Monthly review – May 2019

♪ It’s raining, it’s pouring, the mash tuns are roaring ♪
With the severely awful weather we’ve had this month, it’s almost as if the brewers took pity on us and came up with plenty of new beers to liven up the mood. A well deserved series of craft beer events also lent a helping hand, so we can’t say that this month has been all doom and gloom. So let’s have a wee read and see what’s been going on.

New beers

This month’s lineup kicks off with new and exciting beers from Kutuma in Cluj. CÂNEPĂBERE (all caps intended) is the first hemp beer brewed in the country, and it went live on May 3rd. At 4.5% ABV, this lager went down rather smoothly, and it featured an unusual flavour profile, with a subtle hint of floral and herbal tea notes. Next in line was a pale ale going by the cheeky name of Kurva. Weighing in at a easy going 3.8%, the name raised quite a few eyebrows, but let’s face it: if you can go up to the bar and ask for a Sex on the Beach, a Blowjob and an Orgasm, then you might as well throw in a Kurva for good measure. Besides, Kutuma without pun-riddled beer names just wouldn’t be the same.

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Cheeky beers and endless puns – a Kutuma trademark (photo credit: Kutuma)

Bereta have also been busy not only changing their looks (much to the joy of label collectors), but also pumping out new beers, with a couple of exclusives as well. This month saw the wrap up of the Bereta Brewing Community project, with the last beer in the series: a raspberry wheat brewed with homebrewer Dan Grecu, a highly enjoyable beer that is definitely not skimping on the raspberries. Speaking of copious amounts of, well, everything, Diabeetus imperial stout was also heaped with all the sweets and treats you could think of, from cocoa nibs to chimney cakes (kürtőskalács). It won them the title of highest rated beer on May 25th at the Budapest Beer Week, outranking international participants such as North Brewing & Other Half, or even Omnipollo

In fact, Bereta have had an action packed month. After months of preparation and teasers, their Taproom & Bottleshop saw its grand opening on May 16, with an exquisite range of 15 beers on tap (both Romanian and international) and 6 fridges filled to the brim (the lads are certified beer geeks, so you can be sure they’ll hook you up with the good stuff). The place is still in need of a terrace, so if you’re up for lending a signature to a good cause, you can sign this petition thing here. In the meantime, dropping by their Taproom is a huge must, as it’s the only place you can sample their Juicebag Vanilla IPA. And speaking of exclusives, those who attended the Budapest Beer Week were treated to another rarity: Safe Spot Landing, a sour IPA with lactose, quince, and vanilla.

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Of all the beers we were looking forward to and thoroughly missed out on, Safe Spot Landing was definitely the top of the list (photo via Untappd)

The denizens of Timișoara are well spoiled for choice when it comes to craft drinking venues, so while out there, do drop by the One Two Brew-owned Taproom, and check out the latest beer from Double Drop Crew: Maraton pale ale, which is due to release by the bottle as well soon.

Oriel Beer have also been poised on intriguing developments, most notably their decision to start kegging. Their first kegs hit La 100 de Beri in Bucharest in mid May, but if you’re not local, no worries. They’ll appear at the Festivalul Girafelor in Iași at the beginning of June, and later in Amsterdam, which would also be an excellent opportunity to try their latest batches of Saison and Blond Wild on tap. They also have a special edition of their Quadrupel in the making, this time featuring vanilla and blackberries, which we can’t wait to get our hands on in the months to come.

When not pottering with the second batch of Delicate Psycho IPA, Blackout Brewing took a trip down south, where he brewed a Brett IPA with Oriel Beer. The story behind this brew goes back to this inconspicuous Untappd review many moons ago:

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‘It started out with a kiss, how did it end up like this, it was only a kiss, it was only a kiss…’

In a less poetic turn of events, what started off with an innocent yeast harvest turned into a fully fledged infection, which meant that his homebrewing kit had to be seen by a certain doctor for sanitation. Not the case with this beer though, and while there’s no release date for the Brett IPA available just yet, our sour-prone taste buds are very much looking forward to this one.

It’s been almost a year since Patos Beer launched on the market, and while their pale ale and the IPA were both well received, they both left us wanting more. Therefore, we were quite thrilled when we woke up yesterday morning to see that they’ve brewed us something new: an Amber Ale, which you can now pick up from these locations.

