Documents dated 16 June 1492
Let’s take a trip back to the Salzburg of this time. According to Copernicus the world is no longer flat; it is in fact a spinning globe and, as a result, America is discovered.
This is the world as it stood when the ‘Bräuhaus an der Gstätten’ was first mentioned in written record on 16 June 1492. The “Prewhaws” is located in the heart of Salzburg’s Old Town, at the spot where the Haus der Natur is now situated.
The name ‘Stiegl’ only appears a little later. It refers to a small set of steps situated next to the brew house. At the “Haus Bey der Stiegen”, brewing water is fetched from the Almkanal, which supplies the city with fresh water.
The old business operations of the brewery and of course the guesthouse linked to it, make for a very simple sequence of events. The brewer brews his beer, slaughters his own animals and accommodates strangers who eat and drink his products. The citizens also drop by in the evening for a drink or to take their beer home in pitchers and tankards.
Salzburg around 1492
Salzburg around 1460 (Michael Wolgemut)
For centuries there have been twelve private breweries in the city of Salzburg.
In the city and region of Salzburg, there are over 100 brewers working in the field of beer-making. Transport issues, short storage life and small brewing coppers are the main reasons for this multitude of breweries.
The brewing copper at the Stiegl Brewery has capacity for 17 buckets, just less than 1,000 litres. Despite this, the “Pierprew” of 1664 allows for 1800 buckets of beer, corresponding to around 100,000 litres - for the 17th century, this is a considerable amount. Stiegl is therefore the highest-capacity brewery among the twelve situated in the city.
At this time there is an excess of drinking, or, better said, boozing. Huge amounts of beer and ruinous brandy flow down the thirsty throats of Salzburg’s residents. Even the restrictive government brewery regulations of the time and an avalanche in the Gstättenviertel district can’t halt the road to success.
A new custom also becomes part of enjoying this malt-and-hops beverage – something that lends a particular charm and gives the cosy taverns even more stability: tobacco. With this people begin to stuff their pipes and smoke, drink and chat.
Guilded image of the brewer from the second half of the 18th century.
The custom among beer-brewing families to keep their children’s marriages exclusively within this professional circle is also followed at the Stiegl Brewery. In 1765, Johann Ambros Elixhauser marries into the Kiener family. His family has also long been part of Salzburg’s brewing circles. Elixhauser is a wealthy, successful businessman and the Stiegl Brewery flourishes more than ever.
That is not as easy as it may sound: incredibly, believe it or not, there are 94 breweries located in the city and region of Salzburg. In the city, that’s twelve breweries with associated businesses, in addition to no fewer than 42 innkeepers courting the patrons’ favour. A profuse gastronomic range, considering the fact that Salzburg has only 16,000 inhabitants.
Even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has sampled the dark, tangy Stiegl beer around this time. From an entry in his sister, Nannerl’s diary, we know about his visit to Salzburg’s Stieglbräu. In August 1780 Nannerl writes: “[...] um 3 uhr wir drey zum stieglbreü keglscheiben zu schauen.” (“At 3 o’clock we go to the Stieglbräu to watch the skittles.”) You can be sure that a few sips of a good beer accompanied this outing!
It was also around this time (circa 1808) that the Stiegl Brewery’s coat of arms was developed – its heraldic imagery includes symbols for determination and loyalty.
Johann Ambros Elixhauser
The Stieglkeller in Salzburg 1910 (Theodor Ethofer)
Declarations of war, government change, gun smoke and occupation by Napoleon’s army plague Salzburg in the early 19thcentury. It is only when Salzburg becomes part of Austria in 1816 that a quieter day dawns and the former residence city of the prince-archbishops becomes a sleepy provincial town. It is a time in which the legendary grass grows upon the city streets.
Stiegl’s brewery owner is not alarmed by this awkward situation; he modernises the brew house and in 1820 purchases a storage cellar beneath Salzburg’s fortress. The beer is served in the garden above. This was where the legendary restaurant “Stieglkeller” came into being, which remains on this very spot to this day.
