Archeological evidence shows that beer was first brewed in Samaria and Iran several thousand years ago. During the Middle Ages, it was used to pay taxes and as a tithe to the church. In many locations, beer was consumed because it was safer than drinking water. There are now several large international companies and hundreds of micro-breweries producing this popular drink. While Yuengling Brewery of Pottsville, Pa., is the oldest in the United States having opened in 1829, others in Europe began producing beer centuries earlier. The following is a list of the oldest breweries still in operation.
As beer is almost synonymous with Germany, it is no wonder that the oldest brewery in continuous operation is located there. The Weihenstephan Abbey was founded in 725 B.C. The monks received a license from the city of Freising to construct a brewery in 1040. Now owned by the Bavarian State Brewery, Weihenstephan produces millions of bottles of its ancient product each year that are distributed to more than 120 countries around the globe.
Considering that Oktoberfest is one of the most famous festivals in the world, it should come as no surprise that Bavaria is also home to the second oldest brewery in the world. While the Klosterbrauerei began operation in 1050, the abbey itself was established in 620 B.C. As a result, there is a debate as to whether it is the second oldest or should be considered the oldest brewery in the world. The brewery has won numerous World Beer Cup awards.
Belgium is known for more than chocolate. It also has a strong beer brewing tradition. The
country’s oldest brewery, Affligem was established in 1074, a fact featured on the company’s label. Legends claim that the beer has won awards as far back as the 1100s. The abbey brewery is located in the Flemish town of Opwijk. Although Heineken International bought the company, it still brews its top fermenting beer using the original ancient recipe.
The Augustinian Brotherhood began brewing one of the world’s oldest beers inside the walls of their abbey near Munich Cathedral in 1328. The brewery moved to its current Landesberger Strasse address in 1829, when it was purchased by the Wagner family. Severely damaged during World War II, the historic brewing complex was completely rebuilt. Augustiner still delivers its beer in traditional wooden barrels.
One of the most famous breweries in Belgium, Stella Artois was founded in 1366. The company’s Den Hoorn heritage is displayed proudly on the cartouche. Originally brewed to celebrate the holiday season, the world-renowned beer is known for its high alcohol content and distinctive taste that has changed very little over the centuries.
Beer is an adult beverage consumed around the world during a variety of occasions. When an opportunity presents itself to relax and enjoy a beer, consider a brand produced by one of these legendary breweries and see why they have stood the test of time. Or, consider the Beer of the Month Club to see what some of the newest and best craft breweries have to offer, and compare.