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Old 01-30-2009, 08:42 PM   #1
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Default Reinheitsgebot Debate

I've been doing a little research on Reinheitsgebot, and have found some things I find interesting.

IMO, if you were to be a true purist you would follow the original writing of 1516. Which would eliminate yeast, if you followed the law verbatum. That would make all of our beers non-compliant.

It also seems that the Purity Law, was written more to protect the wheat crop than the purity of beer. Thus allowing for enough bread to be made during those times to keep people fed. Which is a great principle, though I'm not really sure it applies today. I also think it was written to keep other beers out of Germany, creating somewhat of a Monopoly. So to me the principle of the law was to protect the German people , not the beer.

Later revisions of the law allow for additions of various sugars, but only in Top Fermented ales. Bottom fermented lagers cannot have additional sugar added. That makes no sense, and has me questioning the overall validity of the law. It also recognizes Yeast as a primary ingredient.

There's a part of me that really wants to adhere to Reinheitsgebot, but now I'm kind of thinking "What's the Point?", especially since it was repealed in 1987.

Anyhow, I found this all pretty interesting and thought I would bring it up and see what discussion came of it. Not that any of it really matters.

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Old 01-30-2009, 08:44 PM   #2
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I would brew a beer with excrement from a purple snotted ass if it tasted great.

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Old 01-30-2009, 08:48 PM   #3
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In my limited research, I believe the law was a lot of what you described, as well as a way to tax brewers.

I say screw it. Most common folk I talk to seem to think its to keep bad chemicals out of beer. With the huge movement of modern homebrewing and craft brewing, we can't let this hangup get in our way.

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Old 01-30-2009, 08:48 PM   #4
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Its probably like the laws that existed before we could homebrew (thank you Pres Carter for signing that bill!). Those laws werent there to protect us from dangerous homemade beer, they were there to protect tax revenue and big business. im sure reinheitsgebot had some alterior motive to existing...purity not being the primary goal...

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Old 01-30-2009, 08:49 PM   #5
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If you brew sour beers (like I do!), you don't hold to the Reinheitsgebot.

The Reinheitsgebot is only concerned with German beers and is more of a philosophical ideal than law. It's good for conversation, but not much else practically speaking.

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Old 01-30-2009, 08:51 PM   #6
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That's not really true. The yeast they used came from the paddles used in previous batches. They didn't know what yeast was, that's why it was not included in the ingredients. Also, they called it Godisgood.

As far as importing other brews and a monopoly, IMO that is also an incorrect observation. Most beers at that time were local so importation was not really a factor.

Even King Wenceslas forbade the "smuggling" of Saaz hops out of Bohemia. The penalty was beheading.

By brewing IAW the Reinheitsgebot you're only stating that you are not adding anything to the brew except the original ingredients, ie.e gyle.

Either way, if you prefer not to brew IAW it then don't. Your choice.

But OTOH, if someone says they brewed IAW it then give them their due. They are brewing in the tradition of the old-time brewers.

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Old 01-30-2009, 08:57 PM   #7
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I don't worry about adhering to that old text, but I do tend to agree with some of the spirit of the law: I don't like to put anything besides barley, wheat, hops, yeast, and water into my beer outside of some sugar for priming or high gravity beers. If you start putting a lot of other stuff in there it is not beer anymore, to me.

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Old 01-30-2009, 09:03 PM   #8
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The timing of the brews also had to do with general quality and public safety. I don't remember the details but top fermented beers (wheat ales) were only to be brewed in the summer and lagers only in winter. This was because of infection problems due to improper ferment temperatures. They didn't know most of the details, they just new people were getting sick. It was also to prevent junk from getting put in beer to endanger the public.

If you want a copy, check this out:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/rhei...r-print-78205/

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Old 01-30-2009, 09:03 PM   #9
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First: Yeast was not included in this list because at the writing of the law, no one knew of it's existence.

The reasons that we have beer styles to day is because of the wide variety of ingredients locally available (beer has been a local phenomena until recently) and the limitations of technique and knowledge.

We can thank the Belgians for unitizing wild naturally occurring yeast and persisting with this tradition until literally the entire breweries of the area were saturated with yeast.

We can thank the Bay area for the Cal common style because of their relentless pursuit of a lager done at ale temperatures.

We can thank Pilsen, Burton and Dublin for their unique water composition for the styles offered in each respective area

And we can thank Reinheitsgebot for it's contribution in limiting German Brewers to a precise and seemingly limiting list of ingredients and processes for giving the world the malty lagers of Germany.

As a modern homebrewer you can chhose to follow Reinheitsgebot or not. You can certainly make these styles without following the tenants of the "law".

Or you can do as Kaiser, and celebrate the tradition and take joy in the process an the exercise of an ancient custom and cultural touchstone.


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Old 01-30-2009, 09:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maltMonkey View Post
I don't worry about adhering to that old text, but I do tend to agree with some of the spirit of the law: I don't like to put anything besides barley, wheat, hops, yeast, and water into my beer outside of some sugar for priming or high gravity beers. If you start putting a lot of other stuff in there it is not beer anymore, to me.
I agree, and according to what I have read so far, your within more current versions of Reinheitsgebot.
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