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The World’s Oldest Breweries You Can Still Visit

Beer is older than America. Long before the first home-brewer experimented with hops in their basement, monks crafted delicious beers in monasteries and abbeys. Beer fueled the friars’ economy and provided them with livelihood.

Glass of weihenstephaner beer with beautiful light bokeh

The history of beer includes war and famine, natural disasters, and prohibition.

Germany is the heart of beer country. Many of the world’s oldest breweries continue to function there, adapting to change while honoring tradition.

These establishments endure because the proprietors understood the necessity of embracing change and continuing to evolve.

However, these geriatric institutions value their heritage, using the best available ingredients.

This article looks at the oldest existing breweries in the world.

Learn about these historic breweries that are still open today.

Bolten Brewery – Korschenbroich, Germany

Rheydter Str. 138, 41352 Korschenbroich, Germany
Phone: +49 2161 617900
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Nobody knows beer like the Germans. Bolten Brewery, founded in 1266, continues to flood the world with some of the finest beer.

The oldest brewery in the world, Bolten’s changed hands and structure many times in its incredibly long life.

The brewery perfected brewing altbier. This ale uses a geriatric top-fermentation process resulting in a mild, lager-like beer.

Bolten brews around 50,000 hectoliters of beer annually. The company offers six beers:

  • Bolten Alt: 4.8% abv
  • Bolten Nikolaus Spezial: 5.8% abv
  • Bolten’s Landbier: 4.9% abv
  • Bolten’s Ur-Alt: 4.8 percent abv
  • Richrath’s Original Landbier: 4.9% abv
  • Ur-Weizen: 5.4% abv

Weihenstephan Brewery – Weihenstephan, Germany

Weihenstephaner Berg 10, 85354 Freising, Germany
Phone: +49 8161 13004
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Monks shaped the history of modern beer, and the Weihenstephan brewery benefited from their expertise.

Initially a monastery brewery, the Bavarian government now runs the establishment.

Weihenstephan provides some competition and controversy to Bolten Brewery. Both establishments claim the title of the oldest brewery in the world.

The Weihenstephan brewery began crafting beer in 1040. The establishment survived natural disasters and three different plagues to brew some of the world’s finest ales.

The brewers use contemporary technology to continue the legacy of old-school brewing with time-honored recipes and methods. Weihenstephan’s beer lineup includes:

  • Wheat beer: 5.4%  abv
  • Dark wheat beer: 5.3% abv
  • Light white beer: 2.6% abv
  • Non-alcoholic wheat beer: less than .5% abv
  • Kritallweissbier: 5.4% abv
  • Vitus: 7.7% abv
  • Original Helles: 5.1% abv
  • Non-alcoholic original Helles: less than .5% abv
  • Pils: 5.1% abv
  • Tradition bayrisch dunkel: 5.2% abv
  • Korbinian: 7.4% abv
  • 1516 Kellerbier: 5.6% abv
  • Festbier: 5.8% abv
  • Winterfestbier: 5.8% abv

Weihenstephan beers use only three ingredients: barley, hops, and high-quality, soft well water. 

Grolsch Brewery – Groenlo, Netherlands

De Groote Plooij, Brouwerslaan 1, 7548 XA Enschede, Netherlands
Phone: +31 53 483 3333
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The Grolsch brewery traces its history back to 1615. Willem Neefeldt would never have guessed his village brewery would eventually become the third largest in the Netherlands.

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The Grolsch brewery survived a changing world. Despite hardships faced during the World War, the establishment endured and is now responsible for 15 percent of Dutch beer production. Grolsch’s beer roster includes:

  • Blonde Saison: 5.2% abv
  • Premium Pilsner: 5% abv
  • Radler lemon: 2% abv
  • Pure Weizen: 5.1% abv
  • Kristalheldere Zomerbok: 6.4% abv

In addition to their brews, Grolsch distributes beers from other brands, including De Klok, Kornuit, and Peroni Nastro Azzurro. 

Hubertus Brewery – Laa an der Thaya, Austria

Hubertusgasse 1, 2136 Laa an der Thaya, Austria
Phone: +43 2522 2246
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Beer saved the town of Laa an der Thaya in 1440. The economy was in death throws when the Duke of Austria granted the town brewing rights in exchange for a keg on the high holidays.

Anton Kuhfahrer took over the brewery in 1847, and his heirs have run the establishment since. 

Hubertus values tradition and purity. The brewery adheres to the Beer Purity Law of 1516, using only hops, barley malt, and water for their ales. 

Hubertus’s award-winning beers can’t be rushed. The brewing process honors the old methods, allowing plenty of time for the beer to develop rich flavors.

