Friday, February 6, 2015

Reinheitsgebot

With the proliferation of craft beers incorporating everything from peanut butter to pumpkins to chili peppers one might be forgiven for thinking that Reinheitsgebot is a four letter word (yes, I do think that's funny), but me, it's a rule that I find fascinating. The quick definition is that in Bavaria in 1516 a law was passed that required any beverage sold as beer could only contain three ingredients: Water, Malt, and Hops (We can forgive them for leaving the yeast out of the rules since it would be more than 100 years before yeast was first observed).
Somehow, in spite of this, that particular region of the world has produced a virtually endless variety of beers. Colors, flavors, strengths, that are far more than simple variations on a theme. They're a reflection of the people, the regions, and even the seasons in which the beers were produced. Interestingly, one of the more important ingredients making this variety possible is the as yet to be known yeast, but we'll leave that alone for now.
We've changed things a little bit (the previously mentioned craft beer oddities), with brewers trying to outdo each other. Making beers hoppy enough to send one in to a coma, brews that seem to be weird simply for the sake of being weird, and others that amount to some kind of bastard soda-pop that I'm convinced people only drink because someone labeled the stuff "craft beer."
I prefer to stay on the other side of the fence. I brew ales, I'm dipping my toe in to lagers, but my goal is to know the three (four) basic ingredients and try to develop my proficiency as a brewer using just these basic ingredients.
To each their own.