Purity Law of 1516

THE OLDEST FOOD LAW IN THE WORLD

The Reinheitsgebot sometimes called the “German Beer Purity Law” or the “Bavarian Purity Law” in English is a regulation concerning the production of beer in Germany.

In the original text, the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley, and hops.

The law originated in the city of Ingolstadt in the duchy of Bavaria on 23 April 1516, although first put forward in 1487 concerning standards for the sale and composition of beer.

The actual Purity Law is a result of the Bavarian Duke, Wilhelm IV. He erected the law at the Ingolstadt Parliament in 1516. The reason to institute such a law was mainly the quality of “Beers” at that time. Then spices used were fruits, herbs, weeds such as anis, myrtle, oak leaves, ivy (poisonous), along with the seeds of lemon, raspberries, elderberry etc… were normally used for brewing.

Thereby, there were certain reasons for these uses. As an example, some ingredients were used as a substitute for hops, others for the intoxicating effect (many death cases among the population), others to extend the shelf life.

In the original text, the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley, and hops.

The yeast has been added later on.

Note that no yeast was mentioned in the original text. It was not until the 1800s that Louis Pasteur discovered the role of microorganisms in the process of fermentation; therefore, yeast was not known to be an ingredient of beer. Brewers generally took some sediment from the previous fermentation and added it to the next, the sediment generally containing the necessary organisms to perform fermentation. If none were available, they would set up a number of vats, relying on natural yeast to inoculate the brew.

Purity Law of 1516
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