On 29 March, Lidskoe Pivo celebrates its 147th anniversary. It was on this day in 1876 that the local citizen Nosel Pupko brewed the first batch of alcoholic drink in Lida.
Today we would like to give you more information about the person who made Lida the capital of Belarusian brewing.
The surname of the brewery founder comes from the word “pupke,” translated from Yiddish, this word means “doll.” Some assumptions suggest that the first member of the Pupko family manufactured children's toys “pupkes.” In the old days, the surname Pupko was one of the most common Jewish surnames in Lida. There were about 500 citizens who used this surname, which accounted for almost 5% of the population of Lida at that time. For comparison, a certain entrepreneur with the same surname founded a city gymnasium near the Lida Castle, or another Pupko threatened to blow up and destroy the brewery during the revolution if the owner of this brewery did not pay him 500 roubles.
Nosel Pupko had four sons – Isaac, Hirsch, Abram, and Meilakh. The control over the brewery was delegated to them after 1900.
As for the heirs of Nosel Pupko, information is known only about Meilakh Pupko – he was a merchant of the 1st category, was married to Rokhla Pupko, and became the father of four children – Frida, Anna, Shimon, and Mark. Meilakh's sons ran the brewery from 1934 to 1939, and in 1939–1943 they worked there as front line workers. They emigrated to Canada and Mexico after World War II. In 2005, Shimon's daughter Masha Cohen came to Belarus to visit the Lidskoe Pivo brewing company. It is known that she is the owner of a large-scale chemical company in Mexico.
Construction in the Private Sector
Nosel Pupko owned a land plot in Lida. He owned almost a whole hectare of land, which was located between Vilenskaya Street and the Lideika River. This land plot was narrow and elongated.
Nosel Pupko was authorised to construct a brewery on his own land on 29 March 1873. The fabulous brewer placed his first buildings on the available area of the entire plot of 1,950 square sazhens (0.885 ha). There was a brick house near the street, and the beer production premises were just behind this house. The project of the brewery hid all production premises from passers-by.
1876 – Brewing of the first batch of beer. It is this date that will be lined on the boiler pipe, which was built on the order of Nosel Pupko, 17 years after the opening of the brewery. In those days, this building was the highest in Lida. This status was maintained for the next 20 years. The inscription “Established in 1876” has been preserved on the pipe to this day.
Nosel's initial brewery was rather small and included three wooden buildings. Unfortunately, information about the varieties that were produced at the brewery in the early years has not been preserved, and beer sales volumes are not known either. It is only known that the 1883 turnover of the brewery amounted to 2 thousand roubles with 3 workers employed. Production volumes increased significantly five years later by 1887: for the first time, 10,000 buckets of beer were brewed per year (123,000 litres), for which 9,000 roubles were gained.
Developing his brewery, Nosel Pupko faced certain difficulties from time to time. The local authorities have put a spoke in wheel of the Lida merchant for many years for unknown reasons. But despite all the difficulties, Nosel Zelikovich made good and turned his brewery into the brewing centre in Lida. The brewery produced 6 different varieties of beer: Bavarskoye, Stolovoye, Tsarskoye, Martovskoye, Ideal, Pilzenskoye. The product was merchantable. Extensive logistics (warehouses with finished products were dispersed throughout Belarus, as well as in Lithuania and Poland) and rather unusual places for selling beer produced by Nosel Pupko prove this fact. One of the sale points was located right in the building of the police office of the city.
Battle with Chopin Company
Nosel was certain to succeed in his own business. Local regulatory authorities also noted that. The Lida police received a direct order from the Construction Department to find out on what basis Nosel Zelikovich owns his brewery and who authorised him to produce beer.
Nosel sent his request to the Construction Department before the investigation of the issue was started. The request included the plan of the brewery and a petition to confirm the existence of the brewery. The petition was satisfied, but several requirements were raised, chief among which were the unavoidable improvement of the furnace, the replacement of the shingle roof, and the construction of several brick fire walls. All requirements were fully met, but the attitude towards the novice businessman was unchanged. New requirements from regulatory authorities came quickly. Such attention was probably due to the intrigues of another brewery – Chopin company. A great trade war outbroke between this Vilna competitor and the Pupko brewery.
