500 year anniversary of the German Reinheitsgebot!
Also known as the Bavarian Purity Law or German Beer Purity Law, was made into law in Germany in 1516 as way to regulate the production of beer. It stated that German beer could only contain three ingredients: barley, hops and water. At the time, the existence of yeast had not been discovered.
On April 23rd, 1516, Bavaria adopted the Reinheitsgebot law of beer purity first established in Munich 29 years prior. The law permitted only water, barley and hops to be used in the production of beer (yeast hadn’t been discovered yet). The price of beer was set to a static level based on the time of year and type of beer, limited innkeepers’ profits and confiscated “impure” beer. Making bad beer was literally a crime.
The official 1516 ruling reads as such (English translation):
"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 500 year old purity law remains a critical factor in the production of beer in Germany, although the wider regulatory effect continues to evolve. Yeast has since been included in the list of acceptable ingredients. The Reinheitsgebot has been through the legal ringer in Germany, as its restrictions are often dubbed as protectionist and vulnerable to legal attack.
However, many Germans still defend the legislation on the grounds of defending the German tradition and upholding the highest standards of brewing and beer production. Compliance with Reinheitsgebot is actually used as a valuable marketing tool for selling authentic German beers.
No matter your opinion on German beer purity law, you can celebrate its legacy with a T shirt or 500 Year Anniversary beer stein or glass.
If you think German bureaucracy is strict when it comes to the production of beer, just imagine their standards for its consumption. Don’t even think about drinking your Reinheitsgebot compliant German beer from an aluminum can or plastic bottle.
Honoring your German tradition by sipping on an authentic German lager or pilsner requires the right glass or stoneware. Celebrate the extraordinary German standard for beer production with a Purity Law 500 Year Anniversary edition German beer stein. Order a 0.5 liter Hofbrauhaus beer glass honoring Reinhetsgebot and add a custom engraved message to carve your place in German history.