Historical Polish Beer Resource

In recent posts I have referenced Polish and other East European websites and blogs that contain labels, historical reprints, bottles, commentary, and more – a great deal of useful information on the brewing past of these regions.

A further resource is the blog of Lukasz Czajka, based in Poland. According to his site, he started by collecting miniature bottles of liquors but has extended his ambit to a broad range of alcohol drinks and subjects.

He covers many aspects, modern and past, of vodka, whisky, other spirits, liqueurs, wines, beer, and some non-alcohol drinks.

He has provided an excellent service to beer historical studies by his postings in that area. Many are listed on this page, but others may be found by searching through the site.

I enjoyed the Drozdowo brewing items, referring to the brewery founded in 1862 by Franciszek Lutosławski, an estate owner of noble birth.* Drozdowo was (is) near Lomza, in the north-east.

The brewery is seen at this source: Museum of Nature – Lutosławski Manor in Drozdowo), likely after enlargement in the late 1870s.

An image in Polska-Org., which compiles historical images of Poland, shows the elegant lines of the brewery as it likely appeared on completion in 1862.

Lukasz Czajka posted two historical articles describing the brewery and its beers, from 1880 and 1909.

He also posted an 1874 analysis of the brewery’s March beer, a specialty for which it was famous, sold in a triangular, “Russian” bottle. The data is set out in a table analyzing 21 Polish beers. Most are Bavarian-type, showing the prominence the style had achieved in Poland.

There are other styles (no porter though) including the March beer of Lutoslawski. Most beers, like that one, were from the Polish heartland – the Congress as it was known during the Russian Empire. One was from Galicia, which I may revisit.

The Lutoslawski March beer was 7.6% abv. From the extract percentage stated, I get FG of 1.036 and OG of 1.095, a rich beer indeed. Many beers in the table had a rich character, the pilsener did clearly.

The taste note states the beer was not too bitter and had just a touch of tar – likely a reference to pitched casks used on the Continent then.

The two articles establish clearly the March beer was top-fermented. It was said to keep well, a sample proved sound at four years of age. The March beer was compared to English ale for quality, no surprise at this point.

(Again, I’d have to think Zywiec’s 1890s-era March ale, discussed in my earlier posts, was similar in character).

In a website devoted to Lomza’s past, Henryk Sierzputowski posted in 2009 a compact history of the Lutoslawski brewery. Sadly it declined in the wake of WW I. An attempt was made to revive brewing –  on the same site –  in the early 1990s but it didn’t succeed.

In its heyday the brewery made an assortment of brews, including an Extra Imperial Stout. See the fine display in Polish Beer Labels (look under “Drozdowo”).

Returning to Czajka’s pages, I also enjoyed reading

  • an article on the history of English beer and brewing in Poland by Marian Kiwerski, based on a presentation he gave in 1936 to a technicians’ gathering
  • 1931 article on the operations of a “warehouse”, or distributor’s facility. The firm, A. Domanski, carried five beers: a Grodziskie, Barclay Perkins’ porter, Pschorr from Munich, Anstadt from Lodz, and Czech Pilsener. Each was stored for varying periods and temperatures in a dedicated warehouse
  • 1931 article on Grodziskie beer, with excellent historical detail. Eg. while in 1931 the beer was 100% smoked wheat malt, in earlier times it could be made from a blend of barley and wheat malts, and even just barley malt, when wheat was short. It was 1.7% abv in the 1930s
  • an article from 1937 on a Shanghai cocktail bar

There are good images throughout that enhance the text.

Marian Kiwerski, who was a professional engineer, authored a book on world and Polish beer history. It was based on articles in an interwar brewers’ trade journal.

A digital version can be obtained from Lukasz Czajka for a reasonable price. Details in the first link above.


*The distinguished 20th century Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski was a direct descendant.



Edward Hall English Porter Brewery, Warsaw. Part II

What did Edward Hall’s Successors Brew?

In the historical website Polish Beer Labels, a page for a prewar Warsaw brewery starts with an ownership outline.

A single beer label follows, seemingly from the 1920s or 30s. The brewery is Warszawski, meaning in context here, Warsaw Brewery, but Edward Hall is in the timeline.

Compare this to the chart discussed in my Part I, from the Browary Mazowsza site. Mazowsza suggests F. Kleinbaum continued into the late 1930s, while the other offers no detail after 1903.

For Icek Nest, the detail is similar except in Mazowsza, Nest starts and Hall ends a few years laterAnd Mazowsza has much more chronology for Hall.

The two sources are, still, broadly consistent, but something further: Polish Beer Labels has the address at 68 Nowolipie. Hall brewery advertising in Mazowsza has it at no. 72, with the last year in 1891.

Did Hall move to no. 68 at some point after 1891, before Icek Nest bought the brewery? Or did Nest later make the move and no. 68 has been ascribed to Hall as well?

Questions I can’t resolve, but one way or another, Nest then Kleinbaum succeeded to Hall. The business name changed, but with Hall having departed this makes sense.

If we look at the label in Polish Beer Labels, it states Stary-Polskie, which means Old Polish. The alcohol is fairly low, 2.5% (by weight), but this may reflect interwar austerity. What style of beer was it?

There is no usual lager designation. A heraldic-style lion decorates the label, which might be the Lion of Judah, or a symbol of England – or both. (The Nest family name was I believe a Jewish one).

I think it quite possible Stary-Polskie was an ale, especially as the label contains words stating sugar is used. Sugar was a common adjunct in British top-fermentation brewing by then, certainly for ale. Not so common for lager beer, vs. maize or rice that is, although one can’t be categoric, I suppose.

If Hall’s mild ale and porter used sugar in the 1890s, or just the ale, maybe the new owners continued that for their beers.*

A picture of the brewery might help to orient us further. An image of no. 68 Nowolipie in 1938 appears in this website, a historical foundation that sourced it from a government archive.

It is a pitched-roof, shed-like structure, that might well suit the simplicity of top-fermentation brewing. It does not resemble a lager brewery.


*Among the historic Hall advertisements linked in my Part I, is one for March beer, which states it is all-malt. The other ads, for porter and ale, do not state that, from what I can see. This may suggest Hall’s ale and porter, at least by the late 1800s, used sugar. For further information on Polish March beer and much else for Poland beer history, see my new post (May 30, 2021) on Lukasz Czajka’s excellent site.







Edward Hall English Porter Brewery, Warsaw. Part I

As I wrote a few weeks ago in Ale of Zywiec, Poland. Part I, John Macgregor in Commercial Statistics. A Digest of the Productive Resources (1844), discussed early porter production in Poland in the section, Manufactures of Poland“.

I reproduced his remarks, which included these lines:

… it is said that only one establishment  … belonging to and entirely managed by an English family named Hall, was in a prosperous state, even before the outbreak of the revolution of 1830, which is the golden period of Polish manufactures.

