Questions, comments or suggestions? email me at:
Don't miss out a chance to win in our monthly "Croatianicity" t-shirt draw!
As well as our monthly Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic fridge magnet give away!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Days Of The First Croatian Beer & Brewery - Osječko Pivo/Osječko Beer (Photos)

Osječko beer and brewery has an over 350 year beer making history and tradition in Croatia.

*see interesting related post croatian-beers-wines-world-lists

Osječka Pivovara (Osijek Brewery - has been making beer for more than 350 years in Croatia, its brewing history officially dates back to written tax records mentioning a small private brewery in 1664 also providing beer to the general public, then in 1695 a new brewery building being built is recorded, and later during the first official Osijek census in 1697 a government approved larger taxes paying brewery along the Drava river is in the records, however it was being brewed for decades even well before these first recorded mentions, and these facts make it the oldest Croatian brewery and beer. It's actually even older than the popular and oldest British beer and brewery Shepherd Neame. (I had a chance to try this beer on my last trip and it put a pleasant chill on my liver on a hot day while enjoying the's a very good beer). The identity of the city of Osijek to Osječko Beer is as connected as Hershey, Pennsylvania is to Hershey's Chocolates, Old Milwaukee is to Milwaukee Wisconsin, or Budweiser Beer to Budweis, Czech Republic etc.

Anyway, every autumn in the city of Osijek, they hold the "Days Of The First Croatian Beer" (Dani Prvog Hrvatskog Piva). A celebration of the beer and the city that it is named after. The very basics of modern-day beers and beer brewing actually hasn't changed much in many centuries, not since German monks introduced hops as a vitally important main ingredient, codified and recorded their recipes and started brewing beer in their monasteries during medieval times, water was unsanitary many times, equipment was not always hygienically clean and without hops the ales would spoil very quickly (historically "ale" being a type of beer brewed without hops). Interestingly, beer was actually the most consumed beverage already and an important source of nutrition in the medieval world, it was drank by children, nursing mothers, the old and the sick and everyone in between. Even though I don't drink much these days, a pretty cool and interesting Croatian site these days devoted to all sorts of beer news topics, articles, new and retro images/posters and the interesting history of beer in Croatia up to today, as well as in Europe and elsewhere around the world is

(Interestingly as some supplementary information for those not in the know, during the early 19th century Osijek was even the largest city in Croatia for a time. In the early 18th century as the largest and most strategic free royal city of the Croatian crown lands and Habsburg empire vis a vis the Ottoman empire's Sanjak of Smederevo still a threat found east of the Danube and Drina rivers, for this reason it was intended that Osijek be developed along the lines of other Central European cities such as Vienna, Budapest, Warszawa, Pressburg/Bratislava and Prag/Praha as a civilizational bulwark city, so for a time it was bigger than even the capital city of Zagreb which started to grow more later in the 19th century. Osijek was part of the medieval Croatian Kingdom when it joined in a political union with Hungary in the 12th century, through the later defensive Croatian-Ottoman wars and Habsburg-Ottoman wars centuries and through right up to the Croatian Triune Kingdom into the 20th century. (even playing a part of historic events during the times of the Croatian and Hungarian military leader and statesman Nikola Zrinski). Located in the Slavonia and Baranja region, the earliest recorded mention of Osijek dates back to 1196 so over 800 years makes it a fairly old and historical city, getting its name from the Croatian word "oseka" which means "ebb tide". Tvrđa (aka Osijek Citadel) is the Old Town historic part of the city with nearby gothic and baroque buildings and just like in numerous other towns and cities, the old town sections originally started out as defensive fortresses and the towns and cities grew around and occasionally within them, even after the heavy damage inflicted in the early 90's the Habsburg style star fort and high walls built on the right bank of the Drava river is still standing today and is again a popular place for various fairs, markets and many other events. (approximately 800 deaths resulted in a large portion of the city's population when over 6,000 artillery shells were fired by the remaining Српско-југословенска војска (Serb-Yugoslav army) and their Serb church recruited paramilitary volunteers from Serbia in 1991-92, several Serb sieges aiming to repeat the destruction of Vukovar were fortunately stopped in the outlying rural villages thanks to defenders getting and capturing some weapons and they failed to reach Osijek). Osijek is also known as the greenest Croatian city because of the 17 parks spread across the city. What else? Oh yeah. Osijek is also home to the HNK Osijek (Croatian National Theater Osijek) which opened in 1866 (but with a history since 1735) and it's also the only other Croatian city besides Zagreb that still has an electric trams system in operation as well as city buses (Dubrovnik, Pula, Opatija and Rijeka used to have trams too but they were discontinued in the early and mid 20th century, I like trams though and think they're cool and should have been left, what would San Francisco be without their various trams and trolleys? exactly, just a pointless absurd tramless city). I should do a more thorough and fact filled post about Osijek in the future (including of course local food specialties which are awesome and the restaurants are pretty eclectic and interesting also, gotta love that good ol' hearty čobanac, riblja juha paprikaš, gulaš, kulen, various kobasice and punjene paprike etc) because it doesn't get exposure on the scale of some other cities like I said, so consider this just your impromptu supplementary city of Osijek facts of the day).

