Drinking Non-Corona in the COVID-19 Age: Barba Craft Beer Comes to You

Daniela Rogulj


April 5, 2020 – So, what’s it like running a craft beer company in Croatia during the corona era? TCN caught up with Barba from Split to find out more. 

Life during the corona era is bad enough, but can you imagine life during the corona without pints? Never. 

Thankfully, one Split craft beer company is ensuring no one in Croatia is thirsty during self-isolation. TCN caught up with Sinisa Andelic of LAB Split, the craft brewery behind the city’s famous beer brand – Barba.

By way of introduction for readers who may not have discovered the fabulous Barba range of craft beers yet, tell us a little about yourself and the company history.

We are small brewery based within the Split city limits. Since our opening almost 5 yrs ago, we have been at the forefront of the craft beer revolution and hopefully continue to create added value to our beautiful city.


How were you doing pre-corona? How much of your business were online sales?

Actually, the situation with the corona was a bit of an eyeopener; we were forced to react overnight and do something to survive. We started taking orders via email and realized just how big and passionate our following is in Split. We went from about 5% online sales to almost 100% online self-delivered sales overnight. Bad situations such as this one sometimes bring positive things in the long run.

When did you realise corona was going to be a big thing?

I’m still working a morning job which is very multinational and global, so the concerns and problems were known to me from the very beginning, however, with the information overload that we are all used to, I hoped this wouldn’t turn out to be so severe. We all are kind of used to reading about disastrous apocalyptic things that could happen any second, and then they pass by and do not affect our lives in any way. I believe this was a major problem that led to some countries taking this virus too lightly.


Give us a timeline and story of how it damaged your business

It all went from 0 to 100 in less than 2 seconds. Overnight all our customers closed as precaution measure and then only silence occurred. Don’t get me wrong, this was a very responsible decision to make and we fully support it. However, our business stopped as well, and we just had to do something.

People still need beer, perhaps now more than ever. Tell us how you reorganised, and what services you are offering now.

We started by taking orders from people via email. More and more people started calling and ordering, things began to be hard to follow, so to avoid confusion and people being left without beer, we streamlined our orders and organized a webshop in a matter of days.

How much more challenging is the production with the restrictions?

Nothing and everything changed; the main problem is that we are fighting an invisible enemy and you never know if you did enough to protect your workers and their families. We are maybe more used to hygiene and cleaning processes than others since beer production is very germ sensitive and our SOPs are very strict.

And arranging deliveries?

We are doing contactless deliveries; payment is only received via e-banking and boxes of beer are left on your doorstep usually the next day once the payment is visible in the system. Safe and quick. You can check out our webshop to see what’s on offer.

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Any thoughts on a special-edition #StayHome corona survivor brew?

This I cannot stress enough. A big THANKS to our customers and brewery friends that started working overtime to help us, helped spread the word, and helped us regain at least part of sales. We initially reacted by lowering prices thus making our beers really good value for money. For instance, we discounted Punica (mother-in-law in Croatian) Blond Ale that we now sell for 5.15 kuna per bottle!! And we are almost out of Punica in only two weeks.

We are still working on a few ideas on how to repay these wonderful people and show how much this means to us! Maybe a special beer, maybe an event once this is over… let’s call it a work in progress for now!

Sales of the beer Corona fell 38% in the States due to the name association. Do you think you would have survived if COVID-19 had been called the Barbavirus?

I’m afraid even to think of that scenario. Let’s keep it at that.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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