Friday, 27 August 2021

Croatian Festival Organisers from Ontodei Turn to Beer Business

August the 27th, 2021 - Croatian festival organisers like those from Ontodei have turned towards the ever-popular beer business as the second year of festivals in Croatia being severely hindered by the pandemic shows no signs of letting up.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, Croatian festival organisers have had an enormous amount of time to twiddle their thumbs and sit worrying about their futures as a result of the global pandemic. Some, however, have decided to branch out. The young entrepreneurs involved with the brands Saso Mange and Freemental are not giving up despite the dire circumstances, and this summer they started developing their second project, craft beer production.

The Saso Mange brewery was opened in Zagreb's Gajnice on July the 1st this year, in which 1.5 million kuna and many hours of work in the former printing house have been invested so far. The first two beers, Saso Mange Hairy Blonde and Choppy Apa entered the Croatian market, through cafes and specialty stores, followed by a web shop with delivery options available.

The label is signed by artist Miro Zupa and designer Bojan Kanizaj, and the brand name Saso Mange comes from the Romani language and means "there is everything/ima svega". Additional investments are already being made for the winter, and the plan is to connect the story with festivals, revealed Filip Ledinscak, the co-founder and director of Vopisada.

"Apart from the direct sales we've already started with, our plan is to have our own sales channel through the Freemental festival, which we hope will start up again next summer. Beer production and music festivals are related projects that have always been in our plans, but the pandemic has certainly affected the realisation and dynamics. As we decided to postpone the festival we were developing on Cres this summer, we've now decided to start with the brewery,'' Ledinscak explained.

Along with him, his partners from Ontodei, Croatian festival organisers, Filip Filipi and Matija Santro, entered the beer business, while the fourth founder, Daniel Derencinovic, is the main production operator.

The whole entrepreneurial story started to mature about ten years ago, when they built their own soundsystem as sound engineers, which they rented to other festivals, and five years ago they decided to start their own. The coronavirus pandemic thus interrupted them in the increasingly serious project of the Freemental festival.

"On Cres, it turned out that we had a great product with good prospects. There are few such festivals by the sea in Europe, and the vision is to make an exclusive festival with a maximum of 3.5 thousand people. We'd rather make two smaller ones than one large festival with ten thousand people, in order to have a minimal impact on the environment and maintain the quality of the content. In the second edition of that, we introduced a lot more content in Freemental, in 2020 the plan was to further enrich it and develop a really serious story, but then the pandemic struck. We weighed in on this year, but this is a festival in which we still need to invest significantly, and the uncertainty of the event would be very risky for us financially.

So, we've now turned to the brewery, and I believe that as early as next summer the situation will be much more favourable to continue with the festival where we left off. I have no doubt about that because everyone who is collaborating on the project can't wait for us to start again,'' Ledinscak pointed out.

From next summer on, both projects should be "driven" in parallel. Vopisada expects a return on investment in the brewery and earnings in three to five years. The brewery is now at a capacity of 50 thousand litres per year, but around the New Year they'll continue to invest to triple the capacity, to 150 thousand litres per year, with two employees.

For more, follow our business section.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

Young Zagreb Brewer Mirko Drmic Launches Own Crnomerec Craft Brewery

August the 7th, 2021 - Mirko Drmic went to extreme lengths in order to create his very own craft beer brewery, and the coronavirus pandemic didn't throw a spanner in the works. Mirko believes that you only regret the chances you didn't take in life, so he threw caution to the wind and it has paid off.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, Mirko Drmic is just 26 years old, and this young Zagreb brewer opened the Local Craft Brewery in Crnomerec in Mikulici last year, in the midst of the global pandemic, under the slogan "Think Globally, Drink locally!/Misli Globalno, Pij Lokalno!".

Craft brewing has been gaining firm momentum in the last few years in the world and right here in Croatia. A large number of people have started producing beer for their own needs, but it takes a lot of courage and will to enter the increasingly competitive market with craft beer.

One of those who was encouraged by this move was Mirko Drmic, and the main stars of his small neighbourhood brewery are the hoppy red ale beer Drma (6% alcohol) and the summer refreshment of Tauk (4.5%) from the Session IPA category. In the autumn, he says, this collection will be joined by the new Purger beer, with which this young brewer plans to win over his neighbouhood, and this winter will be marked by his very first black beer.

But, where did this all start? After graduating from high school in economics, and then from the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb, Mirko Drmic was sure of one thing - he wanted to start doing something of his own.

He fell in love with craft brewing a few years ago, and he decided to turn that idea into reality back in 2017 when, as a student, he worked as a waiter in the USA through the Work & Travel programme. He returned two years later having earned enough money to open his own craft brewery.

“The goal was to make money to build my own brewery and start production. Thanks to the programme for self-employment through the CES, I received 75,000 kuna and additionally invested more than 130,000 kuna of my own money ", states Mirko.

The inspiration for the name of his first beer came, symbolically, from his surname, Drmic, ie the family nickname Drma, and Mirko's father Ivan had the honour of being on the label of the first bottle designed by Mirko's friend Duje Brecic.

"I knew Drma would be my first beer. I filled 20 0.33L samples and carried it to few cafes each to see if they'd like it. Everyone said they did, and that's how the story started,'' the young brewer explained.

The period when he worked in the USA and learned about craft brewing was the inspiration for the name and label of another beer. He worked in the small town of Montauk, or Tauk for short, where the small local craft brewery, Montauk Brewing Company, was located.

The Tauk label also includes a lighthouse, which is a symbol of this place and which is also the oldest lighthouse in the entire state of New York from the time of George Washington.

Admittedly, the time taken to start the company and present the beer was quite challenging for the determined Mirko Drmic despite his initial enthusiasm. It took place back at the beginning of March 2020, just before the first lockdown when restaurants put their keys in their locks for almost two whole months.

He had already produced Drma by then, but had to wait until the end of August 2020 just to make his first sale. It was challenging during the lockdown due to waiting for the suppliers of production equipment because, as Mirko explained, suppliers procure production material from Italy, which was the most affected country in terms of the pandemic at the time.

