The Day of Beer
23 April 1516 – True beer lovers need no explanation. Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV instituted the world’s first food purity law. It was signed in Ingolstadt, Germany and stipulated that only water, hops and barley malt could be used in beer making. This law was predated in Bavaria by a similar dictate by Duke Albrecht IV in 1487. Before these measures, there was lots of experimentation going on and all sorts of nasty things, including nightshade, were tossed in the brew. If you are interested in the details, you can find lots of information about the Reinheitsgebot on the internet, including at Wikipedia.
To this day, German breweries proudly proclaim their beer as brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot. Every German beer consumer knows what this means and is proud of the purity of their local beer. While this can be a limitation (no cherry beer, no pumpkin beer, etc.), it more importantly means no chemicals. With the development of the European Union, Germany has to allow Belgian beers and other non-Reinheitsgebot beer, but it can’t be brewed here.
April 23 is still celebrated. At 11:00 AM the Bavarian Beer (Bayerischer Brauerbund) trade association will convert the fountain in front of their Munich office into a “Beer Fountain.” Yes, real Bavarian beer will run from the fountain and it’s free to all comers! One of the gals tapping is the “Beer Queen” will complete her reign on May 5 when a new beer queen is crowned. There are 7 finalists in the competition – click here to see them. It’s a small celebration and thankfully a little off the tourist route.
At my favorite “Wirtshaus,” there is a special celebration for selected regulars (Stammgäste) for three hours in the afternoon. There will be a free lunch and free beer for those lucky invitees! Oh, you’re not invited? Sorry for your luck :-)