Nearly 500 years ago, on April 23, 1516, a gathering of Bavarian knights and noblemen summoned to the city of Ingolstadt by Duke Wilhelm IV, decreed that beer should be made only from hops, malt and water. This simple recipe formed the basis of the Reinheitsgebot, the famed “German Beer Purity Law,” which celebrates its fifth century this month.
Although yeast was later added as an acceptable ingredient, the ancient recipe remains the law of the land to German brewers to this day. Modern brewers have managed to bend the rules just a little, adding concentrated yeast extracts to inject different flavors and intensities to some of the country’s more than 500 breweries.
A half millennium later, beer production is increasingly in the hands of global companies, with brands and locations on all continents. For example, two global market leaders, AB Inbev and SAB Miller, are pursuing a merger worth €102 billion.