Poland, Żywiec – Visiting a Brewery from Royal Era
Żywiec Brewery has been owned by the Habsburg dynasty since the beginning. The founding father is considered to be the Archduke of Austria and the Prince of Cieszyn Albrecht Frederick Rudolf Dominik Habsburg. The brewery was established on the site of an existing distillery. The construction of an ice house, barley and malt granaries, a dryer, a laboratory building, a main building, an engine room, a cold store, a boiler room with a characteristic chimney, chambers with a freezer, cooperage and other administrative and port buildings created a unique beer complex capable of producing millions of hectoliters of beer per year. . Over time, the area expanded with additional land, where the springs of Leśnianka, which sprang from under the Skrzyczne Mountains, were located.
Thanks to gradually supplemented equipment, such as barley sorters (1877), equipment for filtering beer during bottling (1894), Linde cooling units (1894), Ringhofer beer hall (1898) or a modern bottle processing line (1923), Żywiec beer became the best-selling , the most popular and still very high quality drink. The successor - the nephew of Archduke Charles Stefan Habsburg - began foreign exports, which greatly contributed to the further development of the brewery. During the Second World War, the brewery was taken over by the Third Reich, although it changed its name, but the recipe was preserved. Beer was brewed exclusively for the needs of the German army until the time of liberation, respectively. nationalization by the then communist government.
After the turning point, the litigation of the original owners with Poland began, which ended in an out-of-court settlement in 2005. In the 1990s, like the Hurban brewery, it became part of the Dutch brewing company Heineken. At present, in addition to the brewery in the town of the same name, the Żywiec group also consists of other breweries, namely Elb (Elblag), Leżajsk (Leżajsk), Warka (Warka) and Brack (Cieszyn).
The local brewery produces several brands and types of beer. Light lagers, which have been brewed here for over 160 years, have the largest proportion. The basis is mountain spring water and traditional natural methods of processing. The menu also includes craft beers, beer specials, IPA, American wheat beer, Porter, Saison, fermented beers, APA, Bock, and even beer champagne made from champagne yeast.
The traditional hallmark of this popular beer is not only the name, but also the historical logo, which depicts a man and a woman dancing a "Krakow" dance. The clothing represents local folk art and the crown in the middle of the pair depicts the Krakow coat of arms. This traditional label originated in 1956, when Żywiec began exporting to the USA.
In addition to quality beer, the brewery also offers attractive tours. You can take a tour of the brewery, enjoy the interesting history and exhibits in the local beer museum with many interactive elements and, of course, at the end of each such tour there is a tasting or a visit to a souvenir shop.
At the same time, during the unusual beer fair, you will learn many interesting things, such as that until the 1980s, Żywiec beer was stored exclusively in wooden barrels, and that the brewery minted its own coin, which was used to reward employees (coins could be exchanged for beer in local pubs), as well as the great emphasis on marketing and brand building worldwide.
Of course, the brewery is not the only attraction of Żywiec, so we will be here again in a week.
Text and photos: Oskár Mažgút
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