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Belgian and Ukrainian brewers join forces to create a ‘beer of hope’
A special collaboration between Belgian brewer Brasserie de la Senne and Ukrainian brewer Pravda Beer Theatre has produced Schieve Kolos, “a beer of struggle and hope”.
Made in Brussels, the beer is a Belgian ‘saison’ with Ukrainian hop accents, RTBF reports.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Pravda Beer in Lviv has had to change its normal operations, swapping brewing for fabricating explosives.
“We stopped producing beer and make Molotov cocktails instead, because it’s much more appropriate,” said brewer and quality manager Juliana Babii. “We’ve found a way to deliver these Molotov cocktails to where they are needed. That's all we could do.”
Also joining the collaboration is Marco Cervetti, an Italian chef based in Kyiv. Usually a brand manager for large supermarket chains in Ukraine, Cervetti’s business has also been transformed by the war: his company now lends its logistical power to ensuring food security.
Schieve Kolos was originally supposed to have come out a month ago, but the war delayed the efforts.
“Nothing will stop us from brewing, from working together, from collaborating. It gives hope for victory, and we will celebrate it with the beer we make,” Babii said. “It's a militant act. It's an act, I wouldn't say of war, but of defence, certainly.”
Long-term collaboration between the two breweries
This isn’t the first partnership between the two breweries, which have been working together for nearly a decade following a previous brew from Brasserie de la Senne inspired by a Ukrainian novel, which drew the attention of the Ukrainian brewers.
“Just imagine if in Ukraine, brewers were brewing a beer called Manneken Pis,” Bernard Leboucq, founder of the Brasserie de la Senne, recalled. “As a brewer, I would have been curious about it, so I would have gone to see it.”
Links were established and the Brasserie de la Senne helped set up the Pravda brewery in Ukraine. “I personally directed the work on various channel, I gave advice, I worked a little bit as a consultant and inevitably friendships were made,” said Leboucq.
Special brew profits help feed refugees
Profits from the sale of the special brew will be donated in full to a humanitarian fund owned by the Pravda brewery.
“It's a humanitarian fund that already existed before the war,” Babii explained. “The fund was intended for the reintegration of disabled people, but today, it’s mainly concerned with providing meals to Ukrainian refugees who flock to Lviv.”
Around 30,000 meals a day are being prepared in a huge central kitchen. “Lviv is hosting 300,000 Ukrainian refugees today, while it has a million inhabitants in normal times,” said Babii.
“It’s as if the city of Brussels took in the whole of the city of Ghent in one month. It's gigantic. This money will also be used to repatriate the families of our friends, of our collaborators there, who are still living in Kyiv or even in Mariupol. So these are delicate operations.”
Ukraine hop variety flavours new brew
Despite supply difficulties, the seasonal brew is made with a Ukrainian hop variety called Zachrava, which has herbaceous, spicy and aromatic tones. A blond colour with a coppery hue, it has a cloudy appearance and a creamy foam. Although it gives off a fresh yeasty smell, the taste is reminiscent of strawberries and apricots, floral notes and a hint of nutmeg. Overall, the beer possesses a delicate and refreshing bitterness with a mellow body, says the brewer.
The Pravda brewery has also made one of its recipes available to craft breweries around the world who want to make beer in solidarity with Ukraine.
“There’s a message of hope that’s also carried by the act of brewing,” Babii said. “Hope, but also communication. For brewers, it's really important to communicate through brewing. They work with other breweries around the world to let the world know that there is a war in Ukraine.”
You have to know that the Ukrainians are very afraid that westerners will be influenced only by Russia and by propaganda messages from Russia, for whom the war did not exist. So they bring the suffering of the Ukrainians to life through collaborations.”