Last week, my beer brewing apprenticeship hit a new milestone, as my IPA was awarded THE BEST OF SHOW at The 8th Croatian Homebrew Competition.  

along with getting a Golden medal in American IPA class.

In truth, I was flabbergasted. With just several years of brewing experience behind and as much as 433 great beers that entered this actual competition, I didn’t see those gold medals coming. And, there were some really, really great beers there, from as much as 14 countries.

A little bit of digression. Croatia is a small European country of a mere 4 million people and, understandably,  Croatian craft beer community is rather small. And yet it is growing by the day. I am very grateful to be a part of it right now, as it feels like an extended family. I mean, I know so many guys on the first name base. Anyone who’s into craft beer knows the drill: we can talk and taste beer for hours, and then some more. It was no different this time. So, as we gathered for the competition’s grand finale in Zmajska pivovara  (Croatian for Dragon’s Brewery) in Zagreb, I began serving my beers. I had four ales on tap: Sour Punk (Kettle Sour NEIPA), Strata (Single Hop IPA), Hoppyfornia (West Coast IPA) and Juicy Junk (NEIPA) which eventually won those two golds. Anyway, I was really humbled when the brewers I held in high esteem begun praising my beers. It meant so much. It might not be a concrete-metal medal but it is equally worth. Yeah, simple as that.

When my Juicy Junky NEIPA eventually the gold medal among 62 other IPAs and then went on to become BEST OF SHOW I was, for the lack of words – moved and astonished. Thank you, guys! I have been learning from you all along and I have every intention to continue doing so.

My brewing adventure began some 4 years ago, as a sort of accident. If you believe in accidents, that is 🙂 In a blink of an eye, I became such aficionado that I spent all my free time studying the art of craft beer. I made friends in the craft beer community in Croatia and abroad. And my role model, a place of inspiration was and remained Alvarado Street Brewery. Cheers to you guys!

Early on, I decided to brew those beers and those styles which I myself enjoy most. So, I brew ales. I did 10 kinds of IPAs along with some porters and stouts. If my brewing diary is correct, in those 5 years I managed to brew 80+ beers. The recipes? Like most of the Croatian craft brewers, I import ingredients from the USA. When it comes to hops, my choice was and still is Yakima. 

I have absolute faith in their fresh produce. I also occasionally buy some SIMPSONS barley from the UK via my fav Slovenian suppliers. 

Anyway,  I kept investing in equipment and ingredients and experimented, experimented… Admittedly, there were a few sleepless nights over brewing issues. I had my fair share of failures and of biting my nails 🙂

All things said I cannot imagine my life without brewing anymore.

I don’t regret any second or penny invested, and I even came to appreciate mistakes and failures, hard as it is. This is probably the right place to thank all my friends and family that were brave enough to taste my beers and give me feedback. They didn’t’ spare me, I can tell you. But they were also very supportive.

As to the future, this year I begin exploring sour beers. I am also in the midst of some beer collabs.

So, more news coming soon!