Octavio Costa for me is a man with a mission. Which is your mission, brother?
Well it is quite common to all of us actually. Each one of us in the craft beer scene is a pixel of this big screen that is broadcasting the craft beer revolution movement all around the world. I’m acting focused on what I really believe: beer is a state of mind that is bringing people together, a huge friendship network, positively hyperactive, creative and prolific for the economical and social sustainability. I just live once, so I'm choosing to live in joy and happiness within the Beer, the honest and dignified one. Ah! And i really LOVE Beer, the most amazing drink i met ever!
How Portugal as a country goes through all this virus madness?
The hashtag i would for sure say it is #suffering. Probably even dying...But the whole world, all economic sectors are suffering. We’re living as we would live in an after world war atmosphere concerning economy and social aspects. In my opinion, and with that i’m theorize a personal vision, each country, market structure, ecosystem, and very important - scale - will determine a lot of its outcomes optimist or pessimist. In Portugal I can say there’s 8-12 craft breweries that will suffer a lot because they already have a certain scale. The larger and more economically dynamic that scale, the greater problems they are experiencing and will face. On the contrary, 80% of the crafts are nano or mini-micro, almost without expression. Those ones if they cannot adapt, change the paradigm and perception of the way forward, and have the financial capacity to do so, they can go bankrupt and that is the end. The small scale ones, I think they have opportunity just to quite simply and definitely or continue their battles to the same difficulties that they always have daily as usual. But, sure many will quit or give up. To the others or even the new ones coming I really think that will be a new order that strongly can be enormous new chances.
How is the craft beer movement and especially your part of the event management business affected there? WIll you have some support from the state? Cause, especially you're doing as an important part of tourism in your hometown of Caminha.
Our company core business is 100% affected not only during the emergency Statement and social confinement. We’ll be affected for more 3-4 months after these limitations. We make massive people events...thousands of peeps all together in one place! We certainly don’t know when we can go back to life and to operate and manage the business again. Since March we and our public and private partners and sponsors had to cancel 4 big festivals. End of June till July probably we have to cancel 3 more - 2 of the biggest and most profitable. So 7 festivals where we could join there 70.000/75.000 consumers.
It is more than 1 year of hard work that goes to hell! We’re quite demoralized and anxious.
The company has 4 more big events for the last 3 months of the year, and things must change a lot, if not, i cannot say what may happen to our busyness.
And can you imagine what this means for the thousands of liters of beer that breweries can sell?!
We have already passed our initial resistance period, we are very proactive and creative for everything that may happen. Sure thing we have to regenerate and be able to keep up with any kind of need that the change requires.
We still don’t know anything about State special support...politicians are always saying one million things and when we need them, there’s always a bunch of nothing. Let’s wait. We believe in our matrix, we believe we can handle our business without those hypothetical support. And for sure if stuff are going well with us, it would be good to Caminha town too.
Tell our readers which are projects under the production of you and your friends and partners?
Festivals, in Portugal we have solid project since 2013:
Faro Beer Celebration Algarve
Øliva Beer Mind
Sidrama International Cider Festival
Aveiro Craft Beer Fest
our own brand of international limited editions of beers. Beers we brew all around the world.Attending international festivals with MØM Brewers beers.
ABFGo!! Project for the portuguese breweries promotion abroad.
The Beer Tipster communication Project and Beer Industry Consultancy
When we spoke about the most famous projects of yours, ArtBeerFest Caminha, you've told me that the local community gets a lot of income but on the other end, they're running out of apartments for all the visitors during the fest. Tell us more about the whole thing around that unique festival.
Well, it is my own town, I'm suspect of it. A beautiful and cosy place with around 5.000 peeps living, but very cosmopolitan from decades, because of its nice beaches, mountains and “movida”!!
So, ARTBEERFEST hosts during that week around 30k visitors, beer geeks, beer enthusiasts and of course party lovers. Because the festival is that, a beautiful party for everybody.
People love to come here, the brewers love to have fun, and we just created a unique 4 days of joy and strong networking using the good life to mingle with all the Mates. A famous newspaper named Caminha as the “Mecca” of the beer in Portugal.
Caminha became a positive and nice “vicious” every edition for the brewers...so that’s a problem for us, they all want to come year by year! But that pushes us to the highlights!! Can you imagine a small town in a peripheral country, where a weak beer culture became such an international beer festival?? It’s nuts but we are proud of it. So, that’s something here you all must come and see...Indeed this is a busy week for my countrymen, Caminha is blooming and fizzing these days, it means a lot for the economical and social sustainability.
It’s a 1M€ income for the town in 4-5 days and that is very important to a seasonal region.
People are happy, and visitors can feel their hospitality, the feelings are a synergy and empathy between people.
What information do you have regarding the festival in July? Will it be possible?
We really cannot say anything about it. It depends on the authorities and about the rules they must create to return to “life”. I’m not very optimistic.
What did you think when you got an email from some Serbian brewery which wanted to participate at Porto Craft Beer Fest 2019?
Thought it was Emir Kusturica!!! He wrote us with his french agent once to play in Caminha for a boat of money...when i saw it was from a brewer i became more relaxed..till i met you definitely in Porto! It was really great to have you there, your beers, mood, friendly talking with peeps, mingle with all the brewers, that’s the way to attend a festival. Sure thing mate, you did your job in Porto and Portugal not only for the success of Porto Beer Fest, but for Dogma and for the promotion of the Serbian craft beer sector. Every beer geek and consumer knows Dogma and Vlad now. As I told you before, the european beer scene is moving solid and strong for East, and we are very interested in that.
