|Eins, Zwei, g'suffa: Put up your Dukes and Monks
"We hereby proclaim and decree, by Authority of our Province, that henceforth in the Duchy of
Bavaria, in the country as well as in the cities and marketplaces,
the following rules apply to the sale of beer:
From Michaelmas to Georgi, the price for one Mass [Bavarian Liter 1,069] or one Kopf
[bowl-shaped container for fluids, not quite one Mass], is not to exceed one Pfennig Munich value,
and From Georgi to Michaelmas, the Mass shall not be sold for more than two Pfennig
of the same value, the Kopf not more than three Heller.
If this not be adhered to, the punishment stated below shall be administered. Should any person
brew, or otherwise have, other beer than March beer, it is not to be sold any higher than one Pfennig
per Mass. Furthermore, we wish to emphasize that in future in all cities, markets and in the country,
the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever
knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the Court authorities'
confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail. Should, however, an innkeeper in the country, city or
markets buy two or three pails of beer (containing 60 Mass) and sell it again to the common
peasantry, he alone shall be permitted to charge one Heller more for the Mass of the Kopf, than
mentioned above. Furthermore, should there arise a scarcity and subsequent price increase of the
barley (also considering that the times of harvest differ, due to location), WE, the Bavarian Duchy,
shall have the right to order curtailments for the good of all concerned."
Signed: Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria on April 23, 1516 in Ingolstadt
|Brewing in ancient Germania was done by the women who germinated wheat grains and flavored
their beer with myrtle, ash leaves and oak bark. Tacitus reports that the Germans drank beer out of
auroch horns while lying comfortably on bearskin coats. After the 7th century, monks began to brew
beer as a kind of "liquid bread" allowed during fasting days of Lent. This beer was especially strong
and nourishing. Soon, they began to sell their beer in their monastery taverns, and many monasteries
in Germania, Gallia and Britain become rich and famous. Monks soon had competition. Private
northern German breweries were taking their own beer to Flanders and Sweden by 1200 AD. There
were over 600 such breweries in Hamburg alone in the 1500’s. Monarchs liked the private brewers,
as unlike monks, they had to pay taxes. Soon, royalty got into the act of promoting suds.
Beer was still made by the women in their household until the middle ages. A common breakfast
treat was warm beer enriched with eggs, ginger and nutmeg. The monks soon discovered hops as an
appropriate spice for their beer. Although hops add a sour, bitter taste, they helped to keep it fresh
longer and were thought to have a calming effect to reduce the danger of caving in to the devil's
sexual temptations. Hildegard von Bingen recommended in her 12th century book that “One should
drink beer!” and she prescribed it for depression and sleeplessness.
At the end of the 15th century, there were numerous breweries in cities such as Salzburg, usually in
combination with an inn. This is thanks in part to the famous physician 'Paracelsus' (Theophrast von
Hohenheim, 1493 – 1541) who spent much of his life in Salzburg and discovered that beer was good
medicine. Paracelsus replaced speculative doctrines with observations of nature, including the
beneficial effects of beer. People were happily in agreement with his theory. A brewer of the day not
only brewed beer, he butchered his own meat and hosted guests to enjoy the hospitality. Townsfolk
passing by would have a drink of beer and carry some home in jugs. Soon, twelve major breweries
dominated Salzburg, and there were more than a hundred individual brewers.
Brewing was risky business in the middle ages, and those eager for greater profit often used cheap
filler ingredients to pad the beverage, from fruit, herbs and eggs to tree bark and fish bladders. As a
result, beer was sometimes putrid tasting and even poisonous. This gave urgency for some sort of
uniformity law. The first regulation appeared in Augsburg, Bavaria in the 1480's. Bavaria's reigning
Duke Wilhelm IV expanded the Augsburg regulation to cover all of Bavaria and it became official at
Ingolstadt in 1516.
