Bosnian craft beer industry booms

Bosnian craft beer industry booms
(Image: Quinn Dombrowski under a CC licence)

15 August 2016

Bosnia is playing its part in the world craft beer boom, with small breweries around the country flourishing.

Things have been moving quickly since 2013, when small breweries in numerous Bosnian towns and cities including Sarajevo, Vogošća, Banja Luka, Mostar, Doboj, Livno and Široki Brijeg established themselves.

The ever-increasing success of the industry has come as a surprise to some, who say that the tastes of the Bosnian population seem to be changing.

“Bosnia is a ‘rakija’ [fruit brandy] nation, rather than a ‘beer’ nation,” said Sarajevo brewer Mirza Nalo. “After the [1992-5] war, when I started travelling abroad, I didn’t know you could make so many different kinds of beers ... for me, it was like discovering a brand new world.”

Bucking the trend of stagnation prevalent among larger commercial brewers in the country, small craft breweries are barely able to meet the huge demand for their products.

“People are asking us to bring our beer to other towns like Banja Luka, Tuzla or Mostar, but we don’t have the capacity to supply our products all over Bosnia,” Arman Galičić, owner of the Sarajevo Brew Pub brewery, stated.

Many put the incredible growth of the local industry down to an internet forum titled “I Love Beer” (Volim Pivo). More than just a group of businesses, the Bosnian craft brewers have formed a thriving movement around the forum, and have used it to organise the country’s first craft beer trade fairs.

New heights of success could even be on the horizon for the breweries, should there be a change in legislation.

“Beer legislation needs to be adjusted to small breweries because small producers currently have to pay the same fees and taxes as large industrial breweries, which is not normal,” Vlado Mandić, founder of the Lovac craft brewery in Široki Brijeg, noted.

In addition to a change in law, he believes that the key to further success for the industry lies in educating local consumers.

“Bosnia’s beer market is full of industrial lagers and all of them taste the same ... As craft beer is generally more expensive than industrial ones, we have to reach potential customers, and explain what lies behind our work,” he explained.

Cheers to that.

Source: Balkan Insight