The History of Hesse's Oldest Brewery
Hofbrauhaus Arolsen is most likely the oldest brewery in the state of Hesse. Its origins go back deep into the Middle Ages, when the Aroldessen monastery stood at the site of the present town of Bad Arolsen.
Brewing tradition since 1131
In 1131, this area was home to aristocratic widow Gepa von Itter. Together with her three unmarried daughters, she was the last of her house. As was customary for unmarried women at the time, the four wanted to spend the rest of the lives in a cloister, so they converted their old manor house into a monastery and soon attracted many women to join them.
During Lent, their vows did not permit them to eat solid foods, so they invented a nutritious beer as their "liquid bread".
From monastic brewery to purveyors to the court
The nuns continued to run the monastery with success for several centuries, but it fell on hard times by the end of the fifteenth century. The nuns were replaced by monks from Grünberg in Hesse, but there soon came a different version of the Christian faith spread by a monk from Thuringia named Martin Luther and the landgrave of Hesse was one of the first princes to join his cause.
Accordingly, Vogt, the Count of Waldeck and patron of the monastery, dissolved the cloister in 1526, at which time his accountants compiled an inventory of the monastery's property. The books reference the grain, livestock, fields and barns one might expect from a rural estate as well as the first mention of a brewery and bakery on site.
The Brüne family brewery
The Waldeck court was then all too glad to convert the former monastery into a palace as its summer residence adjacent to their new court brewery.
When the count was elevated to the rank of prince in 1719, the old monastery walls no longer seemed to befit his new standing. The former cloister was demolished and a Baroque palace in the latest fashion was built in its stead. So that the palace could become a proper capital befitting the prince's new rank, an entire city was founded to equal the splendor that was being lavished on the palace.
With the founding of the city of Arolsen, the princes began to lease out the rights to run their court brewery and the town's first pub in the Hofbrauhaus (which is German for "court brewery").
Over the decades, the pub leaseholders continued to change until Heinrich Brüne Sr. finally came from the neighboring village of Külte. After about twenty years of success holding the prince's lease, he was able to purchase the Hofbrauhaus Arolsen in his own name in 1910.
The fourth generation of his descendants continues to run the Hofbrauhaus to this day.