Reinheitsgebot – The German Beer Purity Law – What’s in beer?

If you eat enough Mexican food, you’ll start to realize that everything is the same four ingredients just used in different amounts and order. Beer is pretty much the same way. You might have someone who will get a little creative and add some fruit, but the basic ingredients for beer is barley, water, hops, and yeast. They might use different quantities of these ingredients or prepare the ingredients in a different. But the ingredients will pretty much always be barley, water, hops, and yeast.

The reason for this can probably be traced back to the Reinheitsgebot. Hang out in the world of beer and it won’t be long before you hear the word Reinheitsgebot. Reinheitsgebot, otherwise know as the German Beer Purity Law, is the oldest food quality regulation in the world. The law defined what ingredients were allowed to go into beer.

The law that was put in place in 1516 stated that the only ingredients that could be in a beer were barley, water, and hops (yeast was later added in the 1800’s when Louis Pasteur discovered the role of microorganisms in the process). The law was actually put into place to help hinder competition between breweries and bakeries for wheat and rye thus driving up the price. It also made sure that hops was used as the preservative for beer and not substandard ingredients like soot.

Now not everyone abides to the German Purity law. You will hear about wheat beer, fruit beer, and other beers that replace barley with the respectable ingredient mentioned in their title. They still fall under the category of beer. They just don’t follow the standard ingredients hence the addition of the added ingredient to the title of beer.

So if you’ve ever wondered what is in you beer, now you know and knowings half the battle.

G.I. Joe!

  • Brook Sarver

    I’ve only had one or two wheat beers that I enjoyed. I guess, without really knowing it, I’m a Reinheitsgebotian… whatever that means…

    Brook Sarver

    Brook Sarvers last blog post..oh my…

  • Josh R

    I have always wanted to make a carrot beer, but everyone thinks I am crazy.

    Josh Rs last blog post..Full Blast

  • Jad

    Dude…I have to say that I love your blog and I love beer. That’s all. Congrats on the baby our first is due in December! If I weren’t too stinkin busy then I would have submitted an article.

    Oh well, cheers!

    Jads last blog post..I’m a Little Peeved

  • Erik

    It also made sure that hops was used as the preservative for beer and not substandard ingredients like soot.

    I, for one, am quite happy that _soot_ is not on the ingredient list of modern-day beers. :-)

  • CJ Mills

    That is one sexy banner….

    CJ Mills //

    CJ Millss last blog post..2008 Hilton Head Vacation Highlight Video

  • GregQualls

    Brook: I would have to agree with you. I don’t hate wheat beer, but it’s not my favorite. Just give me a standard lager any day and I’m happy.

    Josh: That does sound crazy. But sometime crazy comes out really good. My father-in-law make a Chili-pecan ice cream that everyone loves…crazy…um…crazy good.

    Jad: Thanks for the complement. The door is always open for guest posts. I’m just looking for them especially right now due to the kid on the way.

    Erik: I would have to say amen to that.

    CJ: I just have to say…it’s good to have friends that are graphic designers. They make things look “sexy.”

  • Steve Scott

    Rye beer? Now that sounds yummy. No caraway seeds, I presume.

    Steve Scotts last blog post..Adoption (6) – Foster System (3)

  • GregQualls

    I would try a rye beer. I wonder if it’s out there……..and wikipedia says…yes.

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