Lviv Porter, 1924-1939

Judging by pre-war press advertisements, sales of Lviv Brewery’s porter were sustained by the Christmas season as many ads appeared then, as well as asserted health and restorative properties.

The history of Lviv Brewery is for another day except to say, there was brewing onsite for much of the 1700s. In 1850 the Prussian industrialist Robert Doms (1816-1893) constructed a modern brewery, which was progressively improved.

Iro Lilienfeld acquired the brewery in 1883. It became joint stock company LTAB in 1897 and merged with other breweries. LTAB expanded after World War I with a Jewish family, Reitmann, at the helm. Invading Soviets in 1939 seized the brewery, then the Germans took it in mid-1941.

After World War II it is again Soviet, called Kolos, until privatized in 1999. Carlsberg of Denmark acquires the brewery in 2008, renaming it Lviv Brewery.

The Polish Beer Labels site sets out the ownership arc compactly, as seen here.

(LTAB stood for Lwowskie Tow Akcyjne Browarów, the form of stock ownership or association).

In my previous post I linked to a 1924 ad for LATB’s Porter-Imperial. As typical of beer ads then, alcohol content is not stated. In the same Polish Beer Labels link, we see many labels for LTAB including a few for Porter-Imperial.

Some labels state the alcohol content but the porter labels in that source do not.

However, another LATB press ad stated the original gravity for this porter: 22 degrees, which is 1.092 OG. It appeared on December 14, 1924 in Chwila, the Jewish-Polish newspaper in Lviv (via Libraria):

 

 

Likely this was between 8% and 9% percent abv; it is 8% per cent currently as made at Lviv Brewery/Carlsberg.

Now, an article by a Russian beer historian, Pavel Egorov, argues that when the Soviets took over LATB in 1939, the beer was a 23 degree brew, and bottom-fermented.

The article appeared in February 2018 in the site Profibeer: Beer Market Portal. Egorov cited a Soviet brewing text of the period, his source seems unimpeachable. What could explain the 1% difference? I think I may know, and will return to this below.

A comment to Martyn Cornell’s article, “Baltic Porter Day” also states LTAB’s porter was bottom-fermenting, and this influenced Soviet porter in turn.

However, consider the following. In a blogpost dated February 6, 2019 dealing with the history of porter in Lviv, a Ukrainian blogger wrote that LATB released a new porter in April 1939.

April 1939 was about five months before the Soviets occupied Lviv.

The blogger suggested the move was prompted by the need to meet competition in the market. The copy in the ads he cites state a “new kind” of beer resulted. It was still porter, indeed “mocne” (strong) porter, but as the blogger noted, the descriptor “Imperial” is now absent.

I would argue “new kind” likely meant a lager process, vs. top-fermentation. The increase of 1% OG, in place when the Soviets arrived, perhaps was to ensure the intended alcohol due to using lager yeast (slower fermentation), but in any case “new kind” suggests to me a switch was made lager fermentation.

Possibly the beer was bottom-fermented since the 1920s but it seems plausible, even likely to me, that the change occurred later, in tune with the growing appeal of lager brewing in areas where British practice was formerly dominant.

“Imperial” probably to these brewers meant top-fermentation, as all porter was originally of course.

I certainly recommend his blog, it has many excellent articles, with both historical and current focus. There is an interesting page on the period when the Reitmann family controlled LATB.

The banner “The Art of Alexei Kosati” appears at top of the pages. The name Dmytro Kosatiy also appears in the site, so one of them must be the blog author.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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