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Bavaria celebrated its 120 years of history

6 April 2009

Proud of its role in the development of the country and for remaining in the hearts of Colombians

  • The celebration commemorates the contribution and commitment of the company to Colombian progress and economy.
  • It's been twelve decades making friends next to unforgettable brands and memories.
  • 120 years of impact in the country due to its quality and innovation, its national reach, its reputation as an employer, and its commitment to sustainable development.

• Facing the future, Bavaria announces the sowing of the first 2.100 hectares of barley in the country, a project with a huge impact on job creation in the countryside.

Bogotá, April 6th 2009. Bavaria, S. A., leading beverages company in Colombia, celebrated its 120th anniversary last Saturday, April 4th. This main national brewer has brought 120 years of history, throughout which millions of Colombians have made friends alongside their favourite drink.
On April 4th of the year 1889, the Kopp y Castello  Society - made up of Leo Sigfried Kopp and by brothers Santiago and Carlos Arturo Castello - acquired a lot in the heart of Bogotá for the construction of a beer brewery. The deal, for a value of $1.200 pesos gold of the time, was registered on the Third Registrar of the city, and this date has been officially recognized as that of Bavaria's founding and, at the same time, as the start of a long history making friends and of the impact on the entrepreneurial development of the country.

120 years of accompanying the progress of Colombia

120 years of corporate life are in and of themselves a demonstration of the commitment that this company has had with Colombia. Bavaria is not only one of the oldest companies in the country but also one of the most significance due to its history. Since its creation in 1889, as a pioneer of national industry which still remains active, it has had a positive influence in the development and in the economy. It has been linked with Colombia's most important events, to the most genuine traditions of its people, always holding out its generous and committed hand, with a high sense of social responsibility.

According to Karl Lippert, president of Bavaria, "This company is the synthesis of the best of our country, of the best of Colombia, of those visionaries who amidst difficulties decided to engage in a business and set it on a path of growth to this very day, of those who captured the essence of high quality, authentic beer and left us with a legacy that has lasted throughout all this time. To them, as forgers of progress, we pay our tribute, just like we do to those that currently have the privilege of belonging to this company, to generate wealth, and to support well being and progress in this country. With their work and devotion, they have built the Bavaria we currently know, a company committed to honouring and cherishing a name and a tradition for future generations."

120 years of making friends

Today, unforgettable parts of this story are brought forth once again, chapters which have been engraved in the minds and hearts of Colombians with phrases and unforgettable campaigns such as "Put a beer on your table," and "If a Colombian got to the moon, Bavaria beer would go there as well," among many others. Brands such as La Pola, Germania, El Cabrito, Bohemia, Pilsener, Tres Emperadores, Don Quijote, Doppel, Lager Baviera, Bock Bavaria, Oro de Munich, Club 60, Skol, Maltina, Pilsener, Bavaria, Nevada and Vita Malta, to name just a few, also remind us that during these 120 years, Bavaria has been next to Colombians, accompanying them in their best moments.

This, as well as the close connection between the company's brand portfolio with the history of Colombia, and its undeniable role revolving around friendship and special occasions (in which it has always been, and will remain present), is why Bavaria decided to brand this celebration as "120 years of making friends." According to Lippert, "We are proud of having produced the drink of moderation and friendship par excellence in Colombia for 120 years".

120 years of impact on the country

It is hard to find a single Colombian who cannot testify to the history of Bavaria and of its constant leadership, which has taken it to be a company of world relevance and of being up to the standard of the best brewers on the planet.

After the acquisition of the main breweries from Panama, Ecuador and Peru, Bavaria's undeniable leadership made it an essential player in the South American beer market. And a few years later, the main competitors of the world industry fought to merge with it. Finally, the Anglo-South African group SABMiller acquired this crown jewel, which is one of the largest contributors to the global profits of the multinational, and is an integral part of its growth mechanism.

