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German Beer Day

German Beer Day celebrates German beer—one of the most revered exports of Germany—as well as the Reinheitsgebot, the beer purity law that was proclaimed by Duke Wilhelm IV on today's date in 1516 and adopted across the Duchy of Bavaria. The world's oldest consumer protection law, Reinheitsgebot originally specified that beer could only contain water, barley, and hops. The law was primarily created as a way to control the market: it prevented brewers from buying up all the wheat and using it up in beer, which would cause bread prices to rise. It prevented beer from surrounding free cities and duchies from being sold in Bavaria, protecting brewers there. It also made it less likely that beer would be brewed with harmful ingredients.

After Bavaria joined the German Empire, Reinheitsgebot was adopted by the German Empire, and then the Weimar Republic adopted it after World War I. It is part of domestic federal legislation today, albeit with some small changes. First, yeast is now a permissible ingredient. Second, beer with other ingredients added can be sold, as long as it isn't labeled as "beer." Reinheitsgebot is still an important component of marketing in Germany, being a symbol of tradition and the cultural values of exactness and patience. On German Beer Day, specials are offered by brewers, especially in Germany. Beer halls and beer gardens in the United States have been known to hold festivities, too.

How to Observe German Beer Day

  • Drink German beer. It's even better if you can drink it while in Germany!
  • Drink other beer that follows Reinheitsgebot.
  • Visit a brewery, beer hall, or beer garden. Make sure to check if any events are being held at these places or elsewhere in honor of German Beer Day.
  • Plan a trip to Oktoberfest in Munich.
  • Make sure to prost when you are drinking beer.
  • Read the lyrics to, listen to, or sing "Ein Prosit."
  • Learn about the styles of German beer.
  • Read the original text of Reinheitsgebot.

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