Hi Matt! Let's start with a story about your first trip to Belgrade! Tell to our readers and beer lovers, how was that experience?

It was amazing to see how passionate all of the brewers I met were. I was very impressed with how close the brewers are with each other and how they were so open to helping each other out knowing that “the rising tide lifts all ships”. That building craft beer as a whole will help the entire industry as well as each individual brewery.



Now, back to present tense. As this craziness is spreading superfast all over the world, tell us how it affects your personal and business life in USA?

We are considered an “essential industry” so we continue to produce. All of our office staff has been working remotely since March 13th. We are enforcing STRICT social distancing and have dramatically increased our general sanitation program to ensure common spaces are sanitary. Personally, I’ve never been busier now that I have so many online meetings and am one of very few that is actually “on the ground” at the brewery. I’m happy that my family is isolated and healthy.

 Every beer lover knows that USA craft beer movement is the biggest and most influential in the world, so how the things are going on now? Was the impact strong?

Breweries that count on their tasting rooms have effectively been shut down. For production breweries, you want to look at how much of your business is draft beer compared to package (with no restaurants and bars open draft sales have basically been cut to zero). A production brewery that has sales that are 70% draft is going to see significant difficulty. We are a little less than 25% draft and, as a trusted regional brand, we are seeing that our packaged beer sales are up enough to not only make up for the loss of draft sales but exceed our overall sales expectations.
*We’re still trying to determine how much is “panic” buying and how much may be the result of an overall uptick. Really though to tell but now that we are a few weeks in it does not appear that we are seeing much of a slowdown. 


As you're representative of the brewery which has nearly 30 years of history, can you tell us how did this affected distribution of your products and sales of Flying Dog distributors in USA?

Our wholesalers are streamlining their offerings to the retail customers. While we have special beer releases in the works, we are almost solely focused on our core and seasonal offerings. We are also seeing a spike in variety pack sales. 



How Matt entered the world of craft brewing? Which guilt was that?

I started homebrewing as a teenager in high school. Fell in love and realized early on that I wanted to make it a career.



As a man from production, which brewing school/philosophy is the one you admire the most?

I consider brewing a trade not unlike being a carpenter. You work with your hands and gain knowledge through experience. Successful brewers have a desire to learn and for many are self-educated on the more academic and scientific aspects of brewing. 

All of us beer lovers can see that 'hop & heavy' NEIPA's jumped into the scene and we can see that whole world went crazy for more, more, more and more dry hopping and high ABV. How do you see this 'trend' which lasts for few years now?

I think that we see this style settle in as a popular style but not be as big as it has been. Right now were seeing growing interest in more “traditional” American IPA’s (West coast).

When we were you guests in USA, you've brought us to your friend's farm & brewery. On that green hill in Maryland, we've been guests of amazing host, Tom Barse, owner of the Milk House Brewery. I'm still remembering few of his great beers! How is Tom? How he's going through this hard times as an elder guy?

Tom is a brilliant brewer and businessman. He has closed his brewery but is in as good of a position as one can be to reopen when we see a return to social activities.



At the end, do you have a message for fellow brewers and beer lovers around the world?

Let’s get through this together while apart. Beer and music are things that bring pleasure to many. Put on your favorite music, get comfortable, and enjoy your favorite brew!

Author:
Vladimir Stojković
Dogma Brewery