Hop Hooligans is doing its part in the rise of craft brewing in Romania, says co-founder and brewer Cristian Mihai Dinu, who came to the tap takeover at the Le Barboteur in Brussels, Belgium on 4 May 2019. Beer Idiot Dieter Proost gets the inside scoop.
Romania has caught the craft brew craze and Hop Hooligans are part of the mix to come out of a nation known more for its Ursus, Timisoreana and Tuborg brands.
The rise is marked by Beerologique, which hosts a regularly updated Romanian craft beer database, The Beer Institute, Beer Institute, a store in central Bucharest that boasts over 100 Romanian varieties of craft beer, and the Universitatea de Bere.
Hop Hooligans opened in November 2016 and has its brewery in Jilava, a village near Bucharest. Co-founders Cristian Mihai Dinu and Mircea Georgescu originally partnered up with Petre Ion, founder of Beer O’Clock, one of the first craft beer bars in the country, according to Beerologique.
About half a year into their launch, Petre died in a car crash in late April of 2017. The two forged on to bring their beers to some of the top rated beers in the country. The have collaborated with other rising stars on the Romanian scene, such as Bereta, Wicked Barrel, and Hophead.
They made an appearance at the 2018 Black Beer Fest in Belgium. In June 2018 they also announced the purchase of a canning facility from the UK, to become the first craft brewery in the country to offer cans. The brewery is also part of the fledgling Craft Beer Producers’ Association in Romania.
Romania’s “traditional” brewers are a dying breed, since all the older brands have been bought by global beer makers and independent brewers from the communist era disappeared, says Business Review.
The magazine estimates that craft brewers have a total yearly production of around 2.2 million liters, versus overall national production of up to 1.7 billion liters in Romania.
“What we have been witnessing in the last five years is the birth of a new class of brewers that may have an important word to say in the coming years in terms of beer quality and taste,” the Romanian magazine stated in July 2018. “Today, there are around 30 craft beer brewers in Romania, of which three or four are large, producing over 10,000 liters per month, with a group of 20 that brew between 4,000 and 8,000 liters every month. The rest are even smaller, with a monthly production capacity of under 3,000 liters of beer. Most of them are under three years old, and six brewers opened this year.”
Booming and blossoming
Beerologique now lists 36 operational craft and artisan breweries in Romania, and 17 gypsy and contract brewers.
“The Romanian Craft Beer Revolution is at its humble beginnings, barely nibbling at about 0.05% – 0.1% of the market, but, following the pattern of other countries that have already gone through something similar, it’s soon bound to really take off,” says Beerologique.
Beerologique, the Romanian Craft & Artisan Beer Database.