Weihenstephan, the oldest brewery in the world

Approaching a thousand years of documented history, Germany’s Weihenstephan has had the time to figure out this whole beer thing that we all love. Our host, Jace Milstead sat down with Marcus Englet, the world export director for the brewery for a tasting and brain picking session with the representative of the oldest brewery in the world.

History lesson

Marcus gave us the low down on the monastery’s history, “Weihenstephan is the world’s oldest brewery in existence which can be proved by a document from 1040 where the duke of the area gave the rights to brew and pour the beer to the pilgrims that were around.”

In 1803, the monastery was closed and they brewed for the Bavarian king. With the end of the monarchy system, Weihenstephan is now one of the three state owned breweries under the department of Science and Culture.

Marcus notes that their beers have been consistent since 1040.

Beer culture in Bavaria

According to Marcus, the two go hand in hand, “In Bavaria, beer is culture.” You have to give them credit, since Weihenstephan is under the department of Science and Culture, the people do care about their beers.

When comparing craft beer to wine, Marcus says, “to do something with a beer wrong, you can do a thousand things more wrong than to produce wine.” The variance is so wide in beer crafting, which is why he believes that “producing a good beer is really an art.”


Or, the “Purity Law,” is a German beer regulation that only allows the ingredients of water, barley, hops, and yeast to be used in beer production.

Marcus touched on the subject regarding an opinion that it stifled the creativity and limits in beer creation, saying “inside the limits of the Purity Law, you can go to the limit and try to reach the limit.” He strongly believes in the cultural heritage that the Purity Law retains.

When partnering with Samuel Adams for the Infinium collaboration, they both decided that it was important to adhere to the Purity Law and are both proud of the results.

The beers

The flagship wheat beers include the filtered Kristall Weissbier, “the mother of all wheat beers,” and the Hefe Weissbier, a hefeweisen. The yeast flavors were once unpopular which is why Kristall has been their winner in the past. Another difference aside from one being filtered is that the Hefe Weissbier has roasted barley malts.

When Jace asked Marcus which one he prefers, he answered, as do most interviewees, “depends on my mood.”

Marcus did have a lot to say about drinking wheat beers, “never put a lemon into the beer because that will change the flavor profile of the beer totally and it will kill the foam. We always in Europe say ‘foam is beer.'” It’s unnecessary “because a good beer doesn’t need extra taste.”

The Original Lager is a Hellest Style Marcus says is good for all occasions. Lighter and not so bitter than others. He says, “to make a really clean and nice lager beer is a craft.”

Since they are just outside of the city limits of Munich, Weihenstephan is not allowed to call their Festbier an Oktoberfest. It’s a Marsden style with a “little bit higher hops,” fuller, and higher in alcohol.

Named after the founder of the brewery, Korbinian is “a real bottom fermented doppelbock with 7.4% alcohol content. You can really taste the roasted malts.” Jace describes it as “beautiful and elegant.”

Full interview

See Jace do what he does best in the full video.

Video produced by Stan Lee

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