The weekly Stat Attack - 27: Croatia (24th April 2022)

Another Sunday, another country. And this time it’s Croatia, a country in the shape of a deformed banana with a somewhat tumultuous history (thanks Wikipedia!), and about 4 million people (20% of whom live in the capital Zagreb).

Originally split between the Roman empire’s provinces of Dalmatia (famed for spotty dogs) and Pannonia (possibly invented saucepans?), the area was invaded by the Croat people (the origin of whom seems uncertain) in the 7th century. Initially a vassal state of the Franks (Black and Spencer), Croatia soon became a Kingdom. It remained a fully independent country until the 12th century, after which it lost land to the Ottomans, fell under the overlordship of the Habsberg empire, was invaded by Napoleon’s mob, and finally became part of the Austo-Hungarian empire, with its borders changing many times in that period.

Gaining independence after WWI, Croatia decided to join with neighboring regions to form what would become Yugoslavia. Brutally occupied by the Nazis in WWII, Yugoslavia was re-established in 1945. Calls for autonomy or independence grew over the next few decades, until Croatia finally became a sovereign state once more after declaring independence during the in 1991 (although the war of independence rumbled on until 1995). Croatia joined the EU in 2013.

Today (or at least pre-Covid, and no doubt post-Covid too) tourism is Croatia’s biggest industry, accounting for over 20% of national income. Apparently naturism is really big here, although to the best of my knowledge naked beer ticking is yet to really take off. Both the tourism and naturism are driven by the long and gorgeous coast, but other highlights are the city of Dubrovnik, loads of Roman stuff, the Blue Cave, and (errm?) the Museum of Broken Relationships. There’s also Froggyland, a collection of “500+ stuffed frogs doing people things”. Ok then.

Croatia is very keen on its own beer, with 90% of beer drunk there being produced in the country, There are currently 115 active Croatian breweries on Ratebeer, along with a surprisingly high 11 meaderies, but just 4 cideries.

Although there’s an active and growing craft scene (with beers from The Garden probably being the easiest to find in the UK), pale lagers continue to dominate Croatia’s beer scene. The top selling beer in the country is a pale lager called Ožujsko. Funnily enough, Ratebeerians seem to think there are better beers than that from the country - the top-rated Croatian beers according to Ratebeer (all scoring over 4) are:
1 The Garden Imperial Affogato Stout The Garden Brewery
2 LAB Barba Imperial IPA LAB Split
3 Nova Runda C4 Nova Runda

The top raters from Croatia are all still actively rating, and are:

1 @ogivlado 13089
2 @Iznogud 10496
3 @hrabren 5709

The people with the most rates were:

You’ll need 78 rates to get into the top 50 raters of Croatia brews.

So, what are your vital stats and stories from Croatia?

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Here’s those stuffed frogs I mentioned at Froggyland. You’ll note they are indulging in the popular Croatian pastime of naturism.
image

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@wheresthepath , you might want to change that 21 for joining the top 50 raters, otherwise a great write up!

<*))))))><

Never been to Croatia, or that part of Europe really, did drive to the lovely lakeside town of Bled in 1976 on a camping road tour (but that’s in Slovenia), and I did look at going last year as it was a way of getting into the US during the travel restrictions from Covid, but it became too difficult. So no bridges to bore you with.

My 33 rates are mostly from The Garden Brewery, via Beer52 and a tap takeover in Mason & Company, Hackney Wick, after a Grimsby game at Orient, March 2017 (we won 3-1 if I remember correctly). Surprised to see I’ve actually had beers from 9 different breweries.

No beer has reached a score of 4 yet. My top list is as follows.

<*))))))><

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another country I visited extensively too soon! Numerous trips 2003-2012, reaching all corners of the country except, perhaps bizarrely, the tourist mecca Dubrovnik, and not done any of the islands. Wandered round cities like Osijek and seen the juxtaposition of the wonderful buildings with bullet and shell marks. Only ever flown in once, as back in the day even when Wizz and Ryanair started flying there it was still pretty chingy. Have crossed land borders with Slovenia (2), Bosnia (3), Hungary (2) and Serbia (1). When I first went in 2003 it was my first non British Isles trip as an adult, and by European standards a fairly hardcore destination away from tourist areas. Found little English spoken, and it really had the ‘eastern Europe’ feel, not to mention it was a ballache to get to without spending hundreds on flights. Really enjoyed it though, both the ‘real’ parts and in a different way the better known places like Zagreb and Split - and the railway journey between those last two is stunning

Trouble was, back then the beer was mostly shite, as is so often the way. I quite liked Tomislav, a baltic porter unfortunately owned by ImBev but still tasty, otherwise apart from a handful of trad German-style brewpubs it was fizzy yellow water all the way. Have had a reasonable amount of Hrvatske craft for someone who hasn’t been in a decade, mostly Garden but a smattering of others, mostly early in lockdown when there was a Zagreb-based shop and Garden brewery shipping to UK - 59 craft mostly at home plus a few in Slovenia, to go with a dozen macro and 27 craft/brewpub in the country. Makes 98 total so best find a couple more!

