This is the only such brewery in Poland. It operates as a social cooperative, i.e. not-for-profit and employs people with intellectual disabilities, giving them a chance for a decent life. Buying one of their beers will give you not only a great experience, but most of all – a chance to support a beautiful idea and help others.
A seaside brewery, seaside beers
The “Browar Spółdzieczy” brewery is located in Puck, a picturesque Kashubian town in Pomorskie region. One of the many reasons to visit is its proximity to the sea, as well as a market square. The brewery building is 25 minutes walk or 5 minutes drive away from the city. Its colourful wall of graffiti attracts the eye, so it is hard to miss.
As befits a seaside brewery, their beers have a maritime touch. The names of four bestsellers are inspired by sailing knots. The brewery has a total of seven beers in their portfolio. The real gems are frozen beers, decorated with a beautiful embroidered label. These are premium products that sell out in a flash. The process of their production is quite complicated. Out of 1000 litres brewed, only 400 is left at the end of the process. However, the brewery has perfected this technique to a point that it is acclaimed not only in Poland, but also worldwide.
More than a beer
The “Browar Spółdzielczy” brewery is unique. And it is not only about beers that stand the test of taste, but about a philosophy found nowhere else in Poland. The is a cooperative. Its activities are not driven by profit, and its owners support people at risk of exclusion. Out of 30 people employed in the brewery, 25 are people with intellectual disabilities.
– They are very good employees, especially when their work has a certain level of repetitiveness. We focus on their strengths. Some people have technical skills, some are “jacks of all trades”, and others feel better in jobs requiring strength. I wouldn’t want to work with another group, because their level of loyalty to the workplace is enormous. If they feel good and safe, we can have good employees for years – says Agnieszka Dejna, owner of the brewery.
Running a brewery requires hard manual labour. The brewing takes from 9 to 24 hours. Dark beers require the most effort. Manual labelling on the so-called carousel is a whole day of tedious work. The brewery does not have the most modern equipment, so what others would do in 2 hours, here it may take up to two days. The monthly capacity of the brewery is 14 thousand litres of beer, which translates into 28 thousand bottles.
5 years have passed, the idea goes on
The Cooperative Brewery in Puck has been around for 5 years. During this time, it has gained many supporters not only in the Pomorskie Voivodeship and Poland, but also all across Europe. Spółdzielczy Pub in Gdańsk was established (on the premises of the Garrison of Culture (Garnizon Kultury), 190 Grunwaldzka Street). They offer beers brewed in Puck. There is also a bistro in the City Hall of Gdańsk, that serves delicious meals. All facilities employ people with intellectual disabilities. The idea was caught on, and social cooperatives in eight Polish voivodeships are slowly opening pubs based on this model. But that is not all.
– We try to give our boys not only jobs but also a chance to develop. That’s why, together with diving specialists and instructors, we have written a project called “Understand the depths”, the aim of which is to rehabilitate people with disabilities by diving,” adds Agnieszka Dejna.
To say that the brewery only brews great beer is to say nothing. It also provides opportunities and helps people to stand on their feet.
– The work gives us great joy and still fascinates us. I have a feeling that we do something good not only for ourselves, but above all for others. Actually, I could replace the word “work” with “lifestyle”,” concludes Agnieszka Dejna.
The Cooperative Brewery can be visited personally (Puck, 4 Helska Street). There is a beer shop inside, so you can buy your favourite bottles. With a bit of luck, if we find one of the owners, we can see how the brewery operates from the inside. The brewery is open daily from 8:00 to 15:00, and on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer season from 10:00 to 18:00.