The Schneider Weisse Brewery is a family-owned enterprise that specializes exclusively in the production of weissbier (wheat beer). The brewery is headquartered in Kelheim, Bavaria, on the banks of the Danube, some 110 kilometers (68 miles) northeast of Munich. With an annual output of almost 270,000 hl (230,085 US bbl) per year, Schneider Weisse is the seventh-most popular German wheat beer. It was in Kelheim, where Bavarian Duke Maximilian I (1573 to 1651), owner of the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, built a brand new weissbier brewery in 1607. This was only a few years after the ruling Bavarian dynasty, the Wittelsbach family, had instituted a weissbier monopoly for themselves in 1602—a monopoly that was to last until 1798. After 1602, only the dukes of Bavaria—and no commoner—could brew weissbier, because the beer was in technical violation of the Bavarian 1516 Beer Purity Law, which permitted only barley, hops, and water to be used in beer. See reinheitsgebot. In 1607, Maximilian built a Weisses Bräuhaus (white brewery) specifically for his wheat beer, right next to his “brown beer” Hofbräuhaus brewery. By the middle of the 19th century, however, top-fermented weissbier had fallen out of favor with Bavarians, who preferred the modern, somewhat cleaner tasting bottom- fermented lagers. But Georg Schneider I (1817 to 1890), a brewmaster, continued to believe in weissbier. So he leased the once-profitable Weisses Bräuhaus from the Wittelsbach family, in 1855.

Brewhouse entrance at the Schneider Weisse Brewery in Bavaria. Schneider Weisse, in operation since 1872, produces some of the worldʹs most renowned traditional wheat beers. photograph by denton tillman

At that time, weissbier might have completely disappeared from the Bavarian beer map had it not been for Georg Schneider’s decision to keep the tradition alive in downtown Munich. Schneider used an old recipe that is still the brewery’s flagship beer today. It is called Schneider Weisse—Unser Original (our original) or, more recently, just “Tap 7.” In 1872, the Bavarian rulers gave up on weissbier brewing altogether, and Schneider obtained permission to transfer his weissbier brew rights to an adjacent brewery, Maderbräu, which he had acquired, and to change his business name to “G. Schneider & Sohn.” In 1927, another Schneider, Georg IV, acquired the Kelheim premises—today Schneider’s production site, pub, and headquarters—which by then had fallen into the hands of the secular State of Bavaria. In 1907, the Schneider brewery introduced a doppelbock-strength wheat beer, Aventinus. The brew was named after an obscure Bavarian author and philosopher, Johann Georg Turmair (1477 to 1534), who called himself Aventinus. Schneider recently decided to give the draught version of Aventinus the more prosaic name of Tap 6. When the Munich brew site was destroyed during World War II, in 1944, Schneider moved all production to Kelheim, but rebuilt the former Maderbräu as a beer hall, which it still is today. Schneider has broadened its wheat beers portfolio considerably since the turn of the millennium. It now offers a number of wheat beer styles, from a non-alcoholic wheat beer to an extra-strength eisbock-version of Aventinus, and more recently a well-hopped strong weissbier called Hopfen-Weisse, originally a collaboration with The Brooklyn Brewery of New York. The brewery’s top-selling beer, usually simply called Schneider Weisse, is 100% bottle-conditioned and well regarded as one of the world’s finest traditional wheat beers.