Robert and Lyubka Henry help users, breweries and bars to make unique beer in a sustainable way
Homemade brews are still exotic on the Bulgarian market, but thanks to an entrepreneurial couple, anyone who loves the idea of creating and experimenting with new tastes can now do so. Napravi Si Bira, or Make Your Own Beer, offers everything an individual, craft brewery or bar might need to make new, interesting tastes – from ingredients to equipment to green packaging to recipes. The founders, Robert and Lyubka Henry, share more.
What inspired you to found Napravi Si Bira?
Well, everyone likes a beach holiday, and in 2014, we were no different. We were sitting on the beach in Varna, listening to good music, watching the people go by and drinking nice, cold beers. Except that – as keen homebrewers back in London – we started to notice that the beer actually wasn't that good.
Knowing about craft beer, we decided to do something about it. We still had two months of holiday remaining, so we decided to make some beer from a homebrew kit. We looked online for a homebrew shop, and... there were none! In London, we lived within walking distance of six craft breweries. We knew what to do there, but we had no references in this country. Anyway, we didn't allow this to stop us. We had spotted a gap in the market, and we founded our company by the end of that year.
Who is Make Your Own Beer for?
As we've developed the company, our customer base has broadened. At first, we targeted the new homebrewer. However, our current customer base is diverse, ranging from the first-time enthusiast who makes small quantities of beer to enjoy in the privacy of their own home, to artisanal bakeries and craft breweries, who mostly bulk-buy our malts by the tonne.
How does your company help us to produce and consume beer in a more responsible and environmentally friendly way?
As a homebrewer, you'll immediately reduce your plastic and aluminium waste. You obviously won't be buying as many cans of beer, and you'll look to reuse the plastic bottles. They can easily be washed, sanitised and reused. The same applies to glass bottles. We offer crown caps and plastic caps for both.
The spent grain can be added to sourdough bread recipes. Simply dry it in the oven, then mill it into a flour. Start by adding approximately 10% of it to your recipe, and increase or decrease this amount as you see fit. It's also an excellent feed for livestock if kept cool and used soon after your brew day.
The used hops can be composted and used in your garden, while the leftover yeast is quite appealing to garden slugs and snails. Simply fill a jar with a mixture of yeast, salt, sugar and warm water and bury it into the soil at an angle. The slugs are attracted to the fermenting mixture and can easily make their way into the open mouth and down to the solution. Empty and refill every two to three days.
What is the most important thing we should know before diving into the adventure of "making beer at home"?
You'll make mistakes, so it's important to take detailed notes at each stage of a brew day. This way, you can look back and compare what you did. You'll be surprised how subtle changes can produce different outcomes.
Secondly: sanitise, sanitise, sanitise! You can't be too clean! Sanitise all of your instruments and equipment that comes into contact before and after making your beer, including your hands. Infections can occur at any stage, so beware.
Thirdly, if your water has a high chlorine content, use bottled water. The chlorine will make your beer taste sour. However, don't use distilled water, as it lacks minerals and salts.
Finally, it's your beer, so make what YOU like. That's the whole point, right?
What advantages does cooperation with Make Your Own Beer bring to breweries?
We've forged alliances and partnerships with companies that reflect our values, and we work hard to bring their products to the marketplace.
We offer keg caps made from 100% recycled ocean plastic.
Our plastic can carriers are made from 100% post-consumer-recycled (PCR) natural HDPE #2. This is a recycled thermoplastic that includes milk and water bottles. In 2017, 81,378,872 5-litre bottles were saved from landfills for decomposition by using PCR material.
PCR production uses 90% less energy, 100% less oil and offsets enough greenhouse gases to equate to 1,615 fewer cars on the road and 9,916,972 litres of oil each year.
Our paper can carriers are 100% compostable and biodegradable. Even if they are discarded in an irresponsible way, they won't end up in our oceans. Transporting a year's supply of paper can carriers uses only a quarter of the resources needed to transport a year's supply of plastic can carriers, reducing the carbon emissions of your brewery by up to 100 kgs per year.
When a brewery is at a festival or an exhibition, our portable glasswashers enable them to hygienically wash and rinse glasses without electricity, and with a minimum amount of water.
Our modular Plug & Pour draft system enables a brewery to serve their beer on tap at any outdoor bar or festival, at any time of the year. It's small, lightweight and can be broken down into modules, saving on transport costs.
What is your preferred beer for summer '2023?
We've just kegged a new recipe. It's a clean, crisp, hoppy lager. It's whirlpool hopped with Citra hops, and bursting with fresh hop aroma. However, it needs a few weeks in the fridge before we can properly taste it. We're also developing a "milkshake IPA," that's citrusy and juicy, filled with tropical fruit flavours, with a high ABV. It's like an alcoholic fruit juice, and should really be served with a straw, from a coconut shell, whilst sitting under tropical palm trees! No doubt, both will end up in a can on the beach, wherever we are this year!