The history of so many of Europe’s breweries is measured in centuries instead of mere decades or years. Such is the case for the Gösser Brewery, whose story starts in the year 1020 when the Countess Adula of Leoben granted land for the founding of a convent of Benedictine nuns along the Mur River along the southern edge of the town. The nuns quickly began brewing, which may seem strange to us now but was very common at the time. The nunnery became the economic and cultural center of the Göss/Leoben area for the next several centuries, until it was closed in 1782.
However, brewing on the convent’s grounds would begin again. 1860 became the dawn of the modern Gösser Brewery when Max Kober acquired some of the old buildings and revived the brewing operations (the year 1860 is still emblazoned on all bottles of Gösser beer). When Kober took the company public in 1893, he provided the foundation for Gösser to eventually become one of Austria’s most important and prominent breweries.
By the turn of the century the brewery was growing significantly, and when WWI came around, Gösser was contracted to brew for the army and was able to expand through the purchase of other smaller breweries. WWII proved somewhat more difficult of a time; in addition to the terrible and stifling political climate associated with Nazi occupation, the brewery itself was partially destroyed. Despite the setbacks, the power of the brand allowed the brewery to weather the storm and continue their growth in the post-war years.
Gösser is now one of Austria’s most prominent breweries, and is the most popular brand in their home state of Styria. They’ve also been a long-time sponsor of the Austrian Ski Federation (competitive skiing is an extremely big sport in Austria). Additionally, Gösser operates ten popular “Gösser Bräu” locations throughout Austria where you can enjoy the beer, great food, and even stay in their hotel. If you read German, you can check out their website at www.goesser.at
for more information. And, if you’re ever in the area of Leoben, stop by the brewery for a few brews and a tour of the Göss Brewing Museum. Prost!