Some of Royal Unibrew's strategically most important brands stem from Aarhus in central Jutland. Ceres Bryggerierne produces, among others, the strong beer products which have made Ceres the largest brand for imported beers in Italy. The malt drink Vitamalt, which is a major brand in the Caribbean and Africa, is also produced in Aarhus. And, of course, the popular Royal series originally stems from the brewery in Aarhus. Today, Royal Export is also brewed at Ceres' sister breweries, Albani and Faxe. Concurrently with its international success and with the conception of the popular Royal series, Ceres Bryggerierne maintains a solid and long-standing regional position.
Began as one of seven Aarhus breweries
The company began as a purely local enterprise in 1856 when the new brewery took up competition against the six breweries in Aarhus. This seventh brewery was named after the Roman fertility goddess Ceres. The brewery was situated “outside the Western Gate of Aarhus”, and has been there every since, although it is now considered centrally located in modern Aarhus.
Ceres was founded by a grocer and vendor of distilled spirits, M.C. Lottrup, and the chemists, N.S. Aagaard and Knud Redelien. After a year, the chemists withdrew from the consortium. The next “king” of the brewery was Lottrup's son-in-law, L. Christian Meulengracht. He was internationally-oriented and understood that development required investment. In the following 30 years, he was responsible for one expansion after the other. Ceres became a modern brewery with a reputation that reached far beyond the limits of Aarhus.
Supplier to the Court – and the East Jutlanders
The year 1898 marked a new era: Meulengracht sold Ceres to the newly-founded Østjyske Bryggerier, which comprised three other Jutland breweries and a common malt house. In 1914, Ceres was designated “Purveyor to the Royal Danish Court”. This was an excellent marketing feature for the Aarhus brewery for many years to come. Another marketing success, the name of TOP, was launched in 1953 as the hallmark of Ceres lager. TOP is still the preferred beer of Eastern Jutlanders.
The era of large-scale production
In 1956, Østjyske Bryggerier changed its name to Ceres Bryggerierne. Nine years later, the Group was expanded to include Vendia, a brewery from Hjørring in northern Jutland, as well as a soft drink plant and a sales office in Copenhagen.
This was followed by major consolidation. From 1993, production and other functions have been centralised in Aarhus, where an award-winning new brewhouse produces up to 6,000 hectolitres of beer, 24-hours a day. In 1976, Ceres Bryggerierne A/S merged with two other Jutland breweries, Thor Bryggerierne in Randers and the Aalborg brewery Urban (closed in 1986), under the name Jyske Bryggerier. The merger was undertaken in recognition of the increasing competition in the industry in the areas of production and sales. The same considerations were at the root of the even larger merger with Faxe Bryggeri 13 years later. This resulted in the formation of Denmark's next largest brewery enterprise, the Danish Brewery Group, now Royal Unibrew.