Monthly review – April 2019

April has been an interesting month: even with Easter, Labor Day, and the start of the festival season looming on the horizon, we still saw quite a fair few releases. And while everyone and their dog seemed to be out and about, grilling meats and swigging treats, brewers were busy coming up with all sorts of exciting brews. So, grab a fresh one and let’s take a look at where we are.

Change is afoot

We’ll start off with a very interesting development in the industry, and one that, for some reason, has been severely under marketed. It’s been well over a year since we last heard from the Craft Brewers’ Association, but this month, it looks like they started leaving their mark, as the Association’s logo made it’s appearance on the latest batches of Sikaru and Perfektum beers. For now, it’s not clear whether the logo will have any impact on the industry, in the same way the Independent Craft Beer Seal by the Brewers’ Association does in the US, for example. However, it’s an excellent initiative, and we’re hoping it will help raise awareness not only of what craft beer is in Romania, but also that it’s a different kettle of fish compared to the macro-owned beers, especially as several craft breweries have started making an appearance on supermarket shelves in the past months. 

56857640_2329615407250045_862660708435755008_o

Spotted in the Carrefour supermarket range, this bottle of Sikaru Pils is proudly displaying the Association’s logo (photo credit: Universitatea de Bere)

Times they are a’changing in Timișoara as well. Undergoing a total makeover, Bereta have changed their logo, label designs, and… well, in their own words, everything. Time moves fast when you’re the first gypsy brewery in the country, and the journey of Bereta shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In less than 3 years they’ve gone from a couple of guys with big dreams and no brewery, to a couple of guys with a brewery, their own annual festival, and a hard earned reputation.

The next step for them is to open up their own taproom and bottle shop – awesome news for anyone living in Timișoara. We reckon that tourism to the town will increase ten-fold at least, as news spreads of their 12 – 16 taps of local and international craft beer, plus an enviable collection of bottles and cans. We wish the David Bowie of Romanian craft beer the best of luck as they take on these ch-ch-ch-changes, and can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

Change is rife on the streets of Timișoara, and the guys from Bereta aren’t the only ones transforming the charming city into a craft beer paradise. It was not long ago that we mentioned that OneTwo Brew had got their first beer underway. Well, they’re back again, with their own craft beer bar this time. The TapRoom opened in the middle of April, launching their gypsy brewed Pineapple Gose, and looks set to showcase brews from across the country, mainly on tap, but with a few select brews by the bottle also.

Timișoara isn’t the only town with a freshly budding beer scene though, and Sibiu has seen the welcome addition of a new craft beer shop, Bere vs Bere. While the current location is only temporary, a more permanent base will soon be set up.

We now turn our attention to Cluj, where change is also afoot. Beer’s Point, the city’s only growler station, and the most well stocked bottle shop, is set to potentially change ownership in the near future. While the shop itself goes from strength to strength, the current owner is looking to sell the company and everything inside it, so that he can focus on his other, bolder beer ventures. We’d love to see it stay, so if anyone is interested in pursuing a beer business without too much bureaucratic hassle, now is the time to get in touch!

58775313_635557500205053_2413848371417579520_o

A little piece of heaven for the beer lovers of Cluj-Napoca, this well loved growler and bottle shop is looking for a new set of hands to take over (photo credit: Beer’s Point)

New launches

This month has seen the return of some popular brews, as well as several brand new entries. Neuron Mash returned to man the mash tuns, this time at Bere a la Cluj, and has concocted another delightfully hoppy NEIPA, dutifully launched at Planetarium, the recently reopened Bere a la Cluj hangout.

Planetarium also played host to the official launch of Cluj-Napoca’s third gypsy brewer. Blackout Brewing‘s Adi Oros also took hold of the facilities of Bere a la Cluj, and after brewing the second BBC beer at Bereta, he decided it was time to go all out, with not one, but 3 beers. Featuring some rather bold styles for a new brewer, such as a DDH IPA or an Imperial Stout, he enjoyed a very warm reception, and for those who didn’t get a chance to attend the launch party on April 5th, there’s still time to grab a beer or two online.

Taking a break from 14 hour brew days and pitch black imperial stouts, Wicked Barrel has also returned to the world of IPAs with a second batch of Jaw Drop. Not only that, but they also have a Pale Ale in the making and due to come out soon, so be on the lookout for that as well. 

