A new century and World War I
In 1889, after the company declared bankruptcy, it was purchased by a brewer from Žalec, Simon Kukec. This nationally conscious Slovenian went down in the Laško brewing history as an excellent organizer, financier and entrepreneur, fond of novelties. He established a new type of beer and the first beer brand - the thermal beer, which still exists today in a slightly different form. Through experimentation he discovered the favourable effect that thermal water had on the taste of beer. He started to brew thermal beer as light and dark beer (both were stronger than the regular), since he knew that the best way to attract customers is with novelties.
In the Gazette of the Innkeepers Brewery he announced his new product as follows: "A different speciality that will surprise beer drinkers is the thermal beer, with which we will introduce ourselves to the world. It will be brewed out of the renowned Laško thermal water and will be completely similar to the Pilsner in terms of taste and colour."
Apart form the thermal beer, Kukec brewed also the Ležak, a beer of Czech origin, since his anti-Germanic orientation induced him to employ only Czech master brewers in his brewery. He exported quality beer to Egypt and India, and later in Budapest, where the Bavarian and the Viennese beer were dominating.
Porter was still brewed in Laško; around 1900 the Märzen and Bavarian beers were presented. Kukec brewed an enviable 35,000 hl of beer a year, and was awarded with a medal from the French government for its quality.
The Porter beer, with which Laško brewers wanted to compete against Union's Bock beer, was renamed Dark Laško beer due to having second thoughts about the foreign name. This was a strong beer, today we could measure a little less than 18% of extract in the basic wort.
Despite having had successes in a harsh competition environment, the Laško Brewery was closed. In 1924, its then competitor, the Union Brewery, secretly bought up the majority of Laško's shares with German assets and three years later the brewery brewed its last beer. At that time, the Union Brewery continued to sell its beer on the Croatian market as Laško beer.
Thus ended the Kukec era in Laško's brewing history.