Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beer Rushing From the Hills

Munich Pop History Day 5: Munich’s beer culture? Where else to start but the oldest brewery in the world. The Weihenstephan brewery, located in a beautiful garden setting up in the hills of a Munich suburb, called Freising, lays claim to being the oldest operating brewery in the world. The Benedictine abbey began brewing beer in 768, and received its first brewing licenses from the city of Freising in 1040. For centuries the brewery has been the possession of the state and is known now as the Bavaria state Brewery, and is operated in conjunction with the Technical University of Munich School of agriculture. Both a production and a learning facility. Combine that with the Reinheitsgebot, the beer purity law of 1516, and you start seeing the beer culture emerge. The purity law is the oldest food regulation in the world, and still exists today. It limited the ingredients in beer to barley, hops, and water, and in the 20th century added yeast (which was in short supply for bread making at the time) as a key ingredient. On the positive side, it prevented unscrupulous brewers from adding fruit, herbs, eggs, tree bark, fish bladders and who knows what else. It also prevents the addition of corn syrup and rice, which is popular among American beers. Within the past few years, the Reinheitsgebot has become popular in America because of the emergence of microbrews, but in Germany it is nothing new as more than 900 breweries still adhere to it today.

4 comments:

babooshka said...

That was so interesting. I have been to many small beer festivals, but this is the one would love to go to most. Enjoy.

... said...

There is at least one microbrewery in Tasmania that adheres to the Purity Laws (Hazards Brewery). Why anyone would add rice to beer is unfathomable...and just plain wrong!

headbang8 said...

What? No pix of the Altstadt-Fest last weekend? I was looking forward to see your pictoral interpretation of the event.

Troy said...

Sorry - as much as I would have liked to, I couldn't amke it out to the fest. You can see a few views here - http://munichbavaria.blogspot.com/ from Emily at Servus Munchen. She always does a great job covering what's going on.