Beer production is a global phenomenon that resonates throughout human history. Whenever tribes in different cultures domesticated cereals, beer-like drinks were soon developed. The oldest recorded mention of beer on pottery dates back to the 5th millennium BC in Iran. Throughout history beer has been enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Chinese & in Neolithic Europe. Today production is dominated by multiple multinational companies & perpetuated by thousands of smaller producers. Every year over 133 billion liters of beer are sold, which generates around $294.5 billion in revenue.
Making beer is one of the cornerstones of modern civilization, so it’s no surprise that some breweries are extremely old. These establishments pioneered beer production by honing their craft for hundreds of years. Ironically, most of the oldest operating breweries were established in abbeys of prominent churches. Fueled by divine curiosity, monks from multiple convents helped perfect beer production as we know it. Thanks to their tireless dedication, multiple types of alcohol were invented. While most of the original abbeys that produced beer eventually shut down, some are still operating to this day.
Against all odds, these daring monasteries defied war & time by continuing to create quality beer. Their impact on the industry can’t be ignored, since they pioneered craft beer production. On top of managing to overcome the odds, these abbeys continue to create quality beer to this day. To highlight these timeless establishments, we compiled a list of the oldest breweries in the world. The amount of time that they have been operating is unbelievable, so prepare to be blown away by their longevity!
Oldest Breweries in the World
Brewery #3: Bolten Brewery (Established 1266) – One of the most resilient breweries in the world is nestled in Korschenbroich, Germany. This innovative brewery was created in 1266 by Heinrich der Brauer from the Lordship of Myllendonk. On top of being established by royalty, Bolten Brewery is the oldest altbrier brewery in the world. Unlike most modern lagered beers, altbrier is an old style German beer that’s top fermented.
Throughout the years the brewery’s techniques have been passed on from generation to generation. They have repeatedly refused to sell themselves out to international companies, & remain a small brewery to this day. This intimate setting allows them to continue producing a large range of beers with an undeniable personal touch.
Brewery #2: Weltenberg Abbey Brewery (Established 1050) – This historic brewery is tucked away in the picturesque forests of Kelheim, Germany. Like many of its peers, this brewery started out as a monastery. When it was founded in 620, it was one of the first monasteries in Bavaria. While all of the monastery has been rebuilt, their once taboo pastime managed to outlive the original organization.
In 1050, the monks officially established the brewery & started selling beer. This proved to a wise move, since many of the monks proved to be extremely talented brewers. While the abbey dissolved in 1803, the brewery managed to survive. Today it boasts its own restaurant that sells cheese & local dishes alongside their robust selection of beers.
Brewery #1: Weihenstephan Brewery (Established 1040) – Out of all the breweries in the world, none have a more illustrious history than Weihenstephan Brewery. When Saint Corbinian established this Benedictine monastery in 720, he had no idea that it would become the oldest continuously-operating brewery in the world. By 768 the monks were taking advantage of the hop in the monastery’s garden to brew beer. Over the years, this forbidden hobby eventually flourished into a legitimate business.
In 1040, Abbot Arnold got a license to brew & sell beer. This marked the beginning of Weihenstephan Monastery Brewery. They continued creating a large selection of beers under this name until the company was renamed in 1921. The brewery is now known as Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan, & uses the great seal of the Bavarian state as their corporate logo.