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Want to Sample a Great Beer? Do German

The German people are known for a lot of things; one of them is beer. With over
thirteen-hundred different breweries spanning the country, beer is an essential piece of
their tradition and ancestry. The Czechs and the Irish are the only countries above the
Germans with beer consumption per capita. The history of Germanic beer goes back to the
beginnings of the nation when monks started to experiment with brewing about 1000 A.D.
Eventually, brewing started to become very lucrative for the monks and the country’s
monarchy started to regulate the manufacturing of the brew. The Bavarian Reinheitsgebot, or
purity requirement, was written in 1516 and remains the most well-known and significant
aspect to effect German brewing.

The Bavarian Reinheitsgebot was authorized by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria to guarantee
Bavarian beers were only of the highest quality. Water, hops, and barley are the only
ingredients allowed in beer according to the regulation. Unaltered after nearly 500
years, the Reinheitsgebot is the oldest regulation place on food in the world. The only
addition to the proclamation is the addition of yeast to the list of vital ingredients.
Yeast found naturally in the air was what brewers in the past used. Because of the stern
code of quality followed by the purity standard, Bavarian breweries were soon considered
the superior makers of beer. As the reputation of the Bavarian breweries spread across
the nation more and more manufacturers started to adhere to the proclamation as well.

As a result of the Reinheitsgebot, Germanic brews have a long-standing notoriety of
making quality beers made from only the purest ingredients. As time passed and Germany
started to export beer, a lot of cities became well-known brewing locations. The city of Bremen
had over six-hundred breweries in it by 1500 and was the top exporter of beer to Holland,
Scandinavia, England, and even as far as India. Einbeck and Braunschweig were a couple of
other famed brewing cities. In modern Germany, the majority of the nation’s drinking
citizens still prefer fabbier, or draught beer, over bottle beer because of it’s robust
flavor and right amount of foam. In use still today, German beer steins became well loved
around the time the purity requirement came along in an effort to prevent more breakouts
of the black plague.

Germany started many regulations to stop its citizens from getting ill during the time of
the black plague. Massive amounts of diseased flies would glide in people’s food and spread
the disease. This led to the German beer stein, a drink vessel with a hinged top that
could be used with the thumb so a person could prevent infection and still be able to
drink with their free hand. As citizens started to learn the plague spread in unclean
conditions with stagnant water, beer consumption rose exponentially. Originally crafted
from stoneware with pewter tops, steins rose in popularity. German beer steins started to
be crafted entirely of pewter for nearly three-hundred years as the pewter guild became
more powerful. Eventually, porcelain and silver steins were introduced and continue to be
produced today.

Michael Usry is a long-time beer lover and contributing author for “Beer Maniac” fanzine in Austin, Tx. He is also a top affiliate at beertaps.com beer tap handles, and steinsandglassware.com german beer steins, websites for household draft beer accessories.

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