Ottakringer Brauerei AG

Beer companies, especially those with their headquarters situated at one of their breweries, are generally fun to visit. Why? They're usually very rich in history, tradition and very savvy in marketing and public relations. I don't find much of the latter here.

I'm about five miles from Vienna's city center and only a few blocks from the factory/offices of chocolate maker Josef Manner & Company, who I just, left. Yep, earlier the smell of chocolate was in the air and now it's beer.

I stop at the gated entry and show the guard (who doesn't speak English) my questionnaire with the name S. Menz, Chairman, Board of Management typed on it. He points to a large brewery building and then motions to go to the right of it. It's a good-size brewery complex which I'm sure has been here for more than a 100 years.

I enter the two-story head office and find no reception area. Eventually finding Mr. Menz's secretary, she doesn't recall my letter and sends me downstairs to the marketing/public relations area. No one in this area shows interest in spending time with me and it's only after I plead that this is my only opportunity to drop by here that they try to find someone. Thomas Freund, Export Manager, is given a call and agrees to meet with me. Freund has a meeting in 10 minutes so I quickly race through my questions.

The company began in 1837 and has been on this same site since its founding. I ask if there was/is a Mr. Ottakringer. I'm way off. Vienna is divided into 20 districts and each has a name. Guess what this district is called. Yep, Ottakringer.

A total of 120 employees work here with 30 of those in the administrative department. There's plenty of employee parking, everyone eats in the company cafeteria, smoking isn't allowed in offices, no recreational facilities, it's 15 minutes to the nearest freeway and, the brewery has its own water well on the property.

I can't see the Chairman's office or boardroom though earlier when talking to his secretary I noticed a beverage cooler in her office. From past experiences of visiting beer companies many CEO's have a small fridge/cooler in their office stocked with their beverages. Any employee perks? Vouchers good for a heavy discount on Ottakringer products. Freund does run me over for a quick look in the Yeast Room. Formerly a room for storing yeast, this large century-old room with wood floors and exposed timbered beams is available to the general public for parties, wedding receptions and other celebrations.