The history of beer dates back more than 13,000 years. In our territory we are talking about the period of the thirteenth century. And that there is something to write about…
The history of beer has incredibly deep roots. Beer-like drinks have appeared independently in a number of cultures in different parts of the world. We will probably not be far from the truth when we estimate the age of this golden drink to be more than 10,000 years. For example, we can prove the existence of a 6,000-year-old Sumerian tablet from Mesopotamia, which depicts people drinking a drink through straws from a single container. Beer is also recorded in the Epic of Gilgamesh or in the four thousand year old Sumerian poem to celebrate the patron saint of the goddess Ninkasi. Even evidence of cooking up to 13,000 years old has appeared in Israel…
Even in Slovakia, it is not a drink that is only a few decades old. The first breweries opened in our country at the beginning of the last millennium. We would look for the oldest trio in Austria-Hungary in Rudmen near Lake Balaton, Tvrdomestice or Veľké Uhercie near Partizánske. We learn about their existence from a document of King Ladislav IV, who mentioned them as early as 1274. The greatest expansion of brewing in present-day Slovakia took place between 1620 and 1650. We can say without embarrassment that beer was brewed in every major village in Slovakia. . And here the Slovak history of beer is also broken. It was an extremely advantageous business, as beer was only minimally taxed. It was the introduction of high taxes that could have been in decline since 1850.
If we mentioned above that the history of beer in our country began in the 13th century, we were probably a bit misleading. The Slavs knew its cooking when they arrived in our homeland. Specifically, we can point to the Slavs in Potis, who knew this already in the 5th century. Stronger beer came from barley malt, finer from wheat. Historical documents also mention, for example, the brewing of beer in Hronský Beňadik, where the subjects did so in the local monastery. Only later did everything move to places where, however, the townspeople had to have a special right to do so.
In these cities, the work around brewing beer gradually differentiated. All this resulted in the emergence of unique craft industries, which also had an impact on the education of the time. The history of beer in Slovakia revolved mainly around great brewers and maltsters. Demanding customers, especially the upper class, required their maximum expertise, which was gained through many years of experience. As time went on, these people gained the right to cook, and collective rights were able to circumvent it. This is exactly how breweries became part of the city’s economy, as was the case in Brezno, Krupina, Trenčín, Pezinok, Bratislava, Modra and Košice. The first case (the law of individual burghers) applied to Prešov, Banská Bystrica, Sabinov, Bardejov or all Spiš towns. But not everyone could cook or tap it at once, the exact order for this was determined.
In the countryside it was a little different, where brewing beer was one of the rights of the nobility. She discovered the charm of getting rich in this rule especially since the 16th century. It was an important source of income, in addition to the breweries could process the remnants of wheat, barley and others. If she did not want to take care of the breweries, she leased them with the right to a bar, mostly to Jews. The history of beer was formed thanks to old privileges and special agreements with landowners in a number of serf towns. Among the most successful breweries were those in Gelnica, Považská Bystrica, Rimavská Sobota, Ružomberok, Martin or Beluš. The breweries in Ilava or Bytča, founded in the 16th century, even function to this day.
Gradually, the aristocratic brewing developed mainly, which blunted the functioning in the hands of subjects. They gradually lost the opportunity to drink beer at all. The history of beer gradually changed, and brewing and malting guilds were also responsible for this in the 16th to 18th centuries. Among the first established were those in Bardejov (1587), Kežmarok (1589), Žilina, Trenčín, Bratislava, Košice, Komárno, Hniezdno, Medzev, Spišský Podhrad or Spišská Nová Ves. In the middle of the 19th century, we registered approximately 300 breweries in Hungary, the vast majority of them in our territory. We can also mention as an interesting the oldest functioning brewery in Slovakia. It is Steiger, which was founded in 1473 by Jesuit monks in Vyhne.
Although the brewing industry was extremely widespread in our country, the consumption of this beverage was relatively low. Trenčianske pivo, for example, was quite good, being transported on rafts to, for example, the territory of Hungary. Kežmarok beer was of great quality. The turning point came in the middle of the 19th century, when the brewing industry received the necessary structure. Production began to be concentrated in larger factories, which resulted in the liquidation of small or domestic operations. Sales and quality were increased by the introduction of machines or the use of steam in cooking. Machine cooling was also a great novelty. A solid technological basis gave beer production a boom in chemistry. Looking at the specific numbers, we see that in 1919 only 14.4 liters of beer were drunk per Slovak, in 1934 16.1 liters and in 1937 only 13.7 liters.
The turning point came after the Second World War, when the quality of beer increased significantly. This drink got into almost every operation and finally outperformed the wine in sales. New brewing capacities were built in our country. All this was reflected in the consumption of beer, which in 1978 jumped for the first time above the limit of 100 liters (107.1 liters per capita). An important year was also 1960, when an apprenticeship center was opened in Bratislava, in 1964 Topoľčany was added. And the history of beer remains alive in their curriculum…
Beer is an important part of Beer Bike Bratislava. Thanks to that, you can enjoy it from the Meštianske brewery. All information about the possibility of booking our Beer Bike, their equipment, our beer or other important matters can be found on our website or Facebook. If you are interested in this article, we recommend that you take a look at the Blog section, where you can read about a number of interesting things, for example, from the world of beer.