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Sipping beer the Serbian way

Beer culture is an important topic for us on this blog. But why do we actually talk about brewing and drinking in Germany so often? After all, there are so many countries in the world where beer has its fixed place in society! And one of them is currently in the middle of a craft beer Revolution: Serbia. Of course, beer has been enjoyed in Serbia for a long time and here too, the drink has become part of everyday life for many. But on the Serbian beer market you mainly find traditional styles of lagers – and craft beer is a completely different chapter that is just starting to take off. That is why I talked to Kosara, co-founder of Kabinet Brewery, a craft brewery from Belgrade.

When was your brewery founded or opened? And what effects did that have on the beer world in Serbia?

Kabinet, as the first greenfield craft brewery in the Balkans, was founded in 2013 and our first three beers came on the market in February 2014. We were definitely pioneers of a new style and flavor as many people had never tried ale style beers before. And since back then we have brewed more than 85 different beers that have travelled to five continents and 25 countries all over the world.

And those beers you sell as Kabinet Brewery. Where does that name come from?

We took inspiration for our name from the cabinet of curiosities, an ancient form of the museum. Precious things from around the world have been collected there and we wanted the same for Kabinet – both in terms of taste and design.

Speaking of design: you have very cool, creative labels on your beers. What is it all about and how did you come up with this idea?

Since every recipe has its own story, we thought that the design of the labels should be just as individual and custom-made. Therefore, each label is a design by a different artist Some are already very famous painters or graphic designers, others are still young professionals. We have even received both local and regional awards for this unique approach!

What kinds of beer are in your assortment and which of them are the most popular ones? And is your beer available in Germany?

We have around 25 beers, many are the result of international collaborations. Each month we brew a new beer and we get many beer awards for our barrel aged, dark and IPA beers. But still the most popular beers are “easy” Serbian craft Beer styles like Brka or Lutka. Kabinet beers were also available in some bars around Berlin and on the Stone Brewing Berlin Beer week before, but sadly currently they’re not.

You were just talking about your collaborations with other breweries. Tell me more about it! Are there already plans for this year?

Collaborations are a great part of gastronomic cultural exchange, which is important in the craft beer world. We just brewed our fourth Mikkeller beer, a hoppy lager, exclusively for the Balkans. And we also have a beer with dark chocolate and sesame seeds in collaboration with De Molen in our assortment.  Private label beers for restaurants or hotels are interesting for us as well, as we like to do beer pairing. For example we brewed beer for the local Asian Restaurant Istok, Radisson Collection (a hotel in Belgrade) and Dukley Gardens Hotel & Resort in Montenegro. And in 2020 we of course have some more collaborations coming up – with different US breweries, with our old Italian friends at Cenediguerra and as usual many more surprises from our Kabinet crew.

How many hectolitres of beer do you produce per year? And do you have any growth plans?

At the moment we produce about 200 hectolitres and yes, we actually do have growth plans! For this year we are planning to approach the German, Italian and Greek markets and expect to grow by up to 20%.

You don’t only sell beer, but also Pivolada. What is that all about?

Pivolada is a unique beer spread with different spices and minimal sugar content. It’s pretty much just another way to tell people they can play more with beer, for example matching it with different recipes while cooking. The spread is a creation of our Chef Dejan Maksimovic who also cooks for our taproom restaurant.

What has changed in the Serbian beer world around you over the last few years?

Since we opened our brewery, the Serbian market has changed a lot as craft beers are no longer a completely new concept to the consumer. A lot of small craft breweries, beer pubs and stores have opened their doors. However, the extreme tastes and often high prices are still a limit for local market consumers.

In any case, Kabinet sounds very promising to me and I hope that Serbian beer drinkers will get a taste of many interesting brews. And who knows, maybe their craft beer will soon be the new trending drink on our German beer market. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and I’m definitely curious to see what else the brewery is coming up with in the future!

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