The Weihenstephan Brewery in Freising, Bavaria, still sits at the top of the hill of Holy St Stephen and is almost certainly the oldest brewery in the world today, able to trace its roots back to 768 AD and a document that mentions a hop garden and tithes paid to a local Benedictine monastery, founded in 720 and dedicated to St Stephen. However, it was not until a few hundred years later in 1040 that the monastery was given a licence to brew beer by the city of Freising and this is the date that the modern Weihenstephan Brewery claims as its founding date.
Centuries Of Beer Making Traditions
The monastery has had a turbulent history and yet throughout it all, the monks continued to brew beer. It was razed to the ground by invading Huns in 955, and burned down three times in between 1085 and 1463 when it was also hit by the plague, famine and a powerful earthquake. It was again burnt down in the early 1700s when the Austrians captured it during the War of Spanish Succession. Persistently, the monks rebuilt and extended their abbey through the centuries of turmoil and continued to brew but it was only when the brewery passed from church hands to the Bavarian state that the brewery was truly able to flourish. It was acquired by the Free State of Bavaria in 1803 and it is still state owned today.
The Beers Themselves
The Weihenstephaner brewery produces a range of beers today: various pale lagers and wheat beers. Their original lager is a light Bavarian Helles lager that is full of flavour. Helles is German for clear and the beer is similar to another light beer, the Pilsner. The Weihenstephaner beers, however, are smoother in taste and lighter in colour as well as body.
All the beers from the Weihenstephaner brewery benefit from the centuries old brewing tradition, using a very special and now world famous strain of yeast and lengthy ageing periods at cool temperatures in vast fridges. You can find out more at http://weihenstephaner.de/our-beers.
Beer this good needs to be tasted at home and, fortunately for us, Weihenstephaner beers are available in Britain. Ideally stored in a fridge for the best taste.
If you are feeling adventurous, why not visit the brewery itself and sample their centuries old recipes in an authentic setting? You can find out much more about Bavaria and the Weihenstephaner brewery at http://www.bavaria.travel/3f3e6368-2b34-5950-187c-10bab6e684bb.html
W You never know you may get a taste for it and before you know it have your own beer room or keeping things perhaps a tad more realistic maybe an area to make your own beer in a games room or Garden studio available from places like http://www.gardenspaces.co.uk/garden-rooms/garden-offices/
Weihenstephaner wheat beer, or Hefe Weissbier in German, is a light and beautifully clear lager with a refreshing banana flavour and a smooth, rich after taste. Both it and the darker version, Hefeweissbier dunkel, have an alcohol content of 5.4 per cent. If you want something lighter, however, try Hefeweissbier leicht with 40 per cent fewer calories and an alcohol content of only 2.7 per cent.
Today the Weihenstephaner brewery might be the oldest in the world but it is also one of the most modern. The University of Munich runs its world renowned brewing academy there with state of the art brewing technology. No wonder the beer tastes so good