In September last year Kjell Einar Karlsen (former CEO of the brewery Nøgne Ø), and Kjetil Jikun (founder and former owner of Nøgne Ø) along with three Croats founded the company Prvo Viško Pivo d.o.o. The beer was launched last Friday during a Norwegian-Croatian evening with a seven-course dinner, Croatian and Norwegian dishes made by Croatian and Norwegian chefs, whilst samples of "Prvo Viško Pivo" was served. The dinner was attended by guests from Croatian politics and business as well as journalists, Norwegian investors in Croatia, and diplomats.
Eight years ago, Karlsen began an annual visit to Vis, the tiny island off Split. At this point Karlsen was the CEO of the Norwegian microbrewery “Nøgne Ø”. He introduced craft beer to several people on the island, where some of them became his friends. They found the beer appealing and they decided to establish a microbrewery on Vis. It was difficult finding a suitable location for the brewery and therefore the first barrels were brewed at Arendal brewery in Norway to be able to launch the product in Croatia this year.
Already in the beginning of July, Croats could sample three different types of "Prvo Viško Pivo". Now they have brewed another two types, and Prvo Viško Pivo boasts Porter, Pale Ale, Saison, Session IPA and Gose. This year the company has a production of 50 000 liters, and with the optimism of the initiators, they are hoping for 300,000 liters next year.
The Croatian population seems to appreciate the new addition to the craft beer scene in Croatia. The beer has already won the Audience Award prize for the best beer at the "Craft Beer Festival" in Medulin earlier this month.
The next step is to begin the production on Vis. The business are in the process of signing a contract on a former military building in Samogor, close to the city Vis Luka. If everything goes according to plan, they would like to start the production on Vis in April next year. The owners of Prvo Viško Pivo d.o.o. wants to offer brewery tours with beer tasting for both tourists and residents of the island in the future. The goal is to become the leading microbrewery in Croatia. They will build a solid business that provides the island of Vis with much-needed work places. Integrity, quality and innovation is key for the business.
The Norwegian Embassy in Zagreb was co-hosting the dinner because we see the company Prvo Viško Pivo d.o.o. as a good example of innovative collaboration between Norwegian and Croatian investors. It also gave us the opportunity to promote Norwegian food and beer brewing traditions.
As the ambassador Astrid Versto said in her speech during the dinner “The ties between Norway and Croatia are strong and our bilateral relations are excellent. The number of Norwegian visitors is growing every year -300 000 this year - and we are extremely happy that many of them are not only coming to enjoy the sunshine and Croatia’s rich cultural heritage, but also for business… I do hope “Visko pivo” will become one of the symbols of further positive and prosperous development of business cooperation between our two countries.”