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It’s nice catching moonlight on the palm of your hand, but it is a completely different story capturing bubbles, stardust, and a touch of funk in your bottle. This is a story being written by some young gentlemen from Barut Brewing and Blending in the abandoned part of the former gunpowder factory in Kamnik for a number of years now.

These fellows, whose moustaches curl up enticingly when they take a gulp of some really good beer, have dared to blaze a path through the Slovenian craft brewery scene that no one else has yet tread.

Different among those who are also different

The inhabitants of Kamnik used to be afraid that gunpowder would one day blow up the whole town, but no one knew that this was precisely where the brewery scene was set to explode. Excellent water and good quality hops guarantee the success of many home breweries, but Luka Kranjc, Aleš Ogrinec, and Miha Tome from Barut Brewing and Blending also set about growing their own wild yeast, which throws wide open the doors to new tastes and new experiences.

A fondness for yeasts, which they studied in detail at the Department for Microbe Biotechnology at Ljubljana’s Biotechnical Faculty, inspires their walks through the nearby forests where they use small knives to collect samples of microorganisms to use for their new brews. They then carefully analyse the eating habits of the chosen yeasts during the process of mixed fermentation, after which the beers are left to mature for at least six months in oak barrels, preferably barrels that were once used for storing wine.

If necessary, new microorganisms are added to the developing beer during the process of secondary fermentation. These influence the development of a specific taste and acidity. Blending different barrels helps them achieve their uniform taste and vision, which is an interpretation of their favorite types of beer.

The result of their hard work is an array of experimental, mainly acidic beers, which cover an emerging niche in Slovenia’s already boutique brewery selection.

They also represent Slovenia at many foreign festivals and cooperate with successful beers. One such beer is the prize-winning Chef's Beer, which they crafted together with partners from Croatia – chef M. Janković, the Bibich winery, the Varionica and Zmajska Pivovarna breweries – with the aim of popularising the combination of beer and food.

Space for new interpretations

Of course, in our culture beer will always be a form of refreshment at the end of a tiring day or a soother of hoarse throats after intense shouting at a football match. It was this thought that a while back compelled Barut Brewing and Blending to create Per, their best-selling lager.

However, the mission driving the gentlemen from the Kamnik brewery is to surpass and leave this tradition behind. They would like both caterers and drinkers to get to know beer as an excellent accompaniment to a good meal. They would like them to become attentive to the specific nature of tastes, undertones, notes, texture, intensity, bitterness, acidity, and sweetness, to dare to discover something new and do away with the commonplace completely. They would like them to tackle the exploration of beer with openness, a relaxed attitude, and some daring – as though the sky were the limit.

© Suzan Gabrijan