Only water, hop, and malt: In 2016, the Bavarian Beer Purity Law turns 500


To mark the half millenium, the city of Ingolstadt got new highway signs - picture via Ingolstadt.de

Each year, the "Day of Bavarian Beer" on 23 April recalls the promulgation of the Bavarian Beer Purity Law under Bavarian duke Wilhelm IV in Ingolstadt. Up until today water, malt, hops (and later also yeast) are the only basic materials used to produce beer in Bavaria.

However, until today it is also disputed where the first purity law was actually passed – it is said that prince-bishop Heinrich III. in Bamberg, Upper Franconia, passed a similar law 27 years earlier…also Friedrich Barbarossa is supposed to have insisted on a certain quality of beer in 1156 in Augsburg, Swabia. 

However it may actually be – today more than 600 of the 1350 German breweries are located in Bavaria. The highest density of these is in Upper Franconia, where numerous “Hausbrauereien” still exist who server self-brewed beer in their own inns. 97 million hectolitre of beer was brewed in Germany in 2015, a fourth of which in Bavaria alone. On average every German drank 107 liters of beer in 2014.

2016 the Free State of Bavaria will duly celebrate the 500 year existence of the Bavarian purity law. Beer will flow from a fountain in Ingolstadt on the “day of the beer” April 23rd. On the same day the region-wide exhibition “Beer in Bavaria” will be inaugurated in Passau: It will show how much beer is part of the “Wirtshauskultur” (pub culture) and  the Bavarian lifestyle on the whole. From July 22nd  to July 24th  a jubilee festival will take place on Odeonsplatz in Munich. 100 Bavarian breweries will prove how diverse their types of beer are. The “Brauereibund” (Brewery-Federation) expects 100 000 visitors.

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