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I’m Going to Have to Say, Nuh-Uh

I work in public health which means I have certain sympathies regarding the importance of agencies like the US Food and Drug Agency that make sure our foods are not poison and that our medicines have at least a modicum of a chance to heal us. And the FDA owes a historical debt to the Reinheitsgebot one of the earliest food safety laws in the world. Probably not the oldest one in the world, I think I remember reading something about drowning bad brewers in ancient Babylon if they ruined the beer, but certainly among the oldest, and definitely one of the oldest in Europe which is important for Dead White European Male reasons. I think claiming World Heritage status for it is quite a reach.

And as a fan of beer…no…the Reinheitsgebot is not necessarily a good thing. It may have been a good thing. I don’t really know. I know that when I was first venturing into craft beer and home brewing it seemed like a good thing. Just like everyone else I was all “Budweiser uses rice! Blech! and Miller uses corn! Double Blech! The Reinheitsgebot is the way! No adulterated beer! Power to the people! etc etc” and then immediately sought out the first bottle of King Midas I could get my hands on because…hypocrisy! and ignorance!

I won’t get into all the reasons that the Reinheitsgebot is and has been for awhile essentially nonsense, suffice it to say that very many horrible beers are brewed according to its strict(-ish) guidelines and nearly all my favorite beers are not. I do think its restrictions made German Bavarian brewers more creative and more technically skilled, but other than that, I don’ t have much positive to say.

And finally, this quote cannot go uncommented.

If Germany is still regarded as the undisputed beer nation, that is due to the Reinheitsgebot,” said Hans-Georg Eils, president of the German Brewers’ Federation.

In what world is this guy living? The order is either America then Belgium or Belgium then America THEN Germany…probably. You can’t deny the guy his nationalist pride, but it’s pretty galling to claim Germany is the “undisputed beer nation.” It’s basically disputed every day, by everyone but Germans.

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Posted in The Drinking Class.