Reinheitsgebot Turns 500: Here’s 6 Beers to Drink That Deliciously Violates the German Beer Purity Law!
This week the Reinheitsgebot turns 500 years old. If you’ve ever been on ANY brewery tour, the Reinheistsgebot always comes up but most of us refer to it as the German Beer Purity Law. By this law, beer legally could be made only with 4 ingredients: Water, Barley and Hops (Yeast would be added later once it was understood). Back then, beer was actually safer to drink than water (maybe still is). In fact, way back around 1080 an Abbot by the name of Arnold of Soissons saved many would-be-plague victims by having them drink the beer he made instead of water (the water used for the beer would be boiled and the harmful pathogens would be killed) as a result many people that followed his instructions survived and he would later become Saint Arnold- The patron saint of hop pickers and brewers (I also learned on a tour in Belgium that his statue is in every brewery in the country). Several years later in 1516, to make sure beer remained safe the Reinheitsgebot was adopted and any brewer that violated the purity law would be punished by being arrested and their beer confiscated and destroyed.
Today many of your favorite beers are made following this law. Pilsners, lagers, stouts, porters, bocks, ambers, IPAs, ect all use water, barley, hops and yeast. However, in this day and age innovation is the name of the game and you can only do so much with base grains and hop varieties. So this Saturday when this law becomes 500 years old, by all means have a glass of beer (most German beers strictly follow the Reinheitsgebot and are stellar) but also if you want to raise the devils horns and make Judas Priest proud and “Break the law” here’s a few to check out:
Founders’ Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS)
OFFENDING INGREDIENT(S): Bourbon, Coffee and Chocolate.
For some beer nerds this is one of many “Golden Standards” of craft beer. Unfortunately, here in Denver we rarely see this on the shelves or taps outside of the Great American Beer Festival, but we do get Epic’s Big Bad Baptist which some fans argue is a great alternative. Instead of having a late night breakfast, sip a glass of this bad boy.
New Belgium’s Transatlantique Kriek
This delicious tart elixir by New Belgium is actually a collaboration with Old Beersel of Belgium. This beer began as a Lambic (tart spontaneous fermented ale) and then cherries were introduced and the beer was flown back to the USA where New Belgium blended the brew with their own sour ale Felix (a in-house 3 year old oak aged sour beer they use purely to blend for their souring program).
Flying Dog’s Pearl Necklace
This stout gives a really earthy/salty smell and the oysters come more in the aftertaste (as do most unique ingredients). Seems like a good beer to have while frying up some clams. If you want a “different” variety of “oyster” and feeling a little ballsy with experimental drinking, Wynkoop Brewing of Denver makes a Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout (if you don’t know what that is, well let’s put it this way: Colorado has no oceans….but it does have cows ;)…you can also Google it)
Dogfish Head’s “Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew
This beer blends 3 different stouts with the offending ingredients and was brewed as a tribute to the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ album Bitches Brew. Meant to be drank while listening to the album it was named after (and allegedly pairs great with Chili or Chicken Curry), this awesome stout can be drank any time. Dogfish Head is known for “offbeat ales for offbeat people” and this is one of many beers in Dogfish Head’s catalog that violates the Reinheitsgebot. The brewery also encourages fans at home to experiment with their Randal Jr beer infuser to mix fruit, fresh hops, cinnamon, ect with beers at home.
Rogue’s Voodoo Donut Ales
Rogue is another brewery that thrives in offbeat ingredients (yeast grown from a brewer’s beard, a Sriracha ale, ect) Partnering with Voodoo Doughnut you can have your doughnut fix via a beer! There’s been a few varieties such as Pretzel, Raspberry and Chocolate Ale, Peanut Butter and Banana ale and Bacon and Maple Ale.
Avery Brewing’s Liliko’i Kepolo
This beer began life as a taproom exclusive that very rarely left Avery’s brewery. Fortunately last year, the beer became a year round offering. With warmer days ahead it’s a perfect beer to have at your next tiki party.
Bonus: Prairie Artisan Ales’ Spaghetti Western
This beer’s label may draw you in on its own, but this collaboration with Italian Brewery BrewFist is apparently a one-off but I’ve seen a few bottles around. It’s certainly worth taking a chance. It tastes like a regular chocolate coffee stout but the aftertaste is when the spaghetti hits you! Enjoy it while watching The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!
Whether you want to be a “law abiding” beer drinker this weekend or if you want to be a law-breaking bad boy/bad girl and drink beer with “illegal” fruit, coffee, spices ect, whatever you put in your pint glass this weekend be sure to lift it high and proud and let out a nice and loud “Prost!” to 500 years of the Reinheistsgebot !