Hubertus crafts a variety of beers, including:

  • Marches: 5.1% abv
  • Pils: 5.4% abv
  • Dunkel: 4.1% abv
  • Hernpils: 5.6% abv
  • Oktoberbier: 5.1% abv
  • Festbock: 7.5% abv
  • Gerstengold: 4.5% abv
  • Radler: 2.5% abv
  • Stock classic: 5.2% abv
  • Celtic beer: 5.1% abv

Hubertus’s commitment to tradition pays off in delicious, renowned beers. The brewery has won multiple gold medals. 

Smithwick’s Brewery – Kilkenny, Ireland

44 Parliament St, Gardens, Kilkenny, R95 VK54, Ireland
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The Smithwick’s Brewery story is full of intrigue and adversity. John Smithwick’s Catholicism prohibited him from running a business in Ireland in 1705, so he ran his brewery secretly.

Smithwick was a savvy businessman who grew his brewery in private until he could claim it in the late 1700s. The Smithwick family dedicated their existence to running the brewery and ushering in its success. 

Smithwick’s is a pivotal part of Kilkenny’s cultural landscape. During the famine, the Smithwick’s opened soup kitchens to aid the hungry. Its beer enjoys global acclaim and popularity.

Smithwick alleges to make Ireland’s favorite beer, and the reviews support the claim. The brewery makes two ales, a red ale and a pale ale. 

Stiegl Brewery – Salzburg, Austria

Kendlerstraße 1, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Phone: +43 50 14920
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Stiegl Brewery’s history boasts a grander and more sweeping narrative than most novels.

Stiegl, meaning “little steps,” comes from modest beginnings. The brewery began crafting beer in 1492.

The brand succeeded where other breweries failed by embracing change and modern technology.

Still, history was not always kind to Stiegl. A fire and two World Wars hurt the brand but couldn’t destroy it.

Stiegl remains incredibly beloved and successful. The same beer Mozart enjoyed delights modern drinkers.

Stiegl subscribes to the Purity Laws, using only hops, yeast, malt, and high-quality water in their beer. The establishment deals with local farmers to source the best ingredients.

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Stiegl’s vast beer roster includes thirteen classic ales, two non-alcoholic vintages, nine craft beers, and four vintage beers.

Augustiner-Bräu – Munich, Germany

Landsberger Str. 31-35, 80339 München, Germany
Phone: +49 89 519940
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Monks began Munich’s oldest brewery in 1328. The establishment nourished their economy, an essential element of the friar’s survival.

The state claimed ownership from the monks until the Wagner family took over the brewery in 1829.

The Wagner family led the company to success. The brewer’s use of modern technology and advanced brewing techniques led them to victory through World Wars and new locations. Oktoberfest revelers still enjoy the delicious ale. 

Augustiner-Brau’s beer roster includes:

  • Dunkel: 5.6% abv
  • Edelstoff: 5.7% abv
  • Heller Bock: 7% abv
  • Lagerbier Hell: 5.2% abv
  • Maximator: 7.5% abv
  • Munchen Light Export: 5.7% abv
  • Oktoberfestbier: 6.3% abv
  • Pils: 5.6% abv
  • Schnitt: 0% abv
  • Weissbier: 5.4% abv

The brewery uses water from its own well to craft its beers, resulting in a delicious, pure taste. 

Molson Brewing – Montreal, Canada

1670 Notre-Dame St. East, Montreal, Quebec H2L 2R4, Canada
Phone: +1 800-665-7661
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Our list finally makes its way across the pond, landing at North America’s oldest brewery.

John Molson began crafting beer in 1786. The savvy businessman quickly became entrenched in every aspect of Canadian society.

Molson petitioned for hospitals, founded banks, and helped build railroads.

The brewery began the first bottle return program in 1927, contributing to sustainability in the brewing industry.

Molson remains committed to Canadian culture. The company contributes a great deal to their home, investing in infrastructure and using only Canadian-grown ingredients in their ales.

Molson’s brews include:

  • Molson Canadian
  • Molson Export
  • Molson Dry
  • Molson Ultra
  • Molson Cold Shots
  • Molson Stock Ale

Molson and Coors merged in 2005, creating a super company called Molson Coors.

Stepan Razin Brewery – St. Petersburg, Russia

154 Engelsa Prospekt, Suite 226, St. Petersburg 194358, Russia
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A German founded the Stepan Razin Brewery in Russia in 1795. Catherine the Great herself granted Abraham Friedrich Krohn permission to open the brewery, akin to a pub. 

The brewery changed hands (and names) many times over the years. The establishment survived blockades and prohibition.

Stepan Razin outlasted the Soviet Union and Heineken bought Stepan Razin in 2016.

The company’s beer roster includes:

  • Special: 4.7% abv
  • Petrovskoe: 4.7% abv
  • Zenitovskoe: 4.1% abv
  • Donskoy character: 4.3% abv

The Beer Museum in St. Petersburg currently resides in the brewery’s old site. 

