Lost industries. Gulbene Brewery

In the 60s and 80s of the 20th century, Gulbene was an industrial center with factories of various industries: the 16th chamber of the production technical association “Alfa” (radio components, chips), the 4th chamber of the production company “Straume” (production of irons, coffee grinders), brewery, bakery, workshop of the production association “Daiļrade” (badges, badges, brooches), a combination of household services.

At the beginning of 2018, the Gulbene County Library received support from the State Cultural Capital Fund in the field of cultural heritage with the project “Lost Industries”. In order to identify the industrial heritage, meetings of former employees of the companies were organized and stories, documents and photos were collected. Summarizing the obtained materials, we offer an insight into the pictures and stories about the experience of these times.

From ancient history

The construction of Vecgulbene brewery was started in 1811. S. Wolf's brewery "Alt-Schwanenburg Bierbrauerei" operated in Vecgulbene manor, which ceased its operation at the beginning of the First World War. At the end of the times of war and change, now during the time of Latvia's independence, when people returned to the usual rhythm of life, in 1922 the brewery resumed its operations. From 1923, it operated as a joint-stock company "Vecgulbene Brewery". Malt was made in it, and an alcohol brewery was operating at the same time. 14 employees, 2 trucks and 4 horse-drawn carriages were employed in the production.

The beer was filled in barrels and 0.5 l bottles, sold in the surrounding pubs and shops.

In 1939, Vecgulbene Brewery took 13th place in terms of beer produced in Latvia. The year 1940 came with a change - the brewery was taken over by a beer trust in Riga. During World War II, the brewery did not stop, only the leadership changed. At the end of the war, production facilities and roofs were badly damaged. In 1946, brewing was resumed. All work is done by hand.


In the mid-fifties, the brewery had become a stable company. In 1958, the LSSR National Economy Council decided to merge the Gulbene and Alūksne breweries - the Vidzeme Brewery was established. 20th century 60-70 Production volumes and assortment increased during the 1990s. In 1975, the Vidzeme Brewery was added to the association "Cēsu alus". Gulbene factory operates as a separate workshop with a full production process. New technologies were introduced, the number of employees has already reached 100 employees. In 1991, the brewery was privatized - regaining its name "Vecgulbene Brewery".

Insight into the Soviet press

During the Soviet era, products were mostly produced more than planned, for example, in the 20th century. At the end of the 50s - in the production of lemonade, the quarterly task was completed by 115% 10 days ahead of schedule! There have also been various problems - someone "looked too deep into the bottle", the equipment is outdated and does not meet the technical requirements of the time, unsuitable conditions for storing beer, for sale - stored in warm rooms, shrunken. Compared to Alūksne or Cēsis beer, it is not so tasty, but it depends on the water quality.

20th century At the beginning of the 60's, the shops of Vidzeme brewery Gulbene and Alūksne competed in the socialist competition. New equipment was introduced, improved technologies - modern refrigeration equipment, repaired workshops and other types of reconstruction. It was planned to start production of raspberry and lingonberry lemonade (from juices), refreshing lemonade "Cream - Soda". A health drink and Riga and Moscow beers were produced.

In the 70's, a lot of attention was paid to the issue of quality and workmanship - how to increase productivity, raise professional skills, prepare qualified staff. Conditions were difficult in the mid-1970s, with construction in recent years to improve working conditions. It was also necessary to learn new skills to work with automatic line machines.














Reconstruction has already taken place in 1977, capacity has increased several times. However, there have been objections to the quality of the beer. The water contained iron - it was hard - and this in turn affected the quality of the beer.
Three artesian wells have survived to this day.

During the heyday - around 1982 - about 100 workers worked in the brewery.

In 1987, the production of beer was stopped - the premises were repaired and reconstructed. The commission of the National Standards Committee has acknowledged that it is not possible to produce good quality beer in this factory. It is planned to produce soft drinks - "Health", "Riga malt", to cook a mixture of lemonade coupas.

