Dr. Leo König, former beer baron and one of the last living legends of the German brewing industry of the last century, died last Monday a few weeks before reaching his 94th birthday. The great-grandson of the company founder Theodor König, who founded the brewery in Duisburg-Beeck in 1858, moved in 1967 to the top of the König Brewery, which was by that time already Germany’s largest privately owned brewery. Together with his cousin Renate König he successfully positioned the brand in the premium pils segment and could within nine years double the output of the brewery to two million hectoliters. Another six years later, in 1982, the brand reached a historic high of 2.5 million hectoliters. The company invested heavily in marketing spendings and concentrated all efforts on one single brand – König Pilsener, fondly called Köpi. The marketing campaign “Die Königstreuen” (literally, those who are loyal to the King), a worldplay based on the brand name König (English: king), which featured celebrities of that time drinking König Pilsener, was a milestone in German beer advertising.
1991, Dr.Leo König stepped back and his daughter, Dr. Doris König assumed control of the brewery in the fifth generation. She knew how to read the signs of the times and sold the brewery 10 years later to the German Holsten Group, which in turn was sold three year later to Danish Carlsberg Group. However, part of the deal was, that König as well as Licher Brewery from the eponymous town north of Frankfurt, which was also shortly before bought by Holsten, was passed on to Bitburger, another family owned German brewing group. Up to today, König is part of the Bitburger group but could never regain its former market significance.
Dr. Leo King died on August 20, 2018 at the age of 93 years.