When is a beer not a beer?

I’m an avid reader of Yahoo!’s Oddly Enough news section. Usually because it’s full of irreverent blurbs. Every so often, there’s something that creeps in there that actually ticks me off.

Ever heard of the Bavarian Purity Act of 1516? It’s also known as the Reinheitsgebot. Basically, it makes sure that your finely crafted German beer is as finely crafted as the price you paid.

For almost 500 years, the law has stated that there would be only four ingredients in German beer: malt, hops, yeast, and water. That was partly for political reasons (e.g. bakers getting their wheat) but also to make sure that shifty brewers wouldn’t take shortcuts.

Well, some bozo felt it was a good idea to challenge the law because he wanted to add sugar to his product. Never mind the half-MILLENNIUM of tradition and quality. Never mind that the Bavarian Purity Act is even used as a marketing gimmick for other beers around the world. No, sorry, we have to put sugar in ours and still call it beer.


So they managed to convince the courts, after a decade, that the Bavarian Purity Act should be weakened. One day, sadly, it will probably have no oomph at all, and will be merely a distant memory.

So raise a glass of [insert favourite German beer here], … cuz it won’t be long before it won’t be just “beer” anymore.

One thought on “When is a beer not a beer?

Add yours

  1. The Reinheitsgebot of 1516 allowed for three ingredients, not four. Yeast was not one of them. So when any micro-brewer claims they follow the “act of 1516” it ain’t exactly so. Which means the act has been amended once already.

    On sugar: without it, you won’t get any alcohol. Not that I support adding refined sugar to beer and that is not a brew I will be drinking anytime soon! (Now corn… when that gets added to the act it’s game over.)


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