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Bulgarian Beer and its History

Bulgarian beer has a history dating back to the 19th century, when it was introduced by foreigner's before the liberation of Bulgaria. Until then Bulgaria was mainly a rakia and wine country, and beer was unknown.

The earliest commercial Brewery was established in Plovdiv in 1876, by Swiss Germans Rudolf Frick and Friedrich Sulzer. Later a larger and modern factory opened with the help of another Swiss expert Christian August Bomanti in 1882 in the Kamenitza area of the city. The Kamenitza brewery being the successor still continues today.

Other breweries around Varna date back to 1884. Czech brewer Franz Frantisek Milde established the Shumensko beer factory in 1882, and Jiri Prosk and brothers founded the Vitosha brewery in Sofia in 1884.
In the late 19th and 20th century, beer quickly grew more popular amongst Bulgarian's and beer houses began to open in the larger cities. By the end of WW1 there were 18 breweries throughout Bulgaria, including Gorna Oryahovitsa, Pleven, Stara Zagora and Veliko Tarnovo.

After Bulgaria became an Eastern bloc country after WW2 and breweries were nationalised. However after the fall of communism in 1989 the Beer market in Bulgaria has became dominated by some of the largest multinational beer companies, who have privatised local breweries to therefore produce local and imported brands.
Nowadays there are 13 breweries in Bulgaria and the domestic beer market produces about 582 million litres per year. For a small country Bulgaria has a large number of beer brands, and most of the Breweries are owned by foreign companies including Inbev, Heineken, and Carlsberg. The choice of beer is growing and imports and exports are expanding. Bulgaria exports mainly to neighbouring countries Macedonia, Serbia and Romania.

Inbev brands - Kamentitza, Astika, Slavena, Plevenska, Burgasko
Heinekin brands -Zagorka, Ariana, Stolichno
Carlsberg brands -Pirinsko, Pivo, ShumenskoIn Bulgarian shops when purchasing beer you will notice the large PET bottle is very popular alongside the glass bottle, this trend is mainly confined to standard and economy lagers.

Bulgarian Brown Beer

If you fancy a change to the popular lager beer in Bulgaria, why not try the Brown beers,known as‘Тъмно' which means dark in Bulgarian. They are available in bars and shops throughout winter at this time of year, with all of the leading brands producing their own style of winter brown beer. They are a traditional warming beer in the winter.

With a dark, rich, strong taste that is lightly hopped with a malty aroma and a relatively sweet taste can be a refreshing change from the lager in Bulgaria. Similar to other European style Bock beers they are seasonal and are only produced from October to March.
The Zagorka brewery produces the only traditional Bock beer in Bulgaria called Stolichno with alcohol strength of 6.5 %.
Other popular brands of Bulgaria beer also produce similar style full body beers ranging in colour, strength and taste but are worth giving a try on a cold winter's day.