History of the Sarajevo Brewery
The Ottoman Period (1864-1878)
The Sarajevo Brewery was founded in 1864 and it is believed to be the first industrial production in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first beer in Sarajevo was best described in an article in the Yugoslav Journal in 1930 titled „How the First Production of Beer Began in Sarajevo in 1864.“
“… The first pouring of beer was very festive. In a shady plume orchard in the valley overlooking the Brewery, on carpets spread around a round sofra (traditionally a low table or tray used as a dining table) covered with assorted refection, pillows and mats were placed for high guests, and, beside a creek, at the edge of the plum orchard, fattened lambs were being turned on a spit. In a long line of carriages, guests were arriving: Governor Sherif Osman Pasha, with military and civilian entourage, foreign consuls with their secretaries and the most honoured citizens of all faiths.
They sat around the sofra, ate, drank, rejoiced and toasted, entertained by music played by the military and selected Gorica Gypsies. (…) The rest of the people rejoiced and drank beer on a meadow close to the Brewery, and much later dispersed back to their homes, with a series of incidents. First, one cheerful group was stopped by officials on a bridge, which was located about thirty steps down the current bridge, connecting Kovačići with the right bank of the Miljacka river. A toll was to be paid for the beer which the Sarajevans were taking home in ewers and jugs. But the Sarajevans would not be hindered by this, and resolved the issue of the municipal finances on the very spot by quickly gulping all the beer, and then heading to their native grounds with empty ewers and jugs, followed by the officials’ protests.“
Austro-Hungarian Period (1878-1918)
The Sarajevo Brewery is the only European brewery whose production was not interrupted during the Ottoman Empire, as well as during the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The Sarajevo Brewery building is one of the most attractive buildings in the city, with the architectural style of a mixed oriental and classical European design.
The development of Bosnia and Herzegovina in this period had a positive effect of the Brewery as well, which also began to operate outside the city of Sarajevo. The present location of the Brewery dates back to 1881, and it was built at the source of the best Sarajevo water pumped from the depth of 300 meters. We are the only brewery in BH with its own water spring. In 1907, the Brewery became the largest brewery in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and by 1898, it produced 45.000 hectolitres a year.
Periond 1918 – 1941.
After the end of the First World War and the establishment of the Kingdom of Serbians, Croats and Slovenes, the beer production was in decline. In 1923, the Sarajevo Brewery was nationalized. However, even in these circumstances, the Brewery was the exclusive supplier of the royal court, and between the First and Second World Wars, the Sarajevo Brewery bought the breweries in Slavonski Brod (1925) and Petrovaradin (1927) and built a malt factory in Skopje (1927).
Post World War II
Mr. Hilmo Selimović was appointed General Manager
The Sarajevo Brewery in this period was in the biggest crisis in its history, and in the former Yugoslavia it dropped to the 20th place out of the total of 28 breweries. The decline was successfully stopped by the appointment of Mr. Hilmo Selimović as the General Manager. By 1991, the Brewery was modernized, and its production increased threefold, ranking the Brewery among the top four breweries in the former Yugoslavia.
The development of the Sarajevo Brewery was interrupted due to the aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina, during which the Brewery was almost completely destroyed and the damages were estimated at more than 20 million US dollars. However, the Brewery did not cease it operations even in this period, even though the production was symbolic-merely 3 percent of the previous production. For Sarajevans, it was the only source of drinking water in the besieged city.
1996 – 2003
In this period, the Sarajevo Brewery was successfully reconstructed, and ca 43 million Euro was invested in its development and modernization. In 1998, a three-year contract was signed with Coca-Cola, and in 2002 a contract for the production of non-alcoholic beverages was signed with PepsiCo International.
In 2004, the Sarajevo Brewery opened a renowned Pivnica HS Restaurant within its building. This same year, the manufacturing plants and transportation fleet were modernized, sales centres across Bosnia and Herzegovina were built, and new equipment for primary beer production, cooking plant and a new filling line for non-alcoholic drinks and beer were installed. We have also installed new equipment for beer fermentation, barrel filling station, beer dealcoholisation system, ASEPTIC line, CIP filtration station, filling line, and 38 new, large tanks for the fermentation and lagering cellar. Today, we operate with all the major supermarket chains (Bingo, Amko, Konzum, etc.), more than 1.000 small shops and over 500 hospitality facilities. The Sarajevo Brewery is the leading BH company for the production of beer, carbonated and non-carbonated water, non-alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. The production takes place at the company headquarters in the old part of Sarajevo, in an area of ca 17.400 m2. The entire production process of the Sarajevo Brewery is in compliance with the highest technical standards. Quality and environmental control standards, as well as HACCP system, have been developed and implemented in compliance with the international standards EN ISO 9001: 2000, ISO 14001: 2004 and Codex Alimentarius. The most distinct brand of the Sarajevo Brewery, the Sarajevsko Beer, is one of the leading BH brands.