IPA was also the chosen style for the debut beer from Double Drop Crew. Based just outside of Timișoara, they decided to launch their Satori IPA in an ideal location: Viniloteca, which is also the place where they got their inspiration for brewing. The beer saw an eager welcome, and the second batch is due to release this Friday at the TapRoom

For a gypsy brewery that has been around for less than a year, Dead Men Hops have also been very prolific, releasing their third beer: Valkirye, a session IPA with a bit of farmhouse funk, as well as rye and spice additions. At 4.1% ABV, it’s the perfect brew to kick back and relax with.

57503395_2651445791593898_3978493013046329344_o

We love name puns almost as much as we love a good beer, and this farmhouse rye session IPA from Dead Men Hops ticks all the right boxes (photo credit: The Beer Institute)

And back to Bereta, who launched another new beer themselves, the first to reveal new bottle label art as part of their ‘CALL to ART’ initiative, in which they invite local artists to send over their unique label designs. The first winning label was designed by Jecza Gallery, and the beer beyond the label – a double dry hopped juice bomb of an IPA with new world hops (Galaxy & Nelson Sauvin) – tasted as good as it looked. ‘CALL to ART’ is an ongoing project, so if you or someone you know is interested in having their art on a beer bottle, be sure to contact the boys.

A traditional revival

While there’s plenty of new age brews to shout about, it’s nice to see some breweries tackling more traditional styles every now and then. This month, traditional German styles seem to have inspired quite a number of Romania’s brewers.

Traditional beer styles can be misleading in their apparent simplicity, which is why they can often be a hit-and-miss with some craft breweries. Take Hefeweizen, for example. Born in Bavaria, where it’s generally served by the litre, a good Hefe can be the perfect pint for those warm evenings on the terrace, or ideally, the beer garden. Those living in Cluj can now enjoy a sumptuous take on the style in the comfort of the Klausen Burger rooftop garden. It’s called Amadeus, and is the first brew that new brewer Alex has concocted using his own recipe and techniques. Simple in its execution, it stays true to style, and certainly rivals many traditional German Hefes. The beer also won silver in the KSE International Beer Competition and Exhibition in Hungary, promising plenty more to look forward to from Klausen Burger over the next months.

Also adding to their repertoire this month, Carol Beer has introduced 2 Hefeweizens. Both follow the same basic recipe, but utilize different yeast strains. The style was also picked up by the contract brewers at Szenttamási Aranykakas, who released their fourth beer this month: an easy drinking wheat beer, with the estery, banana notes that are so typical of the style. Not only that, but their Stout and IPA were both well received at the earlier mentioned brewing competition in Gödöllő, Hungary, winning silver and bronze respectively. 

58790364_1306182856203643_6989267093292056576_o

Hefeweizens were definitely a favoured style this month, and German Monk fits the bill as well. Find it in the Amigo grocery store chains (photo credit: Szenttamasi Aranykakas)

Traveling north from Bavaria to Berlin, we stumble across another old German style: Berliner Weisse, a tart, cloudy beer that was once the most popular style in the Germany.  Traditionally, the style was mixed with fruit syrups to take the edge of the sourness, and this month saw the birth of an unusual, but delightfully tasty combo. The 4th edition of Bereta’s Brewing Community in collaboration with homebrewer Ionuț-Alexandru Bătrînache saw the classic style mixed with hefty amounts of quince.

Another traditional German style that had almost died out, but has recently gained huge popularity, is Gose. Back in January, OneTwo Brew headed over to Bereta to create their take on the style, adding pineapple for an extra touch of acidity. The result is an incredibly easy drinking beer that easily ranks among the best sour beers in the country – which, while few, have all been top-notch.

57457004_2332949540249965_576294047442796544_o

Yeah IPAs are great, but nothing soothes that hop-battered palate like a nice glass of sour beer (photo credit: Universitatea de Bere)

Leaving Germany behind and heading eastwards into Czechia’s Bohemia region, we find ourselves at the home of the iconic pilsner. It’s always good to see Sikaru offering something new, and with the release of their new pilsner, brewed at the Carol brewery, we also saw the first bottles hit the shelves that displayed the Craft Brewers’ Association logo. Perfektum have also brewed up a light pilsner, which is the second brew made especially for the Sibiu based Eco Zen beer boutique.

The calm before the storm?

