Judging by prewar press advertisements, sales of Lviv Brewery’s porter were sustained by the Christmas season – many ads appeared then – and its claimed health and restorative qualities.
The history of Lviv brewery is for another day except to say here, there was brewing onsite for much of the 1700s. In 1850 Prussian industrialist Robert Doms (1816-1893) constructed a modern facility, which was progressively improved.
Iro Lilienfeld acquired the brewery in 1883. It became the joint stock company LTAB in 1897, merging with other breweries. LTAB expanded post-WW I, with a Jewish family, the Reitmanns, at the helm. Invading Soviets in 1939 seized the brewery, then the Germans took it in mid-1941.
After WW II it is Soviet again, called Kolos, until privatized in 1999. Carlsberg of Denmark acquired the brewery in 2008, renaming it Lviv Brewery.
The Polish Beer Labels site sets out the ownership arc, as seen here. LTAB stood for Lwowskie Tow. Akcyjne Browarów, reflecting 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.
Many labels state the alcohol content, eg. 4.5% maximum (by weight), but the porter labels do not state the percentage or gravity information.
However, another LATB 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):
I think likely the beer was between eight and nine percent abv, it is 8% per cent currently for example, as made at Lviv Brewery/Carlsberg.
But it might have been stronger and hence less rich. Now, in an article by a Russian beer historian, Pavel Egorov, in February 2018 in Profibeer: Beer Market Portal, Egorov wrote that when the Soviets took over LATB in 1939, they found the beer was a 23 degree brew, and bottom-fermented.
He cites a Soviet brewing text of the period, the source seems unimpeachable. What could explain the 1% difference? I think I may know, and return to this below.
The same point about LTAB making bottom-fermented porter, which then influenced Soviet brewing practice, is made by a commenter in an extended discussion of Martyn Cornell’s article, “Baltic Porter Day”, earlier this year (see in Comments).
Something interesting is, in a blogpost of February 6, 2019 on the history of porter advertising in Lviv, a Ukrainian blogger wrote that LATB released a new porter in April 1939.
This is some five months before the Soviets took Lviv.
He states the move was prompted by greater competition, so presumably the idea was to offer something “new and improved” for the consumer. The copy in the ads states a “new kind” of beer resulted. (The source of the ads is not stated in this case).
It was still porter, indeed “mocne” (strong) porter, but as he notes the term “Imperial” was removed.
In my view, the term “new kind” ties in to a lager method vs. top-fermentation. The increase of 1% OG found by the Soviets may have been to ensure the final alcohol result vs. a top-fermentation result.
Maybe the beer was bottom-fermented since the 1920s, but it seems plausible, even likely to me, that it was top-fermented until April 1939, as indeed the Soviet analogue was.
I certainly recommend his blog, there are many excellent articles in it, both historical and current. For example he has an interesting page documenting the period when the Reitmann family controlled LATB.
The banner “The Art of Alexei Kosati” appears at top of the pages, but the name Dmytro Kosatiy also appears in the site, so one must be the 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.