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Kamenitza, Bulgaria’s Dark Secret

If you are a beer drinker, then next time you visit Bulgaria, down a glass of Bulgaria’s oldest beer brand Kamenitza. It is not available anywhere else in the world and appeals to both lager and bitter drinkers alike. It is the official sponsor of the Bulgarian national football team and has its own website dedicated to the club. Its main competitor on the domestic market is Bulgaria’s biggest selling beer brand, the Stara Zagora beer Zagorka owned by Dutch brewer Heineken. The brand was recently re-packaged and re-launched in a chic, green bottle, which was more of a unique and trendy perpendicular design. Kamenitza’s dark colour gives it more of a masculine appearance; its taste is substantial as well as having a natural and forceful kick.


A Little History

Kamenitza was the first commercial brewery in Bulgaria. It was founded in 1876 by two Swiss businessmen, Rudolf Frick and Friedrich Sulzer. Over the next few years it grew into a large modern concern and took on a new partner, Swiss brewing expert, Christian August Bomanti. In 1882, production was moved to the Kamenitza area near Plovdiv, where it is still based today and the businessmen used the areas name to christen their new dark beer brand. Kamenitza broke new ground at the time, because the Bulgarians preferred to drink lager and Kamenitza was the country’s first dark beer. Their success went from strength to strength and in by the 1890’s the company had won a variety of prestigious awards at some leading international exhibitions such as the one held in Chicago and Brussels.
When Communist control took over after the Second World War, the company was nationalized and became part of the state-owned Alcoholic Beverages but was transferred to Vinprom in 1952. When the Communist regime fell, the brand remained with Vinprom until 1995 when it wassold to the Belgian brewing giant InBev along with some other Bulgarian beers namely Astika, Burgasko Pivo and later Plevensko Pivo. The new owners invested around 43 million euro over an eight year period to improve the brands and increase sales. By 2005 Kamenitza was selling 800,000 hectoliters and was at the time the country’s best selling beer brand. In 2006, Kamenitza celebrated its 125th anniversary as Bulgaria’s most popular beer.

The Taste

Kamenitza is a refreshing, easy to drink natural pilsner of outstanding quality that incorporates over a century of skillful brewing traditions. Its distinguished taste comes from the crystal-clear water, top quality malted barley and the premium hops used in the brewing process. Its alcohol volume is 4.4 % and it is a renowned thirst-quencher. It has a dark ochre hue and a somewhat bitter, sharp taste. Its bouquet is similar to a blend of honey and roasted grains; on the tongue it has a noticeable silky, slippery feel. Kamenitza is also produced in non-alcoholic form as well as light, dark, white and extra.

The Parent

Kamenitza is wholly owned by Belgian brewer InBev, which was formed from the merger of Interbrew and the Brazilian brewer Ambev and is now a subsidiary business of Anheuser-Busch InBev. It may seem like another American giant has snapped up yet another of Europe’s prestigious old brands, but in this case it was InBev that purchased Anheuser-Busch for 52 billion dollars in 2008. InBev has international undertakings in over 30 countries and its products are sold in over 130. Its market capital in 2006 was 30.6 billion euro with net profits of around 3.2 billion based on beer sales of 13.3 billion euro.

Anheuser-Busch InBev is a major conglomerate; not only is it the world’s top brewer, it also ranks as one of the top five global consumer products companies, with an impressive collection of over 200 brands, which include Beck’s, Budweiser and Stella Artois.

The company aims to be the best beer manufacturer in the world and employs 120,000 employees worldwide and is one of the largest employers in Bulgaria with a staff of 750.