Macgregor stated numerous breweries were established to brew the hitherto imported English ale and porter. Few made an acceptable product, but the Halls did, as the statement above shows.

I thought it would be interesting to investigate this brewery, which had not been canvassed in any modern English source, to my knowledge.

I found something very to the point, a page of historic Hall advertisements in Browary Mazowsza, a Polish beer history site.

The publisher is not identified (that I can tell), the site appears a collective effort; a long list of contributors is included.

The advertisements underscore the point made by Macgregor, as the Hall brewery, in Warsaw, endured for much the 19th century. One advert claimed a founding year of 1821. This is credible as in 1822 a Polish journal of news and opinion, Rozmaitosci, mentioned the brewery.

The ads cover 1859, 1875, 1885, and 1888-1891. Summarizing them, the brewery name was Edward Hall English Porter Brewery, or to similar effect – aptly so considering the origins explained by John Macgregor.

At various times, porter, double stout, double beer (which probably was stout), mild ale, March beer, and a malt extract are advertised. Perhaps the last was a no- or low-alcohol beer.

No lager – as such – is mentioned, no pale ale. The ad from 1885 reads in part:

Porter double Stout, Gorzki. Piwo Angielskie, mild Ale, slodkie.

So, the porter is “bitter”, or gorzki, the English mild ale “sweet”, or slodkie.

The address is given as 72 Nowolipie Street in Warsaw. During WW II Nowolipie was in the Nazi-dictated Jewish ghetto, as Nowolipie was mostly a Jewish district before the war. There seems no Jewish connection to the Halls themselves, however.

Before Edward there was Henry Hall, called Henryk in Mazowsza‘s ownership outline. Edward perhaps was his son. The ad of 1859 speaks of the “Englishman”, “P. Hall”, who started brewing porter and ale some 30 years earlier. He was clearly the first to brew, perhaps Henry’s father.

This is the timeline in Mazowsza:

“Henryk Hall …………… before 1848 – 1848/68
Edward M. Hall ………..1848/68 – 1897/98
Icek Nest ……………….. 1897/98 – 1903
Fischel Kleinbaum i S-ka …1903 – 1909/10
Fischel Kleinbaum …….1909/10 – after 1936”

As noted, the Hall brewery in 1885 was brewing, in addition to porter, mild ale. It probably had done so continuously from 1821, when I.P.A. was still in prospect for the British, not to mention the Continental, market.

While mild ale was hardly the height of fashion internationally in 1885, Hall was still doing things the old-fashioned way. Quite possibly too Hall brewery was still top-fermenting. Would it go to the trouble of making “English mild ale” with bottom fermentation?

This suggests to me that Zywiec’s, or other of the “ale” made by Polish breweries into the 1930s as I discussed earlier, was a mild or strong English ale, not pale ale. If an avatar of ale brewing in Poland was making mild ale, surely some of the ale marketed by Polish imitators was of like character.

No doubt the brewery was never very large, but it served the Warsaw brewing scene for some 75 years, under the Halls’ stewardship that is.

Hall brewery was not quite the first to brew porter in Poland. One Krembitz did so before 1821, a short-lived venture according to an historical account in the Mazowsza website. It states Hall followed in 1821, with others after. In its words (Google translation):

Ultimately discouraged, Krembitz soon withdrew from the production of this beer. However, the fashion for porters at that time continued. After Krembitz, two different Warsaw producers were involved in this. The first was an Englishman named Hall, brewing beer from 1821, initially in Czysty. The second one was established in 1826 by the Schaeffer and Glimpf brewery and “arranged in the manner of the most exquisite English breweries”. A year later, the brewery was launched by Wojciech Sommer.

Therefore, Hall was the first successful porter-brewer in Poland.*

A scene of Nowolipie Street before 1939 appears via Wikipedia Commons. After the war the district was completely rebuilt with anonymous apartment blocks, it looks nothing like the prewar era.


See my Part II where I discuss the later owners, and one beer at least that they made, which in my opinion supports the inference of top-fermentation.


*Or rather, I should say to be conservative, in Warsaw. Czysty, more usually spelled Czyste, was on the outskirts, but is now a neighbourhood of Warsaw, see description here. Further, in 2014 a Polish blogger Lukasz Czajka posted a three-part article from 1875 by J.L. Kaczkowski, I believe an engineer, on period brewing in Poland,  Kaczkowski states quite clearly March beer is top-fermented. He seems to outline a Burton Union-type fermentation for its brewing.

His discussion suggests March beer was long-established in Poland, going back centuries, hence not an English import. He contrasts to this, “Bavarian” beer which is cold-fermented and racked in pitched barrels. He states the respective temperature ranges for these two methods.

He does credit England for inspiring ale and porter production in the early 1800s and mentions (in Google translation) “Hahl” in this regard. This is clearly reference to the Hall family. He states useful facts and figures for brewing in Warsaw and other provinces, mentioning the big producers such as Jung, Schaefer, and Lipski, not surprisingly.

Unfortunately Kaczkowski does not  – that I could see – describe porter and ale manufacture, unless ale and March beer were coterminous which may well be the case.

He seems inclined against lager, viewing it as overly bitter. He says in Western Europe the brewers have a way to avoid that, but not in Germany or Poland.

He says Hall brewed Bavarian beer as well as March beer, ale, and porter, although the ads in Mazowsza, as far as they go, do not mention lager. Earlier in this series, I suggested that Polish March beer of this period might be top-fermented, because Zywiec’s first “ale” (1890s) also stated March on the label. This would appear to be correct, vs. an inference of Vienna-style brewing. Whether it was pale or mild/strong ale is open question to question, although I incline to a non-pale form.

For additional resources on Polish beer history, see my new post (May 30, 2021) on Lukasz Czajka’s excellent site.



Amalia Goldberg Brewery, Tarnopol

Old Tarnopol

Tarnopol, today called Ternopil, was in the former East Galicia. For most of the interwar period (1919-1939) Galicia was under Polish sovereignty.

Before WW I Galicia was a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Yivo Encyclopedia gives a good overview of its history.

Other Galician brewing towns I’ve discussed, such as Kalush, Przemysl, and Rivne, were in the same quadrant of south-east Poland, as Poland was then constituted.

This image shows the main square of Ternopil before World War I, via Wikipedia Commons. In 1939 the Soviets took control of Tarnopol when they occupied part of Poland under the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact. Germany swept that aside when it invaded Russia in mid-1941.

The Soviets pushed the German Army out in a vicious fight in April 1944, as recorded by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, LA. Tarnopol was left desolate, as artillery was needed to evict the defenders, who fought to the last man.

Tarnopol’s Jewish Community

Tarnopol was a sizeable trading town, about 40% Jewish ahead of WW II. Roger Hudson in History Today set out the circumstances of the community in 1914, and how the great contest between Austria and Russia damaged Jewish life, in particular.

