Good ol’ Saint Patrick’s day. You see, here in the United States, we don’t have Oktoberfest. So for us, St. Paddy’s day is the whole day for… well… wearing green and getting hammered with one’s friends while chowing down on corned beef and cabbage. In honor of St. Patrick’s day, we’ve put together a list of some of the world’s oldest breweries. Now, this list is hardly complete. Such a task would require a veritable encyclopedia’s worth of material. So don’t throw too huge a fit if your favorite brew isn’t included and older than 1829. By all means give it a shout-out as we’d love to give it a try.
Weihenstephan, Germany, 1040
This is widely regarded as the oldest brewery in the world. It was licensed by the City of Freising in 1040. That said, it can trace it roots all the way back to a document from the 768 that mentions a hop garden paying ties to the local abby (which the brewery is a part of).
Weltenburg, Germany, 1050
This is another abby in Germany with a brewery that has been in operation for almost a millennium. Since the original abby was founded around the year 620, some claim that it is actually the oldest brewery in the world instead of Weihenstephan.
Bolten, Germany, 1266
This brewery traces its roots all the way back to the 13th century when it claims to have received an award. It’s modern version, however, began in 1753 when Peter Bolten leased the property.
Hubertus, Austria, 1454
This was a popular brewery in Austria that lost much of its clout after World War I when the country went through a dramatic shift, because of losing the war. They still, however, brew a great beer.
Warka, Poland, 1478
Easily the most famous brewery in Poland. It has recently undergone renovations.
Stiegl, Austria, 1492
One of, if not the oldest brewery in Austria. Suffice to say, it is also one of Austria’s favorites. The brewery is known for its light lager and Hefeweizen.
St. Francis Abbey, Ireland, 1710
Three hundred years ago, John Smithwick purchased the land where a Franciscan Abbey once stood (an abbey that had brewed ale since the 1300’s). Smithwick then set up his own brewery and created “Smithwick’s”. The beer we all know today was actually a special brew known as “Smithwick’s No. 1” that had been brewed for a local beer festival. The brewery shares the same parent company as Guinness.
Samuel Smith, England, 1758
While the original brewery does indeed date back to 1758, it was taken over by John Smith when his father, Samuel Smith, purchased it for him in 1852. The brewery, however, is named after one of their decedents, also named Samuel.
St. James Gate Brewery, Ireland, 1759
In the middle ages, this was the main western entrance to Dublin. Today, it is one of the most famous breweries in the world. They are more well known by the name of their beer, Guinness. In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease for 45 pounds a year and brewery has been in operation ever since.
Bass, England, 1777
Founded by Willam Bass in Burton upon Trent, this brewery also boasts the very first registered trademark in the history of the United Kingdom, Bass’s famous Red Triangle.
Svyturys , Lithuania, 1784
Lithuania’s oldest brewery. Although the territory where it is located has been a part of Germany for substantial durations.
Budweiser Budvar, Czech Republic, 1785
Not to be confused with the American beer of the same name, Budvar is far older, and is the reason America’s Budweiser can not use its name outside of the United States. The name comes from the city of Budweis where this brewery is located.
Molson’s, Canada, 1786
Molson’s is the oldest brewery in North America. It’s also the second oldest company in Canada. Even more impressive, it’s still run by the Molson family and is located on the same site where it was founded 225 years ago. Most recently, in 2004, Molson’s merged with the well known Coors brewing company.
Zatec, Czech Republic, 1800
Now technically, this brewery was built in 1800 (which would still place it on this list), but there are claims that this brewery in one iteration or another was paying a beer tax as far back as 1004. If true, that is impressive to say the least.
Sinebrychoff, Finland, 1819
Founded by a Russian immigrant named Nikolai Sinebrychoff, this brewery claims to be the oldest in Northern Europe. The brewery is also responsible for bottling many of the world’s most popular soft-drinks for Finland including Coca-Cola.
Cascade Brewery, Australia, 1824
Founded by a brit named Peter Degraves, the Cascade Brewery is the oldest brewery in Australia. Although, technically, it is located on the island of Tasmania. The brewery operates its own maltings, and the barley itself is grown locally.
D.G. Yuengling & Son 1829
So you’re probably wondering why 1829 was used as the cut-off point for this list. Well let’s face it, we had to have at least one American brewery on this list, and D.G Yuengling & Son is the oldest. Yuengling is especially known for its traditional lager. The company is still owned and operated by the Yuengling family (just like Molson), with Richard L. Yuengling as the current owner.
For all the tomfoolery we partake in while enjoying our favorite brews, the art of brewing a great beer is a time-honored and even noble endeavor dating back thousands of years. Beer is here to stay, and one can only imagine the delicious drafts our future holds.