English-style Brewing in Poland
The Jan-Feb. 1937 issue of Przegląd Piwowarsko-Słodowniczy, a Polish journal on malting and brewing, carried Part II of Marian Kiwerski’s series, “English Beer in Poland”. See at p. 13. (Via Wielpoloska Digital Library).
Kiwerski states the English brewer Hall, whose name is rendered here as Hahl or Heyles (Google translation), commenced brewing English beer and porter in Czyste.
As I discussed earlier, that was in 1821, just outside Warsaw, and brewing lasted into the 1890s under the original family.
Kiwerski mentions other early ale and porter brewing in Poland, some preceding Hall. One was the “English liquors factory” established by “ordinate count Zamoyski” (Google translation), which had particular repute.
Zamosc is a historic town in south-east Poland, bordered to the west by the extensive former domain of the noble Zamoyski family. Count Stanislaw Zamoyski (1775 -1856), pictured, set up his brewery on Zwierzyniec farmland, in 1806.
Brewing at Zwierzyniec
Zwierzyniec’s English brewing origins are attested, not just by the ale and porter known to have been made by the Count, but by the British surnames littered through its early history.
Cunning (possibly Cummings?) and Millard are two, according to a detailed chronology for the brewery in the Polish travel portal Perly Polksi.
Another account, author and date unclear but post-2013, includes many details of the brewery’s history. It states a John McDonald from Scotland supervised the commencement of brewing, see here.
These men were brought to Poland by Count Zamoyski to work his English brewery. The count was an admirer of English beer, as were many of his contemporaries. In fact he travelled to England to learn proper methods, and no doubt met Millard et al. there.
Kiwerski writes that despite porter’s humble origins in England, in Poland it was a drink of the elect, of high society. I think he makes this point to explain why it attracted the attention of an eminence such as Zamoyski.
Kiwerski notes that by about 1850 brewing at Zwierzyniec, as in Poland generally, underwent significant German and Czech influence.
Unlikely as it may sound in 2021, the aristocrat’s brewery still stands, and not only that, it still brews. Although, a building across the street actually produces the beer. The elegant historic structure assumed its present lines following enlargement in 1845, and the building today seems hardly changed.
A Wikipedia entry has more detailed photos. A handsome heritage property it is.
Interwar Brewing and Later
This image dates from 1929 and gives a flavour of the interwar period.
The brewery made an effort between the wars to distribute nationally, as noted in the second historical chronology linked. Proof of this the 1931 advertising poster in the Polona archives. It shows beer was bottled for the brewery by a M. Kestenbaum in Tyszowce, 35 miles east of Zwierzyniec.
Kestenbaum advertised sale of the beer in a beer hall by the mug, with a special price for part of April, 10 gr. vs. 15.
The Polish Beer Labels site offers a selection of prewar labels on its Zwierzyniec page. The beers Kestenbaum bottled likely were light and dark lagers.
The brewery remained in the Zamoyski estates until WW II. After invading in 1939 the Germans took it over to brew. After the war the Communists nationalized it with the Zamoyski properties.
Independently-owned Perla Brewery of Lublin is now the owner, or rather, lessee of the site from the Polish State Treasury. The Zamoyski family lost its lands with post-WW II nationalization.
The Count’s building now houses a museum and other amenities, as explained in the brewery website. One can tour the site, which features disused equipment such as open fermenters.
Perla has been involved at Zwierzyniec almost since its privatization (see my last post), with a gap between 2010 until 2013. The relationship resulted from the grouping of Perla’s predecessor, Lubelskie, with Zwierzyniec and other breweries during the Communist era.
Zamoyski descendants have been seeking to recover the brewery according to some sources, including the Wikipedia entry for the brewery (see above).
As expected and shown in the Zwierzyniec website, the main product today is a pilsener. That beer, which is double-decocted, is in a direct line from the Czech and German influence that succeeded to the English one in the 19th century.
But when brewing recommenced in 2013 a Dzikie Ale was also released. Its stylish label may be viewed in the website of the designer, Studio Ikar.
The label states top-fermentation was followed, with abv of 4%. Polish reviews upon release suggested an English brown ale palate. See also the notes for the beer in Piweczko, a beer news and review site.
Dzikie means “wild”, a reference to the boar symbol on the label and bucolic origins of the brewery, not wild fermentation. The founding year of the brewery, 1806, is stated on the label.
Brewing of Dzikie seems not to have lasted all that long. Blogger opinion varied, but most noted the rarity of a regional brewery (vs. a craft brewer) issuing a new beer outside the blonde lager norm.
One blogger, Tomasz Kopyra, posted a video on YouTube commenting on the beer.
The brewery is over 200 years old and with all the changes, represents a fine tradition, in tune with its noble origins. While the English-style brewing receded in time, it has never been forgotten, not in 1937, not in 2013, not today.
There was an undoubted symbolism to brewing ale on this historic property in 2013. Irrespective of the beer itself, this provides its own satisfaction. One hopes the brewery will be encouraged to try again. (The boar label + English I.P.A. would be a good combination).
Speaking of today, the dashing count would be surely impressed by the richness of craft brewing. If he was setting up a new brewery on his estate, he might bring home a brewer from Vermont, or Portland (either one), or Toronto. Or dare I say Warsaw.
Note re images: images above were sourced from Zwierzyniec’s website linked in the text. Images used for educational and research purposes. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. All feedback welcomed.