Old Kyiv Breweries

Old Kyiv Breweries

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Project Release Date 23.05.2024

A Journey through Kyiv's Brewing Culture: Discovering Historic Breweries with Varvar Brew

On the occasion of Kyiv Day, we have partnered with Varvar Brew to pay tribute to the architectural beauty of our vibrant capital. Valuable buildings not only preserve the city's history but also shape its present, setting the mood, rhythm, and image. This image is diverse and rich (almost like a Kyiv cake!), yet harmonious and sophisticated. Historicism, eclecticism, modernism, and constructivism intertwine on our streets, reflected in apartment buildings, mansions, universities, schools, factories, and plants. Today, we will focus on the latter because industrial architecture is an equally important part of the city's history. ❤️

For the Open Your City collaboration, we delved into the history of Kyiv brewing, and now we are excited to share our findings with you!

The origins of Kyiv beer

Brewing in Kyiv has a long history, dating back so far that it's unlikely anyone can pinpoint the exact date. However, we know for certain that beer has always been a favorite in Ukraine. References and recipes for beer drinks date back to the 12th and 13th centuries of Kyivan Rus, when most were called 'honey.' Beer was brewed from barley, millet, hops, and other ingredients, including bread and various berries. Each city had its own characteristic recipes.

Gradually, monasteries became major brewing centers, maintaining leadership in the field for quite some time and competing with public and private breweries of the era.

By the end of the 19th century, the brewing landscape underwent radical changes. In the 1860s, Kyiv had three private breweries. Within 15 years, this number doubled, and by the early 20th century, eight well-equipped breweries in Podil, Kurenivka, Demiivka, and modern-day Zhylianska Street were producing beer in Kyiv.

The most significant players in the market and the preserved architectural heritage of those times are described below. 🍻

Top-3 Old Kyiv Breweries

The Kyiv Brewery: an oldest brewing trendsetter

📍 41 Kyrylivska St.


Photo of 1896-1897

  • Founded: 1872 рік
  • Founders: Mykola Khryakov, Tallinn merchant Karl Weise, Swedish merchants Gabriel and Friedrich Jönni.

The Kyiv Brewery quickly emerged as one of the first and largest beer production facilities in the city. It commenced operations in November 1873 and boasted most modern equipment procured from the Skoda plant in the Czech city of Pilsen. Additionally, the company dug its own well on the premises to utilize spring water instead of tap water for brewing beer.

Interestingly, it was here that light beer production commenced on an industrial scale. Initially, sales left much to be desired as Kyiv residents were more accustomed to the sweetish dark beer of local varieties. The new "light" beer earned the nickname "Czech," but within a few years, it surged in popularity. Its high quality quickly won over consumers not only in Kyiv but also in neighboring provinces. As demand soared, production volumes grew, reaching 600 thousand buckets* of beer per year by the end of the century. The brewery also expanded its workforce, employing up to 150 workers.

* 1 beer bucket = 12l = 20 bottles


Beer's label, early 20th centurry

What other varieties were produced at the brewery?

Styles: porters, Munich dark, English ales, Rus meads

Titles: "Czech", "Export", "Bavarian", "March", "Pilsen" and "Extra-Pilsen", "Munich", "Porter".


The company's branded bar, Steubergalle, operated in Kyiv and was located on Khreshchatyk Street. All the new products and specialty drinks could only be tasted there.

When the soviets came to power, the company was nationalized and renamed Beer Factory No.2. After 1944, the entire beer variety was reduced to Zhyhulivske, although several other varieties appeared over time.

At the same time, the brewery was actively developing in the 1960s. A grain elevator appeared opposite the brewery, connected to the main facilities by an underground tunnel beneath Kyrylivska Street.


Labels of the Kyiv Brewery: the one on the left is from the Soviet era, while the two square ones on the right are from the time of independence.

Since independence, the brewery has also started producing premium beer, such as "Parove" or "Hostynnyi Dvir." However, the company later closed down. The last batch was brewed in 2014.



Modern, drone view

The main building of 1873 and the administrative building facing the street have been preserved to this day. Other buildings on the plant's territory were erected in the 1960s, during the period of modernization.

  • Architect: Volodymyr Nikolaev (his debut work in Kyiv)
  • Style: historicism
  • Condition: in need of careful restoration, no protected status
  • The main building on the map

The author of the 1870s project, Volodymyr Nikolaev, described it as follows: "'Up to four and a half million bricks were laid in one summer, and if there are few artistic features to be found in this work, it was a good school in technical terms.'" What were these “technical aspects"? It turns out that due to the active groundwater in this place, it was not possible to build icehouses (which served as refrigerators during that time) for a long time. This was the problem that Nikolayev managed to solve.

The Richerts' most beautiful brewery

📍 35 Kyrylivska St.


Photo of the late 20th century

  • Founded: 1892, on the basis of an existing brewery
  • Founder: Mykhailo Richert

In the 1860s, another brewery existed in the vicinity of the aforementioned Kyiv Brewery, owned by a retired staff captain named Psyolo. Some buildings from that era still stand on the site today. In the late 1870s, Mykhailo Richert acquired the site and promptly commissioned Volodymyr Nikolaiev to design a reconstruction project for the existing brewery. The founding date of the Richert brewery is considered to be the commencement of construction work, which occurred in 1892.

The affluent Richert family owned multiple similar enterprises. Mykhailo's father, Wilhelm Richert, a German colonist from the Volyn province, established a brewery on Syretska Street in Kyiv. Subsequently, ownership passed to his other son, Yakiv. During Soviet times, the Kyiv Champagne Factory was established on the premises of this brewery.