By what I've seen in Porto, Portugese craft beer movement is blooming. What our brew friends from Portugal can offer to the world?
We really began from zero about 7-8 years ago. We are a wine culture country, during decades we’ve been only drinking industrial lagers basically. Around 2011/12 some nano-stuff were crawling out from the cocoon. Now yes is blooming!! Lots of brewers, projects, awesome brewery facilities, and the most important: handsome and high quality beers in global, some of them fantastic high level, exclusive and unique. So far away from that 2013/14… The evolution was radical, wise, solid, creative and innovative. Many brewers are doing it amazing with the Barrel Aging and grapes culture, something that reveals a plus in our DNA for the beer scene. Sure thing there’s an wonderful craft beer innovation all around the world, but seriously for me it has been astonishing.
As you're a big friend of Mikkel Borg Bjergso, you've been part of his fantastic projects as Mikkeller World Beer Run. Tell us more about the project.
Mikkel is really a great Friend, and i mean literally a real Friend as a person and whatever that defines. Something I regret and I'm very proud of this relationship. But Mikkel is more than that and not only for me. He’s a great friend of beer everywhere in the world, he’s obviously doing his job and business, but he's been doing a huge work for all the breweries and the beer culture for the last 10 years. Promoting festivals around the world, bringing to the stage new brewers, giving them the chance to open their mind and being known in the global market. I cannot see other examples in the beer movement like these one.
He has a big quote concerning ARTBEERFEST Caminha success, from the very beginning he’s attending personally and with all Mikkeller offices and running teams. He never goes to a festival in the world apart from those he organizes. So that was an awesome buzz for Caminha.
The World Beer Run is a friendly competition, i even say a social lifestyle action, you run, walk and pick up the deserved beer in the middle and at the end of the run. We just want people to enjoy our town and their nice views, join the festival having fun with friends and socialize. It’s always a 500/600 peeps run, but I'm sure in the end for the beer there is all their family :)
But let me tell you, Mikkel is very important for us, but there’s an extensive networking of brewers that made and keep on making the “mecca” of the beer in Portugal, and it is kinda a global Family.
How was the episode in North Korea? Was that one of your most interesting travels? Or you have something more juicy? :)
That is a weird place to spend one week. It was a top secret program with Mr Kim, I can't tell you anything about it. Mate it was amazingly surreal, to live and experience those tidy days with a fantastic group of people and friends and all that can be fun, subjected in a cinematographic world, of limitations where physical and historical time is not what we know from our daily lives. A culture very much shaped by centuries of colonialism by other countries and decades of a militaristic and autocratic regime that shapes a state and a society in a very specific and peculiar way of existence. Very friendly and nice people, kind of Naïf in a certain way. The costumes and habits, their clothes. City lives very slowly, mandatory orderly. Outside the big city a portrait of a medieval landscape.
It was solid weird, but at the same time that takes you to an atmosphere that makes you think about your life and the contemporary life we live...and we indeed have a lot of defaults in our places. For the beer scene it was really important too. We visited officially, like the State visit, the national brewery and Mikkel invited them to attend MBCC19. It was something awesome not only inedit because none can travel out of the country and a group of their brewers went with the national beer to Copenhagen!! It was a tremendous success with everybody queuing to taste. This April the same group was planning to travel to Turkmenistan....another surreal stuff, but this shitty virus....
One more thing for respect is an initiative of yours at one Facebook beer group. Tell about that to our readers.
It is not my initiative but something where i interact as everyday. Actually it is a fantastic beer forum created some years ago by one of the most important beer enthusiasts here, Bruno Aquino. This FB group “Cervejas do mundo - Fórum” is consistently active and brings the beer culture to a wide audience of beer people, brewers, consumers, value chain, etc. more than 8.000 peeps everyday posting, comment, talking. It’s fabulous to have an huge space like this to meet people, beers, to share opinions and even to make Friends - real Friends that after meet their we meet in real life. It is an impressive way of connection and communication between people find there a “common home”, the oldest the newest, actually people and brewers from around the world.
Which is your message to fellow brewers & craft beer lovers around the world?
Mate, Beer is freedom! It is the most democratic reason to drink and join people. It’s such a breathtaking way of life. Planet Beer is a place where we can find each other, make real Friends.This “war” where we are now, will make us stronger, no doubt. Will show one of our most rare ingredients is resilience and restlessness. I’m dazed everyday talking literally with peeps, mates, buddies, brothers in the world, and the perception and sense is the same.
For the end, what do you think the craft beer movement looks like after this crazy crisis?
All the crises and this particularly have both negative and positive trials. As in a big hangover, we have to eat well, refresh ideas and return to focus for the day and to move forward. Use intelligence and emotional skills, it was always, and under any circumstances, the motto to evolve after a problem. I think brewers and breweries, I mean on the whole planet, will share and partner more and more, their resources and knowledge, to all intents and purposes. My opinion is even taking each other's capital company positions as stakeholders of each other, to act more consistently and reciprocal commitment and support for good projects, avoiding shared strategies and markets, wise competition and marketing efforts, facilities, equipment, tools. If there’s something we’ve been learning with this pandemic stuff, it is the fact that we need each other and we can and know that if we join efforts we can make it better.
Octavio Costa for me is a man with a mission. Which is your mission, brother?