Still, the community continued postwar, numbering some 18,000 by 1939. About an equal number of Poles resided, the remainder Ukrainian. The Jewish fate under Hitler was as terrible, and thorough, as elsewhere in Jewish Ukraine.

The internationally known Yad Vashem, or World Holocaust Remembrance Center, has documented what happened, the grim culmination of a long history.

The Soviets in 1939, for their part, did much to lacerate the Jewish community, although it was not comparable to the German atrocities. They crippled an already weak business base by nationalization, i.e., confiscation without compensation, which included the Tarnopol brewery.

Tarnopol was on a long slide economically from the 1860s. This is one of the points made in the Tarnopol chapter of the Encyclopedia of the Jewish Communities in Poland, Vol. II. A passage reads:

This era was not significantly economically. The Jews grew in number by only 3,000 during the years 1900-1910. There was stagnation in the numbers because the economic situation worsened, and there was emigration to America. The main means of making a living were peddling, small trade, and artisanship. The few Jewish factories were really craft shops that dealt with the processing of agricultural products, (sausage factory), little sawmills, etc. The situation worsened at the beginning of the twentieth century with competition from non-Jewish merchants and artisans, who organized cooperatives and were supported by the district bank. The Jews countered this by new initiatives in organization and mutual help.

In 1905 the Jewish Merchants Union was established. Its members were the merchants of Tarnopol. The union helped its members to get licenses and loans. The artisans had established a mutual-aid organization thirteen years before. There was also a clerks’ union, and a Jewish lawyers union was established in 1912.


In contrast, the town was known for significant contributions to education, culture, and religious thought. Despite the grim economic prospects, which only worsened after WW I, a brewery was established in the city, or rather in Biala, about a mile outside but today part of the city.

Przywalicha was the name of the local hillside and was used as formal name of the brewery.

Przywalicha Brewery

The ownership history is outlined in a few European websites, run by label or bottle collectors. In addition, the brewery website offers a history page – the brewery is still with us, I should add.

The page is useful but mainly for the post-WW II era. It does however mention some of the early key owners. These resources are not quite consistent, but one gets a picture overall.

The Ukrainian-based Beer-Labels site sets out a timeline stating in part (Google translation):

1880 – The Geographical Directory of the Kingdom of Galicia and Ladomeria mentions the Brewery Przywalicha brewery in Belaya near Ternopil, owned by Samson Goldenberg (possibly Goldberg).

1896 – The plant is owned by Amalia Goldberg. At that time, “Provalikha” became a favorite vacation spot, including local hooligans.

1906 – In the directory, the tenant is Julium Boar, who in the same directory for 1913 is mentioned as the owner of the brewery. He made two types of beer – light and dark. It was mostly poured into barrels, a small part went abroad.

1925 – 5 people worked at the brewery.

1932 – The plant is owned by Lezar Kirchner and Marek Blumenfeld. They have significantly improved the operation of the brewery …

Some sources state brewing started in 1851, but this early period seems undocumented. Belaya is usually rendered as Biala, and Baar for Boar – Julius Baar, whose name appeared this way on interwar labels, as shown in the Polish Beer Labels site.

You see his name in a Galicia business listing, covering 1907-1913, where he is shown as “pachter” (tenant) of the brewery.

Female and Later Ownership

Polish Beer Labels (see link) mentions a Sara Roth as owner before Amalia Goldberg, which Beer-Labels does not. There are other inconsistencies over time as noted, but it is clear that Amalia Goldberg owned the brewery – her name was on the labels – for many years, c. 1890-1906.

She leased the brewery to Baar from 1906 until he acquired it about 1913. In the 20s and 30s further names are associated with the brewery, with the terminal year being 1942. The last prewar owner by some sources was Herman Parnes.

The brewery was managed by the Soviets from their entry to Tarnopol in 1939, then the Germans from mid-1941 until April 1944, then the Soviets again, until privatized many years later.

It is noteworthy that two women, Sara Roth and especially Amalia Goldberg, owned this brewery. The sites which recite the names do not comment on the female ownership, perhaps because so little is apparently known of these women.

I could find no information, except that Amalia was connected to at least one other, and possibly two breweries, in Galicia. Perhaps she was a widow of Samson Goldberg, or his daughter. I like the way her given name is printed on the labels in Polish Beer Labels, with a flowing, elegant script.

The Brewery After World War II

What of the brewery today? It is called Opillia. The website describes a group of beers, including a wheat beer and no-alcohol beer.

This Christmas label via the website is a dark lager flavoured with cinnamon. For views of the brewery today, Google maps depicts what seems the shop or reception centre. (The Opillia website appears not to show the exterior).

To view the brewery early postwar, perhaps late 1940s, this article in the media site Ternepil in the Evening, by journalist Vladimir Okarinsky, has an excellent black and white image. Note the distinctive glassed exterior.

One can see the brewery was built into a hillside – Przywalicha – as so many early lager breweries were, but the building shown was probably erected in the interwar period, perhaps by Kirchner and Blumenfeld. It may still stand on the site although I cannot tell from the Google map views.

Okarinsky tells an entertaining story of brewing history in the city. He refers to the early Jewish owners of Przywalicha, and mentions also the native son Joseph Perl (1773-1839), a famed Jewish educator and author. Perl has been described as a “scion of the Jewish Enlightenment”, see his Wikipedia entry.

Perl is pictured via link noted. If this blog is about nothing else, it is about education.

Note re images: source of each image above is linked in the text. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.









The Brewery of Kalush

Jews of old Kalush

I have been discussing Jewish-owned breweries in pre-war Central and East Europe. There were quite a few, of different sizes.

One was in Kalush, as it is now called, a city in Western Ukraine, but first some notes on Jewish families and commerce in the city, as it was then.

The Geni site offers a crisp outline, stating:


KALUSH (Pol. Kalusz), city in Ivano-Frankovsk (Stanislavov) district in southwestern Ukraine, formerly within Poland; in 1772 it passed to Austria, reverting to Poland in 1919, and was within the U.S.S.R. from 1939 to 1991 when Ukraine gained independence.


The Kalush entry at Google Maps indicates the location, in the Carpathian foothills (via Google Maps):



Austria” before World War I denoted the Hapsburg Empire, aka the Dual Monarchy, which foundered in defeat in 1918. Kalush was in Galicia, a province of the Empire just as Czechia (Bohemia) was although it would stretch a point to say Galician lager shared the fame of Bohemia’s.

In 19th century Kalush, Jews traded in salt, lumber, and hides, and were active in industry, education, and the professions. They built many synagogues and schools. From a majority in 1880, the city’s Jewish component declined to a still-substantial one-third in 1939.

The loss was due in good part to severe depredations by Russian troops during World War I. Yet, nothing would match the Nazi ferocity that killed almost every Jewish man, woman and child in Kalush by 1943.

