On Monday the German Brewers Federation announced that they had submitted an application to have the country’s famous 1516 beer purity law, known as the Reinheitsgebot, included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The Reinheitsgebot came to be when Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV made it law in the region that brewers could only make their beer from water, malt, hops and yeast. Some would argue that this 16th century rule is why Germany has become so well-known for their beer, and German Brewers Federation president Georg Eils recognized this belief by saying, “if Germany is still regarded as the undisputed beer nation, that is due to the purity law.”
In 2016 the purity law will hit the milestone 500th anniversary, and the German Brewers Federation is hoping to get the UNESCO recognition they believe the law deserves in time for that celebration.
Germany’s beer purity law isn’t just significant for the quality beer it produces, but it is also the oldest food and drink regulation that is still in use today. That along with it being such an important piece of Germany’s culture should make the Reinheitsgebot an easy fit for the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
UNESCO defines Intangible Cultural Heritage to be:
the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.