International Insights: Vasja Golar, Bevog Craft Brewery

International Insights is a continuing series of Q&As with brewing members, but this time branching outside of the US and into the rest of the world.

In this series, Brewer will share personal insights from international breweries each week about the craft beer market in other countries, where those brewers get their inspiration, and how the market compares to craft beer in the US.


Vasja Golar, Bevog Craft Brewery — Austria


BREWER: What can you tell me about the craft beer market in your country? How has the market evolved throughout the past few years?
GOLAR: When we started in 2013 craft — or at that time — microbreweries were really a novelty in this part of Europe. But it was also the time when it got more and more attention. One of the first microbreweries was founded and craft beer festivals took place soon after so it is safe to say craft beer is still pretty new to most people, but awareness and number of people that are drinking craft is growing, not just in numbers but also in diversity. Compared to what we had back then when we started and now, there has been a big development. There are dedicated craft beer shops and bars with local and quite good selections of imported craft beer. Some ordinary bars, restaurants and fast food places have craft beer too. You can find craft beer in supermarkets, grocery stores and even on petrol stations. We are not talking about a big variety of beer you can find there, but it is a good thing to have some and certainly with how young the whole craft beer [industry] is over here it is a good start. Let’s hope progress continues. There are also some high-end restaurants with craft beer offerings and also food and beer pairings are happening. Craft beer on many events are becoming a reality in the last [few] years and many smaller and some big beer festivals are happening as well.

BREWER: Where do you get your inspiration when tackling new beers?
GOLAR: Lately I am traveling a lot and these travels are many times one big beer exploration, and I have met many brewers and people from the craft beer world with who it is always cool to hang out. I am following what is going on in the beer world over the Internet and beer industry magazines too. Nowadays it is also possible to buy any style of beer you can imagine also in our part of the world. But I was always sort of a DIY guy, and it is interesting that also as a home brewer I never made a recipe from the book or the internet, and from the first brew it was all-grain brewing. I try to draw a picture of the beer in my head and then I start with creating of the recipe. I am trying to learn more and more from each batch of beer, from talking to other brewers and what we figure out together with our amazing staff in the brewery. So learning it’s a never ending thing. Lately I am realising how much I grew as a brewer and even more as a beer drinker. I want to have my own way of brewing. We are not going for every possible style when it appears somewhere as a popular thing. I think that beer must have a good and defined aroma, good texture, taste, it must be drinkable, look good, it must stay fresh for as long as possible, and most importantly, it must be in balance. All these things to combine in one beer is not easy sometimes, but this drives my exploring and creativity.

BREWER: How is your brewery innovative?
GOLAR: We do not brew every new hype and hot style when it appears on the surface of the craft beer world, because I do not like every new hype and hot style. For instance we did not jump on the NEIPA craze train immediately. It just isn’t my favourite style. We did our first hazy IPA just in November, 2018. From a selling point of view waiting so long to brew was plain stupid, because it was easily the best-selling beer between our special releases, but on the other hand, it just needed time to create the recipe. I waited until I felt that we should do it and that we had beer I like. In fact we call those beers Hazy IPA or Hazy Pale Ale because it is not pure NEIPA. On the other hand, I would say we are quite innovative. We were one of the first craft breweries to bottle craft beer in this part of Europe, we were also one of the really very first to put craft beer in cans in Europe. This year we brewed 26 different special and collaboration beers where we explore different styles, techniques etc.. There is also our very unique — at least for Europe — craft beer festival that have roots already from our grand opening of the brewery. 


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