The 'three friends' go from strength to strength
Saturday 12 February 2022
This article is from
Great European Road Trip
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Having earned international respect for their technical brewing, the ‘three friends’ of Trzech Kumpli are riding high after a year of accomplishments. Since the brewery’s launch, it has grown very steadily year-on-year; once occupying a side unit at a meat processing plant in the Polish town of Żywiec, it has now taken over the space of its former neighbour, with vastly increased brewing capacity and new packaging facilities. In 2021 though, the team consciously decided to take a breath, consider the kind of business they wanted for the future, and make some key changes. We caught up with Piotr Sosin to find out more…
“You called at the right time to talk about this stuff really,” says Piotr. “In Poland today, everyone from the craft breweries are posting these very nice infographics, showing how many 1000s of hectolitres they brewed in 2021, how many exported, how many collaborations and so on. I’m personally not so interested in that stuff, but it did make me reflect on how we’ve done against our own goals in the past 12 months, and I’m really proud of the steps we’ve taken.”
One of the most significant changes has been the installation of a new canning line. While there are many smaller, younger breweries that can their own beer, Trzech Kumpli bucked the trend and stuck with glass until the team was 100% confident they could do it right.
Piotr says: “We could have done it years before, with a mobile canning line, but the companies never met our expectations, particularly in terms of the dissolved oxygen in the beer. We’ve drank too many shitty beers from poorly set up canning lines, and we’ve heard about how much beer is wasted. We have high expectations and high standards and it was only in November that we finally got a line that we were confident in. And even the first measurements proved that we were absolutely right, because the dissolved oxygen is at a level very similar to the bottles. Sometimes it’s even lower.”
Also on the brewing side, Trzech Kumpli has successfully gone through the exacting process of having six of its flagship beers certified vegan. Although its regular brewing process doesn’t use any animal products, having the international recognition of the Vegan Society seal was important to Piotr and the team from a commercial, export standpoint, but also in terms of educating consumers.
“I was expecting that we would just, you know, fill in the papers, send it over to the certification body, and then go pay our invoice. But it was by no means like that. They requested all the certificates from our suppliers. They wanted to know how every element is, where are the ingredients stored – so much detail we hadn’t even considered. Did you know that some elements of hop production can be non-vegan? I was really shocked,” says Piotr.
“In the next month or so, there’ll be an audit, where they actually pay the visit at the brewery, and will be looking at how Misty is brewed. The whole thing is so thorough. So when you see that seal on a product, you know it’s not just been bought – it really means something.”
All this effort in ensuring the beers are as consistently high quality as possible, has clearly paid off. In 2021, Trzech Kumpli took home a record 51 awards, medals and general plaudits, from Leon, Frankfurt, London and of course Poland itself. Rather than being special beers that the brewery crafted to wow the critics, everything Tzerch Kumpli entered was from a regular batch of a regular beer.
Closer to home, the brewery has also significantly boosted its presence in the local town of Żywiec, where Piotr admits a surprising number of inhabitants had no idea it even existed.
“We had our local bottle shop in town, but it was really, really small – like, 40 square metres – so there wasn’t really much we could do with it, in terms of welcoming people in,” says Piotr. “We’ve moved to a great new location now, with 240 square metres; our goal was to make it a kind of beer sanctuary, so there’s obviously a lot of our beers, many imported beers, local kombucha and other local fermented non-alcoholic drinks. We have music playing and also run different type of activities over there like tastings and just fun gatherings around the beer.”
In a similar vein, the brewery has ramped up its long-standing practice of supporting sporting or cultural projects, either financially or with donated beer. Particularly over the past two years, when so many sources of support have dried up, the assistance of Trzech Kumpli has meant a great deal to local organisations ranging from art galleries and jazz festivals to the local football team.
Having taken stock and put in place important changes for the future of the business, the three friends are looking forward to a busy and successful 2022, refocused, re-invigorated and ready to take the world by storm.
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