Bavaria · Germany · Munich

November 30, 1487 – German Beer Purity Law Passed

Quality Hops
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Here in the United States, you cannot buy a food item unless there are a list of ingredients, allergens, sugar content, and other health related information on the label.

The latest of these food regulatory items was H.R. 1599 passed by the US House of Representatives in July of 2015. This resolution demanded that the Food and Drug Administration publish a list of acceptable genetically engineered organisms. The publicly acceptable term for this is genetically modified organisms (GMO).

You can read more about this from the FDA. – Consumer Info About Food from Genetically Engineered Plants

You are probably wanting to know – “What the heck does this have to do with beer?”

Picture yourself if you will… Munich 1487. The water is FOUL, if you drink it you will get sick and die. You must stay hydrated because you are working in the fields all day. So, what do you drink? Beer! and lots of it.

So, if you were the duchy –ruler of Munich– what do you do to keep your people safe? You pass a beer purity law –Reinheitsgebot– to protect the consumer.

When you walked into a Beer Hall in Munich –This seems to have been in a previous article, and a common place to hang out– you knew that the beer you were drinking was made from only three things. The purity law said beer could only be made from; barley, hops, and water.

Almost all the article that I could find point to the reunified Bavaria and their purity law of 1516. But on November 30, 1487 Albert IV, Duke of Munich passed his purity law.

This 1487 law paved the way for the reunified Bavarian law of 1516 which made it a punishable crime to have more than Barley, hops, and water.

You can read an English translation here at

This law was later changed to add yeast once they discovered its fermenting powers.

German Purity Law
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The 1516 Reinheitsgebot stayed German law until the end of the 1980’s.

It has to be one of the first known food safety laws passed.

I am grateful for food purity and safety laws, and in knowing that my loaf of bread is not 60% sawdust.

In a related this day in history story, in 1983 police freed kidnapped beer magnate Alfred Heineken in Amsterdam.



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