Vaironica: An Update On Our $56K/Month Croatian Craft Brewery
This is a follow up story for Varionica. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi, we are Varionica, craft beer pioneers from Croatia. We’ve been making tasty beers since 2014. and never stopped searching for exciting and new flavors.
We’ve made more than 30 different beers, both classic styles and modern including some with mango, chilies, coffee, cardamom, etc.
Our flagship beer is still the beer that started it all, our Pale Ale. We are roughly producing 3000 hl of beer per year.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
We’ve been concentrating on increasing quality and diversifying our beer portfolio. New beers excite us and having something new all the time has definitely become a must in the Craft industry. Two of our favorite ones would be a sour made with pomegranate, lemon, and cardamom for the Michelin star restaurant NOEL and a Saison made with grains of paradise that donates earnings to the victims of the Russian - Ukrainian war.
Retail has slowed down a bit since there are no more Covid measures and people have returned to bars and restaurants. Return to social life is great for us since bars and restaurants have always been our main customers. A lot of new cool places are opening now but sadly some cool places have closed down as well. Online sales have also slowed down a bit, so overall sales have been stagnating this year.
Much of our effort has been concentrated on improving quality and efficiency in our brewery so I’m pleased to say that we manage to assemble a good and creative team with fresh ideas that will surely benefit us in the coming years.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
Price growth and availability of some essential products for our business have definitely been one of the biggest challenges. At one point prices of glass, paper, gas, and electricity rose every week and it was very difficult to keep up and calculate our costs of production.
These price changes and uncertain times affected our customers also so it was not easy opening new customers because a lot of people hesitated to introduce new products to their portfolio. They kinda stuck with something that they thought worked well until the situation normalized again.
Assembling a good crew that shares our passion for beer has also been a challenge this year, but we are confident now that the guys that are working in the brewery are really passionate about what they do. After all, taste the beer and you can see for yourself!
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
You have to be able to constantly adapt in troubled times or you will miss a lot of opportunities and they will pass you by. Trends are changing faster than ever and just because the times are hard it doesn’t mean there are no opportunities for growth.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Our plan for the next year is to release even more interesting and creative beer styles.
Maximizing the efficiency of our production and cutting down energy consumption is also high on our priority list due to the high material and energy price volatility.
Our long-term plan is to focus on exporting as much as we can while still growing in the Croatian market. Croatia is a small market but it has a lot of potential, since the sales of Craft beer equal only 3% of the total beer market. We have a good reception of our beers on the UK market and are looking to expand to some other countries as well.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
My favorite book was probably Surrounded by idiots by Thomas Erikson.
I usually listen to the Master Brewers podcast which has interesting brewing topics and Surove strasti podcast which is more business oriented.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We just hired 3 people in the brewery and one person in sales so at this moment we are not looking for new employees.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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