Founded in 1906, Hijos de Rivera produces a million hectolitres a year using hops from Germany and other parts of Spain.
Years ago, the brewer had imported hops flowers from the Czech Republic, but it sought a more practical way of getting its hands on the coveted ingredient - without running up too much of a tab.
Then inspiration struck: Why not try growing the plant at home in northwestern Spain? "Czech hops are very aromatic, which is preferable to more bitter varieties," says Olmedo. But without any contacts on the ground, finding a supplier at an affordable price was impossible.
For help the firm turned to the Enterprise Europe Network, based at the Centro de Innovación e Servizos de Galicia. With 3,000 experts in more than 50 countries, the Network is adept at helping companies find contacts abroad.
Jana Vavrinova, a Network expert in Galicia who happens to be a Czech national, began by helping the SME formalise its request for the Network's powerful matchmaking database.
She also got directly in touch with Network colleague Margarita Müllerova of BIC Plzen in the Czech Republic, who made a cold call to the Hops Research Institute to gauge their interest. The response was enthusiastic.
After putting Olmedo in touch with the Institute and both sides agreed to talk, the Network experts assisted throughout the negotiations, from translations to giving advice on drafting a collaboration agreement to administrative support.
A few weeks later, the brewery and the institute clinked glasses to toast a technology transfer agreement signed with the Network's help. Since then the institute has sent several varieties of hops plants to Spain for testing, which is still in progress until Hijos de Rivera finds the perfect ingredient to expand its portfolio.
"Thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network we should be able to revive our traditional beer recipe," says brewmaster Olmedo.