“I’d been waiting for equipment since March, but I used that time to see where I was and how I might organise some other things until everything came to life again. At the end of August, I sold my first barrel in Zagreb's Harats Beer Boutique. It went well until the second lockdown came towards the end of the year,'' recalled the brewer.

After Drma, he also introduced Hoptimus (American IPA) in March, a 500-litre special that quickly sold out, and then in the summer, Tauk arrived.

Currently, his beer can be found in a total of 25 stores and restaurants across Croatia, most of which are in Zagreb (Harats Beer Boutique, Beer & Snacks, Fakin Craft Bar and more) and thanks to distributors, Mirko Drmic's craft beer can also be found in Rijeka, Djakovo, Zadar and Split.

He produces 1,000 litres of beer in a 40-square-metre office space inside his own family house in Mikulici in Crnomerec. The space in the first part consists of a kind of brewery where he brews and produces the beer, while in the second part, the beer matures in bottles and barrels.

“It takes about a month from brewing beer to it going into a bottle. I’m just focused on brewing and I want everything I’ve started to be taken to the next level. It's all slowly starting to come to its own now. It's been challenging because I had to start twice, after two lockdowns.

Beer requires a lot of investment. When you fill the beer in the bottle, it must also mature in the bottle and in the barrel. You have to do three batches to make sure you always have stock. By the way, the capacity is 2000 litres per month of Drma and Tauk, and now I'm at 1000. I hope that the market will demand more. Fortunately, Zagreb is a big city, and I'm still a small producer,'' Mirko Drmic said.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Craft Brewery Varionica Wins 3 Beer Oscars at European Beer Challenge

May 12th, 2021 - The European Beer Challenge, or the beer Oscars as connoisseurs call it, is the most important and prestigious European beer competition that brings together the most elite European wholesale beer buyers who are also the judges at the competition itself. For the second year in a row, Craft Brewery Varionica went home with 3 Oscars. 

With extremely rigorous criteria, Varionica was awarded four gold medals at this year's beer Oscar. Among thousands of beer samples from 39 countries, double gold was won by Deep Dive IPA, while single gold went to Neon Stout and Siesta Session IPA.

As hrturizam.hr reports, at last year’s competition, they also won double gold for their Pale ale debut, and gold for Chef’s beer, and bronze for Noel's passion sour. Even greater success in 2021 only confirmed that Varionica had become a serious world beer player who deservedly belongs to the very top of world brewing.

How serious the European Beer Challenge is, is shown not only by the rigorous selection of judges but also by tasting and evaluating the beer itself. Namely, this beer Oscar uses the method of triple tasting blindly, which means that the judges have absolutely no information about the beers they taste; they have not seen the packaging, that they do not know from which country the beer originates or their price range. And perhaps most importantly, judges are not allowed to argue with each other about their impressions.

"The fact is that the European Beer Challenge is one of the strictest beer competitions, but that is why we are even more pleased with the recognition we received at it, and in a way, it is our motive for further work," said Matija Mrazek, master brewer of craft brewery Varionica.

"This year's winner of double gold, Deep Dive IPA, although still a bit unusual for our market, has become part of our basic beer offer, and we are overjoyed that it is now officially recognized by experts with such high marks. We surpassed last year’s success as we won all the gold medals this time. All of our standard beers now have either gold or double gold! So now we have formally achieved an enviable standard," concluded Davor Simičić, CEO of the craft brewery Varionica.

This gold-awarded, but also all other beers of the craft brewery Varionica, can now be found in a large number of restaurants and cafes where quality is important, and on the shelves of more than 300 stores of retail chains Spar, Vrutko, Kaufland, Konzum, Plodine, Food, Roto Dynamics, Decentia, Victa, Tommy and Lonia. All beers are also available in the Varionica webshop.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

Friday, 19 February 2021

People also ask Google: What is Croatia Famous For?

February 19, 2021 – What is Croatia Famous For?

People outside of the country really want to know more about Croatia. They search for answers online.

Here, we'll try to answer the popular search terms “What is Croatia famous for?” and “What is Croatia known for?”

Most of the people looking for answers to these questions have never been to Croatia. They may have been prompted to ask because they're planning to visit Croatia, they want to come to Croatia, or because they heard about Croatia on the news or from a friend.

What Croatia is known for depends on your perspective. People who live in the country sometimes have a very different view of what Croatia is famous for than the rest of the world. And, after visiting Croatia, people very often leave with a very different opinion of what Croatia is known for than before they came. That's because Croatia is a wonderful country, full of surprises and secrets to discover. And, it's because internet searches don't reveal everything. Luckily, you have Total Croatia News to do that for you.

What is Croatia known for?

1) Holidays


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Croatia is best known globally as a tourist destination. Catching sight of pictures of the country online is enough to make almost anyone want to come. If you've heard about it from a friend, seen the country used in a TV show like Game of Thrones or Succession, or watched a travel show, your mind will be made up. Following such prompts, it's common for Croatia to move to first place on your bucket list. If it's not already, it should be, There are lots of reasons why Croatia is best known for holidays (vacations).

a) Islands


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What is Croatia famous for? Islands © Mljet National Park

Within Croatia's tourist offer, its most famous aspect is its islands. Croatia has over a thousand islands - 1246 when you include islets. 48 Croatian islands are inhabited year-round, but many more come to life over the warmer months. Sailing in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the islands, and if you're looking for a place for sailing in the Mediterranean, Croatia is the best choice because of its wealth of islands. These days, existing images of Croatia's islands have been joined by a lot more aerial photography and, when people see these, they instantly fall in love.

b) Beaches


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What is Croatia famous for? Its holidays are famous for their beaches © Szabolcs Emich

