The dates are controversial and some say the 1950s document is a 17th century forgery. However, this does not prevent the brewery from declaring itself as the oldest active brewery in the world today.
According to historian Jörg Spengler, the first official reference to the brewery dates back to the second half of the 17th century. “There is no conclusive evidence of the existence of a brewery in Weihenstephan until it is mentioned in the confirmation certificate issued by Kurfürst [título de nobreza] Ferdinand Maria, in 1675, wrote for the Yearbook of the Beer History Society.
The establishment of the monastery itself is older (and better documented). The site began as a church established by Saint Corbinian around 720, in honor of Saint Stephen. According to records before the 9th century, there was a dormitory for monks next to the building.
Hops production at the monastery also dates from this time. The monastery's website states: “There was a hashish garden in the vicinity of the Weinstevan Monastery, and its owner had to pay 10 percent tithes.” “Apparently these hops were used to prepare beer at the monastery,” the text concludes.
The monastery was destroyed several times during its history. In 955, the Hungarians invaded the area, plundering and demolishing the monastery. Furthermore, between 1085 and 1463, the monastery burned to the ground four times, and its population was evacuated by three plagues, several times of scarcity and famine, and a major earthquake.
Today, the brewery is a public-private initiative. In 1803, as part of a larger wave of German secularization, the Weihenstephan Abbey was dissolved. The site became the property of the Bavarian government, where it was incorporated as Königlich Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan (Royal Bavarian Brewery Weihenstevan).
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