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I was just testing that you were reading it properly…

[don’t know where I got 21 from, probably a late night brain freeze, I’ve fixed it now…]

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Croatia is on my bucket list. Have tried 27 beers, most of them from The Garden brewery. “That’s all I have to say about that”

C4 is quite popular around here

image

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I can recommend Croatia for a relaxing holiday especially the beaches south from Capodistria towards Umago. This was once part of the Venetian empire so the architecture is an interesting mix. It’s also good for mushrooms in season.
As for beer, all I can say is thank god for the Garden. My other samplings are below 3.0.

Have 43 ratings from Croatia, my top rated on 4 is The Garden Imperial Chocolate & Peanut Butter Stout. The majority of my Croatia ratings (34) are from The Garden Brewery.

I’m Australian Croatian i.e. my parents are Croatian and migrated to Australia in the 1960s, and I travelled to Croatia quite afew times well before my ratebeer days in the 1990’s and 2000s, mainly to Zagreb and north to Zlatar where my parents are from, also to Cakovec where have relatives, and trips along the coast from Pula down to Spilt and Dubrovnik on the ferry, but haven’t managed it the last few years.

There are 4 active cideries in Croatia, with Buzdovan having the most entries at 10 (of which I’ve just had the 1 rating of)

The top 5 raters of Croatia ciders and cideries are:

CroatiaCider Ratings

CroatiaCideries

Živjeli!

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Only 4 rates for me from 3 breweries. Highest rated is Zmajska Pivovara Porter. 3 of such brews shared by the RB crew in Rome during a tasting I attended. Certainly a place I’d like to visit and probably will at some point if I’m betting on myself. Did a Balkan running series on my iFIT enabled treadmill and saw some great sites plus I was quite the game of thrones fan so all adds up to a trip in future.

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It’s a very modest 2 rates from me, although during my one and only trip to the country, before I was rating properly on here, I did manage to try a relatively decent number, mostly fizzy lagers / radlers, but also a couple of crafty numbers. It is a lovely country, from what very little of it I’ve seen (around Pula) and I’d be very happy to return.

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I have a paltry 15 ratings from 10 breweries based in Croatia. Top 5 is:

My Rating Avg Entered Updated
Varionica NOEL Passion Sour 4 3.37 9/27/2021
The Garden Apricot Sour 3.9 3.42 5/7/2019
Pulfer Stay Hopdrated 3.8 3.43 1/1/2022
Buzdovan Spiced Apple Cider Semi Sweet 3.6 3.24 6/30/2020
Velebitsko Tamno 3.5 3.18 9/27/2014

Like many in the UK, most of my ratings are from The Garden whose beers tend to find their way over here quite regularly, but I have done a few trades where Croatian beers have been included. Would definitely like to try more.

Visit-wise, I’ve been to the country a few times. Seem to remember a great festival in Zagreb, and once had a show in Pula where my partner came and joined us, so drove up to Rijeka for an hour on the beach with an ice cream. Some good gravel biking all down the coast to Albania that I’d love to explore a bit.

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A few from the Garden. The Mrs is off to Dubrovnik a couple of months so will ask her to pick me up some non-Garden beers.

It occurs to me that I spent one day in Croatia when I was visiting a mate who lives in Slovenia. About 18 years ago. Did drink some macro lager in Rijeka.

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Croatia is my 36th most rated country with 129 beers and an average of 2.86

My first visit to Croatia was while travelling interrail in 1994. Having no money I needed to stay in the Eastern portion of Europe. As temperature in Budapest hit 42C, we got enough and headed for the sea. The war in ex-Yugoslavia didn’t stop us, and resulted in an odd stamp in my passport from Krajina. Not much beer at that time, besides Ozujsko.

I have returned many times to various parts of Croatia, both for work and for sport (& beer!) related tourism, including a quick tour of Zagreb with @Marko as well as a work week in Split. Like elsewhere, craft breweries are popping up everywhere, and quality is on the rise.

Still my highest rated beer is a beer tasted already in 1994 I believe:

My Rating Avg Entered Updated
Tomislav Crno Pivo 4.2 3.34 1/27/2002
The Garden Galaxy Pale (#05) 4 3.26 10/26/2018
Pivionica Brown IPA 3.9 3.11 10/22/2018
Tap B Mirakul 3.9 3.49 10/24/2018
LAB Barba Centennial Ace 3.9 3.4 10/26/2018
Tap B Mrka Chilli Chocolate Stout 3.9 3.5 11/2/2018
The Garden Hallertau Blanc Pale (#07) 3.9 3.37 12/7/2019
Nova Runda Small Batch Series: 25 Export Stout 3.9 3.51 7/21/2021

My highest rated breweries are:

Zmajska Pivovara 6 3.38
The Garden Brewery 11 3.25
Nova Runda 8 3.19
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Only 4 Croatian beers for me - but they’ve all been pretty decent. Here they are:
Varionica Neon Stout 3.7
The Garden Sour 3.6
The Garden Flat White Coffee Porter 3.5
The Garden Micro NEIPA (Columbus/Zythos/Ekuanot/Citra/Mosaic) 3.4

No place ratings as the only time I went was in 1997, long before I was on RB. Back then I stayed in Zagreb just for one night whilst inter-railing. I remember there was still a fair bit of damage apparently from the Balkan wars, although some of it was being repaired. Everyone we met there was very friendly.

