The Weihenstephaner story is one of courage and perseverance that takes place over an unprecedented timeframe and on such an epic scale, that it is hard to believe.
The local monastery in Weihenstephan was where it all began; a reference to a hop garden in the grounds dates back to 768. That’s not a typo, I didn’t forget to put a one on the front… we are literally talking about brewing history stretching back over a 1000 years.
A license to make beer was officially obtained in 1045, but the following half a millennium was one of woe, in which the monastery would be destroyed, burned down or depopulated by plague no less than seven times. Each time it was rebuilt and the art of brewing refined.
Then, after nigh on 1000 years of toil and success in the face of adversity, and a boom in Bavarian brewing thanks to the creation of the German Purity Laws, the monastery was undone by the stroke of a pen in 1803 through the signing of the German secularisation law. This saw all the monastery’s belongings and rights transferred to the Bavarian State.
And so started a new chapter. Now the town is the home to the Agricultural University and as such is a centre of brewing study and technology and the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephaner, as it is now known, goes from strength to strength combining state of the art kit with the learnings of a long line of ancestors.
It puts into perspective the recent craft beer boom somewhat, and makes me realise that sometimes the appreciation of beer goes deeper than the beer alone. With a new found respect for a beer I had never really thought too much about, here’s how it tastes…
It’s a scintillating pale gold in the glass and, well, it doesn’t get much better than the nose which is just so crisp, clean and mineral with light citrus notes. The palate continues in the same vein with an ethereal lightness and a mousse-like quality from the carbonation which is spot on. Clean and crunchy and no cloying notes in the slightest… this is lager as the universe intended that took over 1000 years to perfect.