While the Romanian political scene has been rife with all sorts of interesting political developments this month, the bottling lines at Capra Noastră have been rife with 3 new releases, all tongue-in-cheek puns pertaining to the current political climate. Although their core range is fairly straight forward in its Belgian theme, Capra Noastră always take on interesting styles and ingredients when doing one-offs. This month, they brewed their first coffee porter, as well as the first white IPA and white stout in Romania, along with their signature additions of chicory and endives.

Things have been fairly quiet at ye olde Jilava penitentiary, as far as new Hop Hooligans beers go. This month saw the release of the classy Genevieve, a juniper & lime pale ale brewed with Anspach & Hobday, as well as transitioning their iconic Time imperial stout to can. It does look like there’s new releases due soon, such as their latest collaboration with Croatia’s Nova Runda, an IPA which features the elusive Sabro hops, and which is due June 10th-ish. New batches were also afoot, such as the crowning glory of their bromance with Bereta, the one and only Nutbusters coconut & vanilla milkshake IPA.

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Also, here’s a complementary money shot of the latest batch of Never Ower going into a barrel of Laphroaig (photo credit: Hop Hooligans)

With a total of 29 new releases this month, it would stretch this article beyond belief to write about all of them (much to our dismay, to be honest), so you can check the full list at the end of the review, or on this page.

New breweries

This month’s new breweries were all about homebrewers taking it to the next level. First one to breach the industry was Mystic Mash, led by none other than Claudiu and his faithful beagle hound. After years of being one of the founding members of the Amateur Brewer’s Association and organizing both homebrewing contests as well as tasting sessions, Claudiu decided that it was finally time to bring his own beers into the world. Brewed at Three Happy Brewers, Dog Days of Summer went live at the beginning of May, an easy drinking IPA that goes hand in hand with the (hopefully) upcoming hot, summer days.

Back in January, when Bereta were releasing the first beer in their Brewing Community project, we were having a chat with Radu and whether he would like to pursue a gypsy brewing career. His answer was something along the lines of ‘Nah son, homebrewing is where it’s at’, but we’re happy to see that something changed in the narrative since then. Cue May 17th, when the Hopdrops brewery released their first beer: Northern Raven, a 10.5% imperial stout showcasing the skills which have earned Radu numerous awards in both local and European homebrewing contests.

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Contrary to popular belief, the name of this beer is not GoT inspired. This imperial stout was brewed using Norwegian kveik, cultivated with surgical precision by Radu himself (photo credit: Hopdrops)

Livin’ everyday as a festival

Up until now, this year has seen a number of small, mostly indoor events such as meet the brewer evenings and tap takeovers. Despite the patchy weather, from the first of May and over the first weekend of the month, craft beer was celebrated in Cluj Napoca, Bucharest, Sibiu, and, surprisingly, the small town of Sfântu Gheorghe.

Heading to Bucharest, Ground Zero kicked off festival season with their annual labour day celebration: Zero Mai. Returning for its third edition, this 3-day event offered an alternative to the traditional crowded seaside escape, setting up on the green pastures of Verde Stop Arena. 

The following Saturday saw our own Craft Tranzition Party enjoy its second edition, where Clujingtonians (we made that word up, just roll with it) could enjoy Noah Poet of Pale Ale on tap for the first time in the city. The monthly event also saw offerings from Kutuma, Hophead, Klausen Burger, Neuron Mash, and Harvester Cider. On top of that, we teamed up with the local Food Waste Combat charity to brew up a pilot batch of a beer made with bread that would otherwise be binned – you can try the results at the June edition.

Hot on the heels of Zero Mai came Festin (adamant about not being called a festival). Running from the 3rd to the 5th of May, this large-scale urban picnic outside Hotel Carol in Bucharest was more a celebration of the senses, offering tastes, smells, and sounds to lose yourself in, an escape of sorts, from the turmoils of modern life. Visitors had only to bring a blanket and a good mood, and could enjoy beer from Hop Hooligans, Zăganu, Perfektum, Ground Zero, and cider from Clarks.

On the same weekend, the small Transylvanian town of Sfântu Gheorghe saw a gathering of numerous Transylvanian breweries who provided the refreshments at the Days of Sfântu Gheorghe celebration, a festival for locals and visitors alike. Hosted by SzimPlatz, it was the first time that craft beer became a focal point, with breweries such as Ground Zero, Kutuma, Perfektum or Plan Beer joining the venue. The event also invited the guys at Brew’s Brothers to host a brew-along, who showed guests how they too can learn to brew their own beer at home. While not a craft beer festival per se, we’re glad to see that such events are taking place in smaller towns as well, especially since Szimpla Sepsiszentgyörgy is one of the very few pubs in the area that stocks a significant range of Romanian craft beer. 

