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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > What's so great about Reinheitsgebot?
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Old 03-14-2014, 07:19 PM   #11
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What kpcuster said in post #5 - save the food grains of wheat and rye for food.

From Wikipedia:
"The Reinheitsgebot was introduced in part to prevent price competition with bakers for wheat and rye. The restriction of grains to barley was meant to ensure the availability of affordable bread, as the more valuable wheat and rye were reserved for use by bakers. Today many Bavarian beers are again brewed using wheat and are thus no longer compliant with the Reinheitsgebot."

That is part. Another part was to prevent brewers from creating cheap alcoholic beverages from all kinds of stuff - beet sugar, gathered plants like bog myrtle.

Around the time of instituting the law, the English clergy had a monopoly on granting brewing privileges, and the brewers could use anything except hops. They would not import German beer. Similarly after Reinheitsgebot, Germany would not import English beer. It was part of a trade war. See an extensive artical The Fall of Gruit, various places.

Then the Protestants got into the act and leaned on the non-hop gruit brewers. Some of the gruit herbs are psychotropic. Hops simply makes you drowsy. That attitude continued into the 20th century, outlawing any psychotropic plants.

So, what's so great about Reinheitsgebot? Nothing except a history of religious fervor, political muscle, economic battles, and forcing people to accept it. See? four ingredients, just like the law says.

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Old 03-14-2014, 07:26 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by TallDan View Post
If you look up the story of it, it was created as a quality control for german beer at the time. Yeast was not included because the role of yeast in brewing would not be understood until many years later, but obviously yeast was used in brewing then. Barley is explicitly allowed as an ingredient. The law was repealed relatively recently and obviously never governed breweries outside of Bavaria/Germany, but it's a nod to beer history and the positive impact that the Reinheitsgebot had on beer quality at the time when brewers use that term now.
Sorry, but it had nothing to do with beer quality. It was a way to keep wheat in the hands of the aristocracy.

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Old 03-14-2014, 07:28 PM   #13
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There's nothing good about the Reiheitsgebot.

When enacted in Bavaria, the Reinheitsgebot protected local producers from competitors in the north of Germany. Bavaria insisted that the law apply in all of Germany as a pretext of unification in 1871. This essentially ended the brewing traditions of the rest of the county. An internet search for “extinct German beer styles” turns up a large number of styles, including almost all of the beers from the north.

Imagine if Missouri had a law that beer had to have at least 20% rice (or Wisconsin had a law that required 20% corn). The law sets the price of a 30 pack of cans and prevents the use of wheat in beer. The Missourians insist that their law be instituted nation-wide as a requirement to join the Union. This law would have made it illegal to brew steam beer in California and Reinheitsgebot compliant lager in Boston. It also would have prevented imports from England, Germany, Belgium and anywhere else that didn’t make beer with enough rice or corn. It wouldn’t be until NAFTA was enacted in 1994 that this law was repealed.

Beer that is made from only water, barley, hops and yeast can be very good, so can beer made with other ingredients. Being told what to make and drink by the government is bad, as is economic protectionism.

Source for translation of Reinheitsgebot: http://www.rpi.edu/dept/chem-eng/Bio.../beer/gpl1.htm

Long list of German beer style casualties http://www.europeanbeerguide.net/gerstyle.htm

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Old 03-14-2014, 07:37 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Arrheinous View Post
For example: Sam Adams and Great Lakes.
This confuses me. Out of the 20 beers I looked at on Sam Adams' seasonals page, 11 of them do not conform to the Reinheitsgebot.
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Old 03-14-2014, 07:42 PM   #15
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The best thing about Reinheitsgebot is that it's really fun to say in an aggressive, exaggerated German accent.


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Old 03-14-2014, 07:48 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Arrheinous View Post
What's so great about Reinheitsgebot?
I have a lot more respect for a brewer who gets nutty, chocolate character in their Brown Porter by manipulating malts, yeast and hops than one who tosses Reese's Peanut Butter Cups into the secondary.
Personal taste is one thing, but to be arrogant about yours is what makes you an a-hole. Don't be an a-hole with personal taste.
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Old 03-14-2014, 08:03 PM   #17
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I really think the intention of the law was to make sure people did not use adjuncts such as American brewers do now days. You have to admit that there are a lot of beers that use as much nonbarley as they seem to be able to get away with.

OK so I can admire the law for that reason

But as stated, man there are some crazy good beers nowdays that break that law.

So let us file it under history for the main reason, and admire guys who keep to it, but I really think the games can begin now


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Old 03-14-2014, 08:24 PM   #18
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The law was more about protectionism than anything. It prevented beers brewed in other countries from being imported, protecting the local German brewers.

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