In the documents of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania brewery houses
are first mentioned in XVI century.
Our history begins in the year 1876. The factory was founded by Lida citizen Nosel Pupko. 140 years later the brewery will be recognized as the oldest brewery among operating beer companies in Belarus.
In the documents of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania brewery houses are first mentioned in XVI century. During the following two centuries beer for sale is made in taverns and hostelries. This type of activity is especially popular on the territory of modern Central and North-Eastern Belarus. During those times the beer had one of the two origins: associated either with nobility or the monks. Beer brands are often named after the folk holidays: «Pokrovskoe», «Dmitrievskoe», «Mikhailovskoe», «Nikolaevskoe».
GDL brewers knew the recipe of the Maerzen (March beer). Maerzen is a traditional spring beer which contains more hop than regular beer. Today, the most famous Maerzen is made in Germany and Austria. Maerzen is stronger than regular beer: in contains about 5.8% of alcohol.
Along with Magdeburg rights the citizens of Lida are granted the permission to build the main factory in 1590. By 1680 there are 19 taverns selling beer, vodka and mead in Lida. Ten of them were owned by Christians, nine — by Jews. The taverns are mainly located on Kamenskaya street (presently known as Leninskaya) and Vilenskaya street (presently — Sovetskaya).
Nosel Zelikovich Pupko, a citizen of Lida, builds a brewery at his own land plot. Long and narrow piece of land, as large as a half of a hockey field, stretches from the Vilenskaya street to the Lideika river. First batch of beer was marked on the factory chimney brickwork: the letters «Founded in 1876» can still be found there. Pupko’s house is located by the street, and the yard contains the factory buildings: double-stored factory with the office and separate buildings of the drying room and fermenting block.
As of 1876, Pupko’s factory is the third brewery in Lida. The first factory belonging to E. Lando and D. Kamenetski, would disappear soon. The second one, founded by Y. Papirmeister, would be Pupko’s main rival for a long time. In 1944 it would be rebuilt as food concentrate integrated plant. Nosel’s factory would live through revolutions and wars.
Nosel Pupko’s factory is constantly being rebuild and expanded. In course of one of the inspections the governorate engineer states the following: «… the factory is in satisfactory condition, and its operation shall be allowed; nevertheless, Pupko shall rebuild the factory stairs, and the new stairs are to be made of fireproof material».
The inspection requirements would later be fulfilled by Pupko’s successors: the iron stairs were strong enough to be preserved until today.
In 1899 the factory sends 58 train cars of beer to Kobrin, Belostok, Pinsk, Gorodishe, Lyahovichi. By 1900 Pupko has seven wholesale warehouses and several beer stores in Lida. One of them is located in the police station building. The sign says: «Beer: On tap and take-away. N. Pupko».
In 1899 or 1900, the first known label of the factory emerges: «Dinner beer of N. Pupko’s Brewery». It is a cheap, popular beer. It is easily understood from the picture of a cheerful commoner with a bottle and a glass. The factory mark — the deer leaning against the barrel — can be found on thirty labels of the factory. It is not completely clear what did this trademark mean for Nosel Pupko. Sometimes it is mistakenly associated with the Grodno emblem, which contains a picture of St. Hubert’s deer. However, the deer from the emblem has a catholic cross between its horns, and there are no other similarities except for the theme. Noble animals on labels are one of the popular themes of that time: a mountain goat on David Saradjev’s brandy bottles, eagle with a bunch of grapes, on Ivan Smirnov’s vodka bottles, a wolf with a lock on Zimulin’s factory products.
1901. Lida is the second largest city of the Vilna government. The Russian Empire adopts the law identical to the German beer purity law: beer should be made of hops, malt, yeast and water exclusively.
Nosel Pupko, merchant of the second guild, founder of Lida brewery, dies in 1900, aged 75. The factory now belongs to his sons: Itska, Gersh, Abram and Meilah. Abram and Meilah, the younger brothers, run the factory.
Starting from 1903 there are silver medals on the labels. For example, the award of the International Exposition in Reims, France.
The factory pays a lot of attention to design of its products. The beer bottles of this period are marked with originality and elegance, and the factory details are imprinted on the glass.
Pupko brothers order beer bottles from the glass factory of V. Kraevski and U. Stolle in Berezovka (today — Neman factory).
1908. Meilakh Pupko buys a share of the enterprise from his brother, Abram.
1910. Lida experiences the boom of production and brewery. The two city breweries produce 4 million 880 thousand liters of beer per year — more than anywhere else on the territory of modern Belarus.
