Whether you enjoy drinking a pale ale or a hearty lager, you can thank the Reinheitsgebot. The Reinheitsgebot was passed November 30, 1487, to protect the sanctity and purity of beer, and thwarted brewers from throwing in unnecessary ingredients. For over five centuries the Reinheitsgebot has continued to be upheld and celebrated for ensuring top-notch quality German brews.
A trinity for beer
During the Middle Ages in Europe, Germany, like other countries were experiencing problems with their water. The water could make you sick and was incredibly foul, so it was safer to drink alcohol without the threat of rehab. The Duke of Munich was a huge fan of beer, so he passed his beer purity law to ensure there was no funny business with his favorite drink.
Only a combination of hops, barley, and water could be used to make beer legally. Despite shortages on certain grains, taxes, or armed conflicts, beer would not be considered beer, or acceptable unless created using these three ingredients alone.
Tradition and triumph
Germany has a lengthy love affair with beer, as evidenced by beer amphorae dating back to 800 BC found near Kulmbach. Thanks to the efforts of Duke Albert IV of Munich, German beers surged forward in quality, taste, and production.
The beer purity law of 1487 set the groundwork for refined beer purity laws in 1516. If a batch of beer was deemed bad, it would be immediately destroyed and those held responsible would be fined. At least the Germans were kinder than ancient Sumerians, who would drown guilty brewers in a bad batch.
Raise your stein
Today, the Reinheitsgebot still reigns as the standard that German brewers swear their allegiance to uphold. There is no room for adding fruit or other gimmicks to be innovative, which may be a relief to most.
Some brewers have challenged the Reinheitsgebot as being outdated, but beer lovers the world over still flock to Germany for Oktoberfest and other celebrations for the world’s favorite drink.