History

Uprisings, flotations, escape and brave innovations - there is a lot to tell about the brewery. 
Here is an overview of the most important events.

The latest events can be found in the news section.

1837 - 1867

1837: The foundation stone was laid: On 18th September, 1837, in the so-called “Century of the Beer Brewer”, master miller Heinrich Plank from Rannersdorf purchased the Klosterneuburg monastery in order to establish a brewery. The 8,000m2 site, which contains a dance hall, a beer garden and living and utility spaces as well as the brewery, was completed and opened in the following year.                                                                                                                                                             

At this time, the Viennese suburb of Ottakring consisted of around 150 houses, of which 102 had so-called “Bar Permission”.

1850: Heinrich Plank was 30,000 Guilders in debt and sold the brewery to Messrs Ignaz and Jacob Kuffner, from Břeclav. After the takeover in 1850, the Jewish cousins reorganised the brewery in Ottakring into a large enterprise, and succeeded in drastically increasing the beer production volume. They also became known as a socially involved Viennese entrepreneurial family, and went down in history as "philanthropists". On 6th May, 1878, Kaiser Franz Joseph I. granted Ignaz Kuffner a peerage and a hereditary title for his outstanding services to Ottakring.

1867: Ignaz Kuffner improved the working conditions for his workforce in the brewery by setting up a company kitchen with an eating house. This provided affordable and good food for every employee. This and a variety of other social services were anything but commonplace for the end of the 19th century.

1882 - 1930

1882: Ignaz Edler von Kuffner died on 23rd March 1882 in Ottakring, and his son, Moritz Kuffner, inherited the property and continued the success story of the brewery. Not only was he a worthy successor as a brewer, he also was interested in philosophy, national economics and French as well as English literature. The experienced mountaineer and hobby astronomer particularly became known due to the establishment of his own observatory on the eastern slopes of the Gallitzinberg in 1886, which is now known as the Kuffner Observatory.

1891: Start of construction on the in-house brewing well, the “Ottakringer Tiefquell”, completed seven years later in 1898.

1892: Ottakring becomes the 16th district of the city of Vienna.

1905: Moritz von Kuffner converted the brewery into the “Ignaz Kuffner & Jacob Kuffner Corporation for Brewing, Spirits and Compressed Yeast Production Ottakring-Döbling” on the 22nd May, 1905. This way, he expanded the company and created an industrial empire with total share capital of about 10 million Crowns. Despite these developments, the brewery remained a family-run company.

1908: The Kiln Tower, now a landmark of the Ottakringer Brewery, was completed.

1918: The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Danube monarchy and the establishment of the first republic lead to instability in the Austrian economy. The sales markets of a great empire were decimated to the size of a much smaller Austria, with 6.4 million citizens. In order to regulate the brewing industry, the Austrian beer market was monitored by protection associations.

1930: The Austrian beer industry felt the full effects of the global recession at the beginning of the 1930s, which was triggered by the collapse of Wall Street in 1929. An increase in unemployment occurred, accompanied by a reduction in spending power. This development resulted in a sales decline of around 60%, specifically in the Ottakringer Brewery.

1933 - 1941

1933: Moritz Kuffner had already considered selling the brewery in 1933, particularly in view of the worrying developments in neighbouring Nazi Germany. His concerns were mirrored in the fact that parts of the brewery such as the windows and the entrance door were double-reinforced in order to provide protection from the spreading anti-Semitic attacks.

1938: Following the occupation of Austria by the German Reich in March 1938, the Jewish Kuffner family were confronted with selling the brewery as quickly as possible before they lost it without compensation due to further “Expropriation and Aryanisation”. As a result, Moritz von Kuffner sold the brewery to his friend Gustav Harmer, of the "Stockerau Compressed Yeast and Spirits Factory". The two contractual partners agreed to a purchase price of 14 million Shillings. Following the sale, the Kuffner family fled to Switzerland, where Moritz Kuffner died a short time later.

On the 27th July, 1938, the Brewery was renamed the “Ottakringer Brewery, Spirits and Compressed Yeast Factory Corporation, Vienna”.

1941: Due to the quality restrictions which arose during World War II, the use of whey was necessary by 1941. Whey provided caramel-like qualities in beer production, which were very similar to malt in smell and taste, allowing the latter to be saved. Whey beer replaced around 10% of conventional beer production during the raw materials shortage. From 1941 onwards, more and more molasses was also used to brew beer.

1945 - 1962

1945: After the end of the war, the brewery was temporarily managed by the Soviet occupying force until the Harmer family proved that they had legally purchased the brewery.                                 

Raoul Kuffner appealed to the U.S. Reparations, Deliveries and Restitution Division for the first time on 13th November, 1945. Robert and Gustav Harmer actively sought contact to patriarch Stephan Kuffner in the USA, and tried to obtain a final ruling before the passing of the restitution act. Historian Oliver Rathkolb determined the following in his report, Restitution Comparison - The Documentation of a Case, Vienna, 2000 among other things: In the overall evaluation it can be recorded that the Harmer family endeavoured to conclude the sale correctly under the framework conditions of the Nazi regime, both in 1938 and also after 1945.

At the same time, on 21st June, 1945 the “New Austria” newspaper reported that beer was available in Ottakring again. 

1949: The restitution case between the Harmer and Kuffner families ended with a compensation payment of around 7.5 million Shillings and 161,000 Dollars. In 2004, the Austrian Historian Commission concluded that the Aryanisation of Ottakringer was one of the few cases where the common interests of the parties had outweighed the ones of the National Socialist State. The Jewish Kuffner family and the Harmer family came to an amicable agreement regarding the sale of the brewery.

12-degree lager beer could once again be brewed. Previously, only “Dünnbier” (weak beer) could be produced due to a shortage of raw materials.

