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The Oldest Brewery in Every Country [MAP]

The global thirst for a cold one is not to be underestimated. Archaeological evidence suggests that beer has existed for roughly 13,000 years, with many of the world’s oldest breweries started by Europeans. Beer-making is a practice that harkens back to monks, monasteries, and the once-necessary need to find a safer alternative to water. From there, beer branched out to the rest of the world, largely through imperialism.

There are tens of thousands of breweries around the world right now, and while one can argue until the cows come home about which ones are the best, some have simply been around the longest, and their longevity is just plain impressive. That’s why we’ve put together a roundup of some of the oldest breweries in each country.

In compiling this list, some liberties were taken in terms of what constitutes the oldest brewery in each country, as some started as monasteries, abbeys, sake breweries, and beyond. That said, all the breweries listed are considered the oldest breweries still in operation in each country. While some have closed and reopened and others have gone through name changes and hands of ownership, all are still standing.

While this list by no means covers every beer-loving nation — Europe alone boasts hundreds of the world’s oldest breweries — it does capture a wider view of when and how brewing came to be across the globe. Some countries were excluded as they simply don’t have operating breweries. And then there’s Antarctica, which doesn’t have any breweries yet.

Without further ado, here are some of the oldest breweries around the globe.

Argentina: Cervecería y Maltería Quilmes, 1890

Founded by a German immigrant, Cervecería y Maltería Quilmes is most well known for its namesake lager Quilmes, which reigns as the most popular beer in Argentina. It’s also the country’s official national beer, and dons a light blue-and-white label as a nod to the Argentinian flag.

Australia: The Cascade Brewery, 1832

Peter Degraves, his family, and a number of other settlers arrived in South Hobart, Tasmania, by way of England in 1824 and started a sawmill. The following year, Degraves was imprisoned due to outstanding debts in England. While he was locked up, he hatched a plan to start a brewery using the same relatively pure water source as the sawmill, and his business partner Hugh Macintosh started building a brewery on the same site. Upon his release in 1832, Degraves took the reins at the brewery, and it still stands to this day. Cascade produces its own malt for many of its core expressions rather than importing it.

Austria: The Hofstetten Brewery, 1449

Records of taverns brewing their own beer in Hofstetten, Austria, date back all the way to 1229, but the first bonafide brewery was established in 1449. Though deeply rooted in traditional Austrian brewing methods, the brand now offers a vast selection of modern and experimental beers, including a New England IPA and a honey bock aged in Calvados barrels.

Belgium: Affligem Brewery, 1074

Belgium has a rich brewing history, and its lambic beers are among the most sought-after in the world. But before that style came around, there were monks who brewed beer at abbeys as an alternative to water, which wasn’t always safe to drink. Almost 1,000 years later, the Affligem Brewery is still going strong, producing traditional Belgian styles like blonde ales, Belgian dubbels, and tripels.

Brazil: Cervejaria Bohemia, 1853

Brazil’s Cervejaria Bohemia was originally called Fábrica de Cerveja Nacional (National Beer Factory), but took its current name in 1889. It’s located in the small city of Petrópolis near Rio de Janeiro, and its hoppy Bohemia pilsner is a fan favorite in both North and South America.

Canada: Molson Brewing, 1786

Founded by England-born John Molson, Montreal’s original Molson Brewery is still producing beer on the shores of the St. Lawrence River to this day. In the early 1990s, Molson introduced Molson Ice to the American market, and the brewery’s flagship lager remains a popular budget beer throughout North America.

China: Harbin Brewery, 1900

Polish brewer Jan Wróblewski started a brewing company, which he named after himself, to supply beer to Russians working on the Trans-Siberian Railway system in northeastern China. By 1932, the brewery had gained the Harbin moniker and the company fell under the joint control of Chinese and Czech nationals. After a few years of Soviet ownership, the brewery bounced back into the hands of the Chinese government, though it is now owned by Anheuser-Busch. Harbin lager, the brand’s flagship brew, may not be that well known in the states but it’s massively popular in its home country, and is brewed with a blend of European and Chinese “Qindao Dahua” hops.

Colombia: Bavaria Brewery, 1889

German immigrant Leo S. Kopp founded the Bavaria Brewery in Bogotá. The brewery produces a wide range of pilsners, and was taken under the AB InBev umbrella in 2016.

Czech Republic: Břevnov Monastery, 933

The Břevnov Monastery is a Benedictine abbey in western Prague. Although its brewing operations have stopped and restarted many times throughout its history, it’s still making beer to this day under the label Břevnovský Benedict. Depending on one’s definition of a brewery, the Břevnov Monastery is the oldest-running beer producer in the entire world.

England: Three Tuns Brewery, 1642

Though established in the 17th century, England’s historic Three Tuns Brewery has been taking a uniquely Victorian approach to brewing since the 1880s: The beer’s ingredients flow through a tower from top to bottom at different stages of the brewing process. The brewery offers a range of styles these days, but one of its pale ales, XXX, still employs a recipe penned in the 1600s.

France: Villa Meteor, 1640

Tucked away in the Alsatian countryside, Villa Meteor has been producing beer without interruption for nearly 400 years. The brewery makes a range of IPAs, but its heart and soul lie in bottom-fermented styles like amber lagers and pilsners.

Germany: Weihenstephan Brewery, 1040

While the Břevnov Monastery technically predates this brewery, the Weihenstephan Brewery advertises itself as the world’s oldest brewery. It has been destroyed and rebuilt during its long history, and it’s always been a purveyor of quintessential German styles like Helles lagers, Weizenbiers, and dunkels.

