Q: German beer purity law of 1516 (Reinheitsgebot)

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Q: German beer purity law of 1516 (Reinheitsgebot)

Postby herocomplex » Sat Jun 12, 2004 8:52 pm

I'm interested in brewing a classic Czech Pilsner in accordance with this German purity law. Will adding corn sugar for the bottle conditioning process violate this? Thanks everyone!

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I am going to say ...

Postby Azorean Brewer » Sun Jun 13, 2004 12:50 pm

Sage,

I believe that to comply with the Reinh. one should use D.M.E. for bottle priming. However, the law states that only 4 ingredients can be used in "brewing" Malt, Water, Hops, Yeast, as long as you stick with that you'll be good. However in my opinion if you really want to stick with the guidelines of the law use D.M.E. for priming. The problem that I have had in the past is inconsistant carbonation using Dry Malt. I'll wait to hear what others have to say ...

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Water Softening?

Postby herocomplex » Sun Jun 13, 2004 5:07 pm

How do you feel about water softening? I want a very authentic Czech Pilsner, and also want to adhere to the German beer purity law. What are thoughts on softening? I know that there are limits on how far you should really go on following this sucker, but I really like the idea of it. I want a pure Pilsner and like the idea of saying I'm adhering to the ReinHeitsgebot. Call me a beer nerd.
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Some points to ponder.

Postby Brewer2001 » Mon Jun 14, 2004 1:54 am

Sage,

Czechs are not Germans, so the German Laws did not apply. Secondly you would be hard pressed to find a modern German production beer that follows this law, as it is written.

But you hit on a bigger subject, two actually.

First about priming. Fermented beer by kraeusening with greener or activlly fermenting beer. I don't know who started the idea that kraeusen is a noun. Kraeusen is a verb that describes the process of adding or dosing in fermenting beer to beer that has already been fermented. So I guess you could make a 'small' wort using DME and add it to your beer before bottling.

The second point is about beer styles and ingredients. Beer styles evolved over time and were generally made from local ingredients. One thing that makes a Pilsner is the soft water they used to brew it in Pilsen. That is a main ingredient. Just as Burton water is English bitter. We have it easy and not so easy. We can buy any type of malt,hops,yeast and yes water mix them up in different ways and may never create an authentic copy with out first researching the history of that style of beer. When is almost as important a where, because methods evolved and changed as did the raw materials, some yeast strains do not exist in the same form as they had in the past. Some suggest that malt, even though it is more highly modified today, is less fortified than when these beers were first brewed.

That was a real good question. I hope I gave you some things that help....now to the research and experimentation and.....the drinking!

Good brewing,

Tom F.
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Thanks!

Postby herocomplex » Mon Jun 14, 2004 2:51 pm

GREAT info! You gave me lots to think about. Thanks!

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re:German beer purity law of 1516 (Reinheitsgebot)

Postby T_n_T » Thu Jun 17, 2004 11:20 am

I don't believe the original law included yeast. They may have added the brew on top of an already fermenting batch, or added some live beer to it, but they didn't specifically add 'yeast', so technically no one is adhering to the 'law' as originally written. If you're a purist, then use spring water or un-treated well water, cuz my municipality adds all kinds of stuff to my tap water.

If you want to krausen, and not change the beer profile any, just save a half gallon or more of the wort (before adding yeast) in a sanitized container and stick in the fridge while the batch ferments. Just add this back to the beer before bottling. If you want, you can re-boil it first.
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T n T is right

Postby fitz » Thu Jun 17, 2004 2:26 pm

T n T is right, the original purity law didn't state yeast. They most likely didn't know or understand about such organisms.
One practice that is still used today by some oldtime homebrewers I know is to "seed the brew" with a couple of quarts of the last batch.
They would be continuing the yeast strain from the original(Excepting the distortion of reproduction in the yeast)
Anyway, with this practice, they were using yeast, they didn't KNOWINGLY do this, that is what the law stated, If anyone knowingly adds other ingredients, the kegs could be confiscated. This was definitely a big fine!
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Let's Not Get Carried Away

Postby Dr Strangebrew » Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:36 pm

Now, before one goes to great lengths to copy or clone a foreign brew keep this in mind. Some people, and I'm honestly not pointing a finger at anyone in this forum, but some people recommend dong some rather silly and/or nit-picky stuff to try to copy certain beers. Keep in mind, does it really mattter that you have some malt that was planted under a full moon and only hand-picked by teenage virgins on the eve of their wedding night? Would any of that matter if when drinking the beer you can't tell the difference between the malt mentioned above and malt that was grown in the crack of some dead guy's !@#?

The human mind has fantastic abilites for pattern recognition and storytelling- even when patterns are not present and stories false.

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I personally have to vote for the virgin beer

Postby fitz » Tue Jun 22, 2004 8:19 am

DR,
You can really put some positive pics in someone's head, then in the same post beat it out with a sledgehammer of another.

Herocomplex asked, so we tell. I don't advocate closemindedness in beer making, but I personally like the one that are Malt, hops water and good yeast.
Adjuncts are okay, and you can't brew some kinds without, but I use them sparingly.
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Ewww. Gross.

Postby T_n_T » Tue Jun 29, 2004 12:25 pm

>>Would any of that matter if when drinking
>>the beer you can't tell the difference
>>between the malt mentioned above and malt
>>that was grown in the crack of some dead
>>guy's !@#?

Is that where Rogue gets the malt for their Dead Guy Ale?
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Reinheitzgefacts...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Sun Aug 01, 2004 7:47 pm

Among brewers, pro & home alike, there are misconceptions that have earned urban legend status:

The RL was introduced to ensure quality.

