It’s Getting Old - 500 Years of Bavarian Beer Purity Law Photo: CC0 Public Domain

It’s Getting Old - 500 Years of Bavarian Beer Purity Law

By  Saturday, 23.4.2016, 17:07    Breweries & Beer

Today, April 23, 2016, Germany celebrates Beer Day, to mark the date the Bavarian Beer Purity Law was signed by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria in 1516 in Ingolstadt. Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, April 22, 2016 was among those toasting the anniversary of a law that allowed only water, hops and malt as ingredients - yeast was added to the list later, reports. Throughout Bavaria and Germany the jubilee is going to be celebrated at a host of exhibitions, events and festivals. The main festival celebrating the 500th anniversary is set to take place in central Munich, July 22-24.

The Bavarian brewing industry prepared well for the occasion. Some 100 Bavarian breweries will be presenting their best beers in the area of the Feldherrnhalle and the Odeonsplatz in downtown Munich. For three days, thousands of visitors can enjoy the beer diversity of Bavaria at the beer benches between white pagodas and high-class tents.


All of the events will show a romanticised Bavarian/German Beer Purity Law origin and version and we will go along with it here, as it truly is a part of German, Bavarian and Munich beer understanding and culture. The Reinheitsgebot is considered a seal of quality in Germany and worldwide.

The law has remained in effect to this day, more or less. It has survived attacks by the European Union and the European Economic Community before it. In the 80s of the past century (and before that, from 1918), the Reinheitsgebot (purity law) has been heavily used in marketing to defend the German market from foreign beer competition. As a result thereof, the German beer drinking population perceived beer that has not been brewed in accordance with the purity law (read: foreign beer) as “chemical beer”. The campaign has also been a huge success abroad and Bavarian and German beer exports are growing to date. Sales of Bavarian beer have reached a 20 year high in 2015.

In Germany only beer brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot can be sold as “Bier”. The only exceptions are some breweries from the former German Democtatic Republic, e.g. the in Leipzig (Gose) and Lausitz (Porter). Opposition to the strict Reinheitsgebot in Germany itself is growing, even in Munich. Ludwig Tilman’s three varieties of beer are all brewed in accordance with the law, but the young Munich brewer sees the law as a mean to “keep small brewers small” (Welt).


The Reiheitsgebot itself has been altered on several occasions and it is very likely that this going to happen again very soon, as the large breweries are all producing very similar tasting beer and are seeing little growth in their segment, while the small specialist brewers segment is increasing in volume. The movement has not gone unnoticed by the Bavarian Brewers' Association.

Its management board met in early December 2015 and voted for a "restructuring of the beer law." It was intended to provide legal certainty for beers that are "made while using other natural ingredients than those stipulated in the purity law," reports in its excellent article on the Reinheitsgebot which has been translated into English and you can read it here - Attacking Beer Purity: The Twilight of Germany's Reinheitsgebot.

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Vilijam Zufic

Translator (German, Croatian, English), guide and unacknowledged blogging genius. Born and lives in Pula, Istria, Croatia. Educated in Germany, Croatia and the United States, economics graduate. Currently beginning to prepare to train for pulling himself up by his bootstraps. Married with children. Father of Croatia’s greatest football talent. Knows all there is to know about Istria, camping and bratwurst. At the verge of something big with the only German language blog on Istria No sense of humour. Here to meet like-minded people.

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