A. Le Coq

1921 ‒ A. Le Coq in the Republic of Estonia


In the independent Republic of Estonia, Tartu brewery of A. Le Coq Ltd. started operating again in 1921. In 1926, A. Le Coq Ltd. bought the trademark of the Gambrinus brewery (founded in 1863) which operated on Emajõe Street in Tartu.

In the same year, Estonian beer manufacturers entered into a mutual agreement of distribution zones. The established trust divided the sales zones as follows: A. Le Coq Ltd. got Southern Estonia and Saku Brewery got Northern Estonia. Most small breweries were turned into distributors of the aforementioned two large companies. The trust agreement expired in 1933 and A. Le Coq beer was once again sold all over Estonia.

Big demand for the Tartu beer in the capital led to the opening of a modern Tallinn division in 1938. In addition to the bottling of beer, this was where more than half of popular A. Le Coq soft drinks were produced.

According to the secret protocol of the Nazi German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact from of August 1939, the two parties to the pact divided Poland, Bessarabia, the Baltic States and Finland between themselves. In the summer of 1940, Estonia was annexed by the Red Army and a new puppet government nationalized A. Le Coq and Livonia breweries, among others. Foreign citizens, including the last director of A. Le Coq, Englishman J. H. Sillem and German brewmaster H. Dietz soon left Estonia.

Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. Thousands of citizens of the Republic of Estonia were thereafter murdered or died in Soviet concentration camps, amongst them the former owners of Livonia, beer manufacturers Ants and Albert Silvere.

The Government of the United Kingdom compensated the English owners of A. Le Coq for the assets of the nationalized companies using the money obtained from selling the gold of the Republic of Estonia that had been frozen in the Bank of England in 1969.

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