India: Solan Brewery, 1835

Edward Abraham Dyer moved from England to India to set up the nation’s first brewery in the late 1820s, bringing brewing and distillation equipment along with him by boat. Then, by ox-drawn carts, said equipment was brought up to the Himalayas. Given the climate of the high altitudes, Dyer set out to distill whisky and brew beer, but brewing operations were relocated to the nearby city of Solan due to its abundance of fresh spring water. Both the distillery in the Himalayas and the Solan Brewery are still functioning to this day, the latter of which produces Lion Beer, Asia’s first beer brand.

Ireland: Smithwick’s Brewery, 1710

Founded by namesake John Smithwick, the Kilkenny brewery was acquired by the Irish juggernaut Guinness in 1965. As of 2013, the original brewery site has been converted into a visitor’s center and tourist attraction, and all production has moved to Dublin. Smithwick’s is best known for its Irish red ale.

Japan: Kiuchi Brewery, 1823

Kiuchi Brewery is a bit of an outlier in this roundup, as it existed solely as a sake and shochu producer until 1996. Two years prior, a change in Japanese law opened up the market to craft brewers, and Toshiyuki Kiuchi launched the Hitachino Nest Beer brand with the help of American brewer Mark Hammon. The brewery produces a number of experimental brews, including a yuzu lager and a Belgian strong ale matured in shochu casks.

Mexico: Compañía Cervecería Toluca y México, 1865

Swiss-born Agustin Marendaz started what was initially just a brewing shop, and after it was purchased by another Swiss man, Santiago Graf, it evolved into a full-fledged brewery by 1890. Graf is credited with bringing Vienna-style lagers to Mexico; Cerveza Victoria, the brewery’s most famous lager, has been brewed since 1906.

Morocco: La Société des Boissons du Maroc, 1919

Situated in Casablanca is the country’s oldest beer producer, La Société des Boissons du Maroc. Little information is available regarding its founding, but in 2003, it was purchased by French beverage company Castel Group. La Société des Boissons du Maroc produces several beer brands including Stork pale lager and Flag pilsner. In addition to beer, the company also produces wine, drinking water, and olive oil.

Netherlands: Brand Bierbrouwerij, 1340

Brand’s origins are a bit shaky as some form of its beer has been produced in its home village of Wijlre since 1340, but the brewery we know today wasn’t officially established until 1871 when the Brand family acquired the facility. Brand Brewery has stood the test of time, though it is now under the ownership of fellow Netherlands brewery Heineken.

New Zealand: Speight’s Brewery, 1876

James Speight, Charles Greenslade, and William Dawson left their brewing gigs at Scotland’s Wellpark Brewery to found Speight’s Brewery in Dunedin, New Zealand. The brewery experienced a quick rise, winning a gold medal at the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880, and growing to become the largest brewery in the country by 1887. In the early 1920s, Speight’s Brewery joined forces with nine other local breweries to form New Zealand Breweries, before eventually being purchased by Australian beverage conglomerate Lion. The most well-known Speight’s offering is its Gold Medal Ale, named in honor of the 1880 award.

Philippines: San Miguel Corporation, 1890

Manila businessman Enrique María Barretto de Ycaza started La Fábrica de Cerveza San Miguel after receiving a royal grant from Spain to build a brewery in the Philippines. Although it started as a half-brewery, half-ice-making facility, the company has grown to be one of the most diverse conglomerates in the country with stakes in the food, transportation, energy, and real estate industries. San Miguel beer, its flagship lager, is currently exported to over 50 countries.

Russia: Vena Brewery, 1872

For a long time, Stepan Razin Brewery — founded in 1795 — held the title of Russia’s oldest brewery, but its parent company Heineken closed down operations in 2009 and converted it into a logistics center and beer museum. Now, Saint Petersburg’s Vena Brewery stands as the oldest operating brewery in the country. Like many breweries in this roundup, Vena has quite the checkered past, marked by closures, reopenings, and shifting ownership. It is now owned by the Danish company Carlsberg Group, and the brewery continues to produce and distribute its pale lager, Vena, in the Saint Petersburg area.

Scotland: Belhaven Brewery, 1719

The Belhaven Brewery in Dunbar has always used local ingredients, from water and barley to the brand’s signature Belhaven yeast. Its beers — particularly its Scottish ales — are beloved far and wide for their distinctly malt-forward profile. Belhaven Brewery is not only Scotland’s oldest brewery, but as of 2005, it’s also the largest.

South Africa: Newlands Brewery, 1820

European brewing techniques first arrived in Cape Town in 1652, but it wasn’t until 1820 that Swedish businessman Jacob Letterstedt built the Mariendahl Brewery, which is now a part of the Newlands Brewery complex. Throughout its history, several changes in ownership took place, but the original Mariendahl Brewery has stayed standing. As of 1995, the building has gained National Heritage site status, so it’s not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

South Korea: Hite Brewery, 1933

Seoul’s Hite Brewery was founded by Japanese brand Sapporo Breweries. It originally went by the name Nippon Beer Chosun Co., and after several shifting monikers, it settled on its current name in 1998. Eight years later, the company purchased the popular Korean soju brand Jinro, forming HiteJinro.

Thailand: Boon Rawd Brewery, 1933

After touring Germany and Denmark to learn how to brew beer, Boonrawd Sreshthaputra — later dubbed Phraya Bhirom Bhakdi by the seventh king of Siam Prajadhipok — started Thailand’s first and oldest brewery. The company is still owned by the Bhirom Bhakdi family, and the brand’s first pale lager, Singha, is still its most popular offering.

U.S.A.: Yuengling, 1829

A year after emigrating from Germany, David Jüngling founded the United States’ oldest operating brewery in Pottsville, Pa. (Yuengling is an anglicized version of the founder’s name.) Though many breweries shuttered during Prohibition, the brewery survived by making near beer and ice cream, which it continued producing until 1985.

*Image retrieved from Mannaggia via stock.adobe.com

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