Germain Noffels starts a beer-bottling and lemonade-manufacturing facility at the Wijnbergstraat in Wevelgem.
Daughter Irene Noffels and son-in-law Napoleone Bacelle took over the business in 1948 after World War 2 and start the brand VALPO for their soft drinks.
Nino Bacelle (1958) starts experimenting with brewing beer in 1981 and takes over the business with his brother in 1986. In 1989 they close down the lemonade facility and his brother takes over the beer business. Nino starts working for a company specializing in refrigeration, and brewing becomes a hobby.
Nino decides -after a lot of experimental brews- that he is ready to bring his own beer to the market. It’s the start of Brewery Nino Bacelle.
After a lot of research he decides to start brewing in an existing brewery, The Deca brewery in Woesten. After just one year, 9.000 litres of Guldenberg are sold!
Nino meets Guido Devos through the beer tasters
association HOP. Guido is a founding member of HOP and has been active as an
amateur brewer for years.
Nino and Guido decide to pool resources and knowledge and hereby “Brewery Nino Bacelle“ turns into Brewery De Ranke. This name refers to the vines on which the main ingredient for beer grows: hops.
Père Noël is launched as a Christmas ale and the first batch of XX Bitter is brewed, which is considered a milestone in the history of the brewery.
Kriek De Ranke is born, a unique cherry beer that
consists of a blend of aged sour ale with cherries and lambic from the Zenne Valley.
After 11 years of brewing at Brewery Deca, Nino and Guido decide to start their own brewery in Dottenijs located in the province of Henegouwen
Cuvée De Ranke is born, an ale of mixed origin which balances between sweet and sour.
Annual production: 1.700 hl
(170.000 litres). About 60% export (U.S.A., Japan, The Netherlands, U.K.,
Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Austria and France).
Noir De Dottignies is born, the first brown beer in the history of the brewery, known for its full, malty character and a hop bitterness typical of the brewery.
Hop Harvest is created. This is their first time using super fresh, undried wet hops, which is only possible immediately after the hop harvest.
Nino decides to turn what started as a hobby into a full-time profession.
Launch of the Saison De Dottignies, a tribute to the origin of the farmhouse-ale typical to the Henegouwen province where the brewery is located. This beer is light and thirst-quenching.
Annual production: 5.000 hl (500.000 litres). About 50% export to more than 20 countries (for a full list; see “Distributors”)
By now, 6 people are employed at the brewery and plans are made to expand production to 10.000 hl/year.
Why start a new brewery in a country like Belgium where breweries are everywhere already?
In the early 80’s we –“beer lovers”- were concerned about the mass-disappearance of many small and medium-sized breweries in Belgium. Considering that they were the breweries capable of making the best beers.
It was also alarming that during that period lots of outstanding, bitter beers were sweetened to meet the demands of mass-consumption. Assuming that people didn’t like the bitter taste anymore.
The reality was that new techniques allowed using hop-extracts rather than hop-flowers, which allowed for cheaper production.
Also, the industrial manufacturers believed that the taste of beer should be neutral in order to reach the masses (combined with mass-marketing).
These developments in the beer industry led to us undertaking action to prove that quality can only be guaranteed with the best raw materials and with respect for traditional methods.
From the start it was clear that establishing a brewery meant only one goal for us: making the best beer possible according to our standards! Our standards?
1. Using natural raw materials, without adding exipients or artificial ingredients.
2. Respecting old traditional methods, without ignoring new techniques. These techniques are only applied if they guarantee quality-improvement and not for cost-reduction.
3. The project can’t depend on commercial success. A long-term strategy is planned, where all revenues are re-invested and word-of-mouth is our advertising.
Gradually our company grew, but the same philosophy has been maintained.
Ethical, ecological and sustainable
For both founders it was obvious from the beginning that the customers approach should be the same as they would expect if they were customers themselves: providing honest and correct information.
That’s why we don’t have secrets at De Ranke. We offer our customers insight in our brewery, the brewing process and the materials used, with nothing to hide.
We choose to use the best raw materials in their most natural form without adding excipients or additives during or after production.
Our beers are not filtered or pasteurized.
We prioritize the happiness of our neighbours and our staff above profitability: we don’t work nights, or do shift rotations. We always strive to maintain the best environment possible, so both the neighbours
and the staff can be proud on their local brewery, and the beers created here.
Ecological and sustainable entrepreneurship
The brewery uses exclusively local raw materials, hops from the region of Poperinge and malt from Belgian malting houses.
Part of the energy is generated by solar heaters on the roof of the brewery, so in the summer all of our cleaning water and the majority of our brewing water are heated by those boilers.
