Journey to Italian breweries: Cr / ak Brewery

Journey to Italian breweries: Cr / ak Brewery

Cr / Ak Brewery is the brewery of the year 2018: we had a chat with Claudio Franzolin to let us tell the story of the Venetian brewery.

Our journey in the Italy of craft beer continues . This time we stop in Veneto at Cr \ Ak , Brewery of the Year 2018 in the competition organized by Unionbirrai, on the occasion of BeerAttraction at the Rimini fair. From his beginnings as a homebrewer to projects for the future, Claudio Franzolin tells us everything there is to know about the Padua microbrewery.


When and how was Cr \ Ak born?
The founders are the brewer Marco Ruffa and Antony Pravato. They already had several homebrewer cooked things behind them , when in 2012 they decided to become a brew firm : Birra Olmo. For about three years they produced mainly at the Brewfist plants, a brewery with which Marco also worked for a period, before an interesting experience in England at Buxton. In 2015 we started the Cr \ Ak project, whose name is already symptomatic of the break with Olmo: owned plant and new beers, we only brought with us the name of our Guerilla IPA.

Which country are you inspired by and which breweries, beer and brewer have influenced you in any way?
Surely our beers are American-inspired, lots of hops, lots of aromas that mark the clear difference between an artisan and an industrial one. The industry will never be able to make an IPA as it should, for a matter of costs and freshness. As breweries, our first drinks were branded Thornbridge and Brewdog. Looking at Italy, I cannot fail to mention Brewfist’s Spaceman which opened our minds . Going beyond the hops issue, Birrificio Italiano is a model for Agostino Arioli’s meticulousness and precision, so much so that we also made a beer in collaboration with him.


How many beers do you have in production?
We currently produce 4 fixed beers, all of which have been available only in cans for a few weeks: we no longer make bottles. We were a bit wary and feared that there could be misunderstandings about the positioning of the product. Then, after a bit of travel to the United States, we saw that the quality of the canned beers is truly excellent. It should be noted that our New Zealand Ipa is in the process of obtaining the Gluten Free certification. During the year we also produce beers in rotation, based on the hops we get and other fruit of collaborations with friendly breweries. Finally there is our Cantina Project with ad hoc productions aimed at a passage in barrels supplied to us by small wine producers of the Euganean Hills.


After only 3 years, therefore, the arrival of an important recognition.
Yes, it was absolutely unexpected. We knew we could have our say on the most hoppy styles, frankly it was surprising that we ranked ahead of Baladin’s Xyayu with the BV05, an English barley wine aged in wine barrels from our Progetto Cantina. In total, in the various categories, we collected three first places, two second places and a third place and therefore we were elected Brewery of the Year 2018.

The Cr \ ak brewery immediately equipped itself with a Tap Room where you can drink beers a few meters from the production plant. Beyond obvious economic reasons, tell us the idea behind this choice.
When we opened the brewery it was one of our goals to have a space where we could serve our beers at their maximum freshness, to enjoy them at their best. In practice, from production to tapping, everything happens under our control and for us it is fantastic to see the reaction of the people: you can see on their face if they liked the beer! Then obviously also at an economic level it is convenient since it is direct sales, but the real satisfaction is to welcome 4 or 500 people who come to us from the center during the weekend, it’s fantastic!


What is the situation of the craft beer market in Italy?
Ours is a market that wants essentially balanced beers, those exaggerated things that amaze, after a while they don’t work. We are looking for good beers to drink, we are a bit the opposite of Scandinavian countries where extreme tastes are preferred. At the moment Italy has nothing to envy to other countries, perhaps abroad we pay a little for the fact that historically we are not a nation with a great beer tradition, but it is more a marketing problem than a product.

Which other countries do you look more closely at.
The English scene is currently the most interesting in Europe, an example both in terms of quality and way of presenting itself. Among the emerging countries, watch out for Spain which is running a lot.


A preview for Bittersweet readers?
We went to the United States to select a certain hop, grown in a specific area by a producer of our choice. We are waiting for it to arrive to make a beer that, starting from April, will be the fifth of our line and will be distributed only in cans. Having gone all the way to America to choose a hops and having opted exclusively for the can is a sort of giant step for us …  I have partly revealed the name!

A message to the Italian beer world?
Less envy and more collaboration. It may seem trivial, like wanting world peace but really… We should take an example from England where a Cloudwater and a Magic Rock are good neighbors. In December we produced a beer with Hammer, which in the eyes of all could seem a competitor on hops, instead we decided to do something together to have an incentive to improve and push good beer in Italy. We must realize that alone we are not going anywhere and we are not making the movement grow.

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