Garden Brewery

• • • Innovation Award / EU Champion Brewery • • •


It seems we can’t go more than a couple of issues of Ferment without singing the praises of Croatia’s Garden Brewery, but nor could we leave it out of this year’s plaudits. Garden is quite simply one of Europe’s very best technical breweries, which, combined with a real flair for innovation and a nose for reading and anticipating trends, makes it such a perennial favourite in our tasting panel and member ratings alike.

As we reported earlier in the year, much of Garden’s energy is currently focused on moving the brewery to a new site boasting triple the capacity, as well as a massive taproom and garden with 50+ mature trees. This move also reflects a major scaling up of the brewery’s ambition in the field of sustainability, which has always been among its core values.

“Turning over part of our new site to create a wonderful, mature garden will provide a lovely atmosphere for our customers, but is also part of a big push to become more sustainable in all sorts of ways,” says founder David Plant. “The first to make it into practice will be a solar array and water capture techniques to reduce our impact on that front, but there are plenty more on the way.”

Leading the way on so many fronts, it’s easy to forget that Garden is only just coming up to its fifth birthday, which it intends to celebrate with a slew of international collaborations, festival appearances, the first beers from its barrel ageing programme and new export markets including Russia, Latvia, Portugal and Malaysia.

“The beers have always been good, but I think today they’re better than ever – I’m so happy with that side of things now and I think we’re going in a really good direction. We’ve really got our core recipes dialled in, and with the extra capacity we’re able to lay more beer down for ageing and try new things.

“For example, I love barrel ageing and mixed fermentation, because its complex and intellectually interesting. It’s spontaneous and hard to track, because so much of it is in the lap of the microbial Gods, so to speak. You can guide it, but it’s much harder to monitor exactly what’s going on the lab, so to an extent it’s more about trying to find an interesting flavour than having a fixed target character.”

In the box this month, we have New England Pale #06, another Garden beer whose utilitarian title dramatically undersells the liquid inside. Personally, I’ve always found this approach quite refreshing. 

“This beer is part of an ongoing series where we make iterations in ingredients and techniques. We play with the juice, mouthfeel, bitterness and colour balances, all at a sessionable ABV to give different yet punchy New England Pales. This is in many ways harder than a 'throw everything at it' DIPA or TIPA, where you can hide everything under huge hop rates and massive oat-heavy malt bills. Croatia is hot, sometimes very hot, so we consciously make this beer less soupy or thick; we do use oats and wheats, but in the heat you want a less pillowy beer, one that slides down easier.”

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