New Croatian Craft Beer and Gin Bar Takes to Nova Gradiška, Slavonia

Lauren Simmonds

As Marta Duic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 9th of June, 2019, Mario and Marijana Bošnjak’s entrepreneurial story began nearly twenty years ago. After successful domestic production, this pair of Croatian entrepreneurs started producing gin last year, and they recently opened the Bošnjak Beer&Gin Bar in Nova Gradiška, Slavonia.

“Our entrepreneurial journey began as a hobby, and my husband had had the idea of ​​creating his own product and experimenting in various fields for a long time. He grew up in a family where everyone did everything in the homemade way, from sausages and cakes to bread that his mother had prepared and when he finished college and started working as a forestry engineer, then the idea found him. Back then, we lived with a lady of Czech origin who told him how her grandmother brewed beer, and the bottom of her drawer she found a recipe that was written in an old manuscript, and it had everything that’s needed for brewing beer,” Marijana Bošnjak recalled.

The first beer Mario brewed with his mother in their family home was done in 2000, so we can even go as far as to say that he was a pioneer in the field of Croatian craft beer, which has rapidly gained popularity over the last few years.

Soon after, they started building a place for home-brewing and even launched rural tourism on their estate. “Then, I worked in a tourist agency and the natural idea was to create a home-brewing tasting area combined with rural tourism on the property, with basic beer production. We got support from the Ministry of Agriculture and the 80,000 kuna we got, we used for construction works in the yard. We’ve created a tasting area in the yard of Marijana’s family home, and every year we’re upgrading and arranging as much as we can with our finances.

They started with the tasting area in 2008, and it was two years later when they started to receive the first groups of tourists. They also started presenting their products at fairs, both local and in the wider area, including at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce’s (HGK) Kupujemo Hrvatsko (Let’s buy Croatian) fair, thus bringing their products a wider audience.

Bošnjak explains that there were great challenges ahead of them, because at that time, they were the only ones in that business alongside Velebit Brewery and Pivovar Medvedgrad in the whole of Croatia, and there were no small breweries with whom they could consult. Soon after the tasting was set up and they experienced their very first successes in this field, in 2014, they opened a company because the production had just been part of an OPG until that point.

Then, these Croatian entrepreneurs contracted service production and the whole year round, their beer was filled in bottles and distributed throughout the whole country, but due to the change in excise laws, they quickly returned to smaller production volumes on their own family estate.

“The beer is unfiltrated, not pasteurised, it’s a pure live product like fresh milk that needs to be well preserved. Our product is lighter, it doesn’t have a lot of hops like other types of beer, which is actually a natural preservative. That’s precisely why it’s more easily damaged and that’s why we don’t pack it into bottles, but instead distribute it as a draught beer,” Bošnjak revealed. Three years ago, they decided to devote themselves to rakija, especially to those made from corn, because in Brod-Posavina County, there’s the most of this type of culture more than anywhere else in Croatia.

They’ve already offered rakija made from beer to their guests in the tasting area, but they didn’t like it because they weren’t used to it and traditionally they drink more fruit-based rakija such as that made from plums, pears, and so on.

Last year, this pair of Croatian craft beer entrepreneurs launched their MB72 gin, 300 litres in the first year alone, and this year, their latest entrepreneurial act is the opening of the Bošnjak Beer&Gin Bar in Nova Gradiška.

By opening Bošnjak Beer&Gin Bar, they employed waiters as the first employees from outside of their family, this contributing to the local economy.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia page for much more on Croatian products, Croatian entrepreneurs, Croatian companies and Croatian services.


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