Straja - Bottle


Wild-Hopped Ale

Homebrew Series

Tapping into my own roots, "Straja" is an homage to my home region of Bucovina while also paying tribute to the band of the same name, whose interpretation of an early 20th century Romanian song inspired this name. Using only wild hops from a village near my hometown, this pale ale has an earthy spicy raw feel reminiscent of alpine pastures where bison once roamed.

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  • Last brewedApril 26th, 2020
  • Alcohol5.6%
  • MaltsPilsner, Caramunich III
  • HopsWild Romanian Hops
  • YeastLallemand BRY-97 American West Coast Ale
Straja - Label Design

After discovering wild hops growing in the countryside near my hometown of Suceava, Romania in 2016, I was curious what variety they might be and what kind of beer I could brew with them. Despite being well past their harvest season, the samples I took went into a first experiment the following year with my "Dust N' Bones" pale ale, out of which half of the batch was dry-hopped with these, giving it a very interesting piney aroma. The following season I was fortunate to have my family's help in harvesting more hops, packing and sealing them in aluminum vacuum bags away from harmful UV light. This was the harvest I used in early 2018 to brew the very first batch of "Straja", out of which 25% was dry-hopped and 25% was double dry-hopped, with the rest left without any extra hop additions. The double dry-hopped one ended up too grassy, while the single dry-hopped one only had slight additional aromas, so it was the regular batch that made the final cut, with a first prototype being brewed later that year. Because these wild hops aren't as potent as most commercial varieties, I decided to get more flavor by using solely Vienna malt, and pushed my system to its limit by getting as many hop cones in the boil as possible. What resulted was a clear bright amber colored beer, light to medium bodied with sweet-malty flavors and aromas of dried fruit and honey.

Straja - Pencil DrawingStraja - Ink IllustrationStraja - Digital Print

The Artwork

The core concept behind the illustration has been stuck in my head for well over a year until being finally unleashed on inked paper. Once a common sight through the plains of the Bucovina region in Romania, this almost extinct bison is the spirit of my homeland and carries with it the weigth of mountains on its ancient back, depicted here by the legendary "Pietrele Doamnei" cliffs from the Rarău Mountains of the northern Carpathians.

Straja - Labels
Straja - Mountaintop View
Pietrele Doamnei in Rarău • 1,634m
Carpathian Mountains, Romania


This is a homebrewed beer that is not available for sale or distribution of any kind. It was brewed at home in small quantities to be shared only with family and friends simply out of passion for the craft and as a tribute to the music that inspired it.


If you dig the label artwork and would like to get your hands on some merch that features it, then check out the Hopsylvania web shop and snoop around for something you might like. All orders and manufacturing handled by Spreadshirt.

Gear up!
Straja - T-Shirt

Other Beers

Check out some of the other things I brewed that might be similar to this one, or alternatively just explore the full range regardless of their style.

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