500 years of the German Beer Purity Law
This year marks 500 years of the German Beer Purity Law or the Reinheitsgebot.
The purity law started in Bavaria and initially allowed only the use of three basic ingredients in brewing beer: water, barley, and hops. Wheat was a late addition.
According to the German Beer Institute, the Reinheitsgebot is the oldest, valid food safety law in the world. However, it only started making its appearance in legal texts in 1918.
The German Beer Institute said the original law was a decree issued by Duke Wilhelm IV and Duke Ludwig X on April 23, 1516 to regulate the quality of beer sold and to levy taxes on the product.
Today, the purity law is part of the German tax code.
Despite the limit on the ingredients allowed, German beers still have a lot of variety.
Lagers are so-called bottom-fermented beers, with brewers using only barley malt, hops, yeast, and water.
Ales are top-fermented beers and account for about 10 percent of the German market.
The German Beer Institute said the rules for ales are more flexible to accommodate the wheat-based Weissbier or wheat beer brewing tradition.
German ales are allowed to use other malted grains, such as malted wheat for Weissbier, and various forms of sugar from cane or beet and sugar-derived coloring ingredients.
Putting in spices, as what some Belgian brewers do, or corn and rice as in most mass-produced beers, are a big no-no.
We would have wanted to see how the Philippines’ iconic San Miguel Pale Pilsen would stand up to the Reinheitsgebot but sadly, the new beer bottles no longer list down its ingredients. (Eileen A. Mencias)