Croatia has 5835 kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Sea - 1,777.3 kilometres of coast on the mainland, and a further 4,058 kilometres of coast around its islands and islets. The Croatian coast is the most indented of the entire Mediterranean. This repeated advance and retreat into the Adriatic forms a landscape littered with exciting, spectacular peninsulas, quiet, hidden bays, and some of the best beaches in the world. There are so many beaches in Croatia, you can find a spot to suit everyone. On the island of Pag and in the Zadar region, you'll find beaches full of young people where the party never stops. Elsewhere, romantic and elegant seafood restaurants hug the shoreline. Beach bars can range from ultra-luxurious to basic and cheap. The beaches themselves can be popular and full of people, facilities, excitement and water sports, or they can be remote, idyllic, and near-deserted, accessible only by boat. Sand, pebble, and stone all line the perfectly crystal-clear seas which are the common feature shared by all.

c) Dubrovnik


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What is Croatia famous for? Dubrovnik © Ivan Ivanković

As a backdrop to Game Of Thrones and movies from franchises like Star Wars and James Bond, Dubrovnik is known all over the world. Everybody wants to see it in person, and that's why it's an essential stop-off for so many huge cruise ships in warmer months. But, Dubrovnik's fame did not begin with the invention of film and television. The city was an autonomous city-state for long periods of time in history, and Dubrovnik was known all over Europe – the famous walls which surround the city of Dubrovnik are a testament to a desire to maintain its independent standing for centuries while living in the shadow of expanding, ambitious empires.

d) Heritage


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What is Croatia famous for? Heritage. Pula amphitheatre is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world

The walled city of Dubrovnik is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Croatia's rich architectural and ancient heritage. Diocletian's Palace in Split is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still the living, breathing centre of life in the city (that people still live within it and it is not preserved in aspic is one of its most charming features and no small reason for its excellent preservation).

Having existed on the line of European defence against the Ottoman empire, Croatia also has many incredible fortresses and castles. The fortresses of Sibenik are well worth seeing if you're visiting Sibenik-Knin County and its excellent coast. A small number of Croatia's best castles exist on the coast, Rijeka's Trsat and Nova Kraljevica Castle is nearby Bakar being two of them. Most of Croatia's best and prettiest castles are actually located in its continental regions which, compared to the coast, remain largely undiscovered by most international tourists.

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Many spectacular castles in the country's continental regions are, for these parts, what is Croatia famous for

Pula amphitheatre (sometimes referred to as Pula Arena) is one of the largest and best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. A spectacular sight year-round, like Diocletian's Palace, it remains a living part of the city's life, famously hosting an international film festival, concerts by orchestras, opera stars, and famous rock and pop musicians. Over recent years, it has also played a part in the city's music festivals.

e) Music Festivals


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What is Croatia famous for? Music festivals © Khris Cowley

There is a very good reason why the city of Pula leapt massively up the list of most-researched online Croatian destinations over the last decade. It played host to two of the country's most famous international music festivals. Though the music at some of these can be quite niche, the global attention they have brought to the country is simply massive. Clever modern branding and marketing by the experienced international operators who host their festivals in Croatia mean that millions of young people all over the world have seen videos, photos and reviews of Croatia music festivals, each of them set within a spectacular backdrop of seaside Croatia.

f) Plitvice Lakes and natural heritage


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What is Croatia Famous For? Plitvice Lakes, national parks and natural heritage

Known for its chain of 16 terraced lakes and gushing waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes is the oldest, biggest and most famous National Park in Croatia. Everybody wants to see it. And many do. But that's not the be-all and end-all of Croatia's stunning natural beauty. Within the country's diverse topography, you'll find 7 further National Parks and 12 Nature Parks which can be mountain terrain, an archipelago of islands, or vibrant wetlands.

2) Football


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What is Croatia famous for? Football. Seen here, Luka Modric at the 2018 World Cup © Светлана Бекетова

The glittering international careers of Croatian footballers Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Ivan Perišić, Mario Mandžukić, and others have in recent years advertised Croatia as a factory of top-flight footballing talent. They helped put Croatia football on the map with fans of European football. Football fans in Croatia have a very different perception of just how famous Croatian football is to everyone else in the world. If you talk to a Croatian fan about football, it's almost guaranteed that they will remind you of a time (perhaps before either of you were born) when their local or national team beat your local or national team in football. 99% of people will have no idea what they are talking about. The past occasions which prompt this parochial pride pale into insignificance against the Croatian National Football Team's achievement in reaching the World Cup Final of 2018. This monumental occasion brought the eyes of the world on Croatia, extending way beyond the vision of regular football fans. Subsequently, the internet exploded with people asking “Where is Croatia?”

Sports in general are what is Croatia known for

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Croatians are enthusiastic about sports and engage in a wide number of them. The difference in perception between how Croats view the fame this gets them and the reality within the rest of the world is simply huge. Rowing, basketball, wrestling, mixed martial arts, tennis, handball, boxing, waterpolo, ice hockey, skiing and volleyball are just some of the sports in which Croatia has enthusiastically supported individuals and local and national teams. Some of these are regarded as minority sports even in other countries that also pursue them. Croatians don't understand this part. If you say to a Croatian “What is handball? I never heard of that,” they will look at you like you are crazy or of below-average intelligence.

3) Zagreb


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What is Croatia famous for? Its capital city Zagreb is becoming increasingly better known

Over relatively recent years, the Croatian capital has skyrocketed in terms of fame and visitor numbers. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world now come to visit Zagreb each year. Its massive new success can be partly attributed to the rising popularity of international tourism in some areas of Asia (and Zagreb being used as a setting for some television programmes made in some Asian countries) and the massive success of Zagreb's Advent which, after consecutively attaining the title of Best European Christmas Market three times in a row, has become famous throughout the continent and further still. Zagreb's fame is not however restricted to tourism. Zagreb is known for its incredible Austro-Hungarian architecture, its Upper Town (Gornji Grad) and the buildings there, an array of museums and city centre parks and as home to world-famous education and scientific institutions, like to Ruder Boskovic Institute and the Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb.