Wrong!... read the whole text and you will discover that it was intended
to protect the domestic beer market and producers by barring the
importation of beer from other countries. This is why this is actually a
FORMER law... the formation of the EU and the admittance of countries
into the union required the elimination of trade barriers among
members. The RL fell into this prohibited practice clause.

The Reinheitzgebot has basically been reduced to a marketing gimmick,
although a good number of German brewers try to still follow it's
dictates. An example of a well known German brewer who prints RL
compliant messages on their labels and literature, Beck Brauerei GMBH,
is actually an adjuncted lager. Their darker lager is actually produced
using caramel coloring, also a non-compliant practice under the former
law.

I recently completed a Weihenstephan course of study that was attended mostly by US brewers. The discussion of how the German brewers who actually do try to comply feel about the restrictions and the heroics required to do so while maintaining economies of scale dominated many, many discussions. The upshot is that the majority of the breweries hate that they feel compelled to use the practices which are time and resource intensive. In light of the more consistent and better methods of maximizing beer quality and efficiency that brewing science has revealed in the last 25~30 years, they find themselves constrained in an increasingly unrealistic dilemma. In some cases, those who did not change their practices to meet threats from competitors who had changed have closed. This is because they lost their ability to compete effectively against their competitors who established a cost advantage WITHOUT a decrease in quality.

Without the deviation from another countries tennants, a large number of revered, accepted classical and new beer styles would never have been created. Herb beers, fruit beers, honey beers, Cream Ale, many Belgian Ales and many English Ales are just a few examples. Every country's brewing styles and ingredients were largely resultant from the availability of indigenous starch sources and bittering and flavoring agents. Many practices such as step and decoction mashing were developed simply because of the inferior nature of the raw materials which is no longer the case.

I am of the belief that there is plenty of room for the creation of new beer styles and flavors that may at some point become classically recognized styles. A few of the most recent have been American in origin... American IPA, American Pale Ale Imperial IPA, American Light Lager, Pre-Prohibition Pilsner & Imperial Red Ale to name a few. There have been a coulple of revisions and definitions among the German beer styles, but no new styles have been created for a long, long time by German brewers. This is a result of the stifiling effect of what is perceived as "traditional" in their country. Meanwhile, their market is erroding to their non-German competiton.

Following archaic rules can make one feel traditional and committed but should not be used as a source of elitism as if it is the ONLY way to produce quality beer. Brewing beer is an ever evolving art and science. Maybe by relaxing a bit and being creative, you may be the proginatior of the next great beer style!

Eric
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Postby DreamWeaver » Fri Aug 06, 2004 12:57 am

I'm pretty much in agreement with the RL. (I'm of German decent) Though it might have been a marketing ploy, it kept folks from putting ad-Junks in their beers and besides they prolly had issues with spoilage that were of concern, maybe some hangovers from corn or rice and knew that. I try to keep this in mind when I brew. Whats better than malted barley and hops? HUH? If'n ya want fruit, buy a bananna, if'n ya want chocolate buy a Hersey Bar, as for me, I like them with my beer but not in my beer. That's my story & I'm stickin 2 it!
Four More Beers!... Four More Beers!... Four More Beers! ...
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RL & Adjuncts...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Fri Aug 06, 2004 3:07 pm

You are right when stating that the law prohibited adjuncts... but most people don't know why that was started, again because they haven't read the whole text. The impetus for the law was that 1) bordering countries were producing beer using sugars which made them cheaper & 2) Some brewers in other countries were using adjuncts that added psycotropic properties to the "buzz", ie... yarrow, wormwood, labradour tea, morning glory seed pods...etc... These beers began to become popular with the consumers in what would become Germany, enough so that the brewers guilds feared that they would lose alot of domestic sales. Hence the strict ingredient list of the law. So, to be truly correct, it was a trade law and a consumer protection law (from the psycoactive ingredients, many of which are VERY poisonous). It never states anything to do with quality (or actual purity) however as the urban legends shared among brewers seems to state.

I personally find few flavored or adjuncted beers to my liking with the exception of some of the Belgian specialties like Framboise, Trappist ales, Lambics, Trippels and some of the English ales that use invert sugars, treacle and honey. Even though I have a general bias away from them, I try to keep an open mind (palate?) because over the years I have experienced some wonderful beers that I might have overlooked if I had become a "Reinheitznazi." For this reason, I am glad that this rather limited view of what constitutes a beer has not dominated the industry to the point of stifling creativity like it has in Germany. I have spoken with many brewmasters (real ones, not just in title, ie...with a Masters Degree in Brewing Science) that brew in Germany and they hate the law's influence on their processes. For most of them it isn't that they can't use adjuncts, it is that they cannot implement modern practices in their brewhouses that will increase quality, make them more efficient & effective and enable them to become cost competitive with the rest of their neighboring exporting breweries. This fact keeps US from experiencing the true diversity of beer from Germany because most of the German brewers cannot afford to get into the export market since their cost of production is so high.

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reinhetsgebot

Postby mje1980 » Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:44 am

Another thing to consider is that in 1516, there would not have been gas burners, or electricity, so if you want to REALLY stick to that law, make your beer without those things. You wont be too keen on that law after that i'll bet :D. I think some people forget that this hobby is really about the fun to be had making top tasting beer, not to mention drinking it!! :D
Here's to cleansing ales, lovely lagers and lacy glasses!
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Postby Osi » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:55 am

It was not until the 1800s that Louis Pasteur discovered the role of microorganisms in the process of fermentation; therefore, yeast was not known to be an ingredient of beer. Brewers generally took some sediment from the previous fermentation and added it to the next, the sediment generally containing the necessary organisms to perform fermentation. If none were available, they would set up a number of vats, relying on natural yeast to inoculate the brew.
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