An image in Wikipedia Commons shows the Kalush market square before 1914:



If there was a golden time for the Jewish people in Kalush, it was then. Certainly the town’s brewery reached its apogee in Emperor Franz Joseph I’s Galicia.

Memories of the Brewery

A Holocaust survivor raised in Kalush, Tsufyah Shpilmen, recalled pleasant days in the compound of the brewery. The family’s home was there, due to her father’s position with the firm.

Shpilmen recounted her girlhood memories for the Kalush Yizkor (memorial) volume published in Israel in 1980. Portions are reproduced in the JewishGen site, where I found them. The site memorializes vanished pre-war Jewish life in Europe.

She wrote (translation by Deborah Schultz):

Before I left Kalush, our family lived in “Browar,” the beer brewery. There Father worked as a directorate official. After our house was destroyed by fire in the First World War, we received an apartment in the domain of the factory. The two owners, Aba Milshtein and Leibtshah Shpindel, I see in my imagination as if they were standing before me. The chief and older of them had grey hair. They were both always wearing black suits; in their hands, Tyrolean walking sticks. When they grew very old, administration of the factory passed to their children: Zelig Milshtein and his son Mosheleh, and Leibtshah’s grandson, Shlomoh.

And further:

… Kalush, the town of my birth, the place where all my dear ones were destroyed, will not pull out of my memory. My heart is gripped each time I think about what happened there.

Remarkably, a period image on Facebook shows one of the owners she so vividly recalled, carrying his Tyrolean walking stick.

The image appears at 1:14-1:15 in a video uploaded to its Facebook page by the brewery.

The brewery still exists, in other words.

See middle video, second row, under “All Videos”. The brewery this man did much to create is now called Kalush Brewery.

Some Brewery History

Creditably, the brewery has posted a fairly detailed history on its website. In part it states (Google translation):

1870 The owners of the Kalusha brewery and distillery were private individuals – the Milstein, Schlinder and Weissman families, who owned the brewery until the beginning of World War II. They improved the equipment at the brewery and significantly increased the production of low-alcohol beverages. About 150 workers from local burghers, mostly residents of the villages of Khotyn and Pidhirka, as well as Zahirya, worked at the prestigious enterprise. According to statistics, more than 20,000 hectoliters of good quality beer were produced here annually. If necessary, the plant could double the production of low-alcohol beverage and increase its production to 45 thousand hectoliters. The brewery owned its own houses, had beer warehouses and a turbine for 100 horsepower …

Brewing occurred onsite even earlier, 1565 is now taken as the earliest year for this, but the real growth and expansion dates from 1870.

Apart the brewery’s Facebook page, further historical information is set out in this Ukraine webpage, a clearing house for Ukraine brewing information.

short account of the brewery in the Sztetl memorial site adds that ahead of World War I, production reached some 40,000 hl per year.

By comparison, an enterprise such as Poland’s Okocim Brewery, well-known then and now, was much larger: in 1911 it produced 380,000 hl per annum.

The Kalush brewery was in a different category, a successful but smaller-size, regional concern, which mainly supplied its area and contributed to the local economy.

In 1890 the owners added a maltings, which is still used today.

Before World War II the brewery was called Mühlstein, Spindel & Weissman. Weissman died in 1915 and the others continued. The owners’ names are variously spelled in different sources, but there is no doubt of the persons intended.

Tsufya Shpilmen refers in her account to the brewery turbine, which allowed homes on the compound to have electric light and hot water. These were luxuries then, the town as a whole was not electrified until some years later.

The brewery suspended activity during the First World War but recommenced operations between the wars. In 1934 it advertised in the Echo, a Polish weekly published in Stanislawow, another town in Galicia. The brewery had a presence there, perhaps a warehouse.



Export, Dubbel, and Czarne (likely porter-style) beers are shown above, a range typical of many breweries in Poland and further East before 1939.

The excellent Polish Beer Labels site includes a fine set of interwar labels. As well, an early brewery label is shown in the Sztetl site, with a sample invoice.

The fate of the pre-1939 principals is not mentioned in these sources, or others to my knowledge. It seems unlikely they survived the Holocaust, but I don’t know for certain.

The Modern Brewery

Today, the brewery makes a wide range including a craft line. Some of the old names continue, Export for example. Indeed there is a range of Export labels, atmospheric and cleverly named.

“Export to Lviv”, “Export to Riga”, and “Export to Leningrad” have been among them. This one, for Riga (image via Colnect), bears a carp symbol, an apt symbol of Mitteleuropa:



The brewery’s labels and artwork show sophistication of design and execution. Further examples can be seen in the Ukraine sources cited in these notes.

In another video posted by the brewery to Facebook, the words “In Galicia” appear after the brewery name – a conscious attempt to link to the past.

The brewery is independently owned by interests based in Kyiv, Ukraine, formerly Kiev. Currently a Kalush-based management company operates the brewery for the owner.

The owner modernized and upgraded the plant after acquiring the site in 2012. Details are described in the website of the Ukraine solicitors who assisted with the purchase.

New equipment was installed, including apparently the cylindro-conical fermenters shown. Yet, the pitched-roof building exteriors seem much the same as 100 years ago.

All beer is carbonated naturally with aging of between 25 and 60 days, according to this source mentioned above.

The Jewish Past

In Kalush today there is some interest to know the history of the brewery, and of long-disappeared Jewry in the city.

In November 2017 journalist Marta Onyskiv of Kalush News recalled this past in a short but affecting piece, enhanced by evocative images. It mentions some of the brewery history, even the Shpilmen account.

Some observers consider that in Ukraine, and elsewhere in East Europe today, a kind of historical amnesia attends the former significant Jewish presence and its importance there. The Kalush News article is perhaps a harbinger of change in this regard.

Note re images: the source of each image is linked in the text above. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Images used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.










Dr. Henryk Kolischer Brewery, Medenice

Medenice, a West Ukraine village rendered today as Medenychi, was formerly in East Galicia. It now comprises about 3,500 people, the Sygic travel site pictures its main street.

The area traditionally has been agricultural. Medenice is in Drohobych Raion of Ukraine, under Polish fief before WW II. The main city in the region is Lviv.

A capsule of Medenice from the Jewish aspect is provided in KehilaLinks. Jews were not very numerous, vs., say Drohobych (the town), whose population was 40% Jewish before WW II.

For an excellent overview of Jewish history in Drohobych (the region), see this entry in a website devoted to preserving the memory of Jewish life there.

This story of a Jewish-owned brewery is different to the others I’ve discussed. The Medenice brewery was, first, a very small farm operation essentially, although it got larger post-WW I.

Its serial ownership from 1878 is outlined in the Ukrainian site Beer-Labels, also in Polish Beer Labels.

Brewing apparently commenced in 1701, with the gap to 1878 not elucidated to date (to my knowledge). Kolischer labels carried the 1701 claim. If accurate, it was one of the oldest breweries in Poland until its demise in 1937.