4) Olive oil


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What is Croatia famous for? Olive oil

Croatian olive oil is the best in the world. Don't just take out word for it! Even the experts say so. In 2020, leading guide Flos Olei voted Istria in northwest Croatia as the world's best olive oil growing region for a sixth consecutive year. Olive oil production is an ancient endeavour in Croatia, and over hundreds of years, the trees have matured, and the growers learned everything there is to know. Olive oil is made throughout a much wider area of Croatia than just Istria, and local differences in climate, variety, and soil all impact the flavour of the oils produced. Croatian has no less than five different olive oils protected at a European level under the designation of their place of origin. These and many other Croatian olive oils are distinct and are among the best you're ever likely to try.

5) There was a war here


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What is Croatia famous for? A relatively recent war left its mark on the country © Modzzak

Under rights granted to the republics of the former Yugoslavia and with a strong mandate from the Croatian people, gained across two national referendums, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic country, with each republic containing a mixture of different ethnicities and indeed many families which themselves were the product of mixed ethnicities. Ethnic tensions and the rise of strong nationalist political voices in each of the former republics and within certain regions of these countries lead to a situation where war became inevitable. The worst of the fighting was suffered within Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina and the part of southern Serbia which is now Kosovo. The Croatian War of Independence (known locally as the Homeland War) lasted from 1991 – 1995. The Yugoslav wars of which it was a major part is regarded as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II. In many cases, this war pitted neighbouring houses or neighbouring villages against each other and sometimes members of the same family could be found on opposing sides. The war left huge damage on the country and its infrastructure, some of which is still visible. Worse still, it had a much greater physical and psychological impact on the population. Some people in Croatia today would rather not talk about the war and would prefer to instead talk about the country's present and future. For other people in Croatia, the war remains something of an obsession. If you are curious about the Croatian War of Independence, it is not advisable to bring it up in conversation when you visit the country unless you know the person you are speaking with extremely well. It is a sensitive subject for many and can unnecessarily provoke strong emotions and painful memories. There are many resources online where you can instead read all about the war, there are good documentary series about it on Youtube and there are several museums in Croatia where you can go and learn more, in Vukovar, Karlovac and in Zagreb.

6) Wine


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What is Croatia famous for? Its wine is some of the best you'll ever try © Plenković

Croatia is not really that famous for wine. Well, not as famous as it should be because Croatia makes some of the greatest wine on the planet. Croatian wine is only really famous to those who have tried it after visiting – you'll never forget it! A growing cabal of Croatian wine enthusiasts are trying their best internationally to spread the word about Croatian wine. However, there isn't really that much space in Croatia to make all the wine it needs to supply its homegrown demands and a greatly increased export market. Therefore, export prices of Croatian wine are quite high and even when it does reach foreign shores, these prices ensure its appreciation only by a select few. There's a popular saying locally that goes something like this “We have enough for ourselves and our guests”. Nevertheless, Croatian wine is frequently awarded at the most prestigious international competitions and expos. White wine, red wine, sparkling wine, cuvee (mixed) and rose wine are all made here and Croatia truly excels at making each. You can find different kinds of grape grown and wine produced in the different regions of Croatia. The best way to learn about Croatian wine is to ask someone who really knows about wine or simply come to Croatia to try it. Or, perhaps better still, don't do that and then there will be more for those of us who live here. Cheers!

7) Croatian produce


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Drniš prsut
is protected at a European level, one of 32 products currently protected in this way and therefore what is Croatia famous for © Tourist Board of Drniš

To date, 32 agricultural and food products from Croatia have attained protection at a European level. These range from different prosciuttos, olive oils and Dalmatian bacon, to pastries and pastas, honey, cheese, turkeys, lamb, cabbages, mandarins, salt, sausages, potatoes and something called Meso 'z tiblice (which took a friend from the region where it's made three days to fully research so he could explain it to me at the levels necessary to write an informed article about it – so, you can research that one online). While some prosciutto, bacon, sausages, olive oil and wine do make it out of Croatia, much of these are snaffled up by a discerning few of those-in-the-know. The rest, you will only really be able to try if you visit. And, there are many other items of Croatian produce which are known which you can also try while here

Truffles


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What is Croatia known for? Truffles © Donatella Paukovic

By weight, one of the most expensive delicacies in the world, truffles are a famous part of the cuisine within some regions of Croatia. They feature heavily in the menu of Istria, which is well known as a region in which both white and black truffles are found and then added to food, oils or other products. Truth be told, this isn't a black and white issue - there are a great number of different types of truffle and they can be found over many different regions in Croatia, including around Zagreb and in Zagreb County. But, you'll need to see a man about a dog if you want to find them yourself.

Vegeta


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What is Croatia known for? Vegeta

Having celebrated its 60th birthday in 2019, the cooking condiment Vegeta is exported and known in many other countries, particularly Croatia's close neighbours. It is popularly put into soups and stews to give them more flavour. Among its ingredients are small pieces of dehydrated vegetables like carrot, parsnip, onion, celery, plus spices, salt and herbs like parsley.

Chocolate


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What is Croatia known for? Chocolate is a big export© Alexander Stein

Though making chocolate is only around a century old in Croatia, Croatian chocolate has grown to become one of its leading manufactured food exports. Some of the most popular bars may be a little heavy on sugar and low on cocoa for more discerning tastes. But, lots of others really like it.

Beer


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What is Croatia famous for? Its beer is becoming more famous internationally © The Garden Brewery

The exploding growth of the Croatian craft ale scene over the last 10 years is something that is likely to have passed you by, unless you're a regular visitor to the country, a beer buff or both. Most of the producers are quite small and production not great enough to make a big splash on international markets. However, even within a craft-flooded current market, Croatian beer is becoming more widely known – in one poll, the Zagreb-based Garden Brewery was in 2020 voted Europe's Best Brewery for the second consecutive year

8) Innovation


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What is Croatia famous for? Pioneers, inventors and innovation. Nikola Tesla was born here

From the parachute, fingerprinting, the retractable pen and the tungsten filament electric light-bulb to the torpedo, modern seismology, the World Health Oganisation and the cravat (a necktie, and the precursor to the tie worn by many today), Croatia has gifted many innovations to the world. The list of pioneers - scientists, artists, researchers and inventors - who were born here throughout history is long. And, although innovation is not currently regarded as experiencing a golden period in Croatia, there are still some Croatian innovators whose impact is felt globally, such as electric hypercar maker Mate Rimac.