As of 1913, there are 41 beer shops in the city. A beer tavern is located in Pupko’s house.
On July 17, 1914, during the time of the World War I, the government issues the prohibition of alcohol production as one of the means to aid mobilization. During June of the following year Meilah Pupko makes agreement with the local authorities to rework beer and create a drink with less than 1.5 % alcohol «to avoid losses for the factory and treasury».
In late September of 1915 Lida is occupied by German troops. The factory starts to make beer again. In 1919 the city is taken by Red Army; the soldiers demand kvass. Due to this fact, Lida kvass appears in 1920.
During 1921-1939 Western Belarus is a part of Poland. The war and the world crisis of 1930s destroyed Lida brewery almost completely. During 1920s, Pupko’s factory makes a single type of beer without a name and some malt drink. The bottles have simple papers slightly similar to actual beer labels on them. The production volume becomes 5-7 times lower.
On April 16, 1930 Meilah Pupko leaves the business. Starting from that moment, the brewery is run by Meilah’s sons Semyon (Shimon) and Mitya (Mark). The brewery now a steam mill and its own power station. First carbonated drinks are made at the factory during this period. This fact is marked in the name: «M. and S. Pupko: brewery, malting house and carnonated waters production in Lida».
In 1934 Meilah, the architect of the brewery’s golden age and a witness to its temporary recess, dies. He is buried next to the founder father of «Lidskoe pivo», Nosel Pupko, at the Jewish cemetery. The cemetery would be destroyed over 1940s. It was located next to the present-day Frunze street.
In 1937 40 people work at the factory: 10 of them — in the administration, other 30 — as workers. Working hours: Monday-Friday — 7.00-16.00, Friday — 7.00-12.00. Lunch time — one hour. Payments to the workers are made once a week, on Saturdays.
In 1938 Lida brewery makes four brands of beer: «Yasnoe», «Dubeltovoe», «Hmelnoe», «Temnoe». Barley is bought in Rovno and the villages next to Lida, hop is bought in Volyn. The factory also manufactures lemonade, bottled kvas and carbonated water.
The most picturesque recollection of the workers of those times is the description of the loader moving barrels: «Athletic man with a large ginger beard named Balagula». He had body of steel and a strong head. He could finish off a bucket of beer at once, after which he would wipe his leaps and beard with his apron and move on with his barrels of beer as if nothing happened. He himself was like a bottomless barrel (Naruszewicz W. Wspomnienia lidzianina. Warszawa, 2001, s. 95).
Interesting beer bottles were found in Uman, Ukraine. The engraving on these bottles reads «Bavaria Brewery. Z. A. Pupko. Uman»; the bottles also have the distinctive emblem — a deer leaning on a barrel. The historians suppose that the owner of the factory, Zelik Abramovich Pupko, is a grandson of Nosel Pupko, founder of the «Lidskoe pivo», who moved to Uman and continued the family business.
In 1939 Lida is a city within the Soviet Union. On November 26, on the basis of Declaration of the People’s assembly of West Belarus «On nationalization of banks and large-scale industry» and the Resolution of temporal government of Lida the factory of Mark and Semyon Pupko is passed to the control of the Brodtrest of BSSR Food industry people’s commissariat. Gurevich, the Brodtrest supervisor, arrives from Minsk: «He suspended Pupko brothers from management of the factory and took all the money» (as recollected by the brewery master Mihail Krushevski). The former owners stay at the factory for a while: «They allowed us to stay and work there, but forced us to pay various taxes… We understood there were no place for us. We moved to Vilno» (as recollected by Semyon Pupko).
In 1940 the legendary Zhigulevskoye beer with weak hops flavor is first manufactured at the factory. The factory also produces Russian beer (with distinctive strong hops taste) and Ukranian beer (dark, bottom-fermentation beer with bright malt taste and flavor). It is generally considered that these types of beers were developed in 1935 by All-Union Research and Development Institute of brewery and wine production. The recipe of Zhigulevskoe beer is the same as the Vienna beer which was highly popular before the revolution, Ukranian beer is very similar to Munich beer, and Russian beer resembles Pilsen beer.
The legend has it that the Zhigulevskoe was named when people’s commissar of food industry Anastas Mikoyan was pleasantly surprised with the Vienna beer’s taste in Samara, but not with its capitalist name. After this, the name Zhigulevskoe can be widely found in Soviet standards. This type of beer quickly becomes the most popular beer in the USSR, and its name is used practically as a synonym of the word beer. It is still being made by JSC Lidskoe pivo today.