These 120 years are also a reflection of the impressive transformation of a small entrepreneurial bet born at the turn of a new century - amidst a sceptic and conservative society - into the world class company we all know today, whose success has been supported by factors such as its quality and innovation, its national reach, its reputation as an employer and its commitment with sustainable development.

"We are conscious that Bavaria, more than a company, is an economic system. For example, for each direct employment in Bavaria, 37.2 jobs are created in the total economy of the country. We have grown alongside Colombia" Lippert stated.

Quality and Innovation

History is already showing signs of how, since its beginning, quality became the pillar for the growth of Bavaria. From the hiring of the most renowned master brewers (many brought directly from Germany), to the gaining of the first exclusive patent (for production of beer at temperatures below those of the environment), the budding beer industry was totally revolutionized at the end of the XIX century. As ads from the time state, by developing a beer "not only nice but healthy and hygienic," the Bavaria brand achieved the distinction of best products during the First National Exposition of 1899.

Today, Bavaria's commitment to quality is absolute, which is reflected in its World Class Manufacturing philosophy - a concept which gathers all the processes to produce certified quality products in Bavaria. The WCM defines modern principles and techniques for management, production and organized work which, when applied as a whole, improve the quality of the products. As a result of this philosophy, brands such as Club Colombia have earned important awards in the world and are a showcase of Colombian quality abroad.

Another expression of quality is innovation - a factor for success. Continuous brand and product launches throughout its history such as malts, juices, soft drinks, extracts and syrups, among others, say much about Bavaria's original intention for offering variety to its consumers. Even the development of its own packaging line - consolidated through the foundation of the Fenicia glass factory in 1896 - gave Bavaria the category of leading company in innovation for its time. Currently, Bavaria has a unique and renewable line of packages, 100% environmental friendly, for which 130 thousand tonnes of glass and 34 thousand of polyethylene have been recycled since March 2007 - equivalent to close to 550 million bottles and 19 million cases respectively - in what is considered one of the most important recycling projects in the world carried out by SABMiller.

National Reach

The reach of Bavaria's products has also been a factor for success during these twelve decades. Bavaria went from having a first distribution "fleet" made up of "noble field mules, capable of reaching the highest places of the city" according to words from Leo Kopp himself, all the way to having today's modern distribution fleet equipped with close to 900 trucks (for which the company has invested close to 100 million dollars over the past three years) in order to conform with SABMiller's global standards.

Reputation as an employer

Bavaria has also been synonymous with excellence in working conditions. Even back in 1939 El Tiempo gave credence to the conditions the company offered to its close to one thousand workers: "It's one thousand families who have a high standard of life, thanks to the magnificent salaries and to all the social benefits they enjoy, and which are unique in the country." Today Bavaria is still recognized as one of the best companies to work for, and its close to 4,400 direct employees enjoy a Collective Work Pact with all the guarantees and comforts.

Commitment with sustainable development

Finally, Bavaria's commitment to the development of the country is also remembered and acknowledged in this new anniversary. In fact, it was in 1894 when Bavaria developed what is considered its first social responsibility campaign: amidst a strong epidemic of typhus, it gave away ice to the sick who asked for it. Today, Bavaria's support to the country goes beyond philanthropy and is framed within the modern concept of sustainable development. Entrepreneurial programs such as Destapa Futuro - which has delivered seed capital for over seven billion pesos to entrepreneurs committed to job generation in vulnerable populations -as well as projects and agreements with renowned entities within the framework of corporate ethics, environmental preservation, the respect of human rights, clean production, rational use of water, and most especially, the eradication of alcohol consumption by minors, they are part of the responsibilities which Bavaria has taken upon itself in recent years in order to assume a leading role as an exemplary corporate citizen.

