Restaurant & Brewery on Dunajská Street

“I have lived practically my entire life on Dunajská Street. This street has never been renamed under any regime. Dunajská has seen Andrew III, King of Hungary (who granted privileges to Bratislava in 1291 by Royal Charter), the Árpád dynasty, the Houses of Anjou and Saxe-Coburg, Habsburgs, Masaryk, Tiso, Beneš, Bolsheviks and has retained its name to this day. In the middle ages, the Danube flowed where now there is the street, therefore, named after the river, it must be called Dunajská.”

Július Satinský: Chlapci z Dunajskej ulice (Boys from Dunajská Street)

Generations of Bratislava locals will remember the street as Donau Gasse, though it was called Donau Neusidel in the middle ages. Dunajská has remained Dunajská at all times because of the Danube flowing down Bratislava from Vienna. One of its most renowned residents, the legendary Július Satinský, even wrote a book in memory of this street as cited above. Dunajská runs through the centre of Bratislava. A burgess brewery was located nearby, within a distance of one kilometer from castle grounds. The name of the brewery and that of the street clearly allude to the Danube and both date back to the 15th century. The Danube and the brewery were two certainties in Prešporok (the former Slovak name for Bratislava) as the early inhabitants of Bratislava may recall, either from direct experience or from the wealth of family lore, from fathers or grandfathers, who drooled over at the mere thought of the beer. We have tried to trace one of the two icons of brewing industry in Bratislava back some 200 years, and it is with regret that we have not found any physical traces left. You will hardly find any reference to the brewery, yet, as evidenced by preserved fragments, it is not true that only the Czechs can make beer.

The brewing of beer in Prešporok, today's Bratislava, has a history spanning many centuries. By the mid-15th century, “brewing licenses” (licenses to brew beer) were granted to eleven brewers in Zuckermandel (the former city quarter under Bratislava castle). In those times, beer was produced in small batches and consumed directly in breweries. However, this production offered little potential for expansion and therefore members of the municipal council made a concerted effort that led to the establishment of the first Bratislava brewery in 1477. It was located at the junction of today's Laurinská Street and Rybná brána. It was demolished in 1532 and its remnants were discovered during demolition works in 1947.

Beer consumption has always been heavy in Prešporok. Building works on the second brewery started in 1752. City officials awarded the contract for the construction of the grandly named brewery “Die Bürgerliche Brauerei” to builders Römisch and Hildebrandt. The city granted a long-term lease on the Burgess to the rich family of the burgher Michael Specht. Later, in 1880, the city sold the brewery to the Deutsches family. From the very start, the overall quality of the brewery could successfully compete with the quality of Bavarian breweries as the quality of the beer made in the Burgess was as good as the quality of Bavarian beer. The burgess brewery and its restaurant with a veranda overlooked Rybné square. Elza Greilich, a native from Pressburg, described the brewery in Pressburger Zeitung. According to her, it was a purely functional building with a modest façade and glass veranda covering the restaurant & brewery. However, the restaurant guests did not frequent the restaurant to marvel over its architecture; rather they came to find delight in its menu. The spirit of this place, its genius loci, was amazing. Vessels for soaking barley grains in water, drying and roasting kilns, all used to convert barley to malt, were stored in its church-like vaults. There were different containers for fermentation and storage, large tanks placed in deep underground cellars to ferment and age the beer. The brewery used a steam engine that had been in operation since 1868 to draw water from the Danube. At later stages, the brewery used city water. There was a cooper workshop for the manufacture of iron-hooped casks and barrels. Its façade was simple, there were two pilasters at the entry gate, the upper avant-corps held a simple triangular shield with a stucco relief portraying two children holding the coat-of-arms of the city of Pressburg. The inhabitants of Bratislava loved the brewery, not only for its high-quality beer and for convenient location close to the Danube riverbank, but also for its renowned restaurant & brewery serving delicious dishes. The restaurant served all sorts of culinary delights from almost every cuisine of the ten nationalities living in the city, which forms the unique and excellent cuisine of Pressburg. The nearby tram stop to Vienna made the location even more attractive. The Viennese took the tram to have a beer in the Pressburg or Pozsony of the day, a city that spoke three languages; Bratislava bohemians also met here. Often, the restaurant hosted editors from local daily press and magazines, poets and painters. Writers wrote their novels here. At that time, Jožo Nižnánsky wrote his multi-part novel published in the Slovak Politics journal, and perhaps, his popular Čachtická pani was also written in this brewery. Shortly after its 200th anniversary, the brewery was closed down. The last beer was produced in 1968. The brewery was demolished to make way for Most SNP (Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising); it was not predestined to continue pleasing beer lovers with its products.

Yet, in 2010, its ghost crouching down by the Cathedral's buttresses, or perhaps meditating on a bench in Ondrejský cintorín (St. Andrew's cemetery), restored its lost self-confidence and “guided” four beer lovers to do a good thing and open a new Burgess Brewery. Its second branch on Dunajská Street welcomes all guests. Dobrý deň, Guten Tag, Jó napot: we have always welcomed guests in Bratislava in these three languages – and we are happy to extend a warm “Good afternoon” as well.