Nazi troops take Lid on June 27, 1941. In August of the same year Mark and Semyon Pupko, owners of the Lida brewery, come back to the city with their families. They have nowhere to run; Europe is occupied by Nazis. Pupko take an intact apartment on the territory of the factory.
German soldiers need beer. An engineer, Joahim Lohbiller, is sent to the factory to organize the process of brewery. All employees are ordered to come back to the factory and do their work.
As recollected by Semyon Pupko: «The factory area was like an oasis for us. We were able to live and work there normally, despite the fact that Nazis were committing atrocities in the city. We remember how all of us, 42 Jewish workers, celebrated the Easter Seder at the factory in spring of 1942. Several weeks later, on May 8, when there was a bloody „action“ in the ghetto, the Nazis came for us, but Joahim wouldn’t let them in. Later he was sent to the front line. In 1943 he was replaced by Hanenberd, who had Merkel as his aide-de-camp — a natural born sadist woman. Later in 1943 Joahim came to the factory to receive beer for his division. He warned us that the death was coming and we had to run away into the woods…»
On September 17 the Jews of Lida were send to Majdanek camp by train. Some of them managed to escape. Mark and his family manages to stay with a peasant family, Semyon joins the guerilla forces of Belski.
The Soviet army redeems the city on June 8, 1944. In 10 days control over the brewery is passed to the city executive committee.
During first days after the occupation the factory is under supervision of ex-merchandise specialist of All-Union fancy goods and perfume union «Centrosoyuz», Sergey Pishikov. It was not easy to optimize operation of the factory. As recollected by the workers: «The state of the factory was chaotic. All the territory of the factory and workshop was littered and dirty. There was no grain, no hops, not a single transportation barrel in the warehouse. The only properties of the factory are as follows: lager beer in the basements, carbon dioxide in the amount of about 5 tons, hops (about 2.5 tons) and beer bottles in the amount of above 120 thousands. This is what the factory administration had to use».
On July 21 the new director invites Mark and Semyon Pupko to the factory. The family would not stay at the Soviet factory for long. They would soon leave the factory and the country: together they would reach Belgium, from where Mark’s family would head to Canada, and Semyon’s family — to Mexico. In July 2005 the great granddaughter of the brewery founder Nosel Pupko, Masha Cohen, owner of a large chemical enterprise in Mexico, and her husband with their children and grandchildren (15 persons total) will come to visit the «Lidskoe beer» brewery.
Tadeush Vonsevich, a barrel maker, said that he used to bring beer to English pilots: «Their emblem was composed of three circles inside each other. I drove Chevrolet to bring them beer every day».
What could these Englishmen possibly do in Lida? The city is used to quarter 240th Nevel fighting plane division under the command of the Hero of the Soviet Union, colonel (marshal-to-be) Georgy Vasilyevich Zimin. Zimin writes in his memories, that the division received the newest aircraft project — soviet plane Jak-3. In September 1944 14 Englishmen arrived by Douglas C-47 to see it. Most of them were members of the noble British families. The guests were met with with a real feast, and then they had the chance to see the aircraft — the best fighter plane of that time — in action.
The factory starts the production of dark, almost black «Barhatnoe» beer (a mixture of Zhigulevskoe, Moskovskoe beer and caramel malt). The brewery also produces kvass in bottles and barrels.
Reconstruction of the factory starts in 1953: over the following fifteen years there would me 69 beer tanks with capacity of 15600 liters each and 20 fermentation reservoirs. Restoration is performed under supervision of the new director Georgy Sleptsov (supervised the factory in 1952-1973). As recollected by the workers: «He knew all employees by name and patronymic. He loved lengthy toasts. Each toast was like a poem about a man, about his family. Sleptsov was a master. He organized the production».
Lidskoe beer appears in shops in 1967. Its creators were the main brewer Maria Golyaeva and head of the factory laboratory Polina Smirnova.
Lidskoe resembles the Dubeltovoe beer, which was brewed by Pupko brothers in 1930s. Density — 13%, alcohol — 4%. Barley for Lidskoe beer is imported from France and Poland, hops — from Ukraine and USA.
As recollected by Maria Golyaeva: «They told us in Belpivtrest: you have to create your new Lida beer. So we did».
In 1976 «Lidskoe pivo» marks its 100th anniversary. In June the factory is awarded with the Badge of Honor for «successful implementation of the 9th five-year plan and in connection with the 100th anniversary». Only two more breweries could boast such award at that time: Stepan Razin brewery in Leningrad and A.E. Badaev brewery in Moscow (before 1934 — Trehgorny brewery).