Salzburg is just awakening from its long slumber when Josef Schreiner takes over the brewery. A new regime, more accommodation options and the city’s connection to the international railway network ensure plenty of thirsty consumers.
The Stiegl Brewery expands too, moving out of the narrow streets of the city to the spacious district of Maxglan. In 1863, Schreiner opens a highly modern business for the time.
Thanks to this clever decision, Stiegl is spared the fate of six traditional breweries in Salzburg, which, in this time of economic collapse, are forced to close their doors. Yet the Stiegl Brewery flourishes and becomes one of the biggest breweries in the country, second only to the Hofbräu in Kaltenhausen!
The old brewery inn in the Gstättengasse continues to run as a popular hostelry. Hearty dishes are well-liked and there are no menus – instead the waitress talks about “what there is”: roast beef, schnitzel, goulash, home-made liver and blood sausage and a whole lot of beer to boot. In summer, the guest rooms are full to the brim and the cooks, waiters and guests relocate to the airy terrace of the Stieglkeller restaurant.
Fire at the Stiegl Brewery in December 1875 (Georg Pezolt)
Thirteen years after the opening, a devastating fire destroys Josef Schreiner’s life’s work. On 29 December 1875, a fire breaks out in a faulty kiln.
“The most beautiful brewing establishment in Salzburg was yesterday engulfed by flames within just a few hours,” reports the Salzburger Zeitung the following day. The owner of Stiegl was said to have “gazed at the brightly flaring flames with tears in his eyes”.
The incident has a huge effect on the agile brewer, but nonetheless he begins rebuilding immediately. Just a few months later brewing recommences to make around 20,000 hl per year - even more than before the fire! Josef Schreiner, however, does not recover from the blow. He passes away on 22 July 1880.
Employees at the Stiegl Brewery taken 23 April 1896
Seven years later, farmer and grain trader Franz Huemer has had enough of this mismanagement. He takes over at the Stiegl Brewery and puts his nephew Heinrich Kiener in charge as director. Up to the present day a member of the Kiener family still manages the private brewery.
Under their leadership, Stiegl beer can once again be enjoyed by the people of Salzburg. Thoughts then begin to turn to the future: two steam engines, a Sudhaus (brew house), a large storage cellar, an automatic barrel and bottling facility and even its own small power station are acquired. Thus, as a consequence Stiegl outperforms the big competition brewery in Kaltenhausen for the first time in the first year of World War 1 (1914/15).
Stiegl shareholders (from left to right) Josef Eder, Franz Huemer, Heinrich Kiener and Ferdinand Krachsberger in 1909.
Franz Huemer, 1909
Franz Huemer with Heinrich Kiener in 1909.
Heinrich Kiener in 1909
Menu from the Stiegl-Keller (Otto Pflanzl in picture) from 1938.
You may have heard of the man who turned beer into silver from Johann Nestroy’s comedy “Der Talisman”. “Bierversilberer” (literally: ‘beer silverer’) which is what the brewery’s field staff were known as. They sold beer, thus transforming it into silver.
In 1898, a very special representative of this profession entered Stiegl’s services: the young Otto Pflanzl (1865 to 1943), a gifted composer of poems, Gstanzln (Austrian folk songs) and funny stories in the Salzburg dialect.
Former Stiegl chief Heinrich Kiener soon recognises the talent of his “Bierversilberer”, who keeps company with figures such as Peter Rosegger and Anton Bruckner. Heinrich Kiener therefore arranges performances for Pflanzl to begin performing as a dialect poet and humorist. By 1935, six volumes of poetry have been published. Pflanzl also composes humorous poetry about Stiegl.
Stiegl-Goldbräu brand registration 1912
It was the 10th December 1912 when representatives from the Stiegl Brewery set off for the Chamber of Trade and Industry for the Duchy of Salzburg. The goal: to get the new beer name “Goldbräu” entered into the brand register. This name is derived from the many awards and gold medals given to the “Stiegl-Märzenbier”.
