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REINHEITSGEBOT

By: Javier Sanchez, El Cerveciafilo.

Beer was originally a food.

Thousands of years later, when north-central Europe monopolized the production of this drink, little by little they invented the wide range of styles that we know today.

Standardizing the different flavors of beer was a long process in which many people participated. This became relevant when beer became a profitable product, that is when it began to generate economic profits for those who manufactured it, regardless of whether they were associations. religious, governmental, or civil. The recipes were innumerable and the results were fascinating. However, no one had tried to set the fundamental rules of the process in writing… no one until the scrupulous Bavarians established it and raised to law what the ingredients for making beer should be.

In 1516, on April 23, William IV of Bavaria established the Bavarian Purity Law or Reinheitsgebot. Said law decreed that the only ingredients allowed to make beer within their country were water, malt, and hops. How: Only three ingredients?… and where is the yeast? At this point it is important to remember that yeast was not yet an ingredient “discovered” by science, so it was not considered in this law. Under no circumstances should anything else be added under the penalty of being severely penalized by the government.

Many affirm that in reality, the intention of Guillermo IV was to protect his own interests since he guaranteed that the farmers sold their crops, generating huge income for the Court through the payment of the corresponding taxes. It is also said that with the implementation of the Reinheitsgebot, the consumption of hops planted in the region on land owned by the same German noblemen was guaranteed. We cannot lose sight of the fact that, under the mandate of the Bavarian royal family, the Wittelsbachs -who ruled that region from 1180 until the years of the First World War- the beer industry flourished in the country like never before, generating great economic benefits. for the royal coffers. It is even claimed that it was Duke Albrecht who founded the Hofbräuhaus Royal Court Brewery. This emblematic brewery currently belongs to the State.

What we can be sure of is that the enactment of this law prevented many conflicts between brewers and bakers who constantly fought over the region’s wheat and barley. After the Reinheitsgebot, barley went to the brewers and wheat to the bakers. This division was not taken at random, but rather has logical support: barley is a much softer grain than wheat, which makes the malting process easier. Wheat, on the other hand, does not pose any problem with the preparation of flour which is the base for any bread.

Some other countries have implemented similar regulations, for example, Finland and Norway. Currently, some craft brewers manufacture beers based on this barbaric law.

It is important to note that the fact that beer is not brewed under the principles of the Bavarian Purity Law does not mean that it is a bad beer.

For many, the Reinheitsgebot limits the creativity of brewers. They affirm that it inhibits the evolution of the craft industry, where experimentation and creativity are evident with often surprising results. You will surely have the last word on this matter.

 What new beer did you try this week?

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