The badge is silver. Banners and the star are coated with ruby red enamel, their contours are gold-plated. Poles of the banner and the inscription are also gold-plated. The pentagonal block, which is connected to the Badge, is covered with silk moire ribbon of pale pink color with two longitudinal orange stripes on the sides.
The Badge of Honor is given to exceptional companies, factories, cities, towns and persons. It is the most valuable award any Soviet enterprise could ever receive.
In 1980 the city was given to Lida for the 600th anniversary of the city.
The 1970s see production of two of the most nostalgic drinks of the Soviet era. Dark brown Baikal — a composition of natural essential oils and extracts of spicy herbs. Buratino lemonade — bitter, sweet and sour taste of lemon and apple. The musical of 1976 based on the fairytale written by Alexei Tolstoy didn’t satisfy the customer — Belarusfilm, but won hearts of the audience. The success of the movie was used by lemonade makers all over the Soviet Union.
In 1985, the all-Union struggle with alcoholism begins. The Government limits production of alcoholic drinks, including beer. The factory swiftly switches to non-alcoholic beverages. In course of the following five years Lidskoe pivo makes dozens of drinks with poetic names: Vostochny, Utro, Chernichny, Rabinavy, Isindi, Veresok, Vecherni Arbat and many others.
On September 19, 1991 the Republic of Belarus emerges on the political map of the world. In 1992 the brewery becomes a leased enterprise, and in 1994 — a closed-type joint stock company.
The brewery goes through all the difficulties of transition period: Increase in prices for up to 26-30% per month, monetary deficit, 40% excise duties which made the price of a bottle of beer practically equal to the price of cheap fruit wine.
The 90s was the only period in the history of the brewery which saw production of hard liquors. Lidskoe beer disappears from shops. For example, in Minsk it could only be found in one shop at that time.
In 1996 Lida brewers in cooperation with colleagues from Austria «Egenberg International» launch the Czech beer filling line they bought back in 1991. The first product of the line is Korol Hmelia, the beer brewed with German hop and French malt. «Lidskoe beer» is the first factory of the country to sell bottled pasteurized beer.
In 2003-2004 together with Czech company Preiss s.r.o. Lidskoe beer builds a new brewing house with computerized Czech boiler house and the new fermentation house. The production capacity of the factory increases almost two times — up to 60 mln liters of beer per year.
The first beer made at the restored factory is «Three Kings». It is developed by Belarusian and Czech brewers. It is one of the most recognized beers in the history of the factory: 14 gold medals from international and Belarusian contests during the period od 2005-2008.
In 2000s, new successful examples of Lida beer series are created — non-alcoholic «Nulevochka» and Lidskoe Premium.
In 2008 shareholders of JSC «Lidskoe Pivo» find an investor — Finnish group of companies Olvi Oyj, uniting the brewers A. Le Coq from Estonia, Cesu Alus from Latvia, Volfas Engelman from Lithuania and Olvi from Finland. Audrius Mikshis becomes the new Director General of «Lidskoe Pivo» on March 30, 2009.
The first stage of investments starts in 2009. By 2012 the factory receives more than 40 mln EUR, by 2016 — 41 mln more.
Eight new Finnish beer tanks (the volume of each one is 200m3, the height — 18 m, like a five-stored building) are transported from Finland by means of special vehicles. Traffic police accompanies the vehicles in Belarus. In 2012, the new automated and computerized production complex is installed at the «Lidskoe Beer» factory.
The label sees the return of the original emblem chosen by Nosel Pupko, founder of the factory, 130 years ago. The original color of the old factory label — red — is preserved. The shield on the emblem is twined with ornament of golden hop branches.
In 2016 brewers make outstanding new products dedicated to the 140th anniversary of the factory: flagship lager «Lidskae Legenda» as well as the limited series «Lidskoe 140», a nod to the old brands «Tsarskoe» and «Ideal». Modern brewers used the same malt Pupko did back in the XIX century: Chateau Munich Light and Chateau Cara Clair.
In September Lida hosts the festival of hops, malt and water — LidBeer: 100 000 people from all over the country as well as the neighboring states gather at the festival.
During the collection of material for the second book about the Belarusian brewing history, the specialists of the Lida Historical and Art Museum visited the archives of Grodno, Minsk and Vilnius. Archivists have found evidence that “Lidskoe pivo” is the oldest brewery among operating beer companies in Belarus. Examination of the highest academic organ in the field of history – the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Belarus – confirmed these facts.