The Oxford Companion to Beer definition of
Hofbräu literally means “the court’s brewery.” Hofbräu is the name of several breweries in the German-speaking countries that were at some point in their history official purveyors of beer to the court or owned by the court. Although Hofbräuhaus in Munich is by far the most well-known (and the only nonprivatized) example, there were dozens of similar breweries in Germany and Austria that operated under that name. See hofbräuhaus münchen. Hofbräu Kaltenhausen, for example, now part of Heineken’s BrauUnion branch, was founded in 1475 by the brewer Hans Elsenheimer and taken over by the court of the duke-archbishop of Salzburg in 1486, 103 years before the more famous Hofbräuhaus in Munich went into operation. Other Hofbräu breweries that are still in operation are Würzburger Hofbräu founded by the duke-archbishop Johann Philipp von Schönborn in 1643, Hofbräu Wolters (a family-owned brewery in Braunschweig that was symbolically awarded the title “Herzogliches Hofbrauhaus” in 1882), and Stuttgarter Hofbräu. The brewery in Stuttgart got its name only in 1935, long after the relevant court (to which the brewery, then owned by monks, had been an official supplier since 1591) had vanished. Hofbräu Traunstein was founded in 1612 by the Bavarian duke Maximilian I, owner of the Hofbräuhaus in Munich. The Bavarian sovereign’s business model was to build a Hofbräu brewery in every relevant town of the Duchy of Bavaria, starting in Kelheim (this brewery is now G. Schneider & Son) in 1607. For the Wittelsbach family, who laid claim to the monopoly on wheat beer, every so- called Weisses Preyhaus (“white brewhouse” because it brewed weissbier) generated income to balance the budget. Most of these breweries were privatized in the early 19th century and others in another wave of privatization in the 1920s. Only the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus München and Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan (which was never officially called a Hofbräuhaus although it was nationalized by the court in 1803) are still owned by the state of Bavaria.
Heinrich, LetzingLetzing, Heinrich. Die Geschichte des Bierbrauwesens der Wittelsbacher. Augsburg, Germany: Wissner, 1995.