Beer has been around since the early years of humanity. For the longest time, alcoholic beverages have been a part of the lives of people across several generations and eras. Obviously enough, the centuries-old industry has given birth to many businesses and companies since its existence.
Of course, the development of beer to what it is now known today would not have been possible without the expertise and knowledge of beer makers. The breweries that have been established since the early years of human history have been a major contributing factor to the evolution of beer.
From the technology used to the actual recipes that make up the core ingredients of beer, the industry has definitely evolved for the better. And at the pace that worldwide innovation is currently going, it is not surprising to see the beer industry embrace more groundbreaking and efficient techniques in the near future.
As huge as the beer industry sounds, it is also necessary to look back to the history of beer and the beer companies or breweries that made the success of the drink possible. Here are 20 of the oldest beer companies in history:
20. Gaffel Becker & Co. (115 years old)
Established in the city of Cologne in Germany, the Gaffel Becker & Co. brewery was founded in 1908 by the Becker Brothers. While this was the official founding date of the brewery, there have been suspected documents that show a brewery located in Eigelstein 41 that existed in the same spot where the Gaffel Becker & Co. brewery resides to this day.
It was in the company’s founding year that the Becker Brothers acquired the property where the brewery stands. The founders of Gaffel Becker & Co. came up with the bright idea to transform the location into the style of a guild house which they would later name “In der Gaffel.”
One of the most famous drinks produced in the brewery is the Gaffel Kosch. Other beverages made by the company include Fassbrause, Schwester Herz, and Plüsch Prumm.
19. Victoria (Compañía Toluca y México) (158 years old)
Victoria, also known as the oldest brewery in Mexico, was founded in 1865 by Agustin Marendaz. The company’s initial design was a craft brewing shop founded in Toluca, the capital of Mexico. The quality of the water supply and the type of barley that was being grown in the area were the key reasons why Agustin chose to build a brewery in the city.
After some time, the brewery changed hands and was transformed into an all-around brewery called the Compañía Cervecera Toluca y México. The company expanded its operations to the point where all steps in the manufacturing process, from the filtering of grain all the way to the distribution of bottles, were done in-house.
Eventually, the company continued to develop to become one of the leading breweries in Mexico. The most popular product developed by the company is the Vienna-style lager Victoria.
18. F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company (181 years old)
The F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company is considered to be one of the oldest breweries still operating in the city of New York. Founded in the year 1842, Schaefer Brewing was established by the brothers Frederick and Maximilian. Coming from Prussia in the nation of Germany, Frederick had emigrated to the United States prior to the creation of Schaefer Brewing in 1838.
Maximilian followed his brother to the U.S., bringing along with him a recipe for lager — a type of beer that was famous in Germany. This formula becomes the groundwork for Schaefer Brewing. The company still exists today, with its popular Schaefer Beer product line still selling hot.
17. Yuengling (194 years old)
Yuengling hails itself as the oldest brewery in America. Founded in 1829 by David Yuengling, the beer company has stood the test of time, surviving many huge events in the industry that would have stopped most businesses from operating for good.
Getting by major events in American history, such as the Prohibition Era, which banned the sale of alcohol nationwide, Yuengling was able to hold out against the biggest problem of its company’s history by selling ice cream.
Thanks to the company’s quick wits, Yuengling was able to grow into one of the country’s largest breweries as well when the ban on alcohol was lifted. Some of Yuengling’s products include the Traditional Lager, Black & Tan, Golden Pilsner, and Premium.
16. Stepan Razin Brewery (228 years old)
The Stepan Razin Brewery is known as the oldest brewery in Russia. Founded by the German immigrant Abraham Friedrich Kohn in 1795, the Stepan Razin Brewery was approved for construction by none other than the Empress of Russia at the time, Catherine the Great.
Interestingly enough, the original site of the Stepan Razin Brewery currently functions as a museum as well, where various exhibits tell the story of the company and how the signature beer of the brewery is made.
15. Molson Brewing (237 years old)
Molson Brewing is a brewery that is widely regarded as the oldest beer company not only in Canada but in the entire North American region. Founded in the year 1786, Molson Brewing began its operations in the city of Montreal when its founder John Molson started to explore the art of brewing.
As the years passed by, Molson Brewing eventually grew into a large-scale business that was well-loved by Canadians as one of the country’s most popular alcoholic drinks to date.
In 2005, a blockbuster merger deal was struck between Molson Brewing and the Adolph Coors Company. One of the most popular brands to come out of this partnership is the popular lager Coors Light
14. St. James’ Gate Brewery (264 years old)
Founded in 1759 in Dublin, Ireland, by Arthur Guinness, the St. James’ Gate Brewery was leased by Arthur for a whopping 9,000 years. The astounding duration of the leasing agreement on the St. James’ Gate Brewery just showed how much trust Arthur had put in his business sense.
True enough, Arthur’s decision paid off well since the St. James’ Gate Brewery was eventually known as the popular Guinness Brewery, which is beloved by many all over the world. The main product of the company is the Guinness Draught.
13. Smithwick’s Brewery (313 years old)
Smithwick’s Brewery is hailed as the oldest brewery in Ireland. Established in 1710 by John Smithwick, the history of the beer company is as good as the quality of its beer.
Starting as an underground business due to John’s Catholic beliefs, which held him back from going public with his company, Smithwick’s Brewery has lasted long enough in history to become one of the world’s most popular breweries.
The most popular drinks of Smithwick’s Brewery are its Red Ale and Pale Ale product lines which are popular for their perfect mix of bitter and sweet.