9) Being poor


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What is Croatia famous for? Being poor. Yikes!

The minimum wage in Croatia is among the lowest in Europe. Croatian language media is constantly filled with stories about corruption. There is a huge state apparatus in which key (if not most) positions are regarded to be politically or personally-motivated appointments. This leads to a lack of opportunity for Croatia's highly educated young people. Many emigrate for better pay and better opportunities. This leads to a brain drain and affects the country's demographics considerably (if it usually the best educated, the ablest and the youngest Croatian adults who emigrate). Many of those who stay are influenced by the stories of widespread corruption and lack of opportunity and are therefore lethargic in their work, leading to a lack of productivity. A considerable part of the Croatian economy is based on tourism which remains largely seasonal.

10) People want to live in Croatia


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What is Croatia famous for? People want to come and live here. No, really.

Yes, despite many younger Croatians leaving or dreaming of leaving and despite the low wages, many people who are not from Croatia dream about living here. Of course, it's an all too familiar scenario that you go on holiday somewhere and while sitting at a seafood restaurant in sight of a glorious sunset, having had a few too many glasses of the local wine, you fall in love with Miguel or however the waiter is called who served it and Miguel's homeland. But, with Croatia, this is actually no passing fancy, no idle holiday dream. People do decide to move here. And not just for the sunset and Miguel (nobody in Croatia is called Miguel - Ed).

Croatia may be known for being poor, but it also has one of the best lifestyles in Europe. That it's cafe terraces are usually full to capacity tells you something about the work to living ratio. Croatians are not just spectators of sport, many enjoy a healthy lifestyle. This informs everything from their pastimes to their diet. There are great facilities for exercise and sport, wonderful nature close by whichever part of the country you're in. You can escape into somewhere wonderful and unknown at a moment's notice. The country is well connected internally by brilliant roads and motorways, reliable intercity buses and an international train network. The tourism industry ensures that multiple airports across Croatia can connect you to almost anywhere you want to go, and major international airports in Belgrade and Budapest, just a couple of hours away, fly to some extremely exotic locations. There are a wealth of fascinating neighbour countries on your doorstep to explore on a day trip or weekend and superfast broadband is being rolled out over the entire country. This is perhaps one of the reasons Croatia has been heralded as one of the world's best options for Digital Nomads. In a few years, when we ask what is Croatia famous far, they could be one of the answers.

What is Croatia famous for, but only after you've visited

Some things you experience when you visit Croatia come as a complete surprise. Most would simply never be aware of them until they visit. They are usually top of the list of things you want to do when you come back to Croatia.

Gastronomy


fritaja_sparoge_1-maja-danica-pecanic_1600x900ntbbbbb.jpgGastronomy is only one of the things what is Croatia known for only after you've visited © Maja Danica Pecanic / Croatian National Tourist Board

Despite a few famous TV chefs having visited and filmed in Croatia over the years, Croatian gastronomy remains largely unknown to almost everyone who's never been to Croatia. That's a shame because you can find some fine food here. Croatia has increased its Michelin-starred and Michelin-recommended restaurants tenfold over recent years. But, perhaps the bigger story is the traditional cuisine which varies greatly within the countries different regions. From the gut-busting barbecue grills and the classic Mediterranean fare of Dalmatia to the pasta, asparagus and truffles of Istria to the sausages and paprika-rich stews of Slavonia and the best smoked and preserved meats of the region, there's an untold amount of secret Croatian gastronomy to discover.

Coffee


restaurant-3815076_1280.jpgWhat is Croatia known for? Well, to locals, it's famous for coffee - not just a drink, it's a ritual

Croatians are passionate about coffee and about going for coffee. It's a beloved ritual here. Going for coffee in Croatia is often about much more than having coffee. It's an integral part of socialising, catching up and sometimes being seen. It doesn't always involve coffee either. Sometimes, you'll be invited for coffee, only to end up ordering beer. It's not about the coffee. Although, the standard of coffee in Croatia, and the places where you drink it, is usually really good.

The misapprehension: What is Croatia known for (if you are a Croatian living in Croatia)

Handball, music

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Thursday, 12 November 2020

Varionica Craft Brewery Expands Sales Network and Strengthens Presence

November the 12th, 2020 - The Varionica craft brewery has been operating successfully since 2014, when only the founders Matija Mrazek and Davor Simicic worked there, and today it boasts seven employees. The coronavirus pandemic hasn't been kind to any business, with lockdowns and strict measures hindering normality, but this Croatian brewery has fought on.

As Marta Duic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, over the last year, the Varionica craft brewery has opened their own production plant in Pisarovina with the help of European Union (EU) funds, thanks to which they plan to expand production and create even more products. In addition, this year, they launched six new beers and collaborated with chef Mato Jankovic on their Papak beer, as well as with the only Zagreb restaurant with a Michelin star - the much loved Noel.

Like many entrepreneurs, they didn't sit back and admit defeat during the unprecedented spring lockdown, but instead they launched their own webshop and expanded the network of caterers and hospitality facilities they work with.

''We started brewing beer as a hobby during college on a small home plant that we designed ourselves. After several years of experimenting, we decided to open one of the first craft breweries in Croatia and we rented a small plant in Medjimurje in order to do so. The idea arose out of love for a good beer that couldn't be bought here in Croatia at the time. Travelling around the world, we'd discovered that there are numerous styles of beer out there and that the story of beer is much more complex than the industrial lagers in our market. Since only some Belgian and German beers worth mentioning were available in our country, we decided to produce beer ourselves,'' Matija Mrazek of the Varionica craft brewery explained, warmly recalling their beginnings.

