Croatian ale wins 'Best in EU' award

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ZAGREB (Reuters) – When Britain voted to leave the EU, UK-born Tom O’Hara decided to stay in Zagreb where he was visiting a friend – and four years later the ale he started brewing in Croatia is winning accolades back home.

O’Hara’s The Garden Brewery scooped the “Best in the EU award” given anually by Beer52, a Britain-based club of beer lovers with more than 200,000 registered members.

O’Hara, who won the same award last year, took first place this time for Micro Niepa, a low-percentage version of his New England IPA series, in the category of 3.4% alcohol or below.

The Garden Brewery, whose core products also include Pilsner and Stout and which brews a range of regularly changing specials, exports to around 30 countries.

“We started production in 2016… We’ve always been experimenting and not been afraid to try new stuff,” said O’Hara, a brewer in his native Northern Ireland and in London before he moved to the Balkans.

He has prospered during COVID-19, increasing sales by 22% in the first nine months of 2020.

“When the coronavirus hit… we went 100% can and we developed our web-shop,” O’Hara said.

“…We’re (also) on course to hit 133 different styles of beer (over four years) by the time we finish this year.”

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