12. Three Tuns Brewery (381 years old)
The Three Tuns Brewery, located in Shropshire, England, has been admired for sticking to its original beer formula ever since it was established in 1642. The company is proud to call itself the oldest brewery in Britain, and with good reason. Three Tuns Brewery has stuck to its tradition of using the tower brewing technique, which is popular among beer lovers. Some of the drinks made by Three Tuns Brewery include its pale ales XXX and Cleric’s Cure.
11. Grolsch Brewery (408 years old)
Grolsch Brewery is recognizable to this day for its signature flip-top beer bottles which are still a hit among beer drinkers. Willem Neerfeldt established the brewery in 1615, which would become one of the largest beer companies in the Netherlands. The drinks produced by Grolsch Brewery include its Premium Pilsner and the Grolsch 0.0%.
10. Stiegl Brewery (531 years old)
The Stiegl Brewery which was established in Salzburg, Austria, is the first addition on this list to be more than half a century old. Founded in 1492, the brewery gained widespread popularity when it was known that the legendary composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself had a liking for the company’s beer. Drinks brewed by the company include the classic Stiegl-Goldbräu and the tasty Stiegl-Radler Grapefruit.
9. Hubertus Brewery (569 years old)
Another favorite among Austrian locals is the Hubertus Brewery which itself has a very interesting backstory. During the Middle Ages, a town called Laa an der Thaya was struggling with its economy. To address the situation, in 1454, the Duke of Austria gave the townspeople brewing rights in order to ease their financial situation.
It was in 1847 that the rights to the town’s brewery were transferred to Anton Kuhfahrer, who would then go on to pass Hubertus Brewery down to the future generations of his family. Popular beers made by the brewery include the Oktoberbier and the Festbock.
8. Spaten Brewery (626 years old)
Many believe that the Spaten Brewery played an important role in advancing lager brewing. Founded by Hans Wesler in 1397, Spaten Brewery continued to change owners until the prestigious Sedlmayr family acquired the rights to the brewery. It was not long after that the company became one of Munich’s largest companies. One of the best-selling products of the brewery is the lager Spaten Münchner Hell.
7. Stella Artois (657 years old)
Stella Artois is a well-known beer company. Starting off as the Den Hoorn Brewery, the brewery was founded in 1366. At around 1717, Sébastien Artois, the head brewer of the company at the time, moved to acquire the company completely. It was during this time that the Stella Artois beer product line was created. Initially, the beverage was released as part of the company’s Christmas special at the time, however, the popularity of the company only soared as the decades and centuries passed by.
6. Franziskaner Weissbier (660 years old)
Franziskaner Weissbier was a brewery established in Munich, Germany, around 1363. The company was named after a Franciscan monastery which was located near the brewery. Similar to the Spaten Brewery mentioned in this list, Franzikaner Weissbier was also acquired by the Sedlmayr family. Retaining its classic ‘monk logo’ branding, some popular drinks of the company are the Franziskaner Royal and the Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier.
5. Augustiner-Bräu (695 years old)
Augustiner-Bräu is another brewery established in Munich, Germany — however, this company happens to be the oldest of its kind in the city. Founded in 1328, Augustinian monks were the first people in charge of the brewery. In the early 1800s, the brewery was acquired by the Wagner family, which turned the company into an even more successful one. Some known beers under the company are the Lagerbier Hell and the Heller Bock.
4. Bolten Brewery (757 years old)
The Bolten Brewery, located in Korschenbroich, Germany, was founded in 1266 by Heinrich der Brauer. It is considered to be the oldest altbier brewery all over the world. The specialty of the company lies in its original recipe and brewing style, which has lasted over the centuries. Notable drinks from Bolten Brewery include the classic Bolten Alt and the fresh Bolten Helles.
3. Affligem Brewery (949 years old)
Surviving for nearly a millennium, the Affligem Brewery, which was founded in 1074 in Belgium, is definitely a wonder in the beer industry. Established by knights-turned-monks, the Affligem Brewery first served as a safer substitute for water which at the time was not guaranteed to be safe.
While the brewing process has developed throughout the years, the original flavor of Affligem’s beers is still loyal to the classics. The drinks brewed by Affligem Brewery include the Affligem Blond and the Affligem Dubbel.
2. Weltenburg Abbey Brewery (973 years old)
The Weltenburg Abbey Brewery, which is yet again another brewery coming from Germany, is a runner-up for the title of the oldest beer company in the world. Officially selling beer in 1050, the brewery was another beer company that previously had the sole purpose of becoming a monastery to serve as a home for monks.
To this day, Weltenburg Abbey Brewery continues to provide its signature drinks to customers, such as the dark barley Weltenburg Baroque Dunkel and the rich-tasting Weltenburg Klosterlikor.
1. Weihenstephan Brewery (983 years old)
The Weihenstephan Brewery tops this list as the oldest beer company that is still actively brewing. Starting off as a Benedictine monastery, it was in 1040 that the institution officially launched its full-scale brewing operations. During the company’s founding year, Abbot Arnold of the Weihenstephan Monastery had also successfully obtained his license to brew and sell beer.
Thus, for the next 983 years since then, the Weihenstephan Brewery has never failed to deliver its signature quality of beer to the masses all the way to today. The timeless flavor of the brewery continues to impress beer lovers who get a chance to experience the beer company’s traditional techniques for themselves.
Signature drinks of the Weihenstephan Brewery include their original Wheat Beer product line, the top-quality Kristallweissbier, and the impressive Korbinian.
I am a passionate beer connoisseur with a deep appreciation for the art and science of brewing. With years of experience tasting and evaluating various beers, I love to share my opinions and insights with others and I am always eager to engage in lively discussions about my favorite beverage.