging. // Matt Furman

“Well, the work is a bit hard and always in movement like Mick Jagger. If some people say I do absolutely nothing whatsoever in my brewery, I must keep a sort of English calm. That’s not easy for me! One of my favorite old series from TV is still The Avengers, for the English ‘keep calm’ side, and the action. Also my main hobby is playing a bit, restoring old classic English cars. Well to be really honest, the presence of Emma Peel is also a very good reason!

“Do you see this aspect? It’s surely why there is confusion from the beer lovers. It’s not me that’s the star. But this small ‘consideration’ gives me a small, good pleasure! I have never had this kind of recognition in my area. Because I’m not a big-business talker, and an unconventional brewery.

“When I have time for it, I would like to write a small book about the story of this ‘fabulous’ brewery. It was at first just a joke with my father, because he had a lot of time on his hands when he retired, so we created this brew for the fun—without having really drunk good beer!

“There are so many events since the year ’88. Met a lot of good people. And some are no longer here. But don’t forget my little motto, ‘Never get too serious!’”

 

Author
Joe Stange is the author of Around Brussels in 80 Beers and co-author of Good Beer Guide Belgium. Follow him on Twitter @Thirsty_Pilgrim.

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