You’ve probably seen the posts around Facebook and Twitter today announcing that today is German Beer Day, but do you know why? April 23 is not just a random day made up to boost the sale of German beer around the world, although I’m sure there is a considerable boost in sales on this day every year.
Since 1994, Germans have been paying tribute to the day in which the beer purity law (officially called the Reinheitsgebot) was passed on April 23, 1516. The Reinheitsgebot is the oldest law in Germany that is still enforced in some form today, and many beer lovers see this set of rules as the reason why German beer is superior to others. In its original form, the purity law stated that German beer could only include water, malt and hops, and only a few changes have been made since. Yeast, which is an important ingredient used to ferment the beer, was one of the ingredients added in a 1993 revision, called the Vorläufiges Biergesetz.
The Biergesetz does not replace the Reinheitsgebot, but most German breweries have decided to use it instead to allow for more variety in their beer. Although many of these beers are marketed as being in compliance with the Reinheitsgebot, it is technically not true.
While it may be hard to find a German beer that still follows the original 1516 Reinheitsgebot, it hasn’t stopped people from celebrating its existence more than 500 years later.