The Engelhardt Brewery

The so-called “bottle tower,” today an apartment building, belonged previously to the Engelhardt Brewery. Built in 1929/30 according to the plans of Bruno Buch (1883–1938), the tower’s three-part, reinforced concrete frame, set in brick, served as a cool storage area and bottle-filling station for the brewery, as well as a warehouse and distribution site.


By the end of the 1880s, Stralau was home to the Schaarschuhsche and Fürstlich Reischachsche Brewery, which was acquired by Berlin’s Victoria Brewery in 1897. The Victoria Brewery merged in 1917 with Pankow’s Engelhardt Brewery, which had also been producing in Charlottenburg since 1910. One of the founders was Ernst Engelhardt, whose name the brewery carried for decades. In 1902, the business was purchased by Ignatz Nacher (1868–1939), who made Engelhardt into one of the most significant of the German breweries. Engelhardt Brewery became known especially for its malt beer. Engelhardt was also the first brewery to introduce the bottle deposit system.

The company acquired other breweries through 1917. In the 1920s, Engelhardt expanded beyond Berlin, modernizing, renovating, and widening its holdings. One of these new buildings in Stralau was the “bottle tower,” located near the Stralau Glassworks. In 1929, around 320 people worked at the Stralau location. Each day up to 300,000 bottles were filled in the so-called tower – the clinking of bottles could be heard from far away. Right at the start of the Nazi regime, the Jewish director general and majority shareholder Ignatz Nacher was forced to sell his stock and resign. The Dresdner Bank was the predominate beneficiary. Ignatz Nacher emigrated with his wife to Switzerland in 1939 and died the same year. During the Second World War, forced laborers were put to work in Stralau at Engelhardt.

In the GDR, the VEB (state-owned company) Engelhardt Brewery Stralau produced spirits, liquors, beer for export, and, from 1972, the alcohol-free “motorist’s beer” AUBI. For decades, the lit-up Engelhardt sign was a well-known landmark, brightly visible to passengers on Berlin’s Ringbahn (S-Bahn line encircling the city). In 1990, production stopped and the factory closed. The name “Engelhardt” nevertheless endured until recently. Today the old “bottle tower” has been converted into condominiums.

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