We may be the home of good malt, but our incredible distributors around the world make reaching global brewers possible. That’s why our valued distributors are a big part of the Simpsons Malt family.
As part of our A Beer With… series, we spoke to NextHop CEO, Ján Hrnko. NextHop has supplied Slovakia and Czechia with Simpsons Malt since the beginning of 2016.
Find out what Ján had to say about his customers, the brewing industry, and the strangest beer he’s ever had…
What kind of customers do you have?
“The best ones! NextHop sells to both homebrewers and craft brewers. We believe that homebrewers are the future of brewing in our region, many of them being future craft brewers.
“We take homebrewers very seriously and support them right from the beginning in every way possible, ranging from homebrewing competitions to public discussions and free seminars.
“We are dedicated to the great craft beer mission and to sourcing top-notch ingredients from the best suppliers.”
What has been the biggest change in the Slovakian and Czech brewing markets over the last few years?
“After many regional breweries were shut down by the big players, the small and independent craft brewers started to fight back, gained momentum and the scene has grown to remarkable scale and strength since. And it’s still growing, thanks to the hard work of the whole community.
“More and more people are getting interested in beer, despite the fact that Slovakia was predominantly a wine country. We witnessed a revolution in the wine industry a decade ago and it’s now exciting to be part of the craft beer revolution in our region.”
Do you have a favourite beer style?
“I don’t discriminate – I love all good beers equally. But there’s nothing better than a great Sour Ale on a sunny day or a barrel-aged Imperial Stout to cheer you up when you’re having the winter blues.”
What’s your favourite malt from Simpsons Malt?
What attracted you to the brewing industry? How did you get started?
“Good one! Actually, I think it would take a whole book to cover this question. But in essence, we were three best friends looking for the best ingredients available.
“Everybody was complaining that they couldn’t brew better beers and there was nothing they could do about it. ‘Can’t’ is an unknown to us, so we simply took the matter into our own hands and here we are! We met with Simpsons and knew right away that we were a perfect match.”
What’s the strangest beer you’ve ever tried/heard of?
“It definitely has to be the Extreme Beer brewed by our friends from JBM Brew Lab Pub in Brno, Czechia. It was a Saison with mealworms (a nice high-protein alternative to wheat) and durian.”
Where is the best place you’ve ever cracked open a cold beer?
“There are so many wonderful moments I remember enjoying a cold beer that I can’t say it’s strictly tied to a place, but rather to all the great people and friends I met along the way.”
Enjoyed this discussion? Find out what Agronet Director Jordi Sala had to say about the Spanish brewing market.