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.
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.