Frantz was born October 26, 1860, at Haine-Saint Paul, in Hainaut, Belgium. His father was a brewmaster and a 25 year member of the Belgian senate in Brussels.
Frantz was one of those rare very gifted and remarkably knowledgeable men, accomplished in bio-chemistry, engineering, music, and well versed in painting, sculpture and poetry. In 1881, Brogniez entered the University of Louvain and enrolled in “Special Sciences,” including engineering and biochemistry. He continued his studies at the Louis Pasteur Institute in France.
In 1882, Brogniez went to Lichterveld to work in a brewery. While there, he developed the first “blond” beer in Belgium.
He moved to Detroit Michigan in 1896 and established The Belgian Brewery. It was quickly renamed the Tivoli Brewery after he took on some investors. He befriended Henry Ford and often went riding with him. Frantz never learned how to drive.
He left Detroit in 1904 and moved to Terra Haute Indiana where he established the Peoples Brewery and supervised its design and construction. It grew to one of the largest in the nation at the time.
In 1912 he moved to Houston for the warmer climate for his chronically ill wife and became the brewmaster for Houston Ice and Brewing’s Magnolia Brewery. A year later they learned of the International Exposition at Ghent Belgium. The Exposition was held every couple of years and was a competition where beer from all over the world was put through a battery of tests. Frantz had some beer grabbed off the line and sent it with a friend that was traveling to Belgium. This particular year 4,096 beers were entered. Out of all these beers, Southern Select was the last one standing with 3 tests still to go. It won the Grand Prize. HI&B became the largest brewing company in the south. Frantz remained with HI&B until Prohibition ended his job.
Also in 1913, Frantz, Mrs. E. B. Parker and Miss Ima Hogg established the Houston Symphony. By this time he was a Mason and an Elk.
While WWI was going on around 1918, sugar was in short supply so Frantz was asked if he could develop a recipe for ice cream using something other than sugar for the sweetener. He developed what became Honey Boy Ice Cream made with honey. It was fairly popular. When WWI ended, the rights were sold to Reddig Ice. Honey Boy disappeared.
During Prohibition Frantz moved to El Paso Texas and brewed beer at Cerveseria Juarez in Juarez, Mexico. Some of these beers were award winners as well.
When it looked as if Prohibition was going to end in 1933, Frantz moved back to Houston where HI&B was trying to get back into the brewing business. It became obvious that HI&B had big plans and not much money. At the same time, Howard Hughes wanted to get into the brewing business thinking it would provide much needed jobs. Mr. Hughes enticed Frantz away from HI&B and formed Gulf Brewing. With little modification to an existing building they quickly installed a state of the art brewing facility of Frantz’s design. Grand Prize beer became a reality. It was named for the Grand Prize that Southern Select won. It was the same recipe as Southern Select. Grand Prize grew to be one of the south’s most popular beers.
Two years later at the age of 75, Frantz passed away in the arms of his son Fernand with his family present.
- see also:
- Houston Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Bayou City
by Ronnie Crocker
- Frantz Brogniez: is part of Houston's beer brewing history by Ronnie Crocker
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