After several successful export years, Royal Unibrew acquired its first Baltic company in 1999, AB Vilniaus Tauras, the only brewery in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The name AB Vilniaus Tauras dates back to 1992, but the history of the company goes back to the mid-1800s.
Increasing success – and the disaster of war
In 1860, a wealthy businessman in Vilnius, Vilhelmas Šopenas, built a brewery on the edge of the town near a hill called Tauras. It was a large and modern brewery according to the standards of the day. At the end of the century, it was bought by another wealthy man, M. Epsteinas, who formed a limited company and expanded production capacity. This was the birth in 1897 of the Šopen brewery.
Until World War I, Šopen supplied more than half of all the brewery products in Vilnius. It had become Lithuania's largest brewery, with exports to Russia, Poland and Belarus. However, World War I brought the production of beer in Lithuania to a standstill. Production at Šopen did not really pick up again until 1921, and then it was only 20% of what they could produce before the war. Progress was slow, but by the end of the 1940s, Šopen had ousted all its competitors in Vilnius.
When Lithuania came under Soviet control, the brewery was nationalised, and several smaller companies, which produced lemonade, were merged with the brewery. In 1944, the brewery changed its name to the beer and mineral water company Tauras which was shortened to the Tauras Brewery the following year.
In the 1950s and part of the 1960s, the company underwent major mechanical changes, although it was still publicly-owned. In 1990, its name changed to “Vilnius' public beer and soft drink company Tauras” and was under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture. In addition to the production of beer, the brewery also began to tap mineral water from springs in the region.
A new era
In 1992, it was decided to register the brewery as the limited company AB Vilniaus Tauras, the company's present name. It was modernised, especially the brewhouse, fermenting tanks, filtration area and bottlery.
After Royal Unibrew's take over of Vilniaus Tauras in 1999, production has increased to the maximum 204,000 hectolitres annually. Royal Unibrew's incorporation of Kanapilis Brewery provided the needed extra capacity for the Group's Lithuanian beer production.