We use very little cooling during the brewing process, so less energy is used than in a classic system.
We only wash our beer crates when dirty and not every time they re-enter the brewery.
Only biodegradable cleaning products and disinfectants are used in the brewery.
Whenever possible, we recycle our waste and packaging ourselves (plastic, glass, cardboard)
Almost all beers produced at the brewery are high fermentation. This means that fermenting happens at a temperature between +18°C and +30°C. At this temperature more aroma-components are formed, causing a richer flavour and a more complex aroma.
Exceptions are Kriek and Cuvée, these are beers of mixed fermentation. They arise from a high fermented beer aged like most Flemish browns & are blended with a wild fermenting Lambic from the Zenne Valley.
Brewing itself is done by infusion while mashing and heating by direct fire during the boil. The traditional methods are used (used by most of the breweries at the beginning of the 20th century)
Unfiltered & unpasteurized
During the brewing process we don’t filter or centrifuge the beer. Filtering and centrifuging makes the beer clear, but a majority of the flavour components are lost in the process. Our beers clarify naturally by longer lagering.
Pasteurizing is a technique used by many breweries to ensure that their exported beers don’t change flavours. The biggest disadvantage of this method is the significant loss of original flavour that occurs during the process.
What good is a stabilized beer if it’s lost a lot of its original flavour?
This is why we refuse to pasteurize – we want our beer to get to the end-consumer with as much of the original flavour as possible.
In the past, only whole leaf-hops were used in the production of beer to add flavour. As is the case with wine, the grape defines the character of the wine. In beer, the hop variety defines the character.
There are some difficulties when using whole-leaf hops:
- When the quality of this expensive material drops, it can lead to off-flavours in the beer, which is why we work closely with a local hop farmer to ensure we always get hops that meet our high standards.
- The annual price fluctuates and depends on the harvest.
- The hops must be refrigerated to maintain quality all year long (which makes them even more expensive)
- Hops can only be bought once a year, just after harvest. It requires good planning for the entire brewing season to avoid hop shortage or surplus.
- Whole-leaf hops require lots of cleaning at the brewery. Hop cones tend to stick to everything during the boiling of the wort, which results in more work for the brewers because the hops must be manually removed, as opposed to breweries that use hop pellets or extracts, which requires far less work to remove.
For all those reasons, few breweries still use whole-leaf hops exclusively for their production. Hop pellets and extracts are easier to use, they’re cheaper in use and have a longer shelf life, but they contribute astringency and off-flavours to beer that whole-hop flowers do not.
Because of this, we only use high-quality, whole-hop flowers for all of our beers. These hops are 100% Belgian and grown in the region around Poperinge.
Additionally, we use exorbitant amounts of hop flowers, which results in unmatched complexity and mouthfeel.
At the end of the boil, these flowers settle to the bottom of the kettle, naturally filtering out any sediment.
De Ranke uses five hop varieties: Hallertau Mittelfrüh, Brewers Gold, Styrian
Goldings, Northern Brewer and Challenger.
Refermenting in the bottle
Beer is a living product. Before capping, a small amount of sugar and yeast are added, and the beer is placed in a warm-room for two weeks. Refermentation in the bottle begins.
When yeast consumes sugar, it creates a by-product: CO2. Because this CO2 cannot escape, a natural saturation occurs in the bottle, which gives the beer a rich head of foam. This method, also applied in the production of Champagne, gives a finer sparkle than artificial saturation (beers without refermentation)
Also, since the beer is still alive and fermenting, it can be stored for a longer period of time and results in a natural taste-evolution in the bottle. Time and storage conditions will have an impact on the flavour.
The small yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle is proof that this method is applied to all of our beers. It’s up to the customer to choose if they want to add this yeast sediment (which contains lots of vitamins) to their glass.
The brewery can be visited by groups who book a tour in advance.
Tours cost € 180 (1-20 people)
Additional people over groups of 20 costs an additional € 9 per person.
Included in the tour:
- Tour of the brewery with explanation of brewing processes
- Tasting of our beers (4 x 15cl)
To request a tour, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Individual visitors are welcome during our regular visiting times
A visit costs 7 euro per person. People can also choose a formula including a tour and degustation (4 x 15 cl) for 10 euros per person.
Every friday at 5 pm (language of the visit depends on the composition of the group)
- at 2.30 pm guided visit in Dutch
- at 3.30 pm guided visit in French
- at 4.30 pm guided visit in English
In our Taproom De Ranke (Rue du Petit Tourcoign 1D) you can enjoy a nice beer in a great location every friday from 4.30 pm until 9 pm and on saturday from 4 pm until 8 pm.