1962: The Wenckheim family took over the Ottakringer Brewery. Their investment emphasised and strengthened the character of the private family brewery.

1967 - 1989

1967: “Gold Fassl Spezial” launched on the market and was soon sold out!

1977: Harmer and Wenckheim made a landmark decision: The Ottakringer Brewery would leave the beer cartel. This meant that there was less territorial protection, and that restaurateurs had more freedom to seek out their beer suppliers.

1984: Engelbert Wenckheim became sole executive of the brewery.

1986: Ottakringer Brewery AG brought new shares to the stock market for the first time. Subsequently the company was listed in the Standard Market Auction (former C-segment) of the Vienna stock exchange – and developed extremely successfully.

1989: Ottakringer launches the elegant green “shoulder bottle” on the market. In the same year, Mag. Sigi Menz took over total responsibility for the sales department from business graduate Engelbert Wenckheim, who subsequently became a member of the supervisory board.

1990-2000

1991: The alcohol-free Ottakringer Null Komma Josef was launched on the market. Just one year after introduction, it was a market leader for its segment.

1997: Ottakringer once again proved its leading position in the Austrian beer market. The family-run company was the first Austrian brewery to introduce the “Drehkorken-Verschluss” (screw cap stopper) to the market – or to the 0.33l disposable bottle, to be more precise.

2000: Sigi Menz becomes the CEO of Ottakringer Brauerei, and Christiane Wenckheim, who was previously the marketing manager, became the second executive.

2003 - 2012

2003: The Ottakringer shop opens, directly on the brewery premises.

2005: Ottakringer amazes the specialists and enthusiasts with a new sealable cap, the “Blopp”.

2007: The “16er-Blech” was implemented. This name had been used in the vernacular for Ottakringer canned beer for quite some time: “16” for Ottakring, the 16th district of Vienna, and “blech” (sheet metal) for the can material.

2008: Ottakringer became the first Austrian brewery to receive the AMA quality label.

2009: The company shares were bought back from Dutch beer group Heineken, and Ottakringer was once again in Austrian hands. Mag. Sigi Menz became CEO of Ottakringer Drinks AG, and Christiane Wenckheim became the sole member of the management board of the Ottakringer Brewery. The same year the Ottarocker was launched for festivals. 

2012: The Ottakringer Brewery opens its doors to the city and is renovated and improved, from the in- and outside. 175 years on the new site is celebrated in the autumn, and the new Ottakringer Citrus Radler shandy replaces the Ottakringer Lemon Radler shandy. The brewery reveals a wide range of new products in its anniversary year. The fresh appearance is certainly the most noticeable, but not the only step with which the Viennese traditional brewery is making an impression. The legendary beer slide was also launched this year. 

2013-2014

2013: Start of Ottakringer Festival of Beer Culture! 10 Breweries, 9 weeks, 1 festival of brew culture. We present unique beer specialities for nine weeks together with nine guest breweries at the open-air site. Plus: A "beery" summer programme, which offers food and entertainment every day in the cultural summer location of the Ottakringer Brewery with free entry. 

2013: The Gold Fassl Zwickl has been an evergreen in the catering industry for years. Now the top Viennese brewery has developed a process which allows the high quality of the Zwickl to also be maintained in a bottle, and it is now available in 0.5l recyclable bottles.

2013: The Ottakringer Brewery participated in the “Sag’s am Mehrweg” campaign, an initiative from the Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism. Send your own label as a message in a bottle to a loved one and win a year's supply of Ottakringer! The winning message will be posted on the back label of all 0.5l recyclable bottles of Helles and Citrus Radler shandy.

2014: St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel, Schönbrunn Palace – these are some of Vienna’s biggest landmarks. With a new beer creation, the “Viennese Original”, the Ottakringer Brewery provides another landmark for Vienna and uses a recipe that is more than 100 years old, updated for today by our brewmaster. Nicholas Ofczarek acts as a celebrity testimonial for the “Viennese Original”. The beer sommelier training was also available for the first time in 2014. The training is aimed at gastronomy professionals who would like to continue their education, but also private beer enthusiasts who want to increase their practical knowledge of beer. 

2014: Handcrafting at Brauwerk – creative beers from the heart of Vienna. Brauwerk is Vienna’s new creative brewery, which is located on the premises of the Ottakringer Brewery but operates completely independent. The majority of attention will be placed on the manufacture of handcrafted delicacies. The brewery also serves as a location for education purposes in the form of brew seminars and beer training courses of all kinds. 

2015 - 2017

2015: More than 1,000 people find their way to the Festival of Beer Culture in the heart of Ottakring. A visitor record! They tasted the beers from a total of eleven breweries and the culinary highlights, and enjoyed the entertainment program provided. Also new: Wiener G’mischtes. A balanced, elegant beer composition with a fine hop aroma of the Helles that plays on the slightly malty, but not too sweet, notes of dark beer. The chestnut brown colour with copper-coloured reflections and the subtle aroma of bitter chocolate and honey make this beer creation unique and extremely “velvety” on the palate. The same year Matthias Ortner becomes CEO of the Ottakringer Brewery. 

2016: Ottakringer is voted the best brewery in Europe, and wins gold in the two most important categories of “Helles” and “Pils” in the European Beer Star, and silver for the “Dark beer” and “Porter”.

2017: Ottakringer Brewery celebrates 180 years. Gold Fassl Dunkles is awarded with the bronze medal at the European Beer Star. Moreover, four Ottakringer beers are presented with different medals at the Austrian Beer Challenge: Three gold medals for Ottakringer Helles, Wiener Original and Gold Falls Spezial, in addition to one bronze medal for Ottakringer BrauWerk’s Hausmarke 4 Porter.