Two brewers in Croatia have created the country’s first women-run co-operative brewery, aiming to produce delicious, natural beer while supporting their local community.
Ana Teskera and Maja Šepetavec, from Zadar on the Dalmatian coast, run BRLOG: a craft beer brewery that started off in their garages and balconies, and is expanding rapidly.
“We are two women who brew our own beer. Not only for the taste, but for the sheer pleasure of making it,” they say. “From our brewing hobby came an idea, and from that idea – Croatia’s first co-operative craft brewery.”
The pair say working co-operatively has allowed them to be greater than the sum of their parts, and build “an organic group of people who can construct […] book-keep, write business plans, and create”.
Beginning as a pair, there are now ten other members involved in the co-operative.
“Individually we are little, working together in cohesion, we are a force of varied and crafts skills. If a group of people from Zadar can do it, the world can too.”
The blond ale they produce is free from preservatives, unpasteurised, and made up of four different hops and three varieties of malt.
As well as producing the beer, Ms Teskera and Ms Šepetavec believe the BRLOG helps the town. A small but popular holiday spot by the sea in the summer, Zadar struggles in winter. It needs local enterprises to keep the community vibrant and strong.
After perfecting their recipe and recruiting new members, the next step was to make a deal with another local brewer to create the mutual brewery itself. They launched a crowdfunding appeal, raising the target of US$8000 in just seven days. The money will be used to buy two 1000 litre fermenters, bottles, labels and cases.
To help tempt more backers for the project, the two women also offer a service known as ‘kegerator’ – transforming old fridges into beer taps, providing a case of their beer and installing the newly kitted-out fridge in people’s houses.
The two women say that until recent times, the process of brewing beer has been considered divinely guided, and the domain of women. Only more recently, since brewing became commercialised, did it become male-dominated. They’re aiming to redress that balance.
“Craft beer is a product somebody personally stands behind, a product that can only be made when the makers show persistence, hard work, diligence, courage and friendship,” they say. “In a word: BRLOG!”