We went out for drinks (I remember a sloping curved cobbled street lined with small bars?) and had big steins of black lager (no idea what brand) sat at one of the many pavement tables. Suddenly bar staff up and down the road came out and started clearing away the chairs - we asked our waiter if it was early closing night. He said no, it was due to the rain. We looked up, baffled, at the clear starlit sky and thought “nah”, and continued sitting at what was now the only table remaining outside. Needless to say, 10 minutes later we were sprinting back to our hostel soaked to the skin in torrential rain. I still don’t know to this day if it always rains in Zagreb at 9pm, or if they’d had a call from the next town to say bad weather was coming, or what!

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Hah, moved from being the no.2 Croatian rater to be no.1 Czech rater.

Btw. putting Croatia (and even more so Slovenia) in context of Balkans is controversial - the definitions of a region named after a Bulgarian mountain was expanded westwards randomly and politically, as geographically it makes no sense (the “Balkans peninsula” modified to encompass Slovenia and Croatia is not geographically a peninsula as the upper border is longer than the Baltics-Black sea line), and even that doesn’t fit most of Croatia). Culturally, it’s only partly and depending on the part, slightly more so in recent decades because of migrations of Croats from actually culturally Balkans countries to Croatia (or any eastern Yugos to Slovenia). It’s actually being accepted more, as Stockholm syndrome of sorts, after being repeated so much, people have begun accepting it, to their disadvantage, but I respect those who refrain from it, as it is largely discriminatory (“let’s lump all those Yugos in the same category, largely in a “less European” context”), even culturocidal in practice (the strongly culturally Mediterranean and Central European parts which form a majority of the country are ignored and dismissed). Literally, it’s like insisting that USA is Latin America and only Latin America - sure, it partly is, a lot of them are there, the cultural influx is notable, but srsly?

Tl;dr - bullshit term made up, modified for lazy, often discriminatory political reasons (even imperialist from some sides, though that’s a story for another time) and largely generally used for discrimination and reinforcement of prejudice, pls refrain from using except when justified by actual cultural aspects.

That said, onwards to the stats:
\ 7x7 My Rating Avg Entered Updated
The Garden Imperial Peanut Butter Jelly & 'Smores Stout 4.1 3.68 1/29/2022
Crikveničko Svijetlo 4 3.29 6/23/2008
Zmajska Pivovara RIS 4 3.85 9/15/2017
Zmajska Pivovara RIS Barrel Aged 4 3.94 9/15/2017
Pulfer / Maskeron Death By IBU 4 3.82 4/17/2020
Nova Runda Tropical Yeti 4 3.66 8/29/2020
Maskeron / Lobik Hercules 4 3.64 8/29/2020
Nova Runda TCB - Taking Care of Business 4 3.68 2/10/2021
The Garden Imperial Vanilla & Chocolate Porter 4 3.75 6/5/2021
The Garden Imperial Salted Caramel & Chocolate Biscuit Stout 4 3.71 6/15/2021
Pulfer Smoothiesh: What Day Do Chicken Hate the Most? 4 3.26 4/11/2022

Those are my only fours, and one surprising 4.1 I was perhaps slightly generous with though I enjoyed it immensely. It definitely shows which breweries do the best stuff these days (not the only excellent ones). The Garden makes some fantastic stuff, but their beers, as they churn out a crazy amount of specials, ARE a bit hit and missish at times, more so than Nova Runda, Pulfer and even Zmajska perhaps.

The Crikveničko Svijetlo was a world-class Czech pils brewed at a brewpub in Dramalj near Crikvenica waaaay back when. Active during the tourist season, the owner would, if I remember correctly, get a Czech brewer to come brew for it. And it showed. Only had it from handbottle sadly. The owner passed away at some point and nobody cared to continue with brewing there. Never got to try their dark, sadly.

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Radićeva perhaps.

And you were almost certainly drinking Tomislav. :smiley:

Such torrential rain can happen randomly, yeah :smiley: I’d guess that your view of the sky was blocked perhaps by buildings around, while they got notified, or saw, that it was raining in the quarter nearby and moving their way.

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Koper (Slovenia) and Umag are certainly cool, the Venetian architecture, mixed with Habsburg and native Dalmatian (here and there a dash of French, and more than a dash of socialist and, er, wild capitalist) is spread throughout the entire Croatian coast.

Istra is not Croatia’s best beer destination sadly, despite a solid amount of local breweries, so understandable sadly.

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This will be a short one from me, as I’ve only had 12 beers from Croatia and 11 of them were from the Garden*. I think they are a decent brewery, maybe not world-class but they do decent mid-range beers. (Sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, I’m not. I love a simple style done very well.

Top beers are:

*The 12th beer was Staročeško Desetka 10 which I gave 2.6 & think I was being very kind.

Looks like Croatia is another country I’ve only really scratched the surface of what’s available beer-wise.

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