The Research Center Weihenstephan can now look back over a 130-year history. It was founded in 1885 by Prof. Dr. Hans Vogel in Memmingen as a brewing technology test institute “subsidized by the Royal Bavarian State" and it initially worked together with the director Leyser's Brewing Academy in Augsburg. The total number of member companies already amounted to 500 breweries in 1890, carrying out 1400 analyses, 557 consultations, 200 inspections and giving 16 talks that year. The Klein- und Mittelbrauer (small and medium-sized brewers) journal first published by the institute in 1887 proved very popular with its focus on current topics. The institute was moved to Weihenstephan under the management of Prof. Dr. Hans Vogel in September 1892, according to the resolution of the Bavarian State Parliament. The upswing of the institute at the turn of the century is best illustrated by the fact that by 1913, the number of analyses had already risen to 12,000 and the number of inspections to 250. Besides the executive board, the institute then consisted of: a board of laboratory trustees, four company supervisors, eleven assistants, one inspector, four lab technicians, three sales professionals and three lab assistants.
After the First World War, the management of the institute became the responsibility of Prof. Dr. Hans Schnegg and the company supervisor at that time, Mr Josef Ernst, was appointed as the institute director. His unflagging enthusiasm helped bring the institute into another boom period. Countless company inspections, training courses, presentations and analyses turned the institute into the biggest institution of its kind in Germany and abroad. With approximately 500 company inspections, the number of tests rose to over 20,000 a year during his tenure.
The setbacks of the Second World War were soon overcome and the institute could continue to be used for the benefit of the breweries.
The director Josef Ernst retired in 1952. His successor was Dr. Josef Gloetzl. Dr. Bernhard Mändl was appointed to the board of laboratory trustees. The institute collaborated more closely with the Department of Brewing at the then Technical University in Weihenstephan from then on. Prof. Dr. Franz Weinfurtner, holder of the Chair of Technical Microbiology and Brewery Technology, was appointed to the institute's executive board. The institute gained even further global recognition as a result of the re-established close cooperation between science and practice.
Along with his extremely involved work through being the Chair and in the institute, Prof. Dr. Weinfurtner put all his energy into the service of the institute and therefore the brewing industry. In a purposeful collaboration with leading officials, staff and employees, he led the institute to further prestige. Under his direction, the institute also adapted its set-up and facilities to modern and scientific requirements. The success and further upswing was reflected by both its international prominence and in the increased analysis contracts, which had now risen to about 40,000 a year.
In 1968, Prof. Dr. Mändl took over what was then the Testing and Research Institute and, at the same time, he held the Chair for Brewery Technology II. He was known as an excellent practitioner and taster. His era also coincided with the start of the first DLG (German Agricultural Society) tests of beers in collaboration with the VLB Berlin (a members’ association for German brewers and maltsters).
In 1980 Prof. Dr. Siegfried Donhauser succeeded him on the board of the testing and research institute, whilst holding the Chair of the Brewery Technology II at the same time. One of his major achievements was to introduce modern test methods such as immunological methods of analysis.
In 1995, the Brewing Technology Testing and Research Institute was separated from the Technology II faculty. At this point, Prof. Dr. Heinz Miedaner took over management of the institute. As chairman of MEBAK (Central European Brewing Technology Analysis Commission), Prof. Miedaner could further increase the international reputation of the brewing technology testing and research institute. The “International brewing methods” lecture given by Prof. Miedaner also emphasized the international focus of the institute.
In 2004, Prof. Harun Parlar took over the Brewing Technology Testing and Research Institute. Under his management, it changed its name to the “Research Center Weihenstephan for Brewing and Food Quality”. It was also one of his major achievements to pave the way for a stronger focus of the institute on more scientific work. The number of lectures and scientific publications rose significantly during his tenure. Following Prof. Parlar's retirement in 2012, the Research Center has been managed by Prof. Dr. Fritz Jacob, who had already been responsible for technical management there since 2004.
In April 2022, Dr.-Ing. Martina Gastl took over the management of the Weihenstephan Research Center.