When the reconstruction was completed, six different soft drinks were launched - the drink “Lemon”, “Tarhūns”, “Pienenīte”, “Lemonade”, “Rīgas maltala drink”.
It is planned to produce 15 varieties of soft drinks in the future. In the company's store "Vidzeme" - for the sale of goods - the store must have 10 varieties of drinks, not older than 3 days, so that you can get drunk on the spot. To make full use of energy capacity, you have to work in two shifts.

In 1990, the workshop "Vidzeme" also produced canned chicken meat in half-liter jars, using "Dūnu" farm birds.


When the anti-alcohol campaign subsided, the production of draft beer began around 1990, as the equipment was preserved.

Gulbene Brewery was closed in 2009 due to the difficult financial situation in the country.








Proper brewing and brewing, brewing and fermentation are important in the brewing process. The malting plant produces malt in about 12 days. In two weeks, it is sugared and puts in a brewery, where beer must is made. The wort then enters the fermenter, where the hops are added. Depending on the variety of beer ferment at different times. After fermentation, the filtered product enters the filling plant, where it is bottled.

The former employee says: “There was a large oak tub - 500 liters. The boiler had a 600 liter filtration boiler. The inlet boiler was smaller. Grind the malt themselves. Then - to the inlet boiler. We burned the stoves ourselves with firewood. Then pumped to the basement - tubs, where beer is fermented. The beer was then pumped into measuring cups.

If the temperature in the fermenter was too high, the quality of the beer fell too fast. The higher the amount of sugar, the more it needs to be grown. The distillery had aluminum baths - each with a warmth - written on the variety and date. ”



What positions were in the brewery? Former employees remember - freezers, chopper, cooker, must taker, fillers, label gluer, operator at the washing machine, operator at the empty container, rejecter of full bottles… Expedition. Loaders. Chiefs of each workshop, chief of the expedition, basement, laboratory. In the office, too - who wrote the bills, the economist, the accountants .. and the director!









Childhood in the bruise

The daughter of the former employee says: “When my parents came to work in the brewery, the work took two shifts. There was no kindergarten. It was good that the parents could work shifts - one night shift, the other - during the day.

The most delicious was the brewed beer wort - it was so sweet! We little ones were allowed to drink it! How delicious it was!

The children could also work - put bottles on the tape. The most horrible job - to look at the empty bottles that came from the wash - whether it was clean - What was inside - papers, cigarettes, rats ... All day long to sit and watch the bottles… After filling, through the same box full bottles had to look.

Bruce's children - like their own republic. There was no street influence, the yard was around, there was something to do… There were big piles of bottles in the yard. There we built headquarters - in a different place every week.

There were Christmas trees in the red corner, Salavecis came. I had learned the poem, but the boy next door left and read it. My mother said that I had cried like that - she said that she was not going to Salaveča because my verse had been stolen.



I remember when we first went with our parents to Riga - to the circus. My sister and I couldn't wait all night - I approached my mother, opened her eyes - mother, will we go soon ?! ”

Brūža employees remember that they went on a lot of excursions - to Central Asia, Czechoslovakia, Armenia, Lithuania, Estonia. They have also been in Kiev, Chisinau, Klaipeda, Kaliningrad. They have also traveled together to theater performances and the Song Festival. October was food industry day with balls. There was also a men's choir in Bruce. Guest artists went to all the festivities.








Bruges horse

There was also a special horse in the beer brewery - Bujāns. The horse not only drank wine, but also pulled cigarettes out of his pockets for the men ... The men made a bucket of lemonade for Bujan - and he also drank it. The children lived with a horse, braided. They have driven the containers with horses, processed the gardens. Bujan was a wartime horse and lived a long time.

The story of a bag of sugar

A former employee says: “A brewery made lemonade. A sugar wagon arrived, which had to be unloaded in the evening, otherwise a terrible fine was imposed on the brewer. Break or break - must be carried all night. The warehouse manager counted each bag brought. Sugar - in those days, it was a value given only on vouchers. The warehouse manager asks me - where did you put the bag? No bag! Let's scandalize, scandalize… I'm driving back along Kalpaka Street (then - the Red Army) - I'm watching - such an old man is pulling a bag of sugar! Knapi can pull. I tell my old man it's my bag! He doesn't give up, but I take it away. That coincidence would have taken longer, he would have dragged on. ”

Brewery in May 2018