Thursday, October 29, 2009
Where Zywiek Is As Common as Bud
I've always thought the Polish beer Zywiek was a relatively hard brew to score, even in New York. I'd see it only in the occasional Polish deli, and very rarely on tap.
That was before I paid a visit to the Queens neighborhoods of Ridgewood and Glendale. More that other New York Polish nabes, like Greenpoint, Zywiek flows like water here. It's not only in every bar and every deli, there are huge advertisements everywhere proclaiming its existence. Posters, neon signs, and round hanging signs that are to this area what the circular Guiness beacons are to Irish neighborhoods in New York.
Zywiek was founded in 1852 and started brewing in 1856. It was an actual royal beer! It was built and initially owned by Archduke Albert, Duke of Teschen and his younger brother Karl Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, and called "Zywiec Archducal Brewery". It remained in the hands of the Habsburgs until the Communists nationalized it. After the Commies were kicked out, the descendants of the original owners sued the Polish government for $77 million. (The case was settled out of court on undisclosed terms in December 2005.)
All that historical hullabaloo doesn't seem to have affected the quality. I find it a more-than-above average lager.
As to how Ridgewood and Glendale get so much of the stuff. Well, take a look at this distribution center on Seneca Road in Ridgewood. You see where their priorities lie.