Türkei - Interview mit Tolga Güngör, Communications Director @Garaguzu
For a starter, can you tell me more about the craft beer scene in Turkey? From an outside perspective it still seems very small. We are only aware of your beer and 3-4 brew pubs in Istanbul & Antalya...
The craft beer scene is relatively small especially when compared to many European countries. Still, we can talk about a slow but continuous growth. As you have stated yourself, there are a couple of brew pubs in Istanbul, Ankara and Antalya and then there is us. Nevertheless, there are some new brands which are about to be launched and we are very excited by these developments. It is definitely far better to be a member of a group than playing solo.
Also, home brewing is becoming more and more popular. There are home brewing kits on sale on some supermarkets and our own Atac Besi will be a jury member in a homebrewed beer contest next month.
What is the meaning of Gara Guzu and how did you come up with the idea of brewing craft beer in Mugla, not really the most progressive part in Turkey.
Kara Kuzu means "Black Lamb" in Turkish. Gara Guzu is the way the locals of Mugla pronounce it. After living in metropolitan cities we got really bored of big city life and decided to live in Mugla which is where Atac was born. Our village is small and life is easy. We are more relaxed, happy, and creative here. And the Aegean region is actually very progressive, the business environment is suitable, and we can function well enough here.
Where do get your hops & malts. Are they all imported or is there also a local market in Turkey?
We buy our malts from Weyermann and hops from Bart Haas Group in Germany. For our non-traditional red ale we use local beetroot and pine honey. There is a very small local market here but there is a larger variety and a richer culture in Germany..
Which of your beers is a MUST test for all craft beer nerds and why?
Our Red Ale is a must taste... It is a non-traditional, experimental beer, not the red ale you are used to. We use beetroot and pine honey and as red as Lambic. However, it is earthy, pine bitter, and a little bit on the sweet side. Looks great and its taste are unique. Our Summer IPA (session IPA category) is also a local favorite and has a growing fan base in Australia.
Has there been any kind of collaboration with other breweries in the past or is there something in the making?
There hasn't been any collaboration yet but we in contact with some breweries from Europe. We are also waiting for the new breweries in Turkey to start cooperating as a group of brewers in many aspects of the business.
What is the plan for the future, especially with expansion into Europe and other parts of the world?
Gara Guzu is already available in Germany and Australia. Our distribution network will definitely grow as there is already some interest from a number of countries in Europe. We would really like to be available in North America and South America. We are planning to double our capacity later this year but we do not target to become a large brewery. We do not want to lose the spirit which makes us the 'Black Lamb' and the joy we feel through brewing.
-- Michael Lindenmayr, 6. April 2017