Friday 4th October 2013
Koszalin is a city in the north of Poland. It's about 12 kms south from the Baltic Sea coast. It is very old, having first being mentioned in 1108 and receiving its charter in 1266. Its population was majority German until the mid twentieth century. It became part of the Dukedom of Brandenburg in 1648. Brandenburg was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia on its formation in 1701.
The city was occupied by French forces in 1807 during the Napoleonic Wars. However the situation changed shortly after when the Napoleonic Empire collapsed. It then reverted to Prussia until 1871 when the State of Germany was founded. All through these years its name was Cöslin. During the Weimar Republic of Germany during the 1920s the name was changed to Köslin. This was part of a germanification of names during the 20s and 30s when Coblenz became Koblenz.
In 1945 Pomerania, the province in which it was located, passed to Poland and the largely German, Lutheran Protestant population left to be replaced by Eastern Poles displaced when their homeland was occupied by the Soviet Union. This remains the situation today.
Industrial brewing commenced in 1874 with the Brauerei Cöslin. Between the wars its annual production was 30,000 hectolitres per annum. It ceased production on the conclusion of hostilities in 1945 and the premises were occupied by Soviet forces. It is probable that the equipment was taken to the Soviet Union as was the case with most of the endemic industrial and transportation infrastructure in occupied Eastern European countries. However, it was re-equipped in 1960 and was likely to have been part-owned by the state.
On the fall of communism in 1990 the brewery was privatised and was known by the name of Brok. It is not entirely clear if this was the pre-1990 name or not. Eventually it came under the control of the Danish Brewery Group who in February 2009, announced its closure.
At that point the Van Pur Company bought it and has spent some money on improvements. They own four other Polish breweries and the Koszalin operation produces 650,000 hectolitres per annum including a considerable amount under contract for supermarkets, etc. However, despite this there could be one brew from them that interests lovers of beer, and that is Sambor Niefiltrowany, an unfiltered beer.
In 2008, under the previous regime, a micro-brewery was established in the cellars of the brewery at the rear of the building. This is under independent management from the main brewery. I think this is one of the most impressive brew pubs I have visited, please look at the photographs. After entering and passing the cloakroom, I climbed a few steps and entered the main room; more like a medieval hall, I thought. There was a very long bar along the right side of the room; the gleaming copper brewery was at the far end.
I took a stool at a high table on the left and perused the menu. It had five draught beers on offer. These were:
Kowal Jasne (Light Lager)
Kowal Cienne (Brown Ale)
Kowal Pszeniczne (Wheat Beer)
Kowal Koźlak (Bock Beer)
Kowal Miodowe (Honey Beer)
I asked for the Bock and was told it was only available during winter. Later that evening, whilst on the platform of Koszalin station waiting for a train that was 50 minutes late, I could have advised them that winter had arrived already!
Just for once, I had a bit of time on my hands and consumed three half litres and this is what I thought of them: Brown Ale I liked a lot, actually it was black and had sufficient bitterness to satisfy me. Honey Beer was just acceptable to my palate. I'm sure there was some wheat malt in it and it had a rather strange dry taste yet there was no bitterness. I couldn't taste the honey, but I never can in these beers. I finished with the Light Lager which I thought was very good being refreshing with only a slight bitterness yet well balanced.
I took a look around the pub and it seemed that a lot of its business came from functions and parties and this evening was no exception as it went from being fairly quiet to quite noisy in just an hour and a half. Several large table arrangements were filling up and more waiters appeared. Obviously needing relief I visited the facilities that were in a corridor to another room. The passage outside of them was done out like an old street with just a couple of old electric lanterns for illumination. I took a quick look at the other room and it was very high-ceilinged and laid out for another party. I must say it all looked very impressive, see photograph.
In conclusion, this was an excellent visit and well worth interrupting my journey from Gdansk to Szczecin.
Minibrowar Kowal, ul Grunwaldzke 1a, Koszalin. Tel: 943 460 955
Open: Monday 15.00-20.00; Tuesday-Thursday 14.00-23.00;
Friday-Saturday 14.00-24.00; Sunday 12.00-20.00
There is an intermittent Inter City train service from Szczecin to Gdansk and VV.
There's also a very slow local train service to Gdansk.
From the station, use the subway outside the entrance. Continue as it leads up a ramp to a pedestrian street. As it bears right, continue. At the main road go left past some fast food shops and after you will see some steps on the left. Descend to Grunwaldzke and you will find the pub on the left, underneath the brewery.