The principal in the 20th century was Dr. Henryk Kolischer (1853-1932), son of Moritz Kolischer. They were, atypically again, Jewish grandees, an upper echelon who spoke Polish and mingled in Polish society.

Henryk certainly was an ardent assimilationist, believing this was the best course for Jewry in Galicia. He was born in Lviv (Lemberg), and inherited the family estate in Medenice.

His biography appears in this Wikipedia entry. Henryk was a noted Galician, and later Polish, politician, an agricultural economist with advanced educational qualifications.

The Kolischer family is among the families mentioned in a 1956 Jewish memorial volume on Lviv that acquired large estates starting in the 1860s. This suggests perhaps the family had no connection to brewing in 1701 at Medenice, but again this aspect is unclear.

(As appears below, Henryk Kolischer had property as well in two places, associated with different businesses).

An image of the scholarly agronomist-brewer-paper miller appears, via Wikipedia Commons.

A description of the post-1878 brewing appears in this Facebook entry, from a bottle collector. It accompanies images of historic Kolischer bottles. The lines below, which speak to the late 1800s, are striking in formulation and charm (Google translation):

This small brewery brewed 2,000 hectoliters per year, which is as much as a cat cried and provided beer to Medenice taverns and the surrounding area. It was not even mechanized and was driven by a hand treadmill.

The account states the brewery was not significant economically for Dr. Kolischer, whose main business was paper-milling. It seems the brewery was kept up mainly from tradition. Clearly it was a surviving example of the small agricultural breweries attached originally to the landed estates.

The Kolischer paper mill was in Czerlany in the Lviv district, you may see an image in this Wikipedia entry for the locality.

The Facebook account states the brewery later installed a steam engine, and actually increased production after WW I, contrary to the interwar pattern of slump and cut-back.

In April, 1926 Dr. Kolischer was evidently still quite engaged in the business world and the brewery. In 2008 a Polish blog, Laurahuta, which posts historical content, set out a document dated April 26, 1926 issued at Warsaw, perhaps a press release.

It states Dr. Kolischer was elected a Vice-President of the Council for the Union of Polish Industry, Mining, Trade and Finance. He was described as “owner of Dr. Kolischer Brewery in Drohobycz”.

Clearly he was still held in high regard in Polish industry, and society, despite advancing age. A sprinkling of Jewish names appears in the document for what it is worth, this is some years before government intensified anti-Semitic policies.

By 1937 Dr. Kolischer had been dead for five years. Perhaps succession issues, or the economic backdrop finally, mandated closure of his brewery that year.

In his (1983) The Social and Political History of Jews in Poland From 19191939, Joseph Marcuwrote that Poland’s beer consumption fell from 34 L per head in 1913 to 4.4 L in 1938 (see p. 115). This speaks volumes.

Polish Beer Labels (see link above) depicts two labels from the interwar period. One is a standard lager, the other a bock. I linked in my last post a Polish webpage showing the bock being consumed, at a firemen’s reception.

Dr. Kolischer died in Vienna in 1932. He was buried first there, then finally in Lviv. He was married, and had a daughter, Susanne, and son, Moritz. The Geni site lists their birth years, but shows a blank for dates of death.

We have seen that some prewar Jewish business figures were ardent Zionists. Kolischer was one who was not. His formative years and experience were in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a polity whose centralized policies from many standpoints favoured Jewish communities in its borders.

Jews were one of many ethnic and cultural groups, finding a way to live (though never perfectly) with others in a multi-ethnic, trans-national state. It was the European Union of its time, so to speak.

The rise of lethal nationalisms following the collapse of the Hapsburg Empire put paid, in my opinion, to the vision of assimilation Kolischer had for the Jews of Central and East Europe.

No Jewish community was more assimilated in Central Europe than Germany’s. To boot it represented a much smaller proportion of the national population than Jews did in Poland. It didn’t help them.

The Zionist alternative in Palestine was a far better option, but impossible to realize before WW II except to a very limited extent.

The other option, bruited by some at the time, was to establish a semi-autonomous Jewish republic somewhere in East Europe. It never had much chance of success.*


*Emigration to Western Europe and North America was foreclosed for most Jews due to tight immigration limits at the time.



The Victoria Brewery of Przemysl

Przemysl is another of the Galician cities that came under Polish rule after WW I and the dissolution of the Hapsburg Monarchy. A city (yet another) known by many names, its general history is summarized in a well-referenced Wikipedia entry.

The city, far in the south-east of Poland, was next in importance after Lviv and Krakow in the region.

The account mentions the harsh steps taken by the Soviets in the part of the city they controlled from 1939 under the Nazi-Soviet Pact, until June 1941 when Germany invaded Russia.

The pattern was similar elsewhere where Soviets took control in Poland. For Jews, it meant dissolution of their community organizations, seizure of businesses, and deportation of those deemed inimical to the working class, which frequently targeted business owners.

The fighting during WW I and then the Polish-Ukrainian War left the city enervated, particularly the Jewish community which suffered pogroms and demands for tribute. Przemysl was the scene of an intense struggle during WW I, the Siege of Przemysl, which has been described as the “Stalingrad” of WW I.

In the interwar years, at least one-third of the population remained Jewish although the proportion was declining.

A picture of old Przemysl appears, via Wikipedia Commons, the source includes other fine images from the early 1900s.

An outline of the interwar economy and impacts of anti-Semitism appears in Chapter 5 of the Yizkor (memorial) volume for Przemysl, published in Israel in 1964. The book (translation) is included in the JewishGen genealogical site. It is a valuable resource, as little comparatively is known of these prewar communities, so totally were they destroyed by the Nazis.

The post-war Communist regime essentially maintained the amnesia that resulted. Recently some steps have been taken in Poland, by historians and others, to understand this vital, lost dimension of Polish history.

At the outset of WW II Polish Jews numbered in excess of 3,000,000. They were 10% of the total population. 30% of Warsaw’s population was Jewish. 90% of Poland’s Jews were murdered by Nazis. Many non-Jewish Poles were too, especially teachers, clergy, lawyers, politicians, perhaps 2,000,000.

In the 1930s, a bright spot economically in Przemysl was light industrial facilities. The following quote from Chapter 5 shapes a broader context, for more than just brewing that is:

Other factories included the metal factory “Cyklop,” founded by attorney Dr. L. Peiper and managed by Mr. Klinger; a factory for mechanical toys, “Minerwa,” belonging to the family of Yosef Rinde, a Zionist activist and city councilman; the factory for agricultural machinery belonging to the Honigwachs family; the Pipe family’s button factory; the Langsam family’s furniture and carpentry tools factory; the pharmacist Laufer’s cosmetics factory, “Aya”[13]; the Poller family’s cigarette holder factory; the candle factory established by prolific Zionist activist Mordechai Hacke; a modern cotton gin for linen, belonging to Zionist activist Lipa Galler; the Rebhan family’s “Victoria” beer brewery. There were also dozens of workshops and small factories which operated in the town.