He and Davor Simicic then did everything themselves - from creating, bottling, selling and marketing on their own, and to this day they've designed 25 different beers. Most of the raw materials are imported because Croatia does not have what their production requires.

''We import our hops, malts and yeasts from the USA, Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic. From Croatia we use Badass Barley malt from Nova Gradiska, peppers from Volim Ljuto and coffee from the Lively Roasters company. We'd like to cooperate with many more Croatian producers, but unfortunately they don't exist,'' explained Mrazek. For five years, they produced the Varionica craft brewery beer in a rented plant in Donji Vidovac, and at the end of last year they opened their own plant thanks to an EU grant worth an impressive 1.5 million euros. With that relocation, they quadrupled their production capacities and it currently stands at 40,000 litres per month.

''We started out with only one product on the market, pale ale, which is still our most popular beer today. Of the 25 styles made so far, 11 are currently on offer. Each beer is specific to its ingredients and the aromas they provide. We often use various additives like fruits and spices to show that beer can be a very exciting drink. We're constantly planning new beers and by the end of the year we'll definitely be rolling out at least one more. Since we're big lovers of food and drink, we're constantly thinking about new products, so we recently started a whiskey production project with our first craft distillery - Brigljevic,'' revealed Mrazek.

The last two of their presented products are closely related to gastronomy. In collaboration with the Zagreb restaurant Noel, they created a special sour beer with passion fruit, coriander and sea salt that goes well with oily fish and poultry, and after the lockdown, they decided to make Papak beer with Mato Jankovic, a very drinkable Czech pilsner. With each bottle sold, they donate 50 lipa for the education of young caterers at the Buda Foodie Foundation of chef Rudolf Stefan.

''Currently, our beers are available in Konzum, Kaufland, Spar, Vrutko, Prehrana, Trgocentar, ROTO and in special gastro and beer shops. We cooperate with many restaurants throughout Croatia, mostly in Zagreb. Since HoReCa is our biggest sales channel, we had huge losses during the lockdown, but we introduced home delivery and opened a webshop in record time, so that kept us alive,'' noted Mrazek. He claims that due to the pandemic, the Varionica craft brewery completely and quickly changed their business in order to adapt.

''In a short time, we launched our online sales and arranged listings in more than 150 retail locations across Croatia. We managed to launch some new products and recorded a significant increase in sales compared to last year. We're not exporting yet, but we're in negotiations with some European and distant countries, we're waiting for the situation with the coronavirus to stabilise a bit so that we can start working. In the future, we'll definitely focus on exporting and producing new styles. Our curiosity never gives us a break, you can expect a lot of styles of beer from us,'' concluded Matija Mrazek.

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Monday, 14 September 2020

The Garden Brewery Celebrates Sale of 3 Millionth Can

September 14, 2020 – Zagreb craft ale specialists The Garden Brewery celebrate the sale of their 3,000,000th can with a competition to win a year's supply of brilliant beer

Summer hasn't quite gone as planned for anyone in 2020. Some of The Garden Brewery team expected to be spending much of the season on the coast in Tisno. Set up in part by the team that ran The Garden Festival, for them, it should have been another summer of music, dancing, and welcoming thousands of international visitors to the many festivals they host on their site near Murter island. But, all of the festivals were cancelled.

Right at the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, the Garden Tisno festivals faced the unknown and some tough decisions. By mutual agreement with the site, it was decided to put the health and safety of visitors and staff first and cancel all of 2020's events. But, The Garden Brewery is no longer reliant on festival-goers to buy their beer. Just four years into their beer-making operations in Žitnjak, Zagreb, the beer is now exported to 26 countries on three continents. In the past week, they have sold their 3 millionth can of beer.

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Despite the hit of Coronavirus, their business has actually grown by 40% in the past year, necessitating the expansion of their production facility in Zagreb (they are installing a new canning line to aid capacity). They currently have over 20 full-time staff at The Garden Brewery – mostly Croatian - and have so far made over 80 different kinds of beer. In 2019 the brewery was named 'Best EU brewery' by Beer 52, a UK-based home delivery subscription service for craft beers. It's the largest of its kind in the world and over 400, 000 public votes were cast in the competition.

To celebrate the milestone of its 3millionth can, The Garden Brewery is giving ale fans the chance to win a year's supply of beer for them and a friend. 24 beers will be delivered each month, for 12 months, to the winner and their nominated friend. To enter the competition, you just need to sign up for The Garden Brewery's monthly newsletter here

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Thursday, 14 May 2020

Coronavirus Crisis Gives Croatian Craft Beer Industry a Headache

As Novac/Matea Grbac writes on the 13th of May, 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the Croatian craft beer industry, who claim that they cannot survive with so much less traffic and online sales.

''We're doing business, but it isn't enough. It's better than nothing, but it's still far from the real numbers,'' Davor Simisis, the owner of the the Varionica pivovara (brewery), explained the current state of the Croatian craft beer industry in a brief statement, which, like most other industries, has been hit by the crisis.

According to estimates, the Croatian craft beer industry, more specifically their breweries, make up just over two percent of the beer industry in Croatia. Despite that, this industry annually pumps just over 4.2 billion kuna in gross added value directly and indirectly into the state treasury. Due to their narrow niche, smaller facilities and strong connection to the HoReCa system, Croatian craft breweries have run into major problems due to the closure of hotels and restaurants. As Miroslav Suvak from Nova Runda points out, catering/hospitality facilities and hotels accounted for about 90 percent of their business.

A moratorium on credit

''We may be in a slightly different position from other craft breweries because draught beer is our main source of income. Of course, the cans we launched last year have improved the company's financial stability, so they are now giving us a 'cold drive'. If we look at the numbers, we recorded a 30 percent drop in March given that the bars were still open for part the month. April, on the other hand, shows a completely different picture and a drop of 80 percent is visible. In addition, we recently had an investment of approximately 5.4 million kuna, for which we have so far received a moratorium on credit, but the question is what will happen when the measure ends,'' he said.