120 years facing the future

The celebration of Bavaria's 120 years also includes the formal announcement of the start of the second phase of its cereal project, which seeks to recapture the growing of beer barley in the country. The experimental and exploratory phase has already been conducted, and it ended in 2008 with positive results in which close to 20 varieties and advanced lines of barley were sown in the cundiboyacense high plains. Based on the results obtained and as a goal for this year, the sowing of 2.100 hectares in lands of Boyacá and Cundinamarca, has begun with the help of 26 growers. They will receive, as a loan, the seed and fertilizer to start the crops in the first semester of the year, along with the technical advice which will allow them to meet the necessary quality conditions for the production process.

Another interesting result found during the first phase of the crops is that the Colombian origin variety, the "Andean", of six spring rows, showed good specifications as barley and will be malted in a micro-plant. Bavaria will continue to experiment with the 200 lines and advanced varieties, seeking to develop a type of barley which can be successfully grown in warm climates.
This project will become an important option for the Colombian agricultural sector as an attractive crop rotation option and will also be an opportunity for Bavaria to substitute part of its imports and have a positive impact on the country's employment figures. According to Fernando Jaramillo, Corporate Affairs Vice-president, "With these 2,100 hectares we are already having a significant impact on the employment of the region. However, the big bet is that, if this harvest is successful, we can go on to the third phase of the project, sowing an additional 30,000 hectares over the next three years and can thus generate close to 150,000 jobs".
A Brief Timeline of Bavaria

The Kopp and Castello Society acquired a plot of land to build a beer factory. The transaction is registered in Bogota's Third Registration Office on April 4th 1889, date considered as the foundation of Bavaria.

In 1890 the name of the factory is established as Bavaria Kopp's Deutche Bierbrauerie.

Bavaria registers the imperial German eagle as brand of the factory. The insignia is identified with all of the corporate elements of the company, such as signs, letterheads and the labels of its products.
On June first the first Bavaria brands reach the market: Pilsener Bier, Salvatore Bier, Bock Bier, Doppel-Stout y Lager.

The Pilsener beer, which would later evolve into the Bavaria brand, hits the market. The company needed 10,000 loads of barley for the production of its beers this year.

Bavaria acquires the first factory from its competitors, the Tivoli brothers, and produces the first popular brand of the same name, as well as different types of soft drinks.

To reduce the high costs of imported bottles, Leo Kopp starts the process of vertical integration with the creation of Fenicia, a glass factory. As a result, Bavaria  obtains a competitive advantage over competitors in the beer industry at the end of the XIX century.

In the First National Exposition, Bavaria's beers were catalogued as the best products and received important awards.
The Bavaria, Bock Negra, Lager Oscura, Doppel Stout, Culmbancher, también llamada Tigre, Higiénica and Tres Emperadores brands are registered with the Ministry of Finance.

In November 1903, Bavaria acquires coal mines in Zipacón to ensure fuel for its boilers. Also this year, the production of beer restarts at the Tívoli factory.

The Cervecería Antioqueña launches the Pilsen beer, the oldest brand Bavaria still has in the market, in Medellin. Along with it are also born Maltosa and Clara.

In December 1911, Bavaria's first popular brand is born, La Pola - created to celebrate the first centenary of the Shout of Independence and in honour of Policarpa Salavarrieta. Its name becomes the generic for beer in our country.

The Cervecería Barranquilla y Bolívar launches Aguila beer into the market, a brand which would eventually become a part of the portfolio of Bavaria. But for several years, it was a tough competitor for the Bavaria and Costeña beers. Today, Águila is Bavaria's leading beer and it's the brand which refreshes the passion and joy of Colombians.

Mr. Leo Kopp Koppel, co-founder of Bavaria, dies in the dawn of September 15th 1927, in La Esperanza, Cundinamarca, where he used to spend his vacations, "plunging Bavaria and society in general into a deep sadness." Mister Kopp is buried in the Central Cemetery of Bogotá. A myth forms around his image and personality in which he performs miracles and grants favours. His tomb is visited by thousands of people every year.

