What is the German Beer Purity Law? | Made in Germany“In 1516,…

What is the German Beer Purity Law? | Made in Germany

“In 1516, Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria decreed that beer should only be brewed from barley, hops, and water. This purity law brought German brewers worldwide success. But 500 years on, some rebels are trying to add more variety and new ingredients to German beer.”


In 1516, William IV, Duke of Bavaria, adopted the Reinheitsgebot (purity law), perhaps the oldest food-quality regulation still in use through the 20th century, according to which the only allowed ingredients of beer are water, hops and barley-malt. Beer produced before the Industrial Revolution continued to be made and sold on a domestic scale, although by the 7th century AD, beer was also being produced and sold by European monasteries. During the Industrial Revolution, the production of beer moved from artisanal manufacture to industrial manufacture, and domestic manufacture ceased to be significant by the end of the 19th century. The development of hydrometers and thermometers changed brewing by allowing the brewer more control of the process and greater knowledge of the results. Today, the brewing industry is a global business, consisting of several dominant multinational companies and many thousands of smaller producers ranging from brewpubs to regional breweries. As of 2006, more than 133 billion liters (35 billion gallons), the equivalent of a cube 510 metres on a side, of beer are sold per year, producing total global revenues of $294.5 billion (£147.7 billion).


Beer is one of the world’s oldest prepared beverages, possibly dating back to the early Neolithic or 9500 BC, when cereal was first farmed, and is recorded in the written history of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Archaeologists speculate that beer was instrumental in the formation of civilisations.The earliest known chemical evidence of beer dates to circa 3500–3100 BC from the site of Godin Tepe in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran. Some of the earliest Sumerian writings found in the region contain references to a type of beer; one such example, a prayer to the goddess Ninkasi, known as “The Hymn to Ninkasi”, served as both a prayer as well as a method of remembering the recipe for beer in a culture with few literate people. The Ebla tablets, discovered in 1974 in Ebla, Syria and date back to 2500 BC, reveal that the city produced a range of beers, including one that appears to be named “Ebla” after the city. A beer made from rice, which, unlike sake, didn’t use the amylolytic process, and was probably prepared for fermentation by mastication or malting, was made in China around 7000 BC. As almost any substance containing carbohydrates, mainly sugars or starch, can naturally undergo fermentation, it is likely that beer-like beverages were independently invented among various cultures throughout the world. The invention of bread and beer has been argued to be responsible for humanity’s ability to develop technology and build civilization. Beer was spread through Europe by Germanic and Celtic tribes as far back as 3000 BC, and it was mainly brewed on a domestic scale. The product that the early Europeans drank might not be recognised as beer by most people today. Alongside the basic starch source, the early European beers might contain fruits, honey, numerous types of plants, spices and other substances such as narcotic herbs. What they did not contain was hops, as that was a later addition first mentioned in Europe around 822 by a Carolingian Abbot and again in 1067 by Abbess Hildegard of Bingen.


In Germany, beer is large part of the culture. There are over 1300 breweries in Germany, the most in any country in the world. Beer produced in Germany must adhere to the Reinheitsgebot (German purity law) which dictates what ingredients can be used. The only ingredients allowed are water, hops and barley-malt. Cultured yeast was also included in the law after its invention. Today, breweries from around the world have incorporated the Reinheitsgebot into the production of their own beer. Because of this purity requirement, which was law until 1988, German beers are recognized for their quality. There are many types of German beer. A few of the styles of ale include Altbier, Koelsch, Rauchbier and Weizen. German lagers include Helles, Maerzen, Bock, Pilsener, Schwarzbier and Dunkel. The colors, aromas and flavor of each type can vary widely, but all are drunk in large quantities.