More than half the Jews were in trade (shopkeepers, peddlers and the like), with others in crafts, the professions, factory work, agriculture.

The Victoria brewery, Wiktorja in Polish, or Wiktoria, was actually in Ostrow, a village a couple of miles from Przemysl but part of its district.

Polish blogger Przemyslaw Chorazykiewicz has posted rare images of Victoria brewery from before WW II. He explains its bok beer (bock) was particularly popular. A bottle of bock is pictured but as he explains it is from another brewery, in Medenice, the Kolischer brewery.

The Polish Beer Labels site lists the owners of Victoria starting with the first, Hornik in 1862.* The names are all or mostly Jewish. Its interwar labels include the bok, as well. Most labels state the location as “Przemysl” but one includes “Ostrow” in a compound formulation.

I am not sure of the source used, perhaps one of the Polish beer histories I mentioned earlier. But when I’ve cross-checked the information in Jewish genealogical or other sources, it all rings true (save variations in spelling and small gaps or inconsistencies).

E.g., a 1901 French-origin (Didot-Bottin) world business directory lists “Schiffer” as the brewer in town, see p. 633. This is consistent with Polish Beer Labels, which renders the full name as Mayer Schiffer.

In 1920 ownership changes, a joint stock company is created. As the labels show, after 1920 the owner’s name is omitted, just the Victoria name is used. But he was surnamed Rebhan, as the memorial volume stated.

A 1921 Polish business directory (p. 179, via Polish Library in Lodz) lists A. Rebhan as owner of Victoria Brewery in Przemysl. No other brewery is listed.

Browar Parowy „Wiktoria” A. Rebhan.

A. Rebhan is still listed in the Przemysl section of the 1929 Poland Business Directory (via JewishGen), which, in this case, added “Ostrow” after his name.

The Rebhan family seems to have been prominent in the city, as various of that name are mentioned in the memorial sources, for different occupations or roles. I was not able to learn anything about the family apart this.

The JewishGen site reproduces the entry for Przemysl in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume II. This contains a good history of the city from a Jewish standpoint, and records the dire situation of the community in the 1930s, apart the factories mentioned.

This economic travail resulted from general interwar slump (1920s inflation, 1930s world depression), heavy taxation, anti-Semitic government actions, and the city’s inability to recover its prewar position in the field of military construction and supply. Many Jews had earned a living in that sector, and it substantially dried up between the wars.

People were being squeezed, with many Jews departing for other cities in Poland or outside. One wonders what would have happened had the war not intervened, but anyway it did. It completely and forever destroyed the rich texture of Jewish life in the city and elsewhere in Poland.

One source states that a Victoria building in Przemysl is now inhabited by a club, the Rock club. This is the building, evidently a prewar structure of some elegance that was never a factory.

The same source, a Facebook entry, states the brewery operated during the war, and was state-owned from 1950 until about 1990, still brewing.

I think probably the building housing the club served as the brewery offices, with the plant being outside the city. We saw a similar example earlier in this series.

Much of the city was destroyed by July 1944 when captured by Soviet forces, but some buildings survived. This resulted from heavy bombing by Germany when it invaded Poland, Soviet bombing when the city was captured in 1944, and ongoing fighting to pacify the city.

See Samuel Mitcham’s The German Defeat in the East: 1944-1945 for discussion of the latter stages of the campaign to eject the south German Army including Przemysl’s fall.

The few Jews in hiding then emerged, but were not greeted warmly by the resurgent local community. See details in a chapter from the memorial volume mentioned.

Note re image: image above is from the Wikipedia Commons collection linked in the text. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.


*I have drawn attention to this excellent resource. To see labels from a particular town, click on town name from list on the left, and then brewery. Browary Mazowsza is another excellent resource enumerating many websites dealing with historical Polish and other beer labels, coasters, capsules, and bottles. Of Polish Beer Labels (www.polbeerlabels.pl) it notes, “strona Janusza Skrzyniarza – galeria polskich etykiet od piwa sprzed 1945 roku“. It appears therefore the site belongs to Janusza Skrzyniarza.

















Rivne Brewery, Ukraine


Below we outline the history of the Rivne brewery, which still exists in Rivne today. The brewery was majority-owned by a Jewish family from about 1900 until the Soviets took control of the city in 1939. We outline first some background to Jewish life in Rivne.

Rivne aka Rovno, etc.

Rivne is in north-western Ukraine, in Volyn Oblast. It was known earlier as Rovno, or Rowne. There were yet other variants, depending on language and period.

From 1795 until 1918 Rivne was in the Russian Empire. Between the two world wars it was mostly in Polish hands, part of the Second Republic.

After WW II, it was in the Soviet bloc, dislodged when Ukraine acquired full independence in July 1991.

Before WW I, like many towns in the Pale of Settlement or Galicia, Rivne had a majority Jewish population. Even at the start of WW II the Jewish presence comprised half the population, some 28,000 people. Almost none survived the Nazi scythe.

Rivne grew quickly in the late 19th century due to its key rail access and dynamism of Jewish, Czech and other entrepreneurs. It was, concurrently, an active centre of Jewish religious life and education.

As noted in the Encyclopedia site:

Under czarist Russia, Rovno became a border town not far from the frontier of Austria (at Brody), and developed into a commercial center dealing in military supplies. With the completion of the Kiev-Warsaw railroad and later with the Vilna-Rovno line (1885) it also became an important railroad center for all eastern Volhynia. Since it had become a supply center, various local light industries were also set up in the area under Polish rule.

A somewhat unlovely but busy and modernizing city, it was dealt a blow by World War I and the struggle that followed with the Soviet faction. It regained stability with Poland’s stewardship, until World War II.

The Jewish community was certainly affected by slump and anti-Semitic agitation in the 1930s, but life and business continued for most. The brewery seemed mostly unaffected by the rising nationalist current, at least from our survey.

End of Jewish Life

A landmark study, Holocaust in Rovno (2014) by Jeffery Burds of Northeastern University documented the slaughter of virtually the entire Jewish community in 1941 and 1942.

German paramilitary SD and order police, with local collaborationist elements, did the killing over three days at Sosenki forest in November 1941.

The remainder of the community, held in the Jewish ghetto, was shot at another location in July 1942. Burds’ book is a difficult read, such is the savagery that was practised, but it is important to understand what happened.

A tiny handful of Rovno Jews survived who had run away or been sheltered. A few Jews inhabited the city after the war, but for practical purposes its Jewish character was extinguished forever.

This page in the memorial site, KehilaLinks provides a compact history of Rivne’s Jewish arc.

The city today comprises a quarter of a million people, and is radically different from the prewar city, for reasons that will be obvious. Yet the brewery still stands, and still makes beer.

