LBC Interviews Roman Matcoschi – CEO of Basque Oak Brewery
Basque Oak Brewery won several medals including "beer of the year" award for its imperial stout at the 2018 London Beer Competition held in the month of March this year. LBC interviewed Roman Matcoschi, the CEO & Co-founder about their success journey and here is the exclusive story
It all started in 2015 when I was working on the thesis for my MBA by the Mondragon University of the Basque Country. In the meantime, I had an idea that could become a business in the near future. At that time I lived in South Africa and worked for a company from the Basque Country as a Development Manager, being responsible for the Sub-Saharan Africa area.
I wanted some changes in my professional life and I thought I had enough knowledge regarding the development of a business. Craft beer had always attracted my attention and the idea came up: why not a craft brewery? I started to investigate and I saw that craft beer was booming in Spain, and that in the Basque Country there were a few breweries, less than in other regions of Spain, but still more than I expected. So, together with my girlfriend, who is a marketing specialist, we developed the business plan for the thesis, which was subsequently the basis for the principles of the Basque Oak Brewery.
I've always liked craft beer and I started to like it, even more, when I began to discover its different varieties. In every country travelled to I discovered something new while tasting, enjoying its quality, the flavours, the aromas... each one was totally different to the others. And every time there was the same question: How is it possible to make such a great craft beer?
In South Africa, I started to research, to read books, blogs, magazines, watch videos on YouTube, everything related to making craft beer. I also visited fairs and breweries where I spoke with the brewers to learn about their first experiences when opening a brewery, the difficulties they faced and, overall, the benefits and challenges of owning a brewery. Everyone had their own little story, but what attracted me the most was the variety of hops from South Africa, which produce different flavours and aromas from what we are used to in Europe. There, in most of the bars and restaurants, you can order a craft beer, which in Spain is still not possible.
Before I returned home from South Africa, I bought a small equipment to start brewing beers, as well as raw materials for a few different recipes.
I formed a partnership with other 4 associates to whom I presented the plan and we set up the company Basque Oak Brewery SL. During the following 9 months of 2016, I made a market research in Spain and other European countries.
One of the fairs that inspired me the most was the last one I visited before starting production as a professional: CAMRA, from London.
When I returned from the UK, I presented the business plan to some the banks in order to ask for funds. The banks denied us the credit because for them such projects are nearly unknown, therefore they considered it very risky.
Then I made the decision that we were going to be nomads. I started looking for the best conditions and prices among breweries from here to Madrid. In the end, I decided on a brewery where we made our first 5 batches. Then we changed our production to a brewery in the Basque Country, Laugar Brewery, with which we are very happy!
WHY BASQUE OAK BREWERY?
When I thought about the commercial name of the brand, I wanted it to tell a small story. And since I live in a town called Gernika, I also wanted to establish the brewery there. Then I started looking for stories rooted in the Basque Country, which is how we found out that for centuries people used to gather under the oak tree.
The oak tree was the place where people used to meet for a dialogue, where on Sundays families and friends used to reunite after attending mass in the village church. It is said that even the boards of Biscay met under the oak.
The oak is a sign of nobility, strength, robustness, elegance, greatness, quality − that is what we want to convey with our brand and the beers we make.
The Basque Oak Brewery beers
We currently have six beer styles −Red Ale, Belgian Blonde Ale, American IPA, Pale Ale, Imperial Stout and Double IPA.
We continue working to improve the recipes and to develop some new ones experimenting with diverse raw materials. The result of one of those experiments, which we are very proud of, is the Imperial Stout, aged in rum barrels for almost 6 months. Another one is our DOUBLE IPA, which we elaborate with hops from South Africa.
We want to make quality craft beer
We want to participate in the expansion of artisan culture. As it has been achieved for decades and centuries in other countries such as the UK, Germany, Belgium, Holland, the USA and others, we also believe it to be possible here in Spain. Apart from what is inside the bottle, we also want to use the image and brand of the Basque Oak Brewery to transmit things about the Basque Country to the world.