Normally, Hop Hooligans feature pretty heavily on our updates, since they’re always releasing new stuff or collaborating with someone or other. This month we’ve barely mentioned them, although they’ve certainly not been sitting around twiddling their thumbs. In fact, this has been an extremely busy time for the Hooligans, who started the month by winning the Simply Hops Underdog Brewing Competition, an event that took entries from craft breweries from around the world. Their use of Comet in Collision Course DIPA tipped the balance and earned them a gold star from one of the most renowned hop suppliers in the business.

Talking of renowned names, they’ve also recently collaborated with London’s Bermondsey Beer Mile legends, Anspach & Hobday, to create an intriguing juniper pale ale, which is due for release soon. We wonder how they find the time to fit everything in, but besides collabs and awards, plus keeping their core range going, they’ve spent the month touring various European beer festivals, showcasing their brews in Norway, France, and Spain, as well as taking over the taps in Belgium’s Le Barboteur – Bièrothèque. That, and ‘inconspicuously’ pranking everyone with the release of a 2 liter PET bottle of Crowd Control

55826196_2267244840191758_8016879203301457920_o

If you thought this bad boy was too good to be true, well… you were actually right (photo credit: Hop Hooligans)

Other breweries have been quietly working away this month as well, ready to release some brand new brews in the next month. Kutuma have been harbouring a not-so-secret hemp beer all month long, which is due to launch this Friday. While you might have heard about the hemp lager, there’s another creature lurking in the darkness, ready to be released into the summer sun shortly. Their new pale ale is coming soon, and hitting just 3.8% ABV, it’s designed to be the ultimate easy drinking summer beer.

After years of being in denial about wanting to pursue brewing as more than a pastime, homebrewer Radu Drașovean finally announced that he will be joining the industry as a gypsy brewer. Cue Hopdrops, with their already concocted first commercial brew, an imperial stout that weighs in at 10.5% ABV. This one is definitely worth looking out for, as Radu is not only a renowned figure in homebrewing circles, but has already wowed beer drinkers with his IPA, brewed with Bereta as their first BBC beer. Launch party due on May 17, so make sure to drop by and say hi. 

There’s a couple more breweries that we have kept our eye on, waiting for their beers to come out and test our taste buds. While Brauhaus Sincu have sent out some of their beers to a select few as a preview, we’re told that it may take a little while yet before what looks like a 4 beer core range will be available for sale.

Meanwhile, those in Oradea may have come across a brand new brewery that will be joining the industry soon enough. While not a lot of information is available just yet, Artisan Brewing have already released a stout and an IPA, the latter of which seems to have already been brewed in two batches: one at Bereta, and one at Kutuma. Here’s hoping we will find out more in the months to come.

57180292_1812638748836897_4179353665519222784_n

If, like Dorin, you were one of the lucky few to try this new and elusive IPA from Artisan Brewing, then kudos to you. For the rest of us, looks like we’ll have to wait a wee wile longer (photo credit: Dorin’s Beers)

In the meantime, we’ll leave you with the list of this month’s releases. April has offered a wide array of styles, so make sure to try them all:

Bere a la Cluj – Bitter Weizen – 5% ABV

Bereta
– IPA – DDH Galaxy Nelson – 7% ABV
BBC – Berliner Weisse with Quince (with Ionuț-Alexandru Bătrînache) – 5.4% ABV

Blackout Brewing
– Delicate Psycho – DDH IPA – 6.5% ABV
– Quantum Suicide – Russian Imperial Stout – 10.5% ABV
– Quantum Suicide Coffee Series (with Costa Rica coffee from Espresso Studio) – Russian Imperial Stout – 10.5% ABV

Carol Beer
– Hefeweizen – 5% ABV
– Hefeweizen – limited edition with liquid yeast – 5% ABV

Dead Men Hops – Valkirye – Farmhouse Session IPA – 4.1% ABV

Double Drop Crew – Satori – IPA – 6.1% ABV

Klausen Burger – Amadeus – Hefeweizen – 4.5% ABV

Neuron Mash – Short Circuit – New England style IPA – 6.6% ABV

OneTwo Brew – Pineapple Gose – 4.1% ABV

Perfektum – Light Pilsner – brewed for the Eco Zen Boutique store – 4.5% ABV

Plan Beer – experimental Pale Ale ESB – 5% ABV

Szenttamási Aranykakas – German Monk – Weissbier – 5% ABV

Sikaru – Pils – 5% ABV

Three Happy Brewers
– Balkan Breakfast – Coffee Oatmeal Stout – 7% ABV
– Mr. Habi Benero – Black Ale with Habaneros (with Ah Brew Works) – 7% ABV

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s