Guest Lecture: 500 Years of the Reinheitsgebot

Guest Lecture

  • Date: Dec 1, 2016
  • Time: 18:00
  • Speaker: Barbara Sturm
  • Universität Kassel
  • Topic: 500 Years of the Reinheitsgebot: The Development of Beermaking and its Associated Regulations
  • Location: MPIeR
  • Room: Z 01
Guest Lecture: 500 Years of the Reinheitsgebot

500 Years of the Reinheitsgebot: The Development of Beermaking and its Associated Regulations

2016 is the 500 year anniversary of the famed German law, the Reinheitsgebot. Introduced in 1516, the Reinheitsgebot has long been considered as the first consumer protection law regarding foodstuffs. As the beer market revolutionized, first with the introduction of hops as a natural (and not harmful) preservative, then with the discovery of yeast, the invention of the hygrometer and thermometer, and industrialization. Throughout all of these developments, the Reinheitsgebot has endured.

Until recently, beers from abroad could not be labelled and sold as beer unless they adhered to the Reinheitsgebot legislation. With the introduction of European regulations, however, Germany was forced to change this stance as it was in violation of Article 30 of the Treaty of Rome after the French brewers brought a case in front of the European Court of Justice in 1987. However, to date, any beer brewed in Germany still has to adhere to the Reinheitsgebot.

In times of an exponential growth of the crafts beers markets, German brewers are increasingly under pressure as their possibilities for participation within this very lucrative market are limited through the very regulation which is considered a German trademark. This presentation will explore to the motivations for introducing the Reinheitsgebot legislation, how the market developed, how the formation of the EU impacted upon the law and how that very law now threatens the livelihoods of many German brewers.


Dr Barbara Sturm is the Head of Postharvest Technologies and Processing at the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, University of Kassel. Her and her team are focusing on the development of novel system approaches for the simultaneous increase of system performance, resource efficiency, product quality and safety. In this context, they are working along the beer production chain from drying of the hops and malt to the packaging of the final product.

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