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…