The Art of Brewing Beer

Germany is considered the land of beer and brewing. Weihenstephan, a district of Freising, in Bavaria, enjoys a particularly advantageous location. There, a cutting edge brewery plant stands next to the world's oldest active brewery, and, right next to the Bavarian State Brewery of Weihenstephan stands the science center's newly-opened Research Brewery of The Institute for Brewing of Weihenstephan.

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Authors: Albert Knechtel and Felix Sorger
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This institution enjoys on-going renown for its innovations. The latest development is "Xan", a beer alleged to tackle the onset of cancer. This segment explores the "brewing Mecca" of Weihenstephan and visits the director, Professor Back, and three of his students: Fei Qian from China, Benjamin Bailey from the USA, and Lucero González Castro from Columbia.

In 725, Saint Corbinian is said to have come, together with twelve companions, to Weihenstephan to found a Benedictine monastery on Nährberg Hill. At the same time he founded the art of brewing in Weihenstephan at what would later become the Weihenstephan Monastery Brewery. During the secularization of 1803, the monastery was turned over to the State. Today, the Bavarian State Brewery of Weihenstephan is considered the world's oldest brewery.

In 1852, the agricultural Central School of Schleißheim settled in Weihenstephan, along with Bavarian brewing students. In 1895, the school became an academy with its own laboratory for brewing techniques, and in 1919, it became the College of Agriculture and Brewing. Today, the "Weihenstephan Science Center for Nutrition, Agricultural Planning and Environment" belongs to the Technical University of Munich. Weihenstephan thus has a long tradition as a center of brewing technology, both nationally and internationally. Once a year, the brewing department holds its International Technological Seminar. People come from all over the world: both brewers and prospective brewers. Today, Weihenstephan is considered the "Harvard of Beer Culture.“

Cooperation between the brewery and the science center is a tradition in Weihenstephan. The modern "Beer Pope", who teaches and researches, holds the Chair in the Technology of Brewing I. His name is Werner Back. He and his team also cooperate closely with the Bavarian State Brewery, a stone's throw away on the hill. Their goals are to increase efficiency, ensure quality and further develop brewing technology. Back and his team constantly come up with new developments. And one of these innovations in particular recently made headlines: a beer said to make you healthy. "Xan" contains the tanning agent of hops, Xanthohumol, which is alleged to hinder the growth of cancer cells.

Innovation is a must. After all, the beer scene has changed in Germany. The industry is suffering and profits are decreasing. In the last 10 years, beer consumption has sunk from 140 to 117 liters yearly per person. Nor has globalization passed the brewers by. 50 breweries now earn three-fourths of the industry's entire turnover. Dr. Oetker, Interbrew, Heineken and Carlsberg make up the Big Four. Still, in 2005, there were 1,274 breweries in Germany, producing about 5,000 different brands of beer.

Beer has always been a taste of Germany. And the industry here is particularly proud of Germany's oldest food law, the Bavarian Purity Law. On April 23, 1516, Prince Wilhelm IV decreed that nothing belongs in beer but water, barley and hops. (Yeast was not yet known, although it also was a component of beer.)
Goethe-Institut e. V. 2006
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