The rise of draft beer in Croatia
The beer renaissance is sweeping across Croatia and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. New craft breweries are popping up with astonishing speed, ready to break the darkness of middle ages. The iron grip two of most popular brands, Ožujsko and Karlovačko, had on an average beer lover due mostly to any lack of real choice is starting to vane so here we bring you 7 draft beer knights ready to eclipse the classic Croatian brands!
1. Zmajsko Pale Ale
Zmajska Pivovara (Dragon Brewery) was one of the first microbreweries to have opened in Croatia, and in its first year of opening, it was voted in Top 10 New Breweries in the World by RateBeer. Not a small feat, taking into account the competition of 3800 across the globe. It sure has raised the standards for any other microbreweries that have followed its footsteps. Zmajska Pivovara produces four types of beer: American Pale Ale, Porter, India Pale Ale and American Wheat Ale. Out of four, their Pale Ale takes the cake with its full-bodied, crisp taste complemented with a mango and citrus scent. It comes in 0.33 L bottles, which will leave you wanting for more!
2. Vunetovo Aljaški Mrgud
From the sunny shores of Hvar comes a rare beast to find, so good it was voted the best craft beer in 2016! It’s a proper black IPA, with pitch black body and fruity aroma. The taste is a mouthful of citruses and a pinch of roastiness that lingers in the mouth for a long time. A must try beer, especially if you’re staying at the Croatias sunniest island!
3. Nova Runda – American Pale Ale
Here comes another shiny knight ready for the battle for the Croatia's best craft beer. Nova runda is a newcomer that shows it’s here to stay. Their APA is brewed using a combination of 3 American Hops – Magnum, Citra and Cascade with medium body and a light sweetness, but also with a quickly disappearing light bitterness. The flavor is very fruity, but with a strong malty backbone in the background. If given the opportunity, you must give this APA a chance to disarm you.
4. Varionica Pale Ale
Originally envisioned in the basement of two young men, Varionica Pale Ale is another addition to the Craft beer Renaissance in Croatia. It’s of a light palate, pleasantly carbonated with a citrusy aroma. It is of great drinkability, with a gentle but bitter finish.
5. Bura brew – Tornado IPA
Here comes a craft beer native to Istria, given the name Bura by the northern wind that cools the inhabitants of the region during the hot summer months. Its refreshing taste goes together with the strong sun and salty sea.
Tornado (Whirlwind) is an Indian Pale Ale with dark amber color with a hoppy, citrusy aroma. Its taste is bitter with a strong finish.
6. Prvo Viško Pivo – Saison
Would you believe that now, even the tiny island of Vis has its own craft beer! Well, the beer is actually brewed in Norway, since one of its founders is a recognized Norwegian brewmaster. Saison is of light and fruity taste, making it a perfect companion while enjoying island’s seafood. While tasting it, you can easily return in your mind to the shades of pine trees, while listening to the sounds of waves crashing on the shore of one of Croatia's beautiful islands.
7. Bujska Pivovara – San Servolo
Here comes another contender hailing from the region of Istria. Bujska Pivovara was amongst the first few that gave the spark needed to start craft beer revolution. San Servolo - their dark beer, is in the top five Croatian beers according to Ratebeer. San Servolo beers are non-filtered with second fermentation still in the bottle, they come in as much as eight types: APA, Imperial Pils, Teranino Fruit Beer, Truffler Herb Beer, IPA, Amber Lager, Czech Pilsner, and Dark Pilsner. More than enough for any beer lover!
Where to taste them
- To Je To
To Je To is a friendly bar located in the Old Town area of Split. They boast one of the largest selection of Croatian Craft Brews, and in addition, you can try their homemade brandy (rakija) to spice things up a bit.
Leopold’s is a draft beer heaven located in Split’s downtown offering an extensive selection of Croatian craft beers as well as some international labels. Leo’s is probably the best place to try Croatian Draft Beers, so if you consider yourself a beer lover you must visit it.
Although famous for its wines, Istria is proud to present San Servolo, the first craft beer to appear in that beautiful region of Croatia. The brewery that produces that gem of a beer has its own steakhouse. It is a place of pleasant atmosphere and rustic style, ideal for enjoying grill dishes whilst accompanied by a glass of delicious San Servolo beer.
Located in Poreč, right across the city's seaside promenade, habitat is a small local bar where you can sit quietly and enjoy a fine selection of Croatians craft beers.