But let's get back to Mykhailo. Alongside the family's brewing ventures, he also possessed a brick factory, making him one of Kyiv's foremost brick producers. Among his notable accomplishments was the establishment of the Kyiv Yacht Club.

Despite the brewery's production being surpassed by its neighbor, it maintained its own following of enthusiasts. By 1914, the company annually produced approximately 300 thousand buckets of beer and employed a hundred people.


Workers at the Richert factory. Take a look at the worker on the right :)

Mykhailo apparently decided not to experiment with beer varieties and borrowed the proven solutions of his colleagues: the brewery produced Bavarian, Munich, and Czech beer.

In 1916, the company went bankrupt, unable to withstand the effects of Prohibition imposed during the First World War. During the Soviet era, the building was used as an experimental malt extract plant.



Modern photo, drone view

  • Architect: Volodymyr Nikolaev, Volodymyr Kazantsev
  • Years of construction:1892-1895, 1908-1909
  • Style: historicism, modernism
  • Condition: abandoned, in need of restoration. Currently, there is a revitalization project that does not include the preservation of all the valuable buildings of the plant.
  • Protected status: the modern building is an architectural landmark.
  • The building on the map

In 1892-95, a three-story building of a new brewery was built. It was designed according to the "latest American system" and equipped with steam engines and even electric motors. At the same time, a 40-meter chimney for a new Hoffmann-type furnace was built on the premises.


The chimney on the territory was built during the modernization of the brewery according to the project of Nikolaiev. Today, this chimney is the oldest factory chimney in the city.

In 1908-1909, under the leadership of M. Kazansky, the brewery underwent another modernization: new volumes of the malt house and the Art Nouveau drying tower appeared, which we can see from Kyrylivska Street. This part of the brewery is one of the best examples of 19th-century industrial buildings in Kyiv.

By the way, take a look at another photo...


... and try to find common and distinctive features. This is the building of the Zeman Brewery in Lutsk, also constructed in 1908.

The imperial court's supplier? Karl Schultz Brewery

📍 8 Holosiivskyi Ave


The brewery on the letterhead of the early 20th century

  • Founded: 1899, on the basis of an existing brewery
  • Founder: Karl Schultz

The Schultz family also chose to modernize an existing brewery. Which, by the way, had been located in Demiivka since the 1810s. In 1865, a German named Heinrich Schultz rented the small enterprise and later opened a modernized production facility. In 1881, Heinrich died, and his wife, Amalia, managed the production for some time.

Then one of his sons, Karl Schultz, inherited the brewery and his name is mentioned in all official documents. Thanks to Karl, the brewery was significantly modernized. By the beginning of the twentieth century, its equipment was on par with that of the Podillia brewery: two steam engines were installed, electric lighting was implemented, and the brewery had its own water supply from artesian wells.

All of these improvements inevitably affected the quality and popularity of Demiivka's foamy beer. The brewery produced a variety of dark beers, including the popular Black Sweet among Kyivites, as well as Munich beer. It boasted numerous outlets in Kyiv and, according to rumors, even attained the honorary status of supplier to the imperial court. However, it has yet to be confirmed whether this is true."



What was brewed at the brewery?

Among the titles were: Munich Dark, Black Sweet, March (a dark sweet beer), Czech Light, and Cabinet.

However, Schultz's success did not last long: during the First World War, his property was confiscated by the state, and the Schultzes themselves, as representatives of an enemy state, were evicted from Kyiv.

In Soviet times, the brewery was renamed Kyiv Brewery No.1. For almost a century, it continued to operate as originally intended.

Following independence, production continued for a period and actively experimented with new recipes. Many new names were added to the assortment, such as Schultz, Scythian, Kozatske, Demiivske, and even a special strong beer brewed according to a Dutch recipe commissioned by Van Pur.


The first row on the left is Soviet-era labels. The next two are labels from the time of independence.

In 2000, the company was acquired by Sarmat beer brand, with plans initially to reconstruct production. However, this idea was deemed impractical due to the challenging terrain. The last batch of beer was brewed at the plant in 2003.



Modern photo

  • Architect: unknown
  • Years of construction: late 1890s-1900s
  • Style: historicism, neorenaissance
  • Condition: abandoned, requiring restoration after attempted dismantling
  • Protected status: recently discovered cultural heritage site
  • Building on the map

Unfortunately, no information about the architect of the industrial buildings has been preserved. It can be assumed that the architect could have been Nikolaev, who worked on the construction of the neighboring warehouses, but there is no documentary evidence for this.

Some of the production buildings, as well as the brewery's administrative building, have survived to this day. The administrative building was constructed in 1906 in the Neo-Renaissance style as a residential building for the brewery's employees and the Schultzes. However, after being incorporated into the brewery complex, it changed its function.

This is the diverse and rich brewing life that was going on in Kyiv at the turn of the century! The brick witnesses of these stories are now waiting for quality restoration and a return to life in the urban space. Our common task is to preserve them for future generations so that this page of industrial history does not disappear from the streets of our city.

The traditions of Kyiv brewing are gradually being restored, albeit not in the form of large-scale factories, but through craft breweries. Especially for the Day of Kyiv, Varvar Brew has created a limited edition holiday beer – the City Cake imperial stout. Come and try this special Kyiv dark brew, especially since part of the sales will be used to support the Renovation Map.

We are inspired by the Varvar team and grateful for their contribution to the preservation of valuable architecture – not only in words but also in deeds ❤️. You could also support us - here is how.