1912 was also the year when the Stiegl Brewery became the biggest brewery in Salzburg, thanks to the introduction of new technologies and the preservation of high product quality. Back then, three beer varieties – pale Märzenbier, pale double malt beer (special beer) and dark lager beer were brewed. Additionally Bockbier, popular at any time of year (Christmas, Easter, May and Pfingstbock and a Festbock for special occasions).
The brand “Stiegl-Goldbräu” now guarantees quality at the highest level for more than one hundred years, right up to the present day.
Never again does Salzburg reach such beer-blessed times as in the two decades prior to the First World War.
In 1910, there are no fewer than 174 gastronomy businesses registered in the city. Between 1893 and 1914, consumption is roughly over 200 litres per head. Salzburg is clearly well ahead of other cities and countries, given that the Austrian average is only 100 to 105 litres.
Beer production also reaches gigantic proportions during the last few years of peacetime. In 1908, over 470,000 hl of beer are produced in the region of Salzburg – an amount that will only be exceeded again in the 1960s. 1914 brings a record of 130,000 hl for the Stiegl Brewery. Thereafter everything changes...
Original Stiegl wooden barrels
Stiegl-Goldbräu bottle with swing top from 1940 – 1949
The war years also bring a severe slump for Stiegl. It is only in the 1920s that business begins to pick up again. In 1924, one of every two beers consumed in Salzburg is a Stiegl.
Lean times also follow the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The invasion of German troops in 1938 provided a short term, illusionary boom to the beer industry.
The war caused a drop in production due to a lack of raw materials leading to a loss of quality. In 1944/45, the Kiener family manufactures only 40,000 hl of a thin brew. Confiscations and bomb attacks take their toll on the brewery.
Van and deliveryman
Stiegl-Goldbräu beer mat for US occupation troops from 1945.
67,000 litres of a 2.5 degree light beer: that’s all Stiegl is able to offer the citizens of Salzburg in the first year of peacetime, due to the dire supply situation. It is only two years later that a halfway proper beer can be brewed thanks to better raw ingredients.
The situation is somewhat better for the American soldiers in Salzburg as their access to sufficient raw ingredients from the USA means that they are able to raise a glass of a “high-grade” beer. The phrase “Brewed and bottled at the Stiegl Brewery” can be read on the labels and beer mats. However, the signing of the Austrian Independence Treaty in 1955 ultimately seals the fate of this “Ami-Bier” (‘American beer’).
Shortly before the death of “beer patriarch” Heinrich Kiener I in 1950, both Vollbier (with 12 degree wort content) and even special beer (with 14 degree wort content) are back on the market. Additionally, under Heinrich Kiener II, the brewery is back on course for success. The Stiegl brewery goes on to produce 100,000 hectolitres of beer between 1950 and 1960. In 1954, Kiener brings Coca-Cola to Salzburg by founding the “Salzburger Getränkeindustrie” (Salzburg Beverages Industry). In its first year alone, the company produces and sells 100,000 crates of this caffeinated soft drink.
Heinrich Kiener II.
1st Stiegl Art of Brewing edition
In 1990, the 80-year-old Heinrich Kiener passes away after 51 years at the brewery. The company – by this time greatly steeped in tradition - is subsequently taken over by Dr Heinrich Dieter Kiener, another member of the family. His wife, Mag. Alessandra Kiener, is also involved in the business.
Dr Kiener brings with him a breath of fresh air and new ideas to the brewery. As early as 1991, he enlarges the fermentation and storage cellars and in 1995 opens the Stiegl Brauwelt, Europe’s biggest beer exhibition and an attractive venue for a number of highly regarded concerts, plays and cabaret performances. A new loading facility and heat recovery facility are also built. In 2004, Stiegl restores the railway track system. This means that even more raw ingredients and beer can now be transported by the environmentally-friendly Stiegl Bahn.
