The Oxford Companion to Beer definition of
Sedlmayr, Gabriel the Elder
purchased a rather unremarkable brewery in Munich, in 1807. Nobody could have imagined then that this commonplace transaction, conducted by an erstwhile brewmaster to the Bavarian Royal Court, would herald the birth of one of the greatest brewing dynasties on earth, and help change the world of brewing forever. The brewery in question was Spaten, which had started life as a Munich brewpub in 1397. Between 1622 and 1704 it was owned by the Späth family, from which the brewery took its name of Spaten (the German word for “spade”). Subsequently, the brewery changed hands a few times, until it was acquired by the Siesmayr family, who sold it to Sedlmayr. The new owner’s brewing acumen was to serve the company well, and, coupled with his energy and enterprise, was to transform Spaten from virtual obscurity—ranking last in terms of malt consumption among Munich’s 52 brewers at the time—to a position of prominence, having become the third-largest brewery in Munich, after Hacker and Pschorr, by 1820. A decade later, Spaten beer was even respectable enough to be served in Munich’s world-renowned Hofbräuhaus, the 1589 former private, now public, watering hole of the Dukes of Wittelsbach, the ruling Bavarian Dynasty between 1180 and 1818.