What the heck, I came across a whole bunch of interesting rarely seen blast from the past views of Osijek too good to leave in internetland, some of the very first photographs ever of Osijek from postcards especially. Here's a few in the 1890's...

 ...from the Habsburg era an aereal plan view of the mentioned 1712 built Osijek (aka Essegg/Esseg in German and Eszék in Hungarian) Tvrđa Fortress in 1861. The fortress was strategically important for the defence of the town and repulsing attacks and invasions during the latter part of the centuries of Croatian-Ottoman wars and various Ottoman-Habsburg wars, image from the pre-drone era probably.

Location of Osijek from circa. 9th to 12th century, today's Osijek was mainly a small settlement and important bridge over the Drava river during the Ostrogothic Kingdom in the 5th century, but from the 2nd to the 4th century it was a strategic Roman outpost military camp known as Mursa. In the 19th century Osijek was one of the most strategic growing imperial Croatian cities of Central Europe.

This map portraying the 13th century circa. 1225 is another later example of Osijek's location in the larger continental framework, right around the time that the city was first mentioned in sources under it's current more familiar version name. (I'm sure there was early beers being brewed back then also)

..and here's a few more rare views from the 1880's to 1905 of the first horse-drawn trams that started operating in Osijek in 1884, even before in Zagreb and actually the very first trams in the Croatian crown lands (aka Triune Kingdom, an autonomous kingdom of the Croatian entities within the dual Austro-Hungarian state ruled by the House of Habsburg), and the first trams within even this whole region of Central Europe, pretty well all trams in the world were horse-drawn at the time btw...

...twenty years after the unification of the upper town and lower town sections Osijek was declared a Free Royal City in the year 1809, so since then there were annual commemorative shindigs at the Gradski Vrt/City Garden Park...

...interestingly there were even curtains on the trams in the 1890's, now that's classy, (probably so you don't accidentally get mud or camelshit on your pants and shoes on the way to the bingo hall)...

...and a few more rare views from the 1890's to 1908. (it was fairly common during the Habsburg era in Croatia and some other countries to have the local language version name written as well as the German or Hungarian version name on postcards/maps). Below scenes during a downtown open market day, waiting for the tram and some guys standing around waiting for the drinking emporiums to open so they can wet their whistle and put a chill on their liver, probably then some Osječko beer, Absinthe or Croatian Pelinkovac shots at the Ouija board table before the fun begins. (that's the way they used to roll back then)


Every year Osječka Brewery, the oldest brewery in Croatia, honor their loyal brewer fans with the highest manifestation in this area of our beautiful country - ''Days of the first Croatian beer''.

Visitors from the 22nd to 26th September 2010. on the left bank of the Drava are welcomed by a large tent with plenty of Osijek brewery great fun, dance, traditional cuisine and of course, Osijek's favorite beer.

Source and Fotogallery:  (Foto: Daniel Antunović, Igor Košćak)

Tramvaj Party

An amusing Osječko beer fan made video.

Since already on the topic of Osijek, here is "Slow City Osijek": a cool and interesting timelapse video featuring the city of Osijek.

SlowCity - Osijek - Timelapse from Romulic & Stojcic on Vimeo.

Featured post

And The Croatian City To Be A European Capital of Culture In 2020 Will Be...(Drum Roll).....Rijeka

Yep, I know it's still 2 years away and I already covered this topic last year when it was announced, but I added a few extra ima...