Sarajevo Brewery

Founded on May 24, 1864, Sarajevska Pivara preserves the tradition of the oldest industrial establishment in BiH, and was the only brewery to be operating in two great empires – the Ottoman and the Austro-Hungarian.

The precursor to today’s brewery was a factory located in Kovačići, which was founded in 1864 by Josef Feldbauer from Stara Gradiška, Croatia.

Precursor to Sarajevo Brewery

At that time, the opening of the brewery was the event of the day. Many people attended and the Bosnian Governor, Topal Osman Paša, took the seat of honor.

Nearly 70 years later, in 1930, the event was described in the newspaper, Jugoslovenski List:

“The pouring of the first beer was quite a ceremony. In the shade of the plum orchard, in the valley of the higher brewery, carpets were spread out with pillows and cushions for guests, and round table cloths covered with appetizers were laid out. At the end of the orchard, next to the spring, lambs were roasting on spits.”

Feldbauer’s endeavor failed to prosper, so the brewery was taken over in 1870 by Andrija Gerdoutsch, a Slovenian who nicknamed it “the Czech Brewery”. Some years earlier, Risto Tredulović from Ljubinje had also opened a small brewery in Lukavica, near Sarajevo.

However, the most important moment in the history of Sarajevo beer making was in 1881, when the Viennese businessman, Heinrich Löwe, opened a brewery in Bistrik, at the source of a major spring of high quality.

In 1893, the breweries in Bistrik, Kovačići and Lukavica were joined to form a single company known as Dionička Pivara Sarajevo, which would later become one of the largest breweries in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Tragic moments

The brewery fell on hard times in 1914 with the Sarajevo Assassination, which took place only a few hundred meters away and led to WWI.

After the war, the brewery belonged to one Viennese fund until it was nationalized in 1923. After WWII, on May 3, 1947, Dionička Pivara Sarajevo became Sarajevska Pivara.

The brewery grew over coming decades, all the way up to 1991, making it one of the top four breweries in former Yugoslavia. At the beginning of the 1990s, it was privatized by workers, as led by management.

The last war was another tragic chapter in the Pivara’s history. Given the fact that it was located at a source of fresh water, which was made available to those living in besieged Sarajevo, the brewery was hit by several hundred grenades and dozens of Sarajevans were killed or injured while waiting in line for water. But the brewery continued with production, even in the hardest times.

Following the war, Sarajevska Pivara was renovated and again became BiH’s leading producer of beer, as well as sparkling and still water, non-alcoholic drinks and juices.

The brewery complex, which was built using a mix of oriental and classical European architectural styles, was placed on a “pending” list of National Monuments of BiH in the years following the last war.

Today, this facility is more than just a brewery, it’s also home to Pivnica HS and the Sarajevo Brewery Museum, which has items on display that share delightful stories about the history of beer brewing, as well as about life in Sarajevo during an entire era.