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The Reinheitsgebot is a several hundred year old legal regulation, which determines that beer ins only allowed to contain Hops, Malt, Yeast and Water.


In 1516 the Bavarian dukes Wilhelm IV. and Lduwig X.agreed on a legal regulation, which is the oldest consumer act in force. At that time, a price war between bakers and breweres emerged and as a result, herbs, root vegetables, mushrooms and animal products have been mixed into the beer. This lead to an enactment, which is known as Reinheitsgebot since the beginning of the 20th century. According to this enactment, beer was only allowed to be brewed with barley, hops and water. The regulation did not mention yeast, an ingrdient, which was still unknown at that time.[1]

During the times of Bismarck, many German states have adopted this regulation. As a result, a lot of local beer types and brewing processes have become illegal. The Reinheitsgebot became valid in general, when Bavaria made the acceptance of the Reinheitsgebot a condition of the entry to the German Empire in 1919.[1]

In 1988, the Reinheitsgebote became invalid, when the European Union declared it a violation of the competition regulations and an impediment of free trade. Until today, only a few German breweries exist, which make use of other ingredients, such as sugar or the replacement of grains. In Germany, foreign beers are allowed to be sold in. However, almost all of the German beers correspond to the Reinheitsgebot. Mixtures and blends are known as Beer Mix.

The Enactment of the Reinheitsgebot 1516[Bearbeiten]

After the war of succession in Landshut and the reunfication of the Bavarian dukedoms, the various state orders had to be aligned. The new state order was released on April 23rd 1516 by the Bavarian dukes Herzöge Wilhelm IV. and Ludwig X. in Ingolstadt. The fact that barley and not malt is mentioned in the regulation indicates that the sons of duke Albrecht IV. have referred to the „Münchner Reinheitsgebot“ of their father and not to the „Landshuter Reinheitsgebot“ and have expanded it throughout Bavaria. The passage is known as „Bayerisches Reinheitsgebot“ and regulates prices, as well as the ingredients of the beers.[2]

Original Text[Bearbeiten]

„Item wir ordnen / setzen / und wöllen mit Rathe unnser Lanndtschaft / das füran allennthalben in dem Fürstenthumb Bayrn / auff dem Lande / auch in unnsern Stettn unn Märckthen / da deßhalb hieuor kain sonndere ordnung ist / von Michaelis biß auff Georij / ain mass oder kopffpiers über ainen pfenning Müncher werung / unn von sant Jorgentag / biß auff Michaelis / die mass über zwen pfenning derselben werung / und derenden der kopff ist / über drey haller / bey nachgesetzter Pene / nicht gegeben noch außgeschenckht sol werden. Wo auch ainer nit Mertzn / sonder annder pier prawen / oder sonst haben würde / sol Er d och das / kains wegs höher / dann die maß umb ainen pfenning schencken / und verkauffen. Wir wöllen auch sonderlichen / das füran allenthalben in unsern Stetten / Märckthen / unn auf dem Lannde / zu kainem Pier / merer stückh / dann allain Gersten / Hopfen / unn wasser / genommen unn gepraucht sölle werdn. Welher aber dise unsere Ordnung wissentlich überfaren unnd nie hallten wurde / dem sol von seiner gerichtzöbrigkait / dasselbig vas Pier / zuestraff unnachläßlich / so offt es geschicht / genommen werden. jedoch wo ain Grüwirt von ainem Pierprewen in unnsern Stettn / Märckten / oder aufm lande / jezuezeitn ainen Emer piers / zwen oder drey / kauffen / und wider unnter den gemaynen Pawrsuolck ausschenken würde / dem selben allain / aber sonßt nyemandes / soldyemass / oder der kopffpiers / umb ainen haller höher dann oben gesetzt ist / ze geben / unn / außzeschencken erlaubt unnd unuerpotn.“[2]


"We hereby proclaim and decree, by Authority of our Province, that henceforth in the Duchy of Bavaria, in the country as well as in the cities and marketplaces, the following rules apply to the sale of beer: From Michaelmas to Georgi, the price for one Mass [Bavarian Liter 1,069] or one Kopf [bowl-shaped container for fluids, not quite one Mass], is not to exceed one Pfennig Munich value, and From Georgi to Michaelmas, the Mass shall not be sold for more than two Pfennig of the same value, the Kopf not more than three Heller [Heller usually one-half Pfennig].If this not be adhered to, the punishment stated below shall be administered. Should any person brew, or otherwise have, other beer than March beer, it is not to be sold any higher than one Pfennig per Mass. Furthermore, we wish to emphasize that in future in all cities, markets and in the country, the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the Court authorities' confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail.

Should, however, an innkeeper in the country, city or markets buy two or three pails of beer (containing 60 Mass) and sell it again to the common peasantry, he alone shall be permitted to charge one Heller more for the Mass of the Kopf, than mentioned above. Furthermore, should there arise a scarcity and subsequent price increase of the barley (also considering that the times of harvest differ, due to location), WE, the Bavarian Duchy, shall have the right to order curtailments for the good of all concerned."[3]

500 Years of Reinheitsgebot[Bearbeiten]

In 2016, the Reinheitsgebot celebrates its 500-year anniversary. Many breweries have manufactured special brews and sell special editions. offers monthly sales discounts to celebrate the tradition of the Reinheitsgebot.


  1. 1,0 1,1 Tim Webb & Stephen Beaumont - Die Bier Bibel; ISBN: 978-3-86690-310-4
  2. 2,0 2,1 Page „Reinheitsgebot“. In: Wikipedia. From: 10. Februar 2016, 08:49 UTC. URL: (Online: 10. Februar 2016, 14:49 UTC)
  3. Wikipedia contributors. Reinheitsgebot. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. December 16, 2015, 01:33 UTC. Available at: Accessed February 10, 2016.