With the city of Sibiu declared a European Gastronomical Region this year, local breweries have had a chance to shine at the Sibiu Summit Of Taste event between 8 and 12th of May. It was an excellent spotlight for breweries such as Nembeer, Bere Sibiu and Urban, who got a chance to introduce newcomers to this fast growing industry in the region.

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While in Sibiu, do make sure to check out the latest release from Nembeer: a summer ale with ginger, a spicy and refreshing treat while out on the terrace (photo credit: Nembeer)

But wait, there’s more…

Things are bound to crank up a gear as spring becomes summer, and storms become scorchers (sic), there’s plenty to look forward to in the next few weeks. Sadly, the Beer Hype festival that was scheduled for mid May was cancelled, but we hear they’re looking at creating some smaller events to help promote craft beer in Cluj. Staying local, the Cluj Craft Beer Festival has been delayed by a month, but will return from 11th – 14th of July at the new location of Iulius Park.

Moving away from Cluj, it’s good to see the return of Festivalul Girafelor in Iași, from the 7th to 9th of June. This second edition of the festival sees more breweries, including locals such as Cearfisă, Șapte Coline, Capra Noastră, and Tomești Hill Brewery, as well as national favourites including Hop Hooligans, Bereta, Ground Zero, Perfektum, Sikaru, and Amistad. Promising street food and live music, it’s great to see Iași embracing craft beer and encouraging the locals to try it out.

Last but not least, the Timișoara Craft Beer Festival returns for a second edition on the 14-16 of June. The guys from Bereta, in partnership with local craft beer haven Bibliotheka, return to bring us another round of beer fueled fun and games. Located in the idyllic Roses Park in the centre of the city, it’s a beer geek’s paradise, with in excess of 20 of the country’s breweries, food trucks to keep you sober-ish, live music, and more to be announced – we’ll see you there 😉

And to wrap things up, here’s this month’s list of new beer releases:

Anagram Brewing – Zen Den – IPA – 6% ABV

Berărescu 
– First Base – Citra Pale Ale
– First Kingdom – IPA

Bereta
– Diabeetus – Imperial Stout (with marshmallows, vanilla, cacao nibs, coconut, almond, walnut, chimney cakes, and lactose) – 10.5% ABV
– Juicebag Vanilla – 6% ABV (available at the Bereta Taproom & Bottleshop only)
– Safe Spot Landing – Sour IPA with lactose, quince, and vanilla – 5.6% ABV (special one-off for the 2019 Budapest Beer week)
– IPA hopped with Mosaic & Hallertau Blanc – 6% ABV (feat artwork by Andreea Dumuta)
BBC – Raspberry Wheat (with Dan Grecu) – 6% ABV

Brauhaus Sincu
– Weiss – 5.4% ABV
– Helles – München style

Capra Noastră
– Capra Cu 2 Bani – White IPA – 5.5% ABV
– Capra Cu 3 Nurori – Coffee Porter – 7% ABV
– Ursul Păcălit De Capră – White Chocolate Stout – 7.5% ABV

Carol Beer
– Pale Lager – 4.8% ABV
– Red Ale – 5.5% ABV

Double Drop Crew – Maraton – Pale Ale – 5% ABV

Hop Hooligans – Genevieve – Juniper & Lime Pale Ale (with Anspach & Hobday) – 5% ABV

Hopdrops – Northern Raven – Imperial Stout with Kveik – 10.5% ABV

Ignat Brewery (Bere Noah) – The Biker – Pale Ale – 5% ABV

Kutuma
– Cânepăbere – Hemp Lager – 4.5% ABV
– Kurva – Session Pale Ale – 3.8% ABV

Mystic Mash – Dog Days Of Summer – IPA – 5% ABV

One Beer Later – Rock ‘N’ Beer – Czech Lager – 5% ABV

Patos Beer – Amber Ale – 5% ABV

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

Plan Beer – Vedere din Amara – Bitter Ale – 5% ABV

White Collar Brewing – Imperial Pilsner – 7% ABV

Wicked Barrel Brewery – Razzle Dazzle – Pale Ale – 5.1% ABV

 

 

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