In honor of the German Purity Law, we have been celebrating April 23rd since 1994 as German Beer Day. Whether Alt, Kölsch, Pils or wheat – in Germany people drink beer. If you can believe various statistics, that is not exactly too short either. Because per capita, Germans consume between 120 to 150 liters of barley juice per capita every year. Accordingly, on this occasion, the calendar of curious holidays from all over the world is about beer. Cheers.
On the holiday in honor of the Purity Law: A Brief History of German Beer
The origins of the German art of brewing beer go back to the Middle Ages. The first written mention can be found in the year 736 AD, when a special barley juice was reported for the first time in the Bavarian town of Geisenfeld. Only 30 years later, in AD 766. This was followed by the first known beer certificate in the world, with which a delivery of the barley juice to the St. Gallen monastery in Geisingen on the Danube was confirmed or authenticated.
These two dates already indicate the central role of the southern German monasteries and their religious orders in terms of the art of brewing beer, whose names are still reflected today in beer brands (Andechs, Franziskaner, Paulaner, etc.) and were partly responsible for the beer soon began a nationwide triumphal march.
Another historical date was of great importance for the modern German art of brewing. Specifically: April 23, 1516, on which the Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV. Issued the infamous German and Bavarian Purity Law in Ingolstadt.
The key message of this decree: Only hops, barley malt, water and yeast may be used in the brewing process for the production of beer in Germany and Bavaria at that time. Although this is considered one of the central milestones of the German beer brewing tradition, a closer (historical) examination shows that this requirement has only been applicable throughout Germany since 1919.
Whether it beyond a substantive reference to the celebrated parallel April 23, like talc Shakespeare Day (dt. Say-as-Shakespeare-day), the International Day of the nose drilling (Engl. International Nose Picking Day), the World Book Day , the US Use-the-opportunity-day (engl. Take a chance day), the international day of the English language (English. UN English language day) or the day of the cherry cheesecake is (engl. National Cherry cheesecake day) I couldn’t find out in the course of research. 😉
Why does German Beer Day fall on April 23rd?
Against this background, the choice of the date for the day of German beer becomes clear, which is intended to refer to the said decree of the Bavarian Purity Law on April 23, 1516. There are many campaigns for this.
For example, some medium-sized family breweries in southern Germany have come together to form the Gütegemeinschaft Traditionsbier and have been brewing limited special beers since 2003 on the occasion of the German Beer Day. In the meantime, however, the Gütegemeinschaft has renamed itself to the cooperation Die Brauer with body and soul and acts as an interest group under the slogan: 10 principles for better beer .
The fact that beer is one of the most celebrated drinks internationally does not really need to be elaborated at this point. In this respect, today’s day of action naturally joins the ranks of international beer days of honor (see also the other contributions from the calendar of alcohol holidays in the present collection). As an example, reference is made to the following dates:
- National Beer Day in Iceland on March 1st,
- National Beer Day in the UK on April 6th,
- the national day of the beer in the USA (engl. National Beer Day on April 7th or
- International Beer Day on each first Friday in August.
Drinking beer as a serious matter
Anyone who has ever tried to order an Altbier in Cologne or a Kölsch in Düsseldorf will understand that drinking beer is a very serious matter for Germans. Evil tongues – including the author of this article – even claim that in the CSU-dominated Bavaria one could probably do away with compulsory schooling rather than enforce a general beer ban.