Beer consumption around the world is remarkably high. As one measure, a single U.S. state, Montana consumes 40 gallons of beer per capita. And beer drinking levels in other countries like Germany and Austria are much higher.
The number of breweries needed to satisfy the world’s thirst is also considerable. In the U.S. alone, there are over 7,000 microbreweries.
The oldest brewery in the world is really, really old. While earlier evidence of small-scale beer-making has been found in China and parts of the Middle East that are now in Iran and Iraq, archeologists have recently discovered the remains of a full-scale beer factory dating back about 5,000 years in Abydos, in the Egyptian desert
That makes Germany’s Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan seem like a veritable neophyte, since it only claims a founding date of 1040 — a mere 981 years ago. At least two other breweries, one each in Germany and Belgium, trace their origins back to the 11th century, too, and plenty of others appeared in the centuries between then and 1829 — the year the oldest extant brewery in the United States came into existence.
To pick the oldest brewery in the world, 24/7 Tempo consulted articles on the subject appearing in a variety of beer, travel, and general interest publications, including Vinepair, Oldest, Beer Connoisseur, Old Liquors Magazine, Find Me a Brewery, Travel Trivia, Mental Floss, Slate, and Medium, and verified founding dates and other information from brewery websites and other sources.
The oldest brewery in the world is Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan. Here are the details:
Location: Weihenstephan, Germany
Year founded: 1040
While Weihenstephan, like Weltenburger (see above), describes itself as the world’s oldest brewery, besting its competitor by a decade, the claim has been questioned. Until the 1950s, Weihenstephan cited 1146 as its founding date. Then a document was found purporting to show that the local bishop had given the abbey brewing rights 106 years earlier — but an article in the leading German newspaper Die Zeit in 2012 says that the document “was later exposed by historians as a crude forgery from the 17th century.” The first authenticated mention of the brewery dates only from 1675. Weihenstephan counters that there is a record of hops growing in the area as early as 768, so beer must have been made there around that time. In any case, the original abbey was decommissioned in 1803, and the brewery on the site is now owned by the state of Bavaria.