At the mention of a museum, our immediate thoughts are usually miles away from beer, its production and consumption. However, the Beer Museum at Čelarevo tickles our imagination and stirs our curiosity with its very name, as it is different from anything that we are used to finding in such places. It takes us back through time and tells us an interesting story interwoven with a multitude of culture trivia, growing into something valuable and inevitable in the realm of cultural-historical and tourist potential of Vojvodina and Serbia.
In vicinity of the European pearl – the Danube, and the adorable town of Bačka Palanka, we come upon the settlement Čelarevo that became famous by its brewery and the Beer Museum. When the brewery was bought by the famous Danish company Carlsberg, it became apparent that its founder, J. C. Jacobsen, and the founder of the Čelarevo brewery, Lazar Dunđerski, shared a number of traits. They were both rich and venerable landowners and industrials of the 19th century, eager to achieve new milestones and investing their resources in development of the society, the local community and beer production. Respecting the rich history of the Brewery and its founder, Carlsberg opened the Beer Museum.
Lazar Dunđerski owned several castles and summer cottages in Vojvodina, and they are still around, inviting us to walk through their gates and sail through the past, feeling the spirit of the ancient times. One part of museum exhibit presents the portraits of Lazar Dunđerski, his family and their life in the castle. The multitude of paintings and letters from that period, when the brewery was situated in Čib village which was established in the 13th century, are the most authentic evidence on the former way of producing beer, the manners of that time and the impressions of their world and life.
The story of the Dunđerski family is forever marked by the tragedy of death of Lazar’s daughter Lenka, who was the muse to the poet Laza Kostić, leading him to create the most beautiful love poems of Serbian Romanticism and Serbian literature as a whole. These facts introduce additional shades to the storyline of Beer Museum at Čelarevo, transcending its basic domain.
The Beer Museum includes more than 450 exhibited specimens. Some of them tell an interesting story on the origins of beer making, the ingredients, the preparation and bottling process. The included rarities surpass in value some of the highest-quality museum exhibits both in Serbia and beyond. Many of them are unique; many used to be technological innovations at their time, and some were constructed by Lazar Dunđerski in person.
Part of the Museum presents the ambient of old kafana pubs, with old designs of beer bottles, paper labels, pints, refrigerators and iceboxes. The atmosphere of the distant 19th century was evoked in such an authentic manner that the visitors get the impression of actually stepping into the distant past as guests of unusual and interesting life circumstances.
Due to the extraordinary similarity between the two great names of beer industry, Lazar Dunđerski and J. C. Jacobsen, one section of the museum is dedicated to the founder of Carlsberg Breweries, who was also a passionate beer aficionado and philanthropist. This Renaissance man started the production of his first lager beer in his own basement. In 1847, at the age of 36, he established his first commercial brewery at Copenhagen. As he was devoted to science, he opened the first laboratory for industrial research in 1875, and then performed an even more revolutionary task – he shared his knowledge of beer brewing with other brewers. The yeast produced at Carlsberg Brewery was distributed to all interested parties, as Jacobsen believed that everyone should be able to enjoy good beer, and he did not fear competition as his own beer was of premium quality.
The story of the village Čib and the original brewery takes us through time gradually, so we reach the modern days when the brewery in Čelarevo is known for one of the leading brands in this field. Part of the Museum presents the most important beer brand of Čelarevo Brewery, Lav Pivo, its bottles that changed through time as they modernized, as well as the numerous awards for high quality. The souvenir giftshop within the Museum offers some of the interesting beer-related memorabilia of famous brands such as Carlsberg, Tuborg, Somersby and Lav Pivo.
The Beer Museum is increasingly popular among tourists and the number of visits increases every day. After the journey through time and hearing the exceptional story, the visitors have an opportunity to taste some of the highest-quality beers known in Serbia and beyond. Altogether, this may be an interesting and valuable experience for all lovers of the past, culture, history, as well as some fine beer.