Brewery Hopping

When we go back only five years ago, the craft beer revolution in Zagreb was only in its humble beginning as the first small independent breweries started shyly launching their first beers.

Things escalated quickly, and now the situation is quite different – there are more than ten craft breweries in Zagreb alone, many specialized craft bars and the selection of beers is huge and widely available. We are now entering the next phase in the craft beer revolution. The breweries that made it, first as gypsy brewers, using rented or improvised facilities, are now dreaming big, expanding, building and opening their own plants. Of course, this includes their own taprooms, so beer lovers can track their favourite beers and come to the source. We might even have real beer tourism as the next big thing soon enough.

“The opening of the new Medvedgrad Brewery’s plant was a blast.” Image credit: Pivovara Medvedgrad FB

The legendary and ground-breaking Zmajska Brewery had their first beer, Pale ale, on the market in 2014. They were actually the first craft brewery that had their own plant when they started. But soon they overgrew the facility in an old industrial warehouse in western Zagreb, so they designed and opened their own plant in the suburbs last year. For this occasion they threw a great party called Zmajevo, more like a little festival, which they will repeat on June 29 this year. They have a nice little taproom, open from Tuesday to Saturday, offering snacks and all their beers, both regular and special editions. Nova Runda is another pioneer in Zagreb, ambassadors of craft beer and hops, and since their beginnings in 2014 they have been producing only draught beer. They changed two rented plants, and now they are finally finishing their own place in Zagreb surroundings, the opening is due soon. I hear the production of cans is one of the plans, too. I'm really looking forward to that taproom.

“Varionica’s soon to be new brewery, in Zagreb surroundings.” Image credit: Varionica FB

Something similar is happening with Varionica and Pulfer, also one of the older and bigger craft breweries in Zagreb. Varionica is building their own plant in Pisarovina, some 25 km south from Zagreb, while Pulfer is staying inside Zagreb city limits. I have to mention Positive Brewery as something unique. Founded in 2017, they are a relatively small brewery, not so widely known, but they've turned their plant in an old warehouse hidden in Trešnjevka neighbourhood into a place where beer meets music and street art. More often than not they organize concerts, DJ sessions and similar events. Lots of potential there, and they are just getting warmed up.

“Clubbing in a brewery? Yes, at Positive Brewery in Trešnjevka!” Image credit: Taste of Croatia

And let's not forget Medvedgrad, the oldest microbrewery in Zagreb, which has really been undergoing a renaissance in recent years. While everyone is well familiar with the four pubs and a craft bar they run, this spring, as the best gift for the 25th anniversary, they moved the production to a brand new impressive plant in the north-western suburbs. The opening was one of the best organized events in 2019, and a taproom as well as guided tours are on the way. The Garden Brewery has a little bit different history. Opened in 2016 as a new project by an already well-established international entrepreneur specialized in music festivals, from day one they had their own modern plant and a large taproom/bar with food. The Garden in Zagreb's industrial zone is actually a popular clubbing venue capable of organizing various events, while tastings and guided tours can be arranged by request.

“Zmajska Brewery team in their taproom next to the plant in Jankomir.” Image credit: Zmajska pivovara FB

Apart the fact that you can drink great craft beers in bars all over Zagreb, you can take your beer tasting adventure to the next level – go see for yourself where the beer comes from and meet the people who make it. After the revolution, now comes the time of prosperity!

Header image credit: The Garden Brewery FB

Author: Morana Zibar/Taste of Croatia