Great question! Like many brewing cultures, Germany is home to many different styles of beer, brewing traditions and social customs which together characterize what we know as German beer. The most popular styles of beer encompass a variety of lagers and wheat beers, but the country is also known for producing several regional styles of beer including Kolsch, Altbier, Gose, Berliner Weisse and Rauchbier, among others. However, what defines German beer more than any other brewing culture isn’t its abundance of styles but its enduring beer purity law, known as the Reinheitsgebot. Enacted in 1516, this series of regulations restricted the ingredients that can be used to produce beer to four main ingredients: malted grain, hops, water and yeast. Considered by some to be the oldest food regulation still in force today, the purity law formed the basis of brewing tradition and continues to influence it today. In addition to its many styles and traditions, the culture of German beer is one that brings people together – so much so that the Germans have a word for it. The word is Gemütlichkeit, which loosely translates to a state of warmth, friendliness and good cheer that often imbue public festivals, where beer drinking is a favorite pastime. If the variety of styles, tradition and culture aren’t enough to persuade you to sample a few German-style beers, we’re confident you’ll be sold on the taste. Next time you’re at your favorite package store, bar or restaurant, ask for an East Rock and judge for yourself!
Next Week’s Topic: Our Barley!