IPMA International Project Management Association
12 September 2016 / 7:02

500 years of German Beer Purity Law

This year Bavaria celebrates a law that is 500 years in existence and is the most popular law as it impacts the way beer brewing is conducted. The roots can be dated back as early as in the 15th Century. However, 1516 a series of orders were published in Bavaria and later in whole Germany which are nowadays called “Reinheitsgebot”. According to the Purity Law, the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley and hops. What was the purpose of such a regulation? It is difficult to trace those purposes back to such a long period of time, the main reasons were shortage of ingredients such as wheat and rye, which were needed to bake bread, feed the people and avoid riots. Another purpose was to protect the market at that time from other kinds of beer with additives. Finally, some see it also as a means to suppress the use of plants that were allegedly used in pagan rituals, such as gruit.

Today, the German Purity Law is still up to date. Beer brewing is an art rather an industry: “The profession of brewer and maltster is as multifaceted as the beers produced in Germany. The entire production process encompasses the delivery and testing of the raw materials all the way through to the packaging of the finished beer. Knowledge of hygiene and environmental protection as well as an understanding of science and engineering are necessary. Brewing, as a trade, demands keen perception, organizational skills and efficiency – and now and again the ability to energetically tackle problems. Trained brewers and maltsters possess skills and expertise in many areas.”

What can we learn out of this? As a matter of fact, we need to strive for sustainability in projects. Using scarce resources carefully by continuously improving the way of working in projects and developing the competences needed for the project. Preventing any damage to the heath of people and the environment, building on traditions while – at the same time – fostering innovations. It might be cheaper to “produce” with additives and preservatives, but customers value the “purity” of the offering, they even pay a premium price. Nevertheless, we need to market the idea, the tradition and the purpose in order to get the idea to fly…

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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.