Brewery Origins

The brewery was started in 1847 or 1849, dates vary. In the late 1800s (at any rate) it was controlled by Czech incomers, part of a small influx who came to improve brewing, other industry, and hop culture.

In the early 1900s Rivne brewery was a joint stock company called Bergschloss. Certainly in 1905 (see below) it was controlled by Hersh Meyer Pisyuk, also spelled Pisuk. He was a noted figure in the Rivne business community, and director of a local bank, the Homeowners’ Bank.

The brewery was substantially rebuilt by Pisyuk in 1906-1908. The handsome buildings, Russian neo-classical to my mind, still house the facility. There are good images in the brewery website. Its history page explains:

On March 28, 1903, the Rivne City Council granted permission for the reconstruction of the Hersh Meyer Pisyuk brewery at the corner of Shosova and Novakovska streets (modern Soborna and Kopernika streets). On June 3, 1904, the board considered an additional project. Apart from G. Pisyuk’s house, which dates back to 1900, most of the plant’s buildings were built in 1906-1908. Unlike the buildings built during the Soviet era, these buildings are still in use today.

Bergschloss Brewery declared itself at the international exhibition (1907) in Ostend (Belgium), receiving the “Diploma of the Grand Prize”.
On September 30, 1909, the royal decree approved the charter of the Society of Breweries and Alcoholic Yeast Factories “Bergschlos”. The initiator of the joint-stock company was GM Pisyuk, the fixed capital of the company amounted to 300,000 rubles, and dividends in 1909-1011. were calculated at the rate of 3% on the capital.

G. Pisyuk and GM Pisyuk almost certainly were Hersh Meyer Pisyuk; transliteration or translation factors likely explain the variant spellings. It is clear that he substantially modernized and refinanced the brewery.

A photo of bank executives included in a memorial volume on Jewish life in Rivne, reproduced in the Jewish Generations site, probably shows Pisyuk but he is not identified specifically.

Bergschloss labels displayed in the Polish Beer Labels site reveal beers of the interwar line. Note that an ale was produced, one of the very few Polish breweries to do so at the time.

One label is pre-WW I (the Cyrillic text), and states in English, “pilsener beer”. Czech influence persisted in the brewery gates into the 1900s.

A 1932 tourist publication contains a short profile of the brewery, stating H. Pisyuk founded it in 1905 and still owns it, naming another as director. Further details: Bergschloss was the most important enterprise in Rovno; it made bright beer (Jasne) and Ale among other types named; it manufactured yeast; it distilled liquor; and made lemonade and sparkling water.

Evidently Hersh Pisyuk or his family controlled Bergschloss when it was seized by the Soviets after invading the city in 1939. Communist rule had a significant adverse impact on Rovno Jews, but nothing compared to what the Nazis would wreak a few years later.

Unless the Pisyuks made it to safe territory before the German invasion, it seems unlikely they survived the Nazi assault on Rovno.

The brewery continued operating during the war, under the Soviets then Germans. Post-1945, it was presumably a Soviet state enterprise until Ukraine became independent.

Modern era of Brewery

The brewery today is owned by Marian Goda and Nadezhda Mymra. Goda started out as a brewery engineer. A discussion in Beer Tech Drinks, which pictures him, gives further background.

For a league table of Ukraine breweries in which Rivne figures, this page in the Landlord website is informative. It shows Rivne shares a relatively small national market, with commensurate small revenue, but evidently is still profitable, serving a local or regional market.

Put differently it is a survival of the time of “chimney” breweries. Numerous breweries in this category are still spread through the country.

A Czech character continues to colour the brewing approach. From Landlord:

… For several years a Czech Przemysl Brosh has been a chief brewer of “Riven”. He had worked at the “Uman Brewery” for a couple of years as well as at Czech companies “Staropramen” and “Gambrinus”. According to … Marian Goda, his company produces non-pasteurized beer. Natural ingredients are used for beer production at the factory. For instance, Munich malt is bought from Germany to brew “Bergshloss Black”, honey and rice are used for the light beer production. In 2014 Rivne brewery produced more than 1 million dekaliters of the brew, and they are not going to reduce production volumes in the near future. In Rivne the company opened a couple of bars and a beer restaurant. Soon the company will have its own beer museum.

For a view of the brewery today, see excellnt image by Xsandriel at Wikimedia Commons.

For the brewery’s current line, see its beer page. The Rivne Premium, an all-malt lager, seems particularly appealing. The Bergschloss Dark has a sugar addition, which is almost a British touch, although some Czech Munich-style beer has used sugar, as I discussed earlier.

Ukrainian Hops

Volhynia became a recognized hop region although never of foremost rank, despite its cultivars originating in fine Czech varieties.

A 2018 study of Ukraine’s hop industry, Beer and Hop Branches of Ukraine: Conjuncture and Integration by T. Pryimachuk, A. Protsenko, R. Rudyk, and T. Shtanko, illuminates the background.

It notes that growers number less than 20. This is down significantly from past years, but hops are still produced in a number of regions including Rivne. The Rivne brewery (see website) states it has its own hop plantation; this likely represents the part of national production attributable to the Rivne region.

The study states the four leading brewing groups in the country – they hold over 90% of the market – mostly use imported hops. This is due to certain varieties they favour, bulk purchasing needs, and inadequate marketing by the Ukraine hop industry.

Obolon is one of the “big four” but locally owned. Together with the so-called private (or regional) breweries, it forms an important market for Ukrainian hops.

Indeed Rivne brewery (see website) states the “Rivne” line uses Ukrainian hops, while the revived Bergschloss labels use both domestic and imported.


Note: I added in Comments a link showing the splendid pre-1914 buildings, in full aspect.




Teitel Brewery of Prewar Poland


The Teitel Brewery, or Bracia Tejtel Browar in Polish, provides a compelling example of a pre-WW II, Jewish-owned East European brewery.

A number of reasons explains this. First, 1930s images of the brewery and its last principals, the brothers Zindel and Icok Teitel, survive. So do numerous Teitel labels from the period.

And not least, there is the absorbing book Tehran Children: a Holocaust Refugee Odyssey (2019) by Mikhal Dekel. It describes details of the brewery, which I discuss below, and the family’s fate after the Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939.

For a good overall assessment of the book, see Peter Goodman’s review in Good Reads.

Teitel Family and Flight From Terror

Dekel’s father Hannan Teitel was the son of Zindel. “Dekel” is an English rendering of the Hebrew form of Teitel. Mikhal Dekel was raised in Israel but has long resided in New York. She teaches English and Comparative Literature at the City College and the CUNY Graduate Center. She also directs the Rifkind Center for the Humanities and Arts of CCNY.

The Teitels were long-established in Ostrow-Mazowiecka (Ostrow-M.) in north-east Poland, a prominent family with interests in numerous businesses.