The Colombian Beer Factory launches Poker beer into the market - a traditional brand in the Colombian southwest which would eventually reach the entire country. Poker is still the brand which represents tradition.

In Barranquilla, on October 8th 1934, Costeña beer is launched as a substitute to the Condor brand. It is one of Bavaria's most popular beers throughout its history, identified at one time with the popular fairs and celebrations of the country. Currently, Costeña is the beer of young parties in Colombia.

The National Congress passes law 34 on October 28, which states that on January 1st 1949, fermented beverages can only be manufactured, sold or consumed in Colombia on individual and closed glass packages. By de facto, this forbids homemade brews without sanitary controls such as chicha.
Bavaria launches Cabrito, a low price beer.

Club 60 is launched, a premium brand that was presented with, as a novelty, a foil wrapped neck (one of a kind at the time) and which served to celebrate Bavaria's 60th anniversary. It was the predecessor of Club Colombia.

Pony Malta is launched - a malted beverage with vitamins, for whose formulation the National Nutrition Institute was consulted. The NNI suggested that, for the benefit of the Colombian people, its nutritional content cover one third of a person's daily needs. Today, the nutritive and refreshing energy of Pony Malta is still the preferred malted beverage in Colombia.
The Costeña beer is bottled in an amber bottle of 175 cm3 as a novelty for the market. This is a presentation that in later years would give way to Costeñita, bottled in a green bottle.

Bavaria unveils its new logo-symbol, the letter 'B' with the head of the imperial eagle.

Club 60 is launched with a new name: Club Colombia. Thanks to its superior quality, it rapidly becomes an export product, reaching New York and Miami that same year. Club Colombia is still today a national icon and a showcase of Colombian quality and craftsmanship.

Bavaria launches the first canned beer, Clausen - a premium type beer which is commercialized in a 12 ounce can.

Costeñita beer is re-launched as "The excitement beer."

Bavaria celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Bavaria goes into the table water market with the Brisa brand and launches the novelty Cola&Pola, the only refajo produced in the country. Bavaria also acquires Concentrados y Jugos de Fruta Tutti-Frutti from Medellín, and one year later, Jugos Orense, in Tuluá, Valle del Cauca.

The Bavaria Entrepreneurial Group is made a holding company for 173 other companies.

Bavaria buys the Peruvian UCP Backus & Johnston, Cervecería San Juan and Compañia Cervecera del Sur del Perú, as well as Corporación Boliviana de Bebidas (a beverages company in Bolivia) and increases its participation in Compañía de Cervezas Nacionales del Ecuador.
On May 15th 2002 it launches Aguila Light into the market.

The Anglo-South African SABMiller PLC absorbs Bavaria via a merger.

On September 14th 2006, the imported Italian beer Peroni Nastro Azzurro is launched. It is the first international premium brand from SABMiller's portfolio to reach Colombia.
Club Colombia is re-launched, and with it begins the transition from the traditional conic bottle to the tall thin bottle in which all of Bavaria's beers and malts are commercialized today.

Bavaria launches the first beer exclusively for women: Redd's. This turns Colombia into the first country in Latin America to release such beverages into the market.
Pilsen, Aguila and Pony Malta are re-launched.

The most modern plant of SABMiller in Latin America, la Cervecería del Valle, is inaugurated in Yumbo, Valle del Cauca.
The new image of Poker and Costeña is unveiled.
Club Colombia obtains the Grand Gold Medal with Palm Leaves - one of the most prestigious awards for quality beer in the world.

Bavaria S. A. is the largest beverage company of Colombia. Its brands Águila, Águila Light, Club Colombia, Cola & Pola, Costeña, Costeñita, Peroni, Pilsen, Póker, Redd's and Pony Malta are leaders in their respective beverage categories in Colombia.

For additional information please contact:
Juan David Lee Aguirre


Phone +57-1-638 9290

  • Bogotá, D.C.


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