After working in the UK in the local pubs and after trying all sorts of craft beers from all around the world, Andy and Teo came back to Romania, where they first met and where their beer-journey has begun. As they have met for the very first time in our hostel and both worked as receptionists between 2012 and 2013, we believe that sharing their story and their passion for beer is a must!
Keep reading if you want to find out more about the beer culture & the craft beers of Romania and Cluj in particular, the local events that involve beer-tasting and brewer-meetings or if you just want to get to know the story of a beautiful couple that shares the same passion and that dares to follow their dreams together (what a dream-couple!) .
For THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HOSTEL, Andy & Teo decided to surprise us with a red-craft-home-made-bloody beer. We wanted to dig deeper, so we interviewed them in order to identify the secret motivation & the philosophy behind their amazing projects.
BREWERS TILL THE BOTTOM OF THEIR HEARTS
“I didn’t like beer at first … I don’t know how I started liking it. It probably happened because I really enjoy the social aspect of drinking!” says Teo.
“After working for a couple of months in some English pubs, which have a totally different dynamic (compared to Romania) – more homely, most people consider the pub their second home – I came to realize that there develops a very strong sense of community. The bar is like a living room: some of their friends are always going to be there and, even if you go only by your self, you’ll always find somebody to engage in a conversation with. People come to you with an open heart, they want somebody to talk to and you are always there for them (as a bartender, as a friend). We really enjoyed that!”
Therefore, because of the love for the homely feeling that a pub gives you, the social aspect of drinking and their aptness in customer service, Teo & Andy became eagerly passionate about beer crafting. “I guess that this very combination brought us where we are today” concluded Teo.
“We were really impressed by the beer revolution happening in the UK (new breweries opening up) at that moment so we decided to check out the Romanian market as well. We searched for a list of all the existing craft breweries. Guess what? There was none!” said Andy. “I think a reason for that would be the fact that our industry is just at the beginning” added Teo.
“So we decided WE might as well do that! When we came back to Romania, we started researching, talking to people and we even went to beer festivals and made an effort to meet the brewers in person in order to gather the needed information. That’s how the BEEROLOGIQUE Facebook-page was born.
We came up with a list that now comprises around 30 operating breweries from Romania and, happily, the number keeps changing because there are more breweries coming up every year. So far, In Cluj we have: Kutuma, Bere a la Cluj, Hophead and the Klausenburger Brewerie.
Through the page, we aim to inform, but we also want to promote the events that are happening & the breweries that are opening up, because, often times, the brewers are very good at what they do, but, unfortunately, they are not gifted salesmen – they don’t know how to advertise their product, on the principle: <I made a beer! My work here is done!> ” jokingly said Andy.
The Facebook page is for the most part designed for a Romanian audience, whereas the website is meant for foreigners, being written in English. Both show you where you can find craft beers depending on the city you’re in and it has sections describing each brewerie & their products.
At the moment, we consider it to be the most accurate web-page to find up-to-date information about the craft beer industry of Romania. Check it out if you want to find out more about the beers options, the beer trends and other insider-information from two professionals in the domain.
So far, A&T have engaged in different events that promote the drinking culture and involve tap take overs and brewer meet-ups. We would like to mention :
THE FIRST CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL IN CLUJ
What we do love about Andy and Teo is the fact that they are not afraid to pioneer and that they are the first in everything they do. Therefore, after bringing to life the website that helped so many passionate drinkers, they even decided to bring the beer right between our hands by organizing the first craft beer festival of Cluj!
“Romania has had beer festivals before, but they are very big and you have to buy tickets to come in. It is expensive for the brewers as well: a lot of the times they don’t make any money, because of the participation fee and the commission from their sales. We, instead, aimed to make something simpler and smaller, where anyone could come, drink a beer and enjoy a chat with the brewers. And the most important thing for us was the brewers actually making profit for once; we wanted them to go home with a good impression. Therefore, our participation fee & the commission were very small – just enough to pay the electricity and the advertisement.
And we succeed! We had 10 brewers and a lot of people who came – it was even surprising that we managed to fit everybody in!”
“We definitely didn’t except to have so many people coming, because we arranged the whole thing in only 3 weeks. But, in the end everything worked out! Financially speaking as well – everybody made a lot of profit … except us!” said Teo laughing, being right away completed by Andy with “If you start doing things for money, you loose track of what’s actually important and you start valuing profit over quality. Thus, our goal wasn’t profit related. It was for the brewers to get the exposure they need” .
They also told us that this year more beer-festivals are going to take place and more breweries are going to open-up. We believe that it is because of the very good example that they have set that the others started exploring such possibilities as well!
To sum it up, they added “If no one else is doing it, then we will do it! And if an opportunity comes up we will definitely take it!” .
Isn’t it beautiful? Pioneering, doing things for the sake of others, not aiming for profit and taking the opportunities that show up in your way ?!
MEET THE BREWER EVENTS
“The craft beers are often times very intimidating: you don’t know how to taste them, because they don’t look like the usual – commercialized beers that we all know (it’s not clear, it’s not yellow). It’s kind of when you go to a wine tasting, but you don’t know anything about wine and you don’t want to look like an idiot! ” explains Andy.
In order to break this ice and destroy the misconceptions, they decided to organize this very small and laid-back evenings, when everybody is allowed to ask silly questions. “It makes the beer more approachable and it is changing people’s perception of what beer should be: for most people it is supposed to be cheap and easy to drink, whereas we want them to start seeing it more like wine, something that you can taste!”
“The events that we do are meant to challenge people and to change their perceptions. We want them to develop a broader view of beer. And so far, we have noticed a nice change in the consumer mentality on the Romanian market – people are willing to pay more for a better quality – and we want them to know that there are plenty of beer options as well!”
THE IDEAL RETIREMENT PLAN
“We’d like to have our own pub and self-employ ourselves. Usually, when people want to have a business, they intend to employ others, whereas we instead want to be the ones working there, every single day: making the beer, pouring the beer, talking to people.”
“My ideal is to get the ingredients and take them all the way through the whole process until I have the beer that I give to the customer, with my own two hands. I want to be there at every stage, from the beginning till the very end – it’s the ultimate craft concept” confessed Andy.
WARNING: DO TRY THIS AT HOME!
For those of you that want to try a DIY craft beer project at home, Andy & Teo suggest you should start small – “you don’t run before you can walk” laughingly said Teo: get a beginner’s kit and be ready to fail for the first couple of times! They say that you’ll definitely get the desired result once you have the needed equipment and once you understand how does the whole process work. It has literally four ingredients that you put in there – you’ll definitely come up with some sort of an alienated&unique craft-beer!
To conclude, we’ll just say: beer doesn’t judge, beer understands! So be part of our revolution and drink!
by Eva Bunici for Transylvania Hostel