The book describes the extraordinary journey that began in September 1939 when Hannen (12), sister Regina (8), their mother Ruchele, Zindel, and a cousin, Emma, fled Ostrow-M. in the wake of the German invasion.

They were seeking refuge from the Nazi terror they knew awaited the Jews in Ostrow-M. Due to various factors, most Jews in the city fled for Soviet territory, many arriving in Bialystock.

But some 500-600 remained in Ostrow-M. On November 11, 1939 all these Jews – men, women and children – were rounded up by the SS and German uniformed police on trumped-up charges of arson, marched out of town and shot in the forest.

Preceding this had been random killings of Jews and terror in the city.

It was one of the first of the organized Nazi massacres of Jewry in wartime Europe. The Nazis exacted, too, a significant toll among the general Polish population, by simple murder, forced labour, and impoverishment by seizing food and crops.

Millions of European refugees, Jews and others, entered the Soviet Union in this period, before Germany invaded Russia. After performing forced labour in freezing north Russia, the Teitels and Emma were allowed to leave Russia when Germany tore up the Nazi-Soviet Pact and invaded the country.

The family made a harrowing journey far south, spending time hungry in desolate way-stations in Soviet Asia, with a respite, no less difficult, in Tehran (whence the book’s title). So hard was the food situation the parents had to place the three children in an orphanage.

In 1943 Hannan, Regina, and Emma, with the help of aid associations, sailed a wending route to Mandatory Palestine, stopping at ports in India, to arrive finally to relative safety.

Ruchele Teitel could not re-join them for many years, and sadly Zindel died in 1949, from TB. The story is heartrending and very well told by Dr. Dekel. It takes in the similar journey of other Jewish children and non-Jewish Polish evacuees fleeing chaos and risk of death in their home-place.

Many died on these treks, or damaged their health from lack of food, exposure, or illness.

Icok stayed with his family in Bialystock, none of whom survived the Nazi takeover of that city. However, some years earlier, his eldest son Ze’ev, or Wolf, had emigrated to Palestine to attend engineering studies, denied him in Poland due to anti-Semitic practices in higher education then. Wolf subsequently stayed in Palestine.

The three children met him after arrival in Palestine, whence began a partial recovery from a long period of trauma.

Hannan later had a career in the Israeli Air Force and died in the early 1990s, not long after a difficult visit to his home-town in Poland, the first he had made since being forced to leave in 1939.

Some Details of the Brewery

I will now summarize information on the brewery, as gleaned from Dr. Dekel’s book with other sources in aid.

The brewery was founded in 1854. The second half of the 1800s was a time of relative prosperity and growth in Ostrow-M. including for the large Jewish population, and the brewery grew with the town.

Before the first Teitel purchased it, it had two successive owners, Euruchim Fiszer and Chaim Bengelsdorf. Their names are recorded (among other places) in this page of the website Polish Beer Labels. Teitels are listed as owners starting in 1904.

The image below is from a webpage of the Museum of the Jews of Bialystok and Region. Numerous labels of the brewery are also shown.



“1885” may refer to the year the building was erected, by Chaim Bengelsdorf, although brewing clearly took place earlier, under the first owner mentioned. It appears the building was rebuilt after lighting struck in the early 1900s.

By the 1930s, Icok and Zindel were running the brewery. They employed some 50 staff, both Jews and Catholic Poles, reflecting the mixed population of Ostrow-M. By my estimate, it was producing perhaps 60,000 hL of beer per annum, a good medium size for the industry in Poland then.

Labour relations were sound. Dr. Dekel names the last brewing supervisor, a Pole called Schwintowsky.

She describes the layout of the brewery, with interesting details including that malt was prepared underground. She refers to stirring of the malt (mashing, I believe) by workmen who sang a characteristic song in German, to count the time.

This and other information on the brewing had been recorded before his death by Wolf Dekel (Teitel) in an unpublished memoir. He had become familiar with the operations of the brewery before departing town and family.

Had war not come it is likely Hannan and Wolf would have been employed in the brewery in time, following their fathers’ footsteps.

Dr. Dekel states the sweet, non-fermented extract was sold as kvass. Icok had graduated from a brewing academy in Munich and was well-regarded for his brewing skill. She also notes that the brewery was planning to export its product to the United States. It was not to be.

I located a print ad for the brewery in the National Archives of Israel. It was placed on June 1, 1928 in Trybuna Akademicka, a Jewish-themed, Polish-language newspaper in Warsaw (centre box ad):



As I wrote earlier, at least two other Polish breweries with Jewish ownership, the Pupko and Papiermeister breweries, advertised in this paper in this period.

After Brewing Ceased

The Gestapo used the brewery as a jail, to interrogate and torture Jewish and Polish prisoners, many of whom died there. The Germans blew up the buildings when evacuating the town.

Today, a nondescript school stands where the brewery did. A plaque commemorates the Polish patriots killed on the site by the Nazis. When Dr. Dekel visited, some years before the book was finished, there was no mention of the brewery or the Teitel family.

Note re images: images above are identified with source linked in text. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.

Additional References

Website of Mikhal Dekel

Grzegorz Gembala (Undated), “A History of Beer Brewing in Galicia”, Academia Website

Page on Ostrow-Mazowiecka With Maps and Links to Numerous Other Resources, in KehilaLinks Website

“The Brewery in Ostrow”, Mrs. Chana’cze Tejtel, Chapter of Memorial Book of the Community of Ostrow-Mazowiecka (1960), JewishGen Website. See also the historical and other chapters in this memorial volume, via Table of Contents, top of webpage.

Tejtel Brewery Page, Ostrow-Mazowiecka Website

Tejtel Brewery Labels Page, Ostrow-Mazowiecka WebsiteAlso, other pages in this informative website.

(Polish) Teitel Labels Page, Browary Mazowsza Website

Pre-1918 Image of Ostrow-M. Taken From Roof of Tejtel Brewery, Sztetl Website

Listing for “Fischer” Brewery in Ostrow-M. in 1901 French Language Business Directory

(Polish) 1939 Business Listing for Browary Tejtel, Genealogy Index Website.

(Polish) History of Ostrow-M., Gimzareby Neostrada Website

(Polish) Timeline of Tejtel Brewery, Gulikbeer Website

(Polish) Wikipedia Entry for Ostrow-M.

William W. Hagen (June 1996),”Before the ‘Final Solution’: Toward a Comparative Analysis  of Political Anti-Semitism in Interwar Germany and Poland”, Journal of Modern History, Vol. 68, No. 2, pp. 351-381 (via JSTOR).

Yoav Peled,The Jewish Minority in Inter-War Poland“, posted to H-Nationalism, Blog of Humanities and Social Sciences Online, January 20, 2020 (see also reply by John Kulczycki).

Steven Paulsson, “Ghetto Benches” entry, Anti-Semitism: a Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, Vol. 1 (2005), ed. Richard S. Levy.