German Beer Purity Law, 1516

“We hereby proclaim and decree, by Authority of our Province, that henceforth in the Duchy of Bavaria, in the country as well as in the cities and marketplaces, the following rules apply to the sale of beer: From Michaelmas to Georgi, the price for one Mass [Bavarian Liter 1,069] or one Kopf [bowl-shaped container for fluids, not quite one Mass], is not to exceed one Pfennig Munich value, and From Georgi to Michaelmas, the Mass shall not be sold for more than two Pfennig of the same value, the Kopf not more than three Heller [Heller usually one-half Pfennig]. If this not be adhered to, the punishment stated below shall be administered. Should any person brew, or otherwise have, other beer than March beer, it is not to be sold any higher than one Pfennig per Mass. Furthermore, we wish to emphasize that in future in all cities, markets and in the country, the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the Court authorities’ confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail. Should, however, an innkeeper in the country, city or markets buy two or three pails of beer (containing 60 Mass) and sell it again to the common peasantry, he alone shall be permitted to charge one Heller more for the Mass of the Kopf, than mentioned above. Furthermore, should there arise a scarcity and subsequent price increase of the barley (also considering that the times of harvest differ, due to location), WE, the Bavarian Duchy, shall have the right to order curtailments for the good of all concerned.”

The Beer Belly

We all love beer. I think that is a given. The problem with good beer isn’t just the occasional hangover; it’s also what the wife has probably mentioned to you, calories. The better the beer the more the calories, that’s the way it seems. So drinking copious amounts of good beer invariably leads to… the Beer Belly.

Since the Czechs drink more beer then anyone else, they were investigated to find the link between beer and the belly. Almost 2,000 people were tested in Prague and absolutely no link was found to justify the term “Beer Belly”. This is according to a BBC article on The Beer Belly.

This is great news for beer lovers everywhere! However a killjoy named Nigel Denby of the British Dietetic Association warned people not to take the studies findings all the way to the pub, so to speak.

Another BBC article on The Beer Belly seems to get to bottom of the issue. It appears that the Beer Belly can be attributed not to drinking beer, but to drinking a lot of beer… quickly. A study found that binge drinking can contribute to an “Apple-shaped” figure. So if you drink 10 beers, 2 nights out of the week you will get a Beer Belly. However, if you drink 2 beers, 5 nights out of the week, you won’t get a Beer Belly.
This is good news. You just have to spread the beer love. Not all at once. Enjoy two delicious beers almost every night and you’ll be fine.

OK, enough dodging. If you have a serious Beer Belly going on, your pretty daft if your blaming it all on beer. The number one thing is dieting, but if you’re only interested in losing the Beer Belly, then you need to work out your transverse abdominus, or TVA. The best way to do this is as follows:
1. Place one of your fingers on your belly button
2. Without taking in a deep breath. Try to move your belly button inward as far away from your finger as you can
3. Hold your belly button in for 5 seconds working your way up to a minute
4. Advanced: as your holding in your belly button-tightly squeeze your ABS

Pilsner Beer

Until the 1840s, most Bohemian beers were top-fermented, dark and cloudy. The taste and standards of quality often varied to the worse, and in 1838, consumers even dumped whole barrels to show their dissatisfaction. The citizens of Pilsen decided in 1839 to found and build a brewery of their own, called Bürger Brauerei (Citizens’ Brewery), which should brew beer according to the Bavarian style of brewing. Bavarian brewers had begun experiments with the storage of beer in cool caves using bottom-fermenting yeasts, which improved the beer’s clarity, flavor, and shelf-life. Most of this research benefited from the knowledge already expounded on in a German book (printed since 1794, in Czech since 1801). The Bürger Brauerei recruited the Bavarian brewer Josef Groll (1813-1887) who, using new techniques and the newly available paler malts, presented his first batch of modern Pilsner on October 5, 1842. The combination of pale color from the new malts, Pilsen’s remarkably soft water, noble hops from nearby Saaz and Bavarian-style lagering produced a clear, golden beer which was regarded as a sensation. Improving transport and communications also meant that this new beer was soon available throughout Central Europe, and the Pilsner Brauart style of brewing was soon widely imitated.