The Reinheitsgebot, or the German (or Bavarian) Beer Purity Law was a regulation governing beer
production in Germany which in its original text decreed that the only ingredients which could be
used in beer production were beer were water, barley, and hops (it was later revised to allow yeast).
It also set the price of beer. The penalty for making impure beer was also set: a brewer using other
ingredients for his beer could have those barrels confiscated without compensation. 16th century
Brewers in Bavaria have generally received the credit for having originated or at least modified beer
to its modern form.
From 1871, the Reinheitsgebot gradually spread from Bavaria to throughout the German Empire at
Bavaria's insistence. Brewers outside of Bavaria sometimes objected and the law also led to the
extinction of some old brewing traditions and local specialty beers, and it gave pilsener style beer
After five hundred plus years of a fine cultural tradition, the EU busy bodies decided to interfere in
the matter and see to it that the Reinheitsgebot was lifted, which it formally was in 1987. Before
then, it was the oldest food quality regulation in the world. Until superseded by the change, the
Reinheitsgebot was also enforced in Greece from the early 19th century thanks to the first Greek
king, former Bavarian Prince Otto who, as one of his first royal acts, opened a brewery in Greece.
|People love breweries and beer gartens. By the mid 18th century, there were 94 breweries in the city
and province of Salzburg, for example. In Salzburg alone, then a city of only 16,000 residents, there
were twelve different breweries with taverns and 42 independent taverns and inns. Mozart's sister
Nannerl stated in her diary that Mozart liked to drink dark, full-flavored beer. He also smoked a pipe,
for another product had made its way into the beer and brandy taverns: tobacco. The Salzburgers
and their cousins over the hills in Bavaria were all enjoying good beer.
The history of the München Hofbräuhaus goes back more than four centuries. Duke Wilhelm V. of
Bavaria (1579 – 1597) was not happy was with the beer brewed in Munich so he imported it from
the Saxon city of Einbeck at considerable expense, then ordered his staff to come up with a way to
cover the cost. On September 27, 1589, his chamberlains and council suggested that they build their
own brewery and Duke Wilhelm welcomed the idea. That same day, he recruited the master brewer
Heimeran Pongraz of the Geisenfeld Monastery to plan it, and the first “brown” beer was born at the
“Alter Hof” ( Old Court ) in 1592.
His son, Duke Maximilian I., however, did not favor the heavy brown ale, and he not only brewed
wheat beer instead, he secured a lucrative wheat beer monopoly for himself and his Hofbräuhaus.
Sales of his wheat beer were so successful that brewers had difficulty keeping up with the demand
and by 1607, the Hofbräuhaus had to be moved and expanded. The beer produced here was first
served to the general public in 1610. During Swedish occupation in the Thirty Years War, the
Swedes promised not to loot the city in exchange for 1,000 buckets of beer from the Hofbräuhaus.
King Ludwig I. issued a benevolent decree in 1828 that opened up the royal Hofbräuhaus to the
public and, along with the King, thousands of Munich residents showed up to enjoy the beer. At the
turn of the 19th century, the Hofbräuhaus moved again to a larger location and lowered the price so
that everyone could enjoy the royal beer, but Munich’s private brewers and tavern keepers
complained that the Hofbräuhaus was ruining their business, and so, in 1852, the State of Bavaria
assumed ownership of the Hofbräuhaus.In 1896, the brewery had to expand again and the old facility
was torn down. A new one was designed by Architect Max Littmann in a traditional Bavarian style
that would also serve as a large restaurant. His creation opened in 1897 and was very popular.
Only a bit of it still stands today. 1,000 buckets of beer could not buy protection for Munich as it
once did. On a dark night of April 25, 1944, the first Allied bombs struck the Hofbräuhaus, and three
subsequent air raids nearly completely destroyed the building. Only a small area of the main beer hall
was left intact and all other rooms had been destroyed, along with most of beautiful, historic old
Munich. Amazingly, several hundred beer steins were rescued from the basement, unscathed despite
the violent bombing.
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