Before we begin the story of brewery in Kuźniczki, let’s go back to the 1842 city of Pilzen, where some events occurred, which concluded in creating one of the most marvellous modern inventions – lager beer. The idea wasn’t new – beer was commonly known and drunk for many centuries, but it was mostly ale. During the brewing process, the yeast amassed on the surface was later removed. The product of the brewing was a dark and unclear drink, and because of the difficulties in getting better ingredients also sometimes dangerous to health. In Pilzen, a man called J.Groll successfully conducted the lower fermentation, which resulted in a creation of a great, golden-coloured and clear drink, which we know to this day.  Commonly called Pilzner, in very short time has gained great recognition and since 1870 has been exported over the ocean. The consumers wanted a new drink, so new breweries were founded all over Europe and they all brewed lager beer. The same thing happened upon Motława, where brewing traditions were reaching medieval times, and Gdańsk’s beer was commonly known and praised.

Unfortunately, the first half of the 19th century wasn’t so prosperous for gdańsk’s brewing. The number of breweries successively decreased to seventeen in 1861 (at the end of the 18th century there were several dozens).  The rebirth of beer demand was the cause of creating a new brewery in the premises of Wrzeszcz’s Kuźniczki estate. The company, which founded the brewery, was named Danziger Aktien Bierbrauerei (DAB), and the first day of its functioning (January 24th 1873) was the beginning of a brewing tradition, which continues uninterrupted for 128 years. What was the reason for choosing this localisation? First of all, through Kuźniczki estate flowed Strzyz stream, there was also a pond, which was a valuable source of industrial water and ice (remember that to create one litre of beer, ten litres of water are needed). Of course water needed for production was dredged from two wells.  Also very important for this new investment was the neighbourhood of created in 1870 railway to Koszalin, which cut through the original Kuźniczki estate’s premises, largely and irreversibly changing it.

How did Kuźniczki look before the construction of the railway and DAB brewery?  Just ninety years earlier about Kuźniczki estate a well-known painter, Daniel Chodowiecki, wrote: “The garden is really beautiful, with great, flowery garden patches, promenades, maze and theatre. (…) This locality, country and rural, has a park, in which there are ten fallow deer and two stags”. Beside that in the estate’s garden there were water cascades, stone sculptures, lime lanes, and most important – brewery.

The Kuźniczki estate owed its grandness, to Michael and Gottfried Schimdt, who bought those these lands in 1763 and afterwards decide to build in its premises layed in stone, rococo styled manor (built in 1763-1767). He funded the pompous garden premise and brought the sculptor Eggert (famous in his times), to create sculptures equal to the owner’s glorious vision. This way Kuźniczki changed from property focused on production (since the half of the 16th century there were manufacturing plants – including brewery, and circa the half of the 18th century there was a forge, mills, cloth mill, brewery and bleachery) in to residency full of parks and gardens.  Nota bene, the name Kuźniczki derives from placed in the estate forge (in Polish forge is “kuźnia”). Unfortunately, the prosperous “court times” of Kuźniczki didn’t last long – in 1819 impoverished heirs of Gottfried Schmitd sold the derelict estate. Till the second half of 19th century, the owners of the estate changed very often, and the manor, as well as the park successively fell into neglect. But the greatest catastrophe was the creation of railway, which overcome a large part of the estate, although it brought some profit. Because of it a new owner appeared, with a vision to lead Kuźniczki to the 20th century.

New owner, Danziger Aktien Bierbrauerei, has begun a series of new investments.  DAB built a bottling plant, stables and fermentation cellars, thanks to which the brewery, just in the second year of operating, produced 30, 000 hectolitres of beer. Also malting plant, saltworks and ice magazine were built. With the increasing demand the company grew larger, taking the name Danziger Aktien Bierbrauerei Kleinhammer and increasing their starting stock almost three times.  Thanks to this injection of fund a new gas boiler plant and cooling engine room – the production increased to 60, 000 hectolitres and the employee count rose to 100 (in the other twelve Gdańsk Breweries  there were working a total of 286 employees).  The new investments role was to prepare the estate for gastronomic purposes. Remaining old growth of trees and rococo styled manor were a perfect background for the newly built entertainment arena, orchestra gazebo and summer beer house. It was all ornamented with newly planted decorative bushes.  The firm fence, which is visible from Wajdeloty and Kiliński Street, comes from those times. A restaurant offering a wide range of dishes and beer was opened in the historical manor. Their speciality was the exclusive Jopenbier, whose name was connected to the most famous in its times Gdańsk’s beer. Jopenbier was made from the best barley malt and was exported to England and Sweden.

