Make it funky y'all
Dodgy name, massive flavours
Photos: Funky Fluid
Saturday 28 November 2020
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The first time many of us got to try Funky Fluid’s beer was during the recent Beer52 Cyber Fest. While we remain a little unsure about the name, the brewing more than makes up for any concerns we might have harboured. Founded in 2018 by two craft beer loving pals, Funky Fluid has quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with in Poland’s notoriously demanding market for fresh new flavours.
Michał Langier used to run his own, small contract brewed project, Langier Beer, while co-founder Karol Mizielski comes from many years of selling regional and international craft brews. After much deliberation, the pair decided to take the plunge and launch their very own brewing project, focused on an ever-changing range of diverse and attention-grabbing beers.
“Being so focused on new recipe creation all the time is absolutely the most fun way to run a brewery, if not always the easiest,” says Michał. “There’s hard work and constant travel between breweries; during our first year of brewing, we’ve brewed beers in over 10 different breweries, to choose the two on which we focus now. But it’s brought very nice results.”
Something may be lost in translation here, but “nice results” feels like an understatement; last year, Funky Fluid was named by Ratebeer as the third best new brewery in the world. With the addition of another new team member, Grzegorz Korcz, the brewery has moved hard into international sales, shipping a good chunk of its total volume to more than 15 different countries across Europe, Asia and America.
“Covid obviously came at a bad time for us, but we still managed to brew 100 different beers, organise two festivals, take part in 10 collabs including our first foreign ones - with Brew By Numbers and Dugges - and start our own barrel ageing programme. Oh, and we became Untappd’s second highest rated brewery in Poland. It was a crazy year.”
Obviously, Funky Fluid is very much about the big, bold flavours, and is constantly on the look out for novel ingredients and emerging trends.
“We always try a lot of new beers from Europe and USA, take part in tasting panels and bottle shares, to make sure we are up to date with the most interesting trends in the beer world. We also take a lot of our inspiration from the food world, picking up fruit/spices combinations for our Gelato Pastry Sour and Pastry Chef Imperial Stout series.”
Despite the interest in big and bold flavours in beer, Michał and Karol are very much grounded in more traditional styles, and have great respect for more regional European brewing craft. They are particularly partial to styles such as German Hefeweizen and Polish Grodziskie.
Funky Fluid may be the new kid on the block, but the people behind it have been part of the craft community in Poland since its earliest, garage-based days.
“It all started from the small community of homebrewers and still, most of the commercial breweries are being opened by people who have fallen in love with brewing at home,” continues Michał. “It’s come a very long way since then, with around 300 craft breweries at the moment, but there is still space for friendship, having fun together at the festivals, and creating crazy recipes together. It hasn’t lost what made it so great to begin with.”
While there are many distinctive features of the Polish scene, it’s obviously tied pretty closely to what’s happening in the US, so pastry and fruited sours, and (of course) New England IPAs fit right in. Indeed, the latter is now the single most popular style of craft beer brewed in Poland.
“The craft market has really pulled away from mainstream Polish drinking culture, which is still very much about drinking cheap lager,” says Michał. “So while we obviously try to push the boundaries, we still have to make a real effort to entice people to craft beer, by presenting high quality craft lagers. This part of the craft beer market is growing as well, which is very encouraging - people seem to be more and more open to new and unexpected flavours.
“We always try to plan ahead, so we are already preparing ourselves for post-covid times. We’ve started to fill more and more barrels to prepare special, limited beers, and have a long list of beers we have to brew, as well as our festival to organise and the bar to open. Who knows – if that’s not enough to keep us busy, maybe we will start looking for our own brewing facility as well?”
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