German Beer Day
During the month of April Happy Hour City will be celebrating all things beer related. Each week we will educate you on the different types of beer, we will also show you how to make beer centered cocktails/drinks, and we will be giving you the inside scoop on some of the best beer bars & breweries around LA.
Happy National German Beer Day everyone! It’s still beer month here at Happy Hour City, and despite celebrating all things beer, this national holiday is specifically in observation of the Reinheitsgebot. A beer law passed on April 23, 1516 that Germans are still incredibly proud of and thus worth celebrating. Read all about how the purity law put German beers above all, Cheers!
It’s argued that Germany is the world leader in all things beer, they’re the ones with the secret sauce, talent, and ingredients to perfecting a good cold brew, and they have proved it. This is why the Reinheitsgebot was created way back when, to preserve their legacy. The Reinheitsgebot is the oldest law in Germany that is still enforced in some form today, when drafted the original purity law stated that German beer could only include water, malt, yeast and hops, and only a few changes have been made since.
A good German beer, by law, is simple, traditional, and perfectly balanced, with clean, wholesome flavors. To traditional brewers, the Reinheitsgebot is a guarantee of quality, a defense against an onslaught of cheap rice and corn-based beers, and not least a powerful marketing tool to promote their product.
Some of the best types of German beers you can enjoy on this historic day include a German Pilsner, (which as you learned from What is a Pilsner), is actually a Czech recipe but Germans modified it and made it their own, German Pils taste similar to Czech pilsners, though a little drier and hoppier.
You could also opt for a Helles which translates into “light one” in German, but don’t mistake that for “lite.” Helles are full-bodied and full-flavored, golden lagers that have earthy, lightly toasted grains, with less herbal hoppiness than a Pils.
If neither of those sounds like your jam go for a Hefeweizen, the traditional German wheat beers. They are generally unfiltered, cloudy ales, their smells, and flavors can include banana, clove, grapefruit, and bread, and no, they’re not traditionally served with a slice of lemon. The flavors of a hefeweizen come only from the pure yeast, hops, and grains.
All in all, one thing is certain: Germans love to drink beer, and should the weather allow it, they love to drink outside. Particularly in beer gardens with communal picnic tables and simple menus of meats and cheeses. Due to the fact that German beer is so crisp and well-balanced, it’s easy to drink a lot of it without feeling burnt out by any of the flavors.
For authenticity, we suggest you celebrate accordingly by drinking a ton of beer, do it outdoors, set up a picnic, bring some sausages and other cured meats, cheeses, and bread!
A Brief History:
It’s widely believed that beer was actually born in Egypt and perfected in Germany. Fact is, we can’t with certainty say that beer was actually invented in Egypt, but we do know that the earliest written records of beer come from there and Mesopotamia. So how Germany get involved?
Back in the Middle Ages, beer was accessible by every tier of society, and thus it was highly regulated. For example, The Brewers Company of London had strictures preventing the production of Ale and Beer by the same brewer, strictly defining the permitted contents of both. This type of legislation also appealed to the German government, and thus The Reinheitsgebot was created.
The regulations demanded purity in the beverage, with only water, barley, and hops being permitted, and even dictates that the hops can only be added during the wort’s boiling stage. The law was the idea of one, Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria. Slowly but surely the law spread gradually across the land until, in 1906, it became mandatory throughout Germany by an Imperial Act under the rule of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
The following years, during World War I actually, during a beer tax debate a Bavarian legislator introduced a new phrase to describe the law—the Reinheitsgebot. No one had really called it the, “beer purity law” so the phrase was embraced immediately and has been used enthusiastically ever since. Essentially, the original Reinheitsgebot was as part baker protection act disguised as a beer law.
Banning wheat in beer kept it available and cheap for bakers, while brewers used still less expensive barley. This edict ensured that the people would have plenty of bread to wash down with their beers. Because back then, beer was more of a dietary staple in people’s diets and not so much for relaxation.
However, with new discoveries since the 1500’s, the law has been tweaked many times over. One of the biggest changes came with the addition of yeast. Yeast, which as you know from our What is Beer article, converts sugar to alcohol and CO2 during fermentation and helps determine a beer’s flavor. It wasn’t included in the original Reinheitsgebot because the law predates its discovery.
Another notable addition was malted wheat, which enables brewers to make familiar German top-fermented styles like Hefeweizen, Alt, and Kölsch. 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.
Random Beer Fact:
Germany ranks third in beer consumption behind the Czechs and the Irish. (Americans rank 13th.)
Use today to help the U.S. catch up on the beer consumption list!
We hope you're enjoying our ode to beer this month, let us know if and how you'll be celebrating today. Thanks for reading, and as always...