Other brewers have faced similar problems. So that they wouldn't have to put their keys in their respective locks because of the pandemic that affected the whole world, they decided to turn to the internet instead of the previous way of making sales in bars.

''After the closure of cafes and restaurants, we introduced online sales through our distributors and partners. That channel partially compensated us for what we lost, so we're currently at 50 percent of traffic when compared to before all this,'' added Bruno Blazicko, co-owner of the PriMarius brewery.

Suvak also found one positive side to this bizarre situation, and that is turning consumers towards online shopping.

''Like other colleagues, we launched online sales through our partners, which is why the sale of our cans jumped more than expected. The great thing is that people are now aware of the fact that buying online doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. I can order anything without any problems from the comfort of my home, and without having to stand around waiting in lines. But despite the positive results, this type of sale cannot replace cafes,'' he explained.

Despite all, the entrepreneurs working in the Croatian craft beer industry decided to keep hold of all of their employees despite the abrupt closing of one entire sales channel.

Webshops provided some form of security, albeit it much less than cafes could...

''We've withdrawn the support measures adopted by the government and they've greatly eased this situation for us. In addition to measures to preserve jobs, we requested a moratorium on the main loan by which we launched a new plant. Apart from that, we had other investments, such as leasing for our own vehicles, which we're still paying for. How long we can cover this and what kind of future awaits us, we cannot know at the moment because in a situation like this, it's impossible to create a plan. Still, we're not living from today to tomorrow and we always have financial reserves, but we can’t live off a mere 30 percent of the business. This is how we're working and it's good that we are still working, but that's not the point of doing this sort of business,'' explained Andrej Capka, the owner of Zmajska pivovara.

''Unlike our colleagues, one of the largest and first craft breweries in Croatia, the Zagreb brewery Medvedgrad, found itself in a slightly different position, Igor Mijic explained. Namely, this brewery, in addition to the plant, owns restaurants where it sells more than a thousand litres of its draught beer per day. Since March the 19th, 2020, when the decision to close down such facilities came into force, the revenues of that brewery have fallen by 50 percent, and the reason for a slightly smaller decline than that experienced by others lies in online sales, the brewery pointed out.

''In just seven days, we managed to enable our webshop and turn to online sales, which now make up 80 percent of our business, and we deliver throughout Croatia. In addition, we've established cooperation with Wolt and Glovo, who deliver the beer with our food,'' said Mijic, adding that they hope for some kind of recovery after the re-opening of cafes, bars and restaurants.

''We will definitely open our restaurants. Luckily, we have large terraces so we can adapt to the new situation, but we cannot know for sure what awaits us. Currently, it's difficult for me to predict anything,'' he pointed out.

Other breweries are also hoping for a recovery in the form of the re-opening of restaurants and bars, but with great caution. Capka is optimistic about it all, but he believes that this move also raises the question of how long those in the hospitality and catering business will be able to operate properly with such rigorous measures still in place.

New channels

''The situation will certainly be better than it is now, but the Croatian craft beer industry and their breweries depend on the hospitality and catering industry. Neither we nor they can know how long doing business in such a way will be sustainable, ie, whether cafes and restaurants will work for only a few weeks in this way or will continue to work normally over time,'' he said, adding that this situation also causes consumption problems.

''Craft beer belongs to the segment of premium products. This fact entails two thing. One is that buyers of such products have the opportunity to continue to purchase premium products, and the other is that they can cut them out if they need to first,'' he explained.

Although he supports the opening of cafes, bars and other facilities, the owner of Nova Runda sees another problem in the new situation.

''Due to the strict measures, the question of the survival of people in the catering and hospitality sector is being raised. Many of them only have small terraces, what will happen to them? Will they open their facilities or will they simply close their doors forever?'' he asked.

Due to the still undefined rules and a very uncertain future, those in the Croatian craft beer industry and other brewers believe that they will have to start looking for new business channels. One of them, as Blazicko explained, is entering into negotiations with retail chains and exporting beer to foreign markets.

''We have started intense negotiations with retail chains and we're planning to go even deeper into that network, we have to compensate for our losses in some sense,'' said Blazicko.

And while a large number of them are not hoping for such a quick return to the old way of doing business, they pointed out that they hope the picture will be a bit better next year.

''Yes, we can practically write off this year because everything is shrouded in secrecy. We can't develop concrete plans because we still have only questions, questions and more questions,'' concluded Capka.

For more on Croatian craft beer and much more, follow Made in Croatia.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Be Part of Croatia’s Craft Beer Scene at New Monthly Collaboration in Split

October 30, 2019 - It’s safe to say that Croatia’s craft beer scene is thriving, so much so that it’s hard to keep up with the new breweries popping up around the country - that is, until now. Black Dog Bar is looking to bring together the Croatian beer community with a new monthly collaboration in Split - and tasting the craft from around Croatia has never been closer. 

TCN met up with Luke Stewart of Black Dog Bar in Split to find out more. 

“We noticed that there was a lot of separation in Croatia, and with this project, we wanted to bring everyone together rather than everyone doing their own thing, and build some kind of community. 

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It seems that everywhere else, everyone works together in the same industry because you all enjoy the same things. Say, you work in pubs, so you’re all into beer. Here, there is a lack of interaction around it, and we are trying to change that.

Especially since we are located in the center of Split, and most everything caters only to tourism, we are trying to do something that gives people a reason to come back into the center of Split as well. The whole project is basically for fun, we’re not getting anything out of it, but we want to get more people into craft beer.”

Black Dog will kick off the monthly collaboration on Friday with Dubrovnik Beer Company. 

“The reason we chose DBC is that their head brewer opened the first-ever craft beer bar in Split (Dva Tona), so in my view, he was right at the beginning of Split’s craft beer scene, and their bar manager is also from Split. So, seeing as we are trying to build community, we’ll start with a different city, but with a connection to Split.

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DBC makes great beer, and we doubt that many people in Split have tried it because they haven’t had an opportunity. Our first beer collaboration with DBC will be an Irish Red Ale.”

The project is ongoing and will feature a different Croatian brewery each month. 