Under Dr Kiener’s leadership, the Stiegl Vertriebsunternehmen GSG (Beverages & Service Association) is established with new branches in 1992.
Outdoor view of the Stiegl Brewery – entrance to the Stiegl Brauwelt from 2005
Stiegl-Goldbräu bottle (0.5l) from 2013
In 2005, the most modern brew house in Europe is opened in Salzburg. Using 18 tons of heavy tanks, Stiegl brews in a traditional fashion in strict accordance with the purity law of 1516. “Our modern facility supports the tradition fostered here and gets the best out of our beers,” explains Stiegl’s master brewer DI Ernst Schreiner.
Brewing remains a hand craft in the new brew house too. “The highest level of brewing art” is the result of sophisticated ingredients and a 12-degree original wort content. This successful recipe has made Stiegl the biggest private brewery in Austria today.
Stiegl has great plans for the future. Our customers will continue to receive what they expect from us: first-class beer, top quality, enjoyment and flavour all as a result of a traditional brewing art!
Detailed view of the new brew house from 2005
The most modern brew house in Europe, 2005
On 16 December 2009, the one-million hectolitre mark was reached for the first time.
On 16 December 2009, at precisely 10:12, a marvellous thing happened: the millionth hectolitre of beer was brewed at the family-run Stiegl Brewery in Salzburg - for the first time in its 500-year-old history. That’s equivalent to 200 million 0.5 litre Stiegl beers.
“People are becoming increasingly quality-conscious,” notes Stiegl chief Dr Heinrich Dieter Kiener. The current figures only serve to reinforce this statement: since December 2008, Stiegl-Goldbräu remains the unbeaten number one in the food trade*.
“As a private entrepreneur, I can – and want to – take the liberty to do exactly what I think is right and important, namely commit to our customers’ quality requirements and brew the ‘beer of the Austrians’ from real Austrian raw ingredients,” the Stiegl owner affirms.
Alessandra and Heinrich Dieter Kiener
Stiegl Estate in Wildshut
Home-grown production has always played an important role at Stiegl.
The Stiegl Estate in Wildshut on the Upper Austrian border has allowed the Stiegl Brewery to establish its own organic agriculture and cultivate ancient grains such as spelt, black oats and emmer wheat.
As of late, special malt has been produced on site from a globally unique combination of malting and roasting. It is used for house beer specialities such as the Wildshuter Sortenspiel and other house beers.
Details at: www.biergut.at
The Stiegl Brewery is renowned for quality at the highest level. Beer specialities, events, service and much more embrace this motto and are underlined as basic principles.
Slowly but surely, another principle unique to Stiegl has emerged over the last few decades: its sheer variety. In addition to the well-known Stiegl beers available throughout the year, specialities such as house beers and vintage beers have also been brewed.
Interest in specialities has grown steadily, giving rise to the idea of making our passion available to the wider public.
These were the first steps to developing our Stiegl tasting cellar.
Since May 2013 it has been possible, in fitting surroundings, to admire and sample beer specialities from around the world. Directly adjacent to this tasting room, a barrel-ageing cellar was also created for house beer specialities.
The development and high level of beer-brewing is inextricably linked with gourmet pleasure.
Details at: www.stiegl.at/tasting-cellar
Owner family Kiener is pleased with the successful celebration.
Beer was brewed at the private brewery in Salzburg even before Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa and Copernicus published his writings on the heliocentric system. Certainly reason enough to raise one’s glass. We celebrated our 525th anniversary together with thousands of guests in 2017.
525 years of Stiegl beer – a good reason to celebrate and reason enough for brewery owners Heinrich Dieter and Alessandra Kiener to dedicate a whole weekend to the anniversary celebrations and open the door to the brewery. The celebrations began with a festive procession through Salzburg old town to the Maxglan district and the Stiegl brewery. “An historic date of this nature is for us an important occasion to take time out and toast the things we have in common. It is certainly time well-spent”, explains Alessandra Kiener.