Lida was a strategic city for the owner of Chopin company. To take on the market, he built one of his wholesale warehouses there and supplied beer to local drinking places for a song. He wanted to destroy all local producers in this way. He could not help but be alarmed when he heard the news about the rapid growth of Pupko's brewery, which quickly spread to the surrounding cities and villages.
In response to the attacks from Chopin company, Nosel established cooperation with another Lida brewing leader – Yankel Papirmeister's brewery.
1900 was an auspicious year for Nosel Pupko's brewery, because it was then that the Lida merchant developed a trademark in the form of a red deer, which rests its hoof on a beer barrel. Unfortunately, the exact story of the creation of the trademark has not been preserved.
According to some versions, the coat of arms of Grodno, which also depicts a deer, became the basis of the trademark. Alternatively, the deer is a symbol of the royal court, to which Nosel Zelikovich supplies his products. The mark with the image of animals was a trend of that time and Pupko's competitors often used it: Papirmeister used a bear, Lackerts used an eagle, and Chopin bottles had a lion and a winged dog. Therefore, there are also opinions according to which the image of a red deer was depicted on the label as a trademark to attract beer lovers.
After Nosel died, all four of his sons, who received an impeccable education, were ready to inherit the family business. Soon Isaac, Hirsch, Abram, and Meilakh registered the NOSEL Pupko Heirs Trading House and continued to run the business, but under their own rules.
In 1903, the brewery was first awarded an international medal in Reims. Four years later (in 1907), the brothers installed the first telephone line in Lida, which was located between the Pupko's and Papirmeister's breweries. After a while, two companies formed Bavaria syndicate to confront the Lithuanian brewers.
Meilakh Pupko bought out his brothers' interests and became the sole owner of the brewery by the beginning of World War I. He was a truly gifted business person like his father. He expanded the premises of the brewery and installed a steam engine there. Sales volumes also increased at that time. Meilakh supplied its products to 41 drinking places in Lida itself.
However, the war affected all companies, including the brewery owned by the Pupko family. The National Prohibition Act radically changed the range of products. To be left standing, the owner travelled to England to get a recipe for a fundamentally new variety – non-alcoholic beer. However, production volumes continued to fall. Only the signing of the Treaty of Riga brought positive changes. To get additional income, Meilakh Pupko added a mill and a sawmill to his brewery.
After Meilakh's death, the grandchildren of Nosel Zelikovich Pupko, Meilakh's sons Mark and Shimon, took over the management of the family business in 1934. They were educated at the Technological Institute of Brussels, so they got down to business with no sweat. The brothers launched a power plant at the brewery and expanded their product range with carbonated drinks already in the early years of operating the brewery. At that time, Mark lived right in the premises of the brewery and controlled everything at every moment. This paid off. The brewery gained worldwide recognition in 1939.
However, with the advent of Soviet power, the grandchildren of the founder of the Lida brewery were forced to give up their leadership positions but they did not leave the brewery and stayed as front line workers. During the German occupation, the Pupko brothers, their family members and several other local Jews managed to become authorised to continue working at the brewery. However, this decision was reversed in 1943, and all Jewish personnel were fired and sent to the Jewish ghetto without return. Mark, Shimon, and their children managed to escape by the skin of his teeth by jumping off the train. Having got to the partisans, they waited for the end of the war, after which they emigrated from the Soviet Union.
Nosel Zelikovich Pupko, a merchant of the second guild, died at the age of 75 in the summer of 1900 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Lida. He created and developed his company for 27 years and did not stop there. Endless inspections, increased taxes, and fierce competition undoubtedly undermined his health. The founder of the Lida brewery did not have time to fulfil the next requirement of the Construction Department of the Vilna Governorate. Thanks to the relentless work of Nosel Zelikovich, the sons inherited from him the beer production, which was quite large scale for that time.
In 1902, an iron staircase was installed at the brewery, which has survived to this day. The requirement to install a fireproof staircase at the brewery was the last requirement that Nosel Pupko received during his lifetime.
The company launched a project dedicated to the 145th anniversary of Lidskoe Pivo to disseminate information about the history of the Pupko family. You can follow the project through the official account of Nosel Zelikovich Pupko on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nosel.pupko/
Original source: https://www.peoples.ru/undertake/founder/nosel_pupko/