Three Tuns Brewery – Shropshire, England

Salop Street, Bishops Castle, Shropshire, SY9 5BW, United Kingdom
Phone: 01588 638392
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Three Tuns Brewery is a testament to scrappy longevity. The small brewery currently crafts its beer in the same building as it did when it was founded in 1642.

Three Tuns Brewery uses the tower brewing technique. The establishment is an institution.

Though it’s changed ownership, the oldest working brewery in Britain still churns out delicious and beloved ales.

Three Tuns uses traditional methods and traditional ingredients. The brewery honors its rich history with its six beers:

  • Stout: 4.4% abv
  • Old Scrooge: 6.5% abv
  • XXX: 4.3% abv
  • Solstice: 3.9% abv
  • Cleric’s Cure: 5% abv
  • Best Traditional Brown Ale: 3.8% abv
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The brewery reaches a broader audience by selling its beers online.

Victoria (Compañía Toluca y México) – Mexico

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Agustin Marendez founded Mexico’s oldest brewery in 1865. Toluca’s distinctive barley and water attracted brewers from across Mexico, and Marendez seized his opportunity.

Compania Toluca y Mexico reached the peak of its powers in 1890. During these golden years, the brewery crafted six different brews.

The good times didn’t last. Modelo bought out Compania Toluca y Mexico in 1935 and ceased production on four of the six ales.

Modelo continued brewing Pilsner and Victoria until 1943 when they stopped producing the Pilsner.

Cerveza Victoria is the last remnant of Compania Toluca y Mexico. The Vienna style lager is smooth, mild, and a little bit sweet.

The beer is brewed with:

  • Water
  • Barley malt
  • Non-malted cereals
  • Hops

This adaptable ale has 4 percent alcohol by volume.

Affligem Brewery – Opwijk, Belgium

Ringlaan 18, 1745, Opwijk, Belgium
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The monks of Affligem love beer. The drink provides them with livelihood and history, as well as a delicious beverage to sip while chatting.

Benedictine monks began the brewery in 1074. Though World War II forced Affligem to merge with Opwijk brewery, the monks continue to drive the beer production today.

Affligem embraces modern technology but holds its tried and true recipes and methods fast.

The brewery evolves while valuing the basics techniques and ingredients that made its beer so beloved. 

Affligem’s beer roster includes four distinct brews:

  • Blond: 6.7% abv
  • Blond 0.0%: 0.0% abv
  • Dubbel:6.8% abv
  • Tripel: 9% abv

Affligem’s brewing is a loving collaboration between brewers and monks. 

Weltenburg Abbey Brewery – Kelheim, Germany

Asamstraße 32, 93309 Kelheim, Germany
Phone: +49 9441 2040
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Weltenburg Abbey throws its hat into the ring in the fight for the world’s oldest brewery. 

The brewery traces its lineage back to 1050 when Iro-Scottish monks established the Weltenburg Monastery.

Weltenburg values tradition and history. The brewery uses high-quality local ingredients bought from trusted partners.

The monastery still houses seven Benedictine monks, a demonstration of the establishment’s passionate dedication to heritage and history.

Weltenburg’s beer menu includes:

  • Barock dunkel: 4.7% abv
  • Pils: 4.9% abv
  • Asam Bock: 7.3% abv
  • Anno 1050: 5.5% abv
  • Hell: 4.9% abv
  • Spezial: 5.6% abv
  • Kellerbier: 5% abv
  • Dunkles Radler: 2.3% abv
  • Helle Weisse: 5.4% abv
  • Dunkle Weisse: 5.3% abv
  • Leichte Weisse: 2.9% abv

Weltenburg’s beers have claimed gold three times at the World Beer Cup.

Yuengling – Pottsville, PA

South 5th Street, Mahantongo St, Pottsville, PA 17901, United States
Phone: 570-628-4890
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The only thing Pennsylvanians take more seriously than their sports teams is Yuengling. The beer is an institution that former residents return to their home state to enjoy again. 

America is a younger country, so Yuengling – its oldest brewery – is several years junior to the other establishments on this list. David Yuengling founded the company in 1829.

David and his descendants kept the brewer afloat through fires and prohibition. The lean times led to great success for the scrappy brewery.

Yuengling’s expanded its reach and merged with Molson Coors to expand its East Coast supremacy into global domination. 

Yuengling’s lineup includes:

  • Traditional Lager: 4.5% abv
  • Light Lager: 4% abv
  • Black & Tan: 4.6% abv
  • Golden Pilsner: 4.7% abv
  • Flight: 4.2% abv
  • Raging Eagle: 6% abv
  • Lord Chesterfield Ale: 5.4% abv
  • Dark Brewed Porter: 4.7% abv
  • Premium: 4.5% abv
  • Premium Light: 3.5% abv

Yuengling’s ales are available for purchase online. 

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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