Ground Zero

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Location: Bucharest
Open since: April 2015
Founders: Alin and Răzvan Matache
Brewer: Darius Copilău from Zburătorul
Output in 2019: 1200 hectolitres

General information:

2015 saw the beginning of something wondrous: one of the most revolutionary breweries in Bucharest fired up its brewing kettles and put its fermenting vessels to work, and the resulting beers meant that the Romanian craft beer scene would never be the same again. Taking inspiration from British independent breweries (namely BrewDog) and driven by a rebellious attitude towards the generic yellow beers in green bottles, Ground Zero lived up to its name in terms of both inspiring and shaping the way artisan beer is now brewed in the country.

Ground Zero was a partnership between the Matache brothers: Răzvan, the head brewer (or ‘the artist’ behind the operation) and Alin, the poker player whose skills in keeping a straight face actually helped fund their business. With their initial 7000 liter setup (out of which a 2000 liter fermenting vessel is dedicated entirely to Morning Glory, their best selling beer), the brewery takes great pride in their use of English malts, an abundance of hops from all over the world, and a ballsy attitude towards the way proper beer should be made. And you have to hand it to them, after all, they did brew the first truly strong beer in Romania, a 9% ABV monster of a DIPA, riddled with more hops than was considered decent at the time, and going by the no-nonsense name of Imperial Fuck.

Since they first opened, Ground Zero have had a constant growth both in terms of the styles they approached, but also their impact on the brewing scene. Always open to new ideas and making their equipment available to equally crafty minds, they have allowed homebrewers to take the leap into the gypsy brewing field, and have thus propelled breweries like Bereta and Wicked Barrel unto the market. Their collaborations also extended beyond Romanian borders, into countries like the US or Bulgaria. The years to follow saw them grow even further, to the point where they opened their own taproom on the brewery premises, as well as the association with a local bistro in what would later open as the Ground Zero Bar.

In June 2017, they released a new range which, while still brewed in their craft beer studio, goes by a different name: Deranj. Currently available in only three varieties, a wheat, a Kölsch style ale and an IPA, this range is mainly aimed at retail consumers. However, in spite of the fact that it is more readily available in designated supermarkets and not packing as much of a punch as their core range, it continues to challenge the way Romanian drinkers perceive beer and their expectations of it.

In 2018, their expansion plans took on full swing, and after they helped launch 3 Romanian gypsy breweries, they also decided to permanently allocate on of their fermenting vessels to any upcoming brewers who might need a hand making a breach into the market. The new kids on the block had a communal release in December 2018, with the addition of Antidot Brewing, Tomești Hill Brewery and Brews Brothers. Needless to say, if you’re looking for the spawning point of Romanian gypsy brewers, the studio in Băneasa is the place to go.

Their expansion took them further in 2019, and in July, their permanently relocated to a new brewery in Pipera, tripling their brewing capacity to 220 hectoliters. Not only that, but their new location also allowed them to expand and implement a taproom, restaurant and terrace, which became host to several events and beer launch parties. Later that year, disagreements between the Matache brothers led to brewer Răzvan leaving the business and pursuing his own path. In July 2020, Răzvan opened his own bar, Ironic Taproom, and started looking into going full circle in his brewing career, by becoming a gypsy brewer.

It is also worth mentioning that Ground Zero are also one of the 5 founding breweries behind the Romanian Craft Beer Producers’ Association.

Ground Zero have become a well established presence on the beer drinking scene, and their beers can be found in numerous places across the country, from specialized shops to bars and restaurants, either by 330ml bottle or draft. What we recommend is heading down to their tap house at Hangar by Ground Zero, where you can enjoy some truly amazing food on the side, or if you’re lucky, attend one of the mini-festivals and tasting sessions they sometimes organize. Additionally, you can also sample them in these locations.

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Classic range:

  • Morning Glory – IPA – 6% ABV
  • Imperial Fuck – Imperial IPA – 9% ABV
  • Gipsy Porter – Porter – 4.5% ABV
  • Easy Rider – Pale Ale – 4.5% ABV
  • Amber Guerre – American Red Ale – 5.6% ABV
  • Split the Pot – NEIPA – 7% ABV

The Deranj range:

  • Deranj Oranj – Orange Wheat Ale – 5.5% ABV
  • Deranj Blonda – Kölsch style Ale – 4.9% ABV
  • Deranj IPA – IPA – 5.8% ABV

XperimentALE range (limited edition):

  • NEDIPA – New England Double India Pale Ale – 8% ABV
  • COX Imperial Stout – Imperial Stout with coffee and cocoa – 9.9% ABV
  • Morning Coffee – Morning Glory IPA with Kira Roasters coffee – 6% ABV
  • Vii Și Ne – Cox Imperial Stout with cocoa, vanilla and sour cherries – 9.8% ABV
  • New Zealand NEIPA – 6% ABV
  • Session Imperial IPA – 5% ABV
  • XperimentALE #007 – Imperial Stout with coffee – 8.5% ABV
  • SUCKOUT – XperimentALE #008 – Dry Hopped Imperial Kölsch – 8.5% ABV
  • COXCOMB – XperimentALE #009 – Pumpkin Ale – 5.5% ABV

Collaborations & Specialty/limited edition beers:

  • Imperial Juice – New England DIPA (collaboration with Bereta) – 9% ABV
  • Spiced Oddity – Autumn Ale (collaboration with Royal Docks) – 7.1% ABV
  • Grounded Stork – Saison/Grisette (collaboration with White Stork) – 5.8% ABV
  • Oatmeal Nitro Stout (only available on draft at the Ground Zero Bar) – 5.5% ABV
  • Orange Snow – Citrus Hoppy Saison (Collaboration with Bereta) – 5.9% ABV
  • Angel Piss – Gose – 5% ABV
  • Ticket to the Stars – 11 months Merlot Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout – 12% ABV
  • Triple IPA – 3 year anniversary beer – 11% ABV
  • 8 Years O’Clock – IPA (collaboration with Bereta and Hop Hooligans, brewed for the 8 year anniversary of Beer O’Clock) – 6% ABV
  • Roots Hoppy Roots  – Double IPA (collaboration with Bereta) – 8% ABV
  • Imperial Juice (2019 relaunch) – Double NEIPA (collaboration with Bereta) – 9% ABV
  • Maize – Pale Ale (brewed for Maize Restaurant
  • 9 Years O’Clock – IPA with acacia flowers (with Hop Hooligans, brewed for the 9 year anniversary of Beer O’Clock) – 6% ABV
  • Circle JerkMilkshake IPA with cherries & mint (with Bereta and Hop Hooligans – 7% ABV

Affiliated gypsy & contract breweries:

For reviews check BeerAdvocateRateBeer, Untappd and Universitatea de Bere.

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