“The idea is that every month, we will feature a different part of Croatia. In December, it will be Split, and we will be working with Barba. We will make a new beer with the brewer every month, but we also want to showcase their products, so during that month, we’ll feature the beer that we brew together, and showcase what the brewer is doing while promoting beer culture and making people aware of what’s going on.

Every beer collaboration will be something that doesn’t really get made in Croatia. It’s not easy to find an Irish Red Ale in Croatia, especially one brewed in Split. In December, we’ll offer a Nitro Milk Stout by Barba, which I am pretty sure has never been made here. It’s fun for the brewers and its fun for all of us because we get to try new types of beer.”

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Black Dog will launch its first collaboration on Friday with the head brewer and taproom manager of Dubrovnik Beer Company. 

“People can come, meet, and learn about the beer and the people behind it. Like an interactive showcase. The DBC guys will open the event with a talk, not just about the beer they make but about who they are and what they do. We will film it as well and push that out online to showcase the different brewers. The beers will also be on offer for the entire month.

We’re trying to spark something different in Split. Tap takeovers are really common here, but they lack the why and the who behind the taps they’re pushing. Tap takeovers are usually only one night as well, where here they can get used to drinking the beers all month. 

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The community is one side of this project because everyone will come together, but it’s also giving each beer and brewery a story.”

Black Dog and DBC will also be giving away free merchandise on Friday, while the beer will be sold at promotional prices. You can find out more about the event here

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Friday, 6 September 2019

Medulin Craft Beer Festival Showcases 120 Types of Craft Beer!

As Glas Istre/Patricija Softic writes on the 5th of September, 2019, the Medulin Craft Beer Festival, which followed world trends and created local trends, broke through barriers, was innovative and persistent in the implementation of everything that was planned, and it opened its craft beer barrels for the fifth time in Medulin, Istria.

This year, the Medulin Craft Beer Festival has moved close to Malin from the Medulin waterfront, where there is much more room for a large audience that will certainly take this opportunity to try out some of the best craft beers this year. As one of the organisers, Tomislav Pranjić, announced, as many as 32 breweries from ten European countries have sent or brought their beers to the Medulin-based festival this year, with special emphasis placed on the arrival of fantastic Scandinavian breweries such as Mikkeller, O / O brewing Amundsen, or Omnipoll.

''At the very beginning of our first issue, craft beer was slowly breaking out as a new trend in the beer world, and today it has become an integral part of every respectable bar and restaurant's offer. We are proud to have succeeded in presenting to the public small craft breweries that, along with the Medulin Craft Beer Festival, have grown over the years, but still produce premium and unique beers.

For the first time, visitors will have the opportunity to taste unique Scandinavian beers, some very rare beers and many novelties that have their premiere right here in Medulin. I think we've already succeeded in our intention to, in addition to promoting craft beers, also educate people. We have created an interesting army of people who know the difference between pale ale and stout, for example.

The Medulin Craft Beer Festival has a gift to dictate some of these trends in the region, so that everything that has done well in our country, will be made next year in all small breweries, and our biggest success is that every catering facility has at least several types of craft beer on offer,'' stated Pranjić.

This year's edition of the Medulin Craft Beer Festival will offer all visitors three days of socialising, enjoying premium and rare craft beers, some great music, dancing and delicious fast food that fits perfectly with one of 120 beers on offer.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more information on the Croatian craft beer craze, festivals up and down the country, and much more.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Franciscan Monks Begin Producing Craft Beer in Zagreb!

As Novac/Matea Grbac writes on the 26th of August, 2019, a group of Franciscan monks have decided to dip their feet into the increasingly popular world of craft beer in Zagreb, and their income isn't going to be wasted selflessly...

''Back during my stay as a student in Germany I dreamed of producing monastery beer. It was a long time before I received 95 percent approval from my brothers for this venture,'' remembers the friar of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Zagreb, Tomislav Glavnik, who was behind the idea of ​​one of the first monastery craft beers in Croatia - S.anto.

Although the production of this beer by the Franciscans is not unusual in itself, as example some of the world's best craft beers come from Belgian monasteries, this practice is still extremely foreign to Croatia.

About three months ago, Tomislav Glavnik and his brothers presented their new beer to the public, namely on the St. Anthony of Padua holiday. During its initial presentation, he revealed that they wanted to create another added value to their one hundred-year-old monastery, and decided to start a separate company for the purpose of no less than beer commercialisation.

''We want to be an example to others, to do everything transparently and in accordance with the law. Like any other limited liability company, we regularly pay all state and tax levies,'' he pointed out.

This is not the only business that these Franciscans have. Within their home, they grow grapes from which they produce wine for their own use. In addition, there is a small garden, the fruits of which are served in the public kitchen, while the attic of the same building was transformed into rooms for students from less wealthy backgrounds.

''We have a lot of things here, we hope to build a dormitory consisting of about sixty rooms soon. We want to direct the beer sales income to our public kitchen, but also to students and student scholarships,'' he added.

As he explained to Novac, their goal was never to make a profit. Although the beer is currently being produced and bottled by one craft brewery in the Zagreb area, they plan to start their own plant in a couple of years or so, which will employ several staff members who will be dedicated to the further development of the project, with the close supervision of the monastery, of course.

Although their new job is only in its very infancy and they have produced only 12,600 litres of beer so far, Fr. Glavnik adds with a smirk that their accountant has already told them that they are pretty good entrepreneurs because they are already at zero.

S.anto beer, which is described as good, drinkable, but nothing special, is intended for everyone, and is for the time being only sold in their parish in 0.3 bottles at a price of 14 kuna. In a few days, they will start expanding their market, so that their product can be found in one of Split's bars, as well as in Novalja and in Šibenik.

First of all, they want to set up their own shop where the business of selling beer and glasses with the beer's logo.

''For centuries, friars around the world have been producing wine, beer, cheese, honey and many other products, I see no reason why we can't do the same here in Croatia,'' he concluded.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia page for much more.

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