Simply delicious, deliciously simple
Saturday 12 February 2022
This article is from
Great European Road Trip
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In the very South East corner of Austria, right on the border of Slovenia where Germanic Europe becomes Slavic, sits Brauhaus Bevog. Situated in Bad Radkersburg, an historic spa town with a famous thermal spring thought to enliven and energise the body and soul, it actually borders with Slovenia on the South side across the river Mur — over the bridge is its twin city Oberradkersburg. Like Budapest, you might think. But it’s not much like that ancient beer-loving city at all. Here the beer scene is just getting started. That’s where Bevog comes in.
“Our brewery is a little bit of in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and vineyards,” says Vasja Golar, owner and head brewer of Bevog. A former electronics engineer, he fell hard for Belgian beer and embarked on a whole new career back in 2013.
“We have nice surroundings, but it’s not a craft beer paradise. Things are developing, we have some fans from the neighbourhood and people driving from a few hours away. We are far away from the bigger cities and to get here from Vienna is almost a three hour drive. So instead we’re becoming a destination for people that are exploring craft beer and for those who are searching for new fun stuff.”
Vasja’s life changed when he took a business trip to Brussels. Like so many beer fans, that old capital with its hundreds of welcoming bars and brown cafes opened his eyes to what beer could really be.
“I ordered a beer,” he says, remembering the moment fondly. “The beer that arrived on the table was a wit, and it was something completely different from what we had here in our part of the world. It was eye opening.”
Vasja explains that prior to his trip to Belgium, the main beer found in Bad Radkersburg was macro lager, and that had been fine for him until that point. But when he got back, everything started to change.
“For a year or so after the trip I was searching in shops for some imported beer. All I could find was basically macro, but from different countries. It was 2008 and Google worked way differently then. E-shops (for anything) were super rare.”
“About a year into discovering beer, one summer’s day I Googled “how is beer made?” and found that there is a thing called home brewing and there are stores for home brewing, books, equipment and so on. I was totally hooked. Everything I read was so interesting and I knew I wanted to be a brewer right then.”
“Over the next few days I ordered a malt mill and brewing books from the USA and started to put together home brew equipment from old kegs and pots meant for commercial kitchens. I was all-grain brewing right from the get go.”
Next came Vasja’s studies in craft brewing in Berlin, and while he studied he wrote his business plan for what would become Bevog. Fast forward to 2012. The building for the brewery was finished and in November of that year the brewery sold their first kegs of oatmeal stout. By January 2013, smoked porter and oatmeal stout was being bottled for selling further afield.
The breweries that inspire Bevog’s brewhouse don’t necessarily have to be the hugest, most successful breweries in the world — neither do they have to be the most highly rated on RateBeer or Untappd. To Vasja, the beer is all that matters. Super delicious beer.
“I really appreciate the hard work of all that were laying new ground, setting new standards and ideas of what craft beer could be. I also have huge respect for breweries that are here for centuries and are still brewing beers that should inspire anyone in craft beer — drinkers and brewers. And there are some new, smaller breweries that are brewing some of the tastiest and most creative brews on the planet.”
But what makes a Bevog beer tick? With so many points of reference, how does the team bring together such a cohesive selection of beers?
“When I make new recipes I put a lot of attention to the balance, drinkability and cleanliness of the beer. I think beer must be pleasant to drink, it must be tasty and flavourful, but all parts must be connected into one.”
The Bevog range includes a collection of limited edition releases, each with their own beautifully illustrated artwork on the label depicting endangered animals. Vasja explains:
“The whole idea behind it is to use our labels as media where we show animals that are close to extinction. And that all is more eloquent because each beer from this series is very limited in quantities, we make it once and once it’s gone it is not coming back. The same goes for animals on the label — when we lose them, they are gone forever.”
The beers in this series will raise money for chosen wildlife charities. In 2021, money from a previous limited edition release was donated to an environmental group in the local area fighting to keep the European Roller Bird surviving in our natural habitat. Which, when you think about it is pretty awesome in many ways, considering how difficult 2020 and 2021 have been for beer businesses and breweries. So what’s coming in the near future for Bevog?
First I hope we are coming into more steady times where you can actually plan stuff,” says Vasja. Us too.
“2022 looks like it will be a busy year. We will continue to plan our expansion and move towards becoming a carbon neutral brewery. All of this stuff should have started earlier but Covid postponed everything.”
“And of course, we will continue to brew tasty brews and explore.”
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