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During the Cold War, Köstritzer was one of the few breweries in East Germany that manufactured beer for export. From 1956 to 1976, the beer was exported to West Germany. The brewery has been owned by the Bitburger Brauerei since 1991. The total output of the brewery increased from 14,500,000 L in 1991 to 91,000,000 L in 2004.
One of the most famous drinkers of Köstritzer Schwarzbier was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who sustained himself on black beer from Köstritz when he was unable to eat during a period of illness.