In honour of our recent article on the discovery of the oldest evidence of brewing in the world, we thought we’d count down some of the world’s oldest breweries that are still operating today.
In the interests of, well, keeping the list interesting, we discounted the five or six German brewers that take up the top spots – and looked at North America’s plus the UK’s oldest brewers instead. So, without further ado, these are some of the oldest continuous brewers from around the world. Lovely!
Official founded in 1040, the monks at Weihenstephan can claim to have beaten their Bavarian rivals, Weltenberg, by a solitary decade and therefore take their place as the world’s oldest continuously operating brewery. In fact, though, there is evidence they may have roots going back even further than that. A document from 768 AD purports to show a tithe list for the monastery that includes a large quantity of hops from a nearby farmer.
Whether those hops were used in beer making is unclear, but it certainly looks that way. Since 1923 the brewery has been part owned by the Bavarian state, although they continue to create wheat beers using much the same recipes as their thousand-year-old forebearers did. Unfortunately, you won’t find many of their award-winning drinks exported outside of Germany.
The oldest professional brewing facility in Canada, Molson was founded by John Molson, an English immigrant, in 1786. At the tender age of 22, Molson would have no doubt been happy to know that, just over two hundred years later in the modern era, his company now gives their name to one of the biggest multinational brewing conglomerates in the world – Molson Coors.
John Molson didn’t just limit himself to brewing either. Molson Brewing also owned a bank and was the first company to introduce steamboat public transit to Canada. Today their beers include such popular brands as Coors Light, Molson Export, Heineken, Tiger and Molson Dry. The Molson name beers are still brewed at the original brewery site in Montreal, Quebec.
Three Tuns Brewery
This brewer in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire, UK, holds claim to the title of oldest continuous brewery in the British Isles. Established in 1642, on the same grounds it occupies today, Three Tuns is also a tower brewery. This means it uses the gravity of a vertical tower to aid the brewing process and forgo the use of many pumps and siphons. A remnant of Victorian brewing methods, Three Tuns is one of only four of these kind of breweries in the UK.
However, there is some dispute as to if Three Tuns is actually the oldest continuing brewery in England. Certainly, it is the oldest documented and licenced operation – but Shepard Neame brewery in Faversham, Kent, claims that ale production was going on at their site from 1525.
Whatever the truth of the matter, they both make some fine and tasty beers!