Noback vs Novák. The Brewery Builders

The transformation from manual to industrial production over the course of the 19th century was a process that affected every sector of the economy. This publication examines the new approach to brewery architecture that emerged in the 1860s and 1870s in connection with the boom the brewing industry went through at the time and looks at the emergence of the first giant industrial breweries. The rapid pace of development that occurred in the first half of the 19th century gradually levelled out in the 1850s, and the first stable industrial brewery designs emerged. The work of early engineers such as Völckner, Krabes, and others who had a hand in codifying the look of industrial breweries in the Czech lands was developed further in the mid-1860s by a new technology office founded by Gustav Noback and Josef Vincenc Novák. Unlike their predecessors, these two engineers were able to practically apply their knowledge in the market and take advantage of a time that was extremely favourable to investments in both old breweries and new greenfield brewery projects. They thereby also had a fundamental impact on the appearance of the Czech landscape, panoramas, and the built-up areas within settlements in the country.

In order to understand the evolution of the engineering firms and project designers that worked for the brewing industry, it is necessary to begin this study on a more general level, to which end the publication’s Introduction provides an outline of the historical developments that led up to the brewery industry’s adoption of an industrial approach in the 19th century. The next chapter looks at the engineering plants and technology offices that were either setting or following the trends in brewery architecture and technological equipment for breweries. The book then introduces the most important figures working in this domestic market in the 1860s and 1870s, such as Gustav Noback, Richard Jahn, and Josef Vincenc Novák, who established a name for themselves in the design of brewery buildings and the development of patented technology, while they also launched their own engineering plants during this same period. They thus applied a comprehensive approach to brewery construction, and the breweries that they worked on, along with a selection of structures designed and built by their predecessors Karl Völckner and Ferdinand Krabes, serve as our main guideline through this synthetic look at the evolution of brewery architecture and at the basic contours of the development of the technology that was used in the 1860s and 1870s. The book’s appendix contains a list of all the brewery projects in the Czech lands and abroad designed and built by engineers Gustav Noback and Josef Vincenc Novák, which provides the perfect finish to the picture the book provides of the technological boom that occurred in this period.

Summary translated by Robin Cassling


Milan Starec – Petr Holub, Noback vs Novák. The Brewery Builders, Prague 2019.

256 pages; Czech/summary in English and German; 205 images and plans; ISBN 978-80-01-06027-0 / authors Milan Starec, Petr Holub / scientific review Jan Štěpán / proofreading Marek Kamlar / translation Robin Cassling, Tomáš Mařík / graphic design Vlasta Doležalová / DTP Lesnická práce, s. r. o. / treatment of reproductions, maps, production Jiří Klíma, Jan Forejt, Gabriel Fragner / print Formall / published by the Research Centre for Industrial Heritage FA CTU Prague 2019