Till 1913, the Kuźniczki estate gained a new boiling plant, saltworks, engine room, bottling plant, cooperage and social building. Their results were impressive - 130, 000 hectolitres of the golden beverage were leaving the premises of the brewery annually.

Litograficzna pocztówka przedstawiająca Park Kuźniczki, około 1900 r.
Litographic postcard from Kuźniczki Park, circa 1900
Projekt bednarni. 
Cooperage project.

Plan browaru z roku 1908.
Brewery plan, 1908.

Projekt przebudowy willi dyrektora i piwnic pod nią, rok 1919.
Directors Villa and its cellars rebuilding project, 1919.

Plan browaru, rok 1914.
Brewery plan, 1914.

The times of good economic situation were  ended by the Great War outbreak and on the 1918 Christmas Eve the brewery took another hit – malting plant, malt dryer, saltworks and the upper management villa were burned down (probably the fire was caused by a candle standing on one of the directors Christmas tree). After the rebuilding process, DAB had to handle an another problem – competitive pressure of polish breweries, which ultimately forced the company to shorten their production. Despite their financial struggles, in 1937, a new office, lodge and a new entry gate (from the Kiliński Street, then called Kleinhammerweg) were built.  The brewery then produced such brands as, among others, Artur-Pils, Caramel and Putziger – nine kinds altogether, as well as non-alcoholic gas beverages.

The production of the brewery was shortened even more during the II World War. Kuźniczki produced beer mainly for army purposes, most often – not the highest quality. Prisoners of war from, among others, France, Russia and England were employed in the production process. In the begging of 1945, because of the approaching front of war, most of the board and the administrative personnel left the brewery. On the 28th day of March 1945 the soviet forces entered the brewery premises and just on the 15th day of April the estate was overtaken by Polish authorities. Most of the damages caused by war were disposed of in the same month (luckily the buildings survived the war in great shape) and the production was restarted.  In the brewery’s premises a cafeteria, which served cheap dinners, was built and the locals were allowed to use the brewery’s well.

Because of the supply shortage, the first beverage produced after the war was soda – the first bottle was filled on 30th of April 1945. On the 15th day of May, the brewery’s magazines got Jasne beer (Light Beer) – the first polish, Wrzeszcz’s beer, produced from German supplies.  The first fully domestic beer, created from products gathered by the new board, was Imperator beer. During this time, the brewery once again used horse transport (although in 1922 the plant bought six lorries, shortening horse drawn carts), which they used till 1958.

Since 1st July 1945 the official name of the plant was: Zjednoczone Państwowe Browary nr 1 w Gdańsku (United National Brewery nr 1 in Gdańsk). In short time new brands of beverages were produced beside Imperator beer:  Jasne Lekkie, Jasne Pełne, Słodowe and Porter. Specially, for oceanic passenger shipping GAL (Gdynia – America Line) the brewery started producing pasteurized beer Prazdrój.

A series of investments started on Kuźniczki premises circa middle 50’s. Till 1964 the brewery built a new boiling plant, engine room, mechanised beer bottling, rebuilded railway siding – all of these improvements allowed the brewery to increase their production to 320, 000 hectolitres per year. In the following years the production rose and in 1977 achieved the record high amount of 498, 000 hectolitres. Then, the new products were Eksportowe I, Eksportowe II and Gdańskie beer. In 1962 the brewery in Kuźniczki was awarded the title of the best brewery in Poland. Their products were exported to Bulgaria, Soviet Union and Romania. To satisfy their customers, the brewery emitted series of limited beer – and so in 1985 they released one of their most known products – Hevelius beer. Later also appeared: Artus, Patrycjusz, Kaper Królewski and Gdańskie Eksportowe.  On the 28th of January 1988, the Wrzeszcz’s brewery was given the name of Jan Heweliusz.

In 1991 most of the shares was bought by Brewpole B.V. company, which changed the brewery’s name to Hevelius Brewing Company Ltd. and a lot of new investments in beer production. Produced by the brewery brands: Remus, Hevelius, Kaper Królewski, Gdańskie and Artus were drunk commonly, which induced the owners of Kuźniczki to make ambitious plans – they counted that in 1995 the brewery will produce one million hectolitres of beer.  The plans were never realised and the company was bought in 1997 by Elbewery Co. Ltd., which ended the production of beer on 28th day of February 2001.

The year of 2001 wasn’t the end of brewing in the old Kuźniczki estate. We are witnesses of the opening of a new chapter – the premises of the old brewery are changing and with them new perspectives of continuation of the brewing tradition, which reaches 16th century.