Reinheitsgebot
BE Reinheitsgebot Document

Reinheitsgebot is the Beer Purity Law, promulgated by Duke Albert IV of Bavaria, on November 30, 1487.

Years later, on April 23, 1516, two other dukes endorsed the law as one to be followed as a quality standard.

This law determined that a drink, to be called beer, must be made with only three ingredients: water, barley malt and hops.

Yeast was not mentioned because it was not yet known at the time. Louis Pasteur discovered this microorganism responsible for fermentation only in the 19th century.

This law is one of the oldest European food decrees.

In the German unification process in 1871, Bavaria insisted the law and put it as precondition to accept the agreement. In 1906, the Reinheitsgebot spread throughout Germany, despite criticism of the brewing industry, as other German regions had already brewing traditions with other raw materials.

The Duke created the law because he had a concern about the contamination of the most popular drink in his duchy, consumed not only by ordinary citizens, but also by the court. In the brewing process, was used the so-called Guit, a mixture of spices and herbs to give more flavor to the beer. But it could contain toxic herbs and hallucinogenic mushrooms, extremely dangerous to the consumer.

The law was also introduced in order to prevent competition between the brewers and bakers, leaving the most valuable grains, scarce at that time (wheat and rye), for the bread production.

But this movement also had a politico-religious nature: by requiring only the use of hops in beer as a preservative, the Duke gave the monks a great revenue, who monopolized its production. The penalty applied in case of violation was also determined in the law: a beer that did not follow the new standard would be confiscated and the producer would receive no compensation.

After World War II, the decree was modified and incorporated into the Federal Rules for Beer Taxation (Biersteuergesetz).

This merger created a little more freedom for producers, allowing the use of special other cereals malts, as well as a limited number of dyes and sugars in beers so-called special or for export.

High fermentation beers also had more freedom and could use other cereals in its composition.

Despite minor adjustments, the concept of the original document remains, making the Purity Law one of the oldest foods treated still in force today. And it can also be considered the first consumer protection law.

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