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Pivovarna Union

Pivovarna Union d.d., Ljubljana
Pivovarniška ulica 2
1000 Ljubljana

Tel.: +386 (0) 1 471 72 17 (central switchboard)
Fax: +386 (0) 1 471 72 55

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The brewing industry in Ljubljana has a tradition dating back 400 years; the city archives contain a document showing that an innkeeper was paying a tax on beer as early as 1592.

When the UNION Brewery was founded, 7 small inn-breweries were operating in and around Ljubljana, demonstrating that even at that time there were a considerable number of beer lovers in Ljubljana, although people for the most part drank wines and spirits.

The UNION Brewer was founded in 1864 by Peter Kozler and his brother and sister, using money they inherited from their father. Kozler, a lawyer conscious of his Slovene roots, was the driving force behind the brewery right up to his death. The “Kozler Brothers’ Brewery” in Lower Siska in Ljubljana was a roaring success; by 1909, it had developed beyond the limits of a family company and was therefore transformed into a joint-stock company, with the Kozler family retaining a share, although the majority of the capital was of foreign origin. The Company was also renamed “UNION Brewery Joint-Stock Company, Ljubljana”.

The company operated in this form until the end of the second world war in 1945.

Significant dates in the history of the brewery up to 1945:
1864 - founding of Kozler Brothers’ Brewery
1914 - electrification of the brewery
1922 - construction of the malt-house at the corner of Celovska and Ruska streets
1925 - production exceeds 100,000 hectolitres of beer (116,150 hl)
1927 - modernisation of the furnace

The global economic crisis held back the brewery’s development; output of beer declined, but the company itself was not in danger. The brewery operated during the second world war, but production was lower due to a lack of raw materials and energy.

After the end of the war, UNION Brewery’s development accelerated. Technological development in particular has been very intensive since 1980, so that today the brewery is one of the most modern in Europe, indeed in the world. The entire production process is computer-controlled and monitored in accordance with the provisions of the ISO 9001 standards.

Significant dates in the history of the brewery since 1945:

1960 - production exceeds 147,618 hectolitres of beer
1965 - first beer exports to Italy
1967 - introduction of plastic crates for beer transport to replace wooden crates
1968 - first major modernisation of beer pasteurisation
1970 - production of 510,000 hectolitres of beer
1971 - introduction of EURO bottles (0.5 litre)
1978 - new bottling plant with a bottling-line capacity of 50,000 bottles per hour
1982 - introduction of fermenters
1986 - new, computer-controlled beer furnace
1987 - opening of the first brewing museum in Yugoslavia
1989 - UNI alcohol-free beer
1990 - production of 1,031,946 hectolitres of beer
1992 - new, additional fermenters
1993 - filling line for cans
1995 - new filling line for beer with a capacity of 60,000 bottles per hour
- introduction of new NRW bottles (0.5 litre) and NRW plastic crates
- new beer filtration
- new filling line for PET packaging
- modernisation of the administrative building
1996 - modernisation of the yeast plant
1998 - new shelving warehouse with a capacity of 10,000 palettes

Despite the constant modernisation of production, UNION Brewery retains a strong sense of tradition, of preserving generations of brewers and their care for beer quality.

One result of this sense of tradition is the brewing museum in the malt-house, a listed building. The exhibition area, covering 800 m2, brings together all the important brewing heritage, from the founding of the brewery in 1864 up to the present day. Hundreds of displays, including many unique items, testify to the development of brewing in Slovenia. The preserved old machines, bottles, barrels, tankards and labels form a rich cultural heritage seen by the more than 20,000 visitors who visit this museum, unique in this part of Europe, every year.

After 1980, when it first significantly expanded production capacity, UNION Brewery began to extend its product range. In addition to light and dark beer, it started producing low-alcohol beer. The knowledge of the experts in the development department was demonstrated in 1989, when the brewery was the only one in Yugoslavia which succeeded in producing its own alcohol-free beer using its own skills and recipe.

After 1992, when sales of beer in Europe stagnated, UNION Brewery began to introduce supplementary product ranges:

  • a range of refreshing carbonated soft drinks
  • a range of refreshing still soft drinks
  • a range of spring waters.

Today, UNION Brewery’s product range covers the following products and products groups:

  • light beers: UNION beer, 12 %; UNION PILS, 11.6 %; PREMIUM beer, 12.6 %
  • dark beer: CRNI BARON (Black Baron), 14 %
  • mixes: UNION RADLER, a mix of beer and lemonade (50/50)
  • alcohol-free beer: UNI - Alcohol-Free
  • refreshing carbonated soft drinks: SOLA cola, SOLA orange
  • refreshing still soft drinks: SOLA Ice Tea with peach, American cranberry and lemon flavours, SOLA Ice Tea Light, peach flavour, ZA-LEMON, natural drinking water with added lemon
  • natural drinking water - ZALA - natural drinking water.

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UNION Brewery is also the only producer of baking yeast in Slovenia. We supply 3,800 tonnes of this product, essential for baking bread, to bakeries and households in Slovenia.

Continuous expansion of additional product ranges, together with constant modernisation of the basic beer product ranges, is the development strategy of UNION Brewery for the early years of the new millennium, while also representing a guarantee that the company will continue in the new borderless Europe successfully on the path